Miscellenia, Rate the dress

More hysterical than historical: Rate the Dress: the Oscars!

I’ve had two complaints about my ‘Rate the Dress’ posts.  The first is that I don’t add my own opinion.  The second is that I don’t comment on Oscars fashions.

Problems solved.  I’m going to tell you all about what I think of this years Oscars frocks.

First, Anne Hathaway.  She’s gorgeous.  She usually looks fantastic on the red carpet. This year is no exception – mostly.  Her makeup and hair are perfect, she looks relaxed and happy..  Red really is her colour.  But dear girl, why on earth would you stick a second bum below your bum on the back of your dress? 6.5 out of 10.

Next, Mila Kunich.  As far as I know, this is her first real red carpet event.  She chose lavender. Very in, but very meh.  And the dress is such a weird mixture of peek-a-boo sexy and old-lady fussy. My main complaint though, is that in motion, the bodice detailing makes it look like she has two nipples.  Per breast.  Not good.  2 out of 10.

When I first say Cate Blanchett’s dress, my thought was “When on earth did 60s mod spacesuits with bobbles come back in!?!”  And then, quite unexpectedly, the dress grew on me.  It suits her figure perfectly, it’s so witty and unexpected, and so very, very Cate: more intelligent than technically beautiful.  I’m still not 100% sold on the front circle cut out though.  8 out of 10

Next, someone named Busy Phillips.  I have no idea who she is or what she has done.  However, if there was a “match your dress to your name” competition at the Oscars, like those pet lookalike contests, she would win.  It has a draped, crossover, sweetheart neckline.  A ruched midriff.  An elaborate, tiered, sculptured belt.  And a huge mermaid poof.  Ergh.  Shudder.  1 out of 10.

My favourite dress of the day was worn by Hailee Steinfield.  Her dress is the epitome of youthful sweetness, absolutely perfect for her 14 years.  The simple updo with headband, and slightly naughty platform shoes complete the look.  Never in a million years would I wear it, and most women on the red carpet would have looked ridiculous in it, but for appropriate attire for her looks, figure, and age, Hailee couldn’t have done better.  10 out of 10.

In complete contrast was the other 14 year old on the red carpet.  And to make it worse, she was on her fathers arm!  Steven Speilberg, what were you thinking letting your daughter go out tarted up like that!?!  Shame on you!  0 out of 10, because the dress would have looked dreadful on anyone, regardless of age.

Nicole Kidman.  Ergh.  Her frock kind of reminds me of the electricity dress.  If it was designed by a 1950s costume designer doing a movie set in 2121.  It’s just a weird, tacky mash op of 50s and 80s fashion, with some random, unrelated beading designs thrown on for the hell of it.  1 out of 10, and that’s generous.

Overlooking the odd occasions when her dress falls halfway down her boobs, Helen Mirren always looks impeccable on the Red Carpet, and tonight was no exception.  I love the graphite colour: so much more interesting than black.  The cut is classic, with just a bit of twist for interest.  My one caveat is the sleeves.  I’m just not sure I’m ready for that kind of taffeta poofs to come back in.  8 out of 10.

This year, Scarlett Johanssen tried something different from her usual look.  I’m not 100% sure it worked.  It feels like she tried too hard to do something different.  The colour is lovely, and the cheongsam shape is a clever twist on a classic, but the detailing around the decollate and the nude background on the chest is just a bit tacky.  And her hair just looks messy and doesn’t suit her face.  6 out of 10

Like Anne, Sandra Bullock wore red, and the colour looked fabulous on her.  The cut was exquisite, the subtle jewellery perfect.  It was simple, but incredibly effective.  I love it.  9 out of 10

I’m soooo tempted to make bad jokes about Halle Berry and her catwoman persona escaping and having it’s way with her dress.  It really looked like Felicity got hold of a roll of tulle and shredded it around the bottom of the dress.  The colour is also hideous.  Wear a colour Halle!  Every dress you put on doesn’t have to be the same shade as your skin!  Really.  I’m not kidding! 1 out of 10.

To me, every time Hilary Swank appears on the red carpet.  Her dress is different, but the styling is exactly the same.  And I wish she would wear brighter colours.  All this navy and black and beige is so blah.  On the bright side, the ostrich feather treatment on her dress is exquisite: quite the loveliest I have ever seen.  5 out of 10, because the dress makes her look short, which is a hard feat to accomplish on Hilary.

I have to confess something.  I’m a secret Mandy Moore fan.  Not of her music, I’ve never listened to it, but of her as an actress and person.  And the dress Mandy picked to wear to the Oscars fulfilled all my secret fan hopes.  So fabulous!  And she looked so beautiful and happy: she practically glowed.  And the dress is such a hard look to pull off: illusion netting and off the shoulders usually = instant tacky figure skater outfit.  So making it look sophisticated and elegant is extra fabulous.  9 out of 10, not a perfect score because I’m grumpy about all the pale colours on the carpet.

