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The Oscars Worst Dressed

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Leeds chapter.

And the award goes to…

Whilst I sit there and hope my favourites win the most awards, the Oscars presents me with the opportunity for my alter ego fashion critic to emerge. I wait eagerly for the first pictures of the red carpet and then continue into the night with my specialist evaluation of every sequin and ruffle. Seeing the best and the worst grace the carpet we all have our critiques and our wow moments! So with this year’s Oscars taking place this weekend, I thought back to the past outfits that stood out the most and not necessarily for the right reasons!

The ‘what were you thinking?’ award: Bjork in 2001, wearing the infamous ‘Swan’ dress. Hands down one of the most talked about dresses in the weeks that followed the 73rd Academy Awards. Known for her outrageous and often bizarre outfits Bjork understandably topped many of the worst dressed polls for the ceremony in 2001. Whilst it could be argued that this is probably one of her most tame outfits, it is anything but subtle. The ballerina style bottom could have been deemed acceptable if it wasn’t for the orange swan beak stealing the show! It is evident why this dress has been at the centre of many jokes at award ceremonies to come; I think you are unable to forget it even if you wanted to! And if the swan draped across her wasn’t enough, she also recreated laying an egg on the red carpet!


The ‘sack the stylist’ award: Whilst Gwyneth Paltrow usually gets it so right, in 2002 she got it so, so wrong. It’s hard to find anything that is actually right with this dress. From the sheer top, to the taffeta bottom, it is horrendous. The gothic dress was unflatteringly matched with a lacklustre side plait and heavy makeup, which is almost unrecognisable to Gwyneth Paltrow today. Whilst the top is something you may find nowadays in American Apparel, it is not acceptable at the Oscars and let’s not even get started on the bra situation-or the lack of one. The unflattering dress is unforgivable and it is hard to believe that anyone thought it was acceptable, least of all Paltrow. I think this is definitely a sack the stylist moment!


The ‘are you at the right event?’ award: The Oscars is known for its elegant ball gowns and smart sophisticated attire. However, in 1986 Cher stepped out with her midriff on show to the world and disproved this theory. This year all the nominees were given guidelines as to what was appropriate to wear for the award ceremony. Cher had not been nominated for her role in The Mask and as a result defied the guidelines and went rogue. The flamboyant outfit, along with the extravagant headpiece made sure she stood out from the crowd, but not necessarily for all the right reasons. The sequins and the barely there top certainly gained Cher the shock factor and had many people questioning whether this was appropriate for the Oscars.

Whilst there have been some outfits we all wish we could remove from our memories there have also been those we have been most envious of!

The ‘all is forgiven’ award: Whilst she also won an award for worst dressed due to her gothic see-through number, there is no denying how incredible Gwyneth Paltrow looked at the 2012 Oscars. The elegant Tom Ford dress with the removable cape was a risk due to its simplicity, but one that most certainly paid off! The simple hairstyle complimented the style of dress perfectly and the colour contrast between the famous red carpet and Paltrow’s white outfit stole the show. This well and truly secured her place as one of the most stylish actresses, and all can be forgiven for her horrendous mistake in 2002.

The ‘don’t forget about me’ award: Angelina Jolie has had so many spectacular red carpet moments it was difficult to only choose one. But this cream satin dress from 2004 blew everyone away. With clingy silk being almost impossible to pull off it is almost no surprise that only Angelina Jolie could do just that. The dramatic low front was teamed beautifully with a statement necklace and the train following her looked phenomenal. The timeless elegance of this dress means that even 10 years later it would still stand out from the crowd and leave everyone thinking that once again Angelina Jolie gets it so, so right!


The ‘newcomer’ award: Keira Knightley was relatively unknown when she stepped out at the Oscars in 2006 but this Vera Wang gown certainly got her noticed! The burgundy fish tail dress summed up exactly what the Oscars was about. Large dresses! Whilst the starlets wearing rather more conservative dresses were becoming fashion icons, Keira Knightley brought back old Hollywood glam. The asymmetric design incorporated ruffles and taffeta, usually a difficult combination to pull off, but the English beauty managed it effortlessly. The choice of colour and the minimalistic hair was a stand out and was a moment that cemented Keira Knightley in the Oscar fashion hall of fame.

Alice McBrearty

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