Think pink. Pretty pastels. Effervescent metallics. Heavy metals. Mock turtlenecks. Was this the femmi-est most ladylike Oscars of all time? For years, we’ve seen slim sleeveless skin tight sheath dresses, often in gold, silver, black. Very little jewelry. Simple hair. And an Oscars staple: cleavage galore. This year’s Oscars proved maximalism is back, but so is maximum cover-up,maximum fabric and very high necks. We got volume, tulle, sleeves, high necks, ruffles, tiers, beads, big earrings, big necklaces—and big, bold color.
The one shoulder trend just doesn’t seem to go away. Why? Because it’s sexy and skin revealing but not too sexy or revealing. It’s trendy but not too trendy. Basically, it’s lovely and feminine and just right. Julia Roberts, breaking out of her minimalism noir-esque fashion ghetto, floated onto the stage in an Elie Saab one-shoulder bubblegum pink Grecian gown, working the one shoulder, pink and ruffle trends all at once. Angela Bassett also rocked a very strong one-shouldered fuchsia gown and a giant mega-bow: the trifecta of trends. Kasey Musgraves’ Giambattista Valli pale pink confection was a cascade of ruffles, tulle, and butterfly sleeve-lets. Beautiful regal Gemma Chan’s Valentino couture in deep bubblegum popped off the screen, with its high neck and giant train, but the tent-like shape wasn’t nearly as flattering as the color.
Outside of pink, the hot color trends of the night were a new strain of coral-red, metallics, and pastels. Helen Mirren’s Schiaparelli Haute Couture pleat gown—was it red? pink? coral? No, it was a whole new hue that will likely be the hot color for summer. Rachel Weisz’s Givenchy Haute Couture was a fabulous combo of a red tulle, femme-friendly skirt and a futuristic, almost plasticine short-sleeve cropped shiny crimson T-shirt top (though she’s already getting some worst-dressed headlines). Sarah Paulson’s red/pink/coral voluminous Calvin Klein seemed more red than anything else, and striking for its double puff of top and bottom volume. Jennifer Hudson’s Elie Saab flaming flamenco gown ticked off three trend boxes: red, ruffles, and one sleeve.
The metallics were less loud, more shimmering and light-reflecting, and required very little makeup for women who wore them. Emilia Clarke in a silvery/pale lavender Balmain corset column was the Mother of Sparkles—and she apparently colored her platinum dyed hair the day of the Oscars with a box of drugstore dye. Glenn Close’s pale gold Carolina Herrera was aglow and caped over her shoulders—the cape dress/gown/jacket (Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez) is a look we’re going to see on the streets all spring and summer. Meanwhile, Emma Stone’s black and bronze Louis Vuitton was heavy metal—a bit heavy and stiff—but so futuristic and sharp that she could have had it flown in from Wakanda. Jennifer Lopez was all covered up for once—a moment of modesty? Not so much when you’re poured into a mirrored paillette, Tom Ford, long-sleeve siren gown with a high neck and a high degree of sexual strut.
Another caped crusader was Maya Rudolph, in one of the most voluminous looks of the night: pink and red, two color trends in one.
Sleeves on gowns? Five years ago, fashion critics would have been horrified. Now sleeves have proved they can be dressy and even sexy when they’re showing off shoulder or are sheer, like those on Olivia Colman’s forest green Prada. When a diva like Charlize Theron shows up in long lean Dior sleeves—backless, to boot—you know sleeves can actually seem provocative. Glenn Close’s Herrera gold sleeves were becoming, but Bohemian Rhapsody star Lucy Boynton’s off-the-shoulder puffed sleeves by Rodarte, regal purple silk rimmed in black, were the most avant garde and the most memorable of the night.
When Jennifer Lopez is wearing a high neck, you know cleavage isn’t exactly out, but it’s tucked in, for the moment. Brie Larson’s silver chainmail halter gown with a turtleneck was a surprising combo by Celine’s Hedi Slimane.
The ladies in pale pastels—Charlize in pale blue Dior, Laura Harrier in pale blue Louis Vuitton, Constance Wu in a gorgeous silk buttercup pleated Versace—didn’t recede into the background, either. A light color can speak loudly with the right silhouette, the right fabric, and the right wearer.
RELATED: The Most “Meh” Oscar Looks
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.