As a relief for eyes tired by the endless pale frocks was the minute Amy Adams in midnight blue with green jewellery.  Perfect for her red hair without being cliche (cough, cough jade green).  She used the same cheongsam styling as Scarlett and Michelle (must be a trend), and I’m not sure the cut really suited her, but everything else about the dress is spot on.  7 out of 10.

Finally, a few ladies whose frocks were to boring and predictable to even bother rating.  In some ways, boring is even worse than hideous.


Even more boring…

Attempted exciting, and her boobs are squished.  Possibly the worst kind of boring of all.

Boring, and the shape is unflattering and makes her look top heavy and like she is wearing a boob tube.  And there is some really weird construction detailing going on.

What the heck is that side-boob insert?

What do you think?  Are my ratings spot-on, or are you heartbroken that I have dissed your favouritest dress ever.


  1. You’re ratings are awesome 🙂 I don’t really care too much for the Oscars, but I’ve run across a few ratings so far and a lot of people are praising what I thought was awful and dissing what I liked…particularly Cate Blanchett. If ever critic only saw her dress in black and white, I bet they would have LOVED it…it could easily be a 30s or 40s evening gown, which is my favorite era hence I love it I’m sure. Jennifer Hudsons boobs just look….weird. Its great she lost weight, awful quickly, but when one does that…toning the breats just can’t be done without the help of silicone!

    • Cate’s dress would look great in black and white, but for me, one of the most beautiful things about it was the unexpected flash of yellow. It really raised the bar on all the endless single-colour red-carpet gowns.

  2. This was a fun read!
    I missed the first half of the Oscars so missed some of these dresses. Not a big fan of the Anne Hathaway you posted with the odd bustle thing, but I did really like the one she wore on stage that was red with chiffon and sequins. Yum.
    Loved Amy Adams. Very 40s movie star.

    LOL about the side insert on the last pic. Oh dear…

    • I wrote this article before the actual Oscars happened (literally as the images where showing up on the web and the stars were walking down the red carpet! Talk about being prepared!) so missed all of Anne’s other dresses. I loved some of them, but really, 9 different costumes? Was she subtly trying to make fun of the 9 dress bride?

  3. MD Smith says

    Notes to aspiring starlets – 1) get to a trainer and learn how to stand/walk without schlumping; 2) wear underpinnings under your gowns; 3) practice what your trainer taught you about not schlumping; 4) well-chosen diamonds (and accessories in general) are a girl’s best friend; 5) recruit a girlfriend to help you practice not schlumping; 6) print out the picture of how awful you looked at the (fill in awards ceremony here), tape it to frig AND to mirror in dressing room; 7) return to trainer for refresher course in not schlumping; 8) reward self for not schlumping with lovely piece of jewelry to wear to next awards event.

    Oh, and review Loretta Young Show clips for tips on how to make an entrance. Notice that she doesn’t schlump.

    • LOL! I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of a lot of the jewellery they wear, so I’m generally happy to see an unadorned star.

    • Elise says

      I loved–loved loved–Nicole Kidman’s choker! Now THOSE were well-chosen jewels. They set off her long neck and face so nicely! And I tended to like the purples and pinks on the red carpet. I guess I’m just ready for spring, and so I relate to all the spring-flower hues!

  4. I pretty much hated all the dresses…except one. They were all weird, funky, boring, and stupid, and we’ve seen them all a thousand times before. None of them was classic or pretty or stylish or flattering in the least. There were a couple of nice elements here and there but that was it.

    The only dress I liked was Hailee’s. Very cute, very pretty, very vintage, and just perfect! I would wear it in a heartbeat. Cate Blanchett’s dress was pretty cool, and I admire Amy Adams’ style but the jewel neck really doesn’t suit her. Helen Mirren looks like she’s trying to bring back the 80s with those sleeves. Halle Berry looks like she got her dress caught in a roll of tulle at the designer’s shop. Hilary Swank must’ve covered her dress in glue and then rolled around in an ostrich cage. And Steven Spielberg’s daughter…oh don’t get me started. She obviously threw her dress on with the proverbial pitchfork. Sloppy, messy, and just plain rank. I love how you contrasted the two 14 year olds.

    • What you said about Amy Adams’ dress is exactly how I felt – but better expressed. The jewel neck just wasn’t working!

  5. And this is why I make an effort to miss the Oscars. I am very disappointed in rich celebrities’ choices of formal dress. They make TONS of money then turn around and wear just any old horrible dress.

  6. I think Cate and Hailee were my best dressed. Helen Mirren is always beautiful and I LOVE that she wears gowns with sleeves (I have this thing against strapless gown, I’m so over it.)

    Jennifer Hudson was probably my least favorite. It’s the deflated smooshed boob thing, and with the way the light is reflecting off of her skin, you can’t help but too look at them…and how they’re smooshed. Ugh.

    What did you think of James Franco’s steel grey tuxedo…or his Marilyn Monroe get up? Also, I loved how Jude Law and Robert Downy Jr wore white tie.

    • Sounds like we have similar taste Abby! Men’s modern daywear = boring! Now, the first time one of them shows up to the Oscars in breeches I’m going to be all over that!

      • It IS boring. SO boring. It must be if I get excited that Franco is wearing a grey tux instead of black. I just don’t see how they can even discuss ‘best dressed’ when it comes to men and award shows. They all look the same. Can’t help but to feel a bit sorry for them in a way.

        I also find it interesting how conservative and (dare I say) modest the gowns were this year? The amount of high necklines, sleeves, and calm (or boring) colors that were worn this year is quite the opposite from what has been the norm. I find this interesting to compare to the current political and social climate. Fashion has always been a reflection of the culture, so what does this mean? Do you see this as well, or is it just me?

  7. Very apt, although of course my tastes a re alittle more forgiving of the more OTT than your are heheh. And I like Scarlett’s dress more than you do. Except she hasn’t got her underpinnings right for it, bust shape is all wrong. The clustering of lace did remind me a bit of Mae West’s violets dress!!
    So nice to see red, but it does seem to be the only colour that comes out when black and beige are in. The same different that everyone else has colour…but the ladies wearing it do suit it. And Sandra Bullock absolutely rocks that red dress, 12 out of 10!!

  8. Scarlett Johansen’s face looks weird.

    I like Anne Hathaway’s drooping bustle. It’s cool.

    Thanks for the fun and interesting read.

  9. Carolyn says

    I really wanted to like Cate Blanchett’s dress but ultimately something about it just doesn’t seem right. I love the colors but it’s as if she’s wearing upholstery for a chair–that round pattern just didn’t work. I do like it conceptually i just think it could have been executed better with a better design to the shape of the beading.

    I like Mila Kunis’ dress and the color, but only from the bodice up, the ruffly lacey action below the waist ruins it–if it simply draped from the waist it would look great. I also loved Mandy Moore’s gown and thought she pulled off the neutral color really well, but would’ve liked to see a bit more “wow” in the makeup and hair.

    I love the way Hilary Swank’s ostrich feather details were executed (so similar to my wedding dress) but it was probably just a bit OTT, they should’ve been a bit sparser until lower on the dress… The color needs some oomph too but I do like how the feathers fade to a darker color near the bottom.

    • Agreed on Hilary Swank – if the ostrich feathers had started lower down, it wouldn’t have shortened her so much. And colour would have been fabulous.

      • And I liked Swank’s dress *except* for the feathers–but as you may recall, I don’t really like clothing with tentacles on it. 🙂

  10. I agree with you about a lot of them, in particular Steinfeld, Kidman, Spielberg’s daughter, Halle Berry, and Amy Adams, so let my just vent a bit about the ones where I disagree:

    I *don’t* think screaming red is Anne Hathaway’s best color–it made her look like a wraith, and the shape was too weird–3.5 out of 10.

    On the other hand, that strange black monstrosity really suited Busy Phillips–7 out of 10.

    I think the front cut-out on Blanchett’s dress and the weird index card epaulettes are appalling–3 out of 10.

    And I rather liked most of the dresses you slammed as “boring”!

    • LOL – and Mrs C liked all the ones I slammed as over the top! I hate to think what you two would think of each other’s style if you found yourself in the same room!

      • We’d probably disagree like mad. I’ve read Mrs. C’s comments about your usual “Rate the Dress” offerings, and she’s far more receptive to…unusual styles than I am.

  11. Madame Ornata says

    What an uninspiring collection of ho hum, none excite me. Most are boring, bad or been done before. The remainder maybe haven’t been done before and for v good reason lol.
    I agree with much of what you said dear Dreamstress but (like MrsC) I like it a lot more bright and OTT, so we diverge at some points. I quite like Helen’s, Scarlett’s, Hailee’s and Sandra’s (my favourite). I like certain aspects of Amy’s, Hilary’s, Nicole’s, Cate’s, Mila’s and Ann’s. Don’t like (at all) the red booby dress, little miss Spielboring’s or Mandy’s one (perhaps it’s better moving but it just looks boring). All those dull pale colours just make me want to get the glue and diamantes out – sheesh it’s the once year celebration of glitz and glammer, time for a little OTT.
    Lots of differing opinions, I think it’s wonderful we are all so diverse, shame the frocks aren’t.

  12. Julia Waite says

    Ever wondered why these actresses look so generic? its because Rachel Zoe and a small hand full of stylists put these looks together. Gone are the days of risk taking and originality.

    Thank god for Cher (in anything by bob Mackie), Helena Bonham Carter, Tilda Swinton, Demi Moore (bike shorts at the oscars 1989)…and Bjork!

    • Good point! What about Cate? Does she get a pass? I do admire Helena, but I wish her dresses were better made – the fabric and construction on the one she wore was so sloppy!

      • Madame Ornata says

        Oh I did not them already amybe I should go look them up

  13. Katy Rose says

    My favorite dress had to be Sandras, BUT only because of the lace peekabo detail at the center back. It was so unexpected on rather boring dress. Definitely upping the like factor. I also really liked Cate’s gown, Very unexpected. The rest were boring pieces of ugliness. My favorite part of watching the red carpet was that you could tell which actors had substance an the ones that didn’t, and completely fell over themselves talking. It was funny.

  14. Paul Miller says

    I agreed with you on all of them, not just generally, but especially in your fine points. This year, like every year since I was about 18, I meant to watch the Oscars but then decided I didn’t care. It happens every year. I think it’s because there really are no surprises: the big roles and movies that everyone buzzes will win usually do win. And the show is always a train wreck. Still, the best part is looking up the a gowns and acceptance speeches the next day.
    One of my biggest complaints about celebs at these kinds of events: Do your effing hair, ladies. The gown *wants* to be a part of a whole story. Paltrow looked like she spent the day in the pool, dug a Goodie comb down the center of her head and let it dry in the limo on the ride over. I’m not saying everyone needs an up-do, but can we pull out the hot rollers, please? Or *try* to co-ordinate necklace and earring choices to what we’re doing with our hair? Oy!

  15. Molly says

    Enjoyed the post and pics. The only time I disagreed with you was over Helen’s lovely 1930s puffed sleeves, it added some visual detail and shape to what would have otherwise been a very dull outfit and looked really flattering.

  16. Cornelia Moore says

    we didn’t watch, partly because it’s no big deal, partly because we had a 3-way birthday party to attend, so is this this years or last? don’t recall why we didn’t watch last year, I think for the same reasons. anyway, I’m 99% in agreement with your assessment, there’s a palpable lack of color, though a few of the less colorful ones I thought were a little better than you did. first and formost, that horrid “blood red” slash across Ann’s face makes her short chin look shorter, giving her an overbred look, not at all complimentary. a softer color would have lengthened her chin-and some people just shouldn’t wear red lipstick or blue eyeshadow, it’s simply not complimentary to them. doesn’t matter if it’s the style if it doesn’t suit you, even if you love it. it’s not good with fair skin, it just makes it even paler. or worse, jaundiced.
    Hailee was by far the best dressed there, just perfect. if I’d change anything, it would be the color, not to strong a change, but something a bit stronger than that, a light fucia or robin’s egg blue.
    Spielburg’s dress isn’t so bad-for silk bedsheets, maybe on someone like Heidi Blumm, it really requires the right persona (tongue somewhat in cheek) but what really ruins it are those heels. matching balley slippers, maybe, but those heels have got to go.
    do not like the feather duster dress, and wouldn’t catch me in one, not even (especially not even!) to amuse the cats. lol…
    ok, either this is last years, or Halle Berry’s wearing basically the same thing at least 2 years in a row. yawn…
    Amy Adams? best color-but then, I’m biased, my favorite color is electric blue, and I love sparklies-though this much is too much even for me.
    I greatly respect Dame Helen Miram but found her dress merely ok.
    I don’t like Sandra Bullock’s bodice. the rest of the dress is maaavelous, but that bodice is clunky and hardly private.
    I adore Mandy’s dress…with one exception. it needs to be ice blue or seafoam green, chiffon yellow or orange, soft pink, even darker colors ANYTHING but flesh tone. black shaded to grey and on to white near the hem (or any other color shaded this way) would be great, too, but flesh tone is beyond boring, it’s depressing!
    and last but not least, smashed boobs are never lovely. especially probably imitation smashed boobs that are exposed. erg.
    one more-some of these dresses look like they didn’t try them on until the last hour before the show, and did their best to fit into something too small-smashed boobs, dress inserts and all. no, there weren’t a lot of favorites in this bunch for me, not even Mandy’s dress or Hailee’s dress couldn’t match some of the beauties that have come through in earlier years. I’m pretty much in agreement with you on all the other dresses.

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