Rate the dress

Rate the Oscars 2012

Last year instead of doing a ‘Rate the Dress’ the day after the Oscars, I did a round-up of the Oscars looks with my rating.

It’s quite fun for me to have a chance to rate things, and you seemed to enjoy it, and the informal vote on facebook was very much in favour of it, so I’m doing it again this year.

I have to say, while I liked a lot of this years Oscar’s dresses, there weren’t a lot of really interesting dresses.  It was a dull and boring lot overall.  But there were a few I can talk about.

First, my favourite dress of the night.  Octavia Spencer looked amazing.  Classic, glamourous, perfect for her figure and colouring.  It couldn’t have been better.  10 out of 10.

If only Michelle William’s had taken a page from Octavia’s book and gone for simplicity.  Instead, she took pages from everyone’s book.  It’s like she got all excited about all the stuff she wanted, and couldn’t say no.  “Orange!  And backless, and a bustier, and a ruched bodice, and a long slim skirt, and ruffles, or a little ballerina tutu, or I could just have both!  And then I’ll stick a bow on it.”  So many of the elements are fabulous: the colour, the underskirt, even the overskirt a bit longer on its own.  Even the bow, just not on that dress.  4.5 out of 10, because I really, really love that colour (it’s Tangerine Tango!) and the dress had so much possibility.

I should love Jessica Chastaine’s dress.  I want to love her dress.  The embroidery is just so, so amazing.  It’s quite different than anything on the red carpet this year.  Technically, it’s my kind of dress.  And yet, it just leaves me cold.  The cut isn’t quite right.  The embroidery layout is just that bit off.  And her colouring is just not quite light enough or dark enough for the striking gold on black.  5  out of 10, cause it would be amazing on someone else.

Melissa McCarthy’s dress does not look amazing on her.  And would not look amazing on someone else.  It’s so close to making her look amazing, and then it just completely misses the mark.  It’s the colour: too close to flesh.  And the way the gathers break the bodice up into two massive lumps.  And the really frumpy sleeves.  Oh Melissa, it’s so sad.  Why couldn’t it be chocolate or ivory (yes, ivory) or peridot or scarlet, or the colour of my Jeanne Samary dress?  That, and a few tweaks to the bodice and sleeves, and you would look fabulous.   3 out of 10, for so much potential, and so much disappointment.

You know whose dress I didn’t expect to love and do love?  Kelly Osborne.  It’s fabulous.  Its beautiful and striking.  The iridescent beading and those sleeves!  I need to do something with those sleeves!  I even love the grey-lavender hair.  It feels like an 18th century nod.  The one thing I don’t like is her new figure.  She looks disproportionately skinny compared to her head.  A fuller figure would flatter the dress more.  8 out of 10 cause I feel like I’ve given out too many high scores for this to be a 9 or a 10.

If you described Nancy O’Dell’s dress, you’d think it was awful.  Emergency yellow and black?  Bog-standard red carpet cut?  And yet, it works.  It’s gorgeous and flattering and clever and subversive, all without even looking like it is trying to be smart.  It takes on all the glamour cliches with a wink and a nudge, and produces a dress that is so much more than the sum of its parts.  7 out of 10 because it is bright yellow and glittery black, and the hair and accessories left something to be desired somehow.

And then, on the other hand, we have Rooney Mara’s dress, which is trying to very, very hard to do what Nancy’s dress does effortlessly, and falling flat on its face.  The problem is the effort.  It’s just too obviously attempting to be glamourous and beautiful and quirky at the same time, and not really achieving any of them.  Also, it has a sheer bust with stand-out nipple shields.  And that is NOT a good thing.  It also makes her look short and dumpy.  3.5 out of 10, because it’s not as bad as a dress with overhanging nipple shields should be.

Oh Missi Pyle, I don’t know who you are, but your dress…oh, your dress.  There is NOTHING OK about your dress.  It’s just wrong: wrong colour, wrong styling, wrong accessory, bad cliche draping and cut, just wrong.  It’s ‘Barbie goes to the Oscars’ and Mattel have never been known for good taste.  I know I’m not supposed to rate lower than a 1, but really, 0 out of 10 (OK, apparently it is ‘green’, which is good, but it would do a lot more for the green industry if it wasn’t hideous)

This year’s Oscars are just full of people I haven’t heard of. I’m just not up on the gossip anymore, and I’m glad of that. Anne-Sophie Bion is a mystery to me. I do like her dress though. It’s simple and elegant, with a clever, sexy quirk. I even like that you can see the strap that is holding the front to the back under the arm.  I just wish the fabric didn’t look so much like a garbage bag.  6 out of 10 for the fabric.

And then, on the other hand, there is Maria Menounos’ dress. I was all set to like it when I saw the skirt (despite that colour being on my hate list, and the weird flesh coloured lining). But oh, that bodice!  It’s just so desperate to show you how clever it is.  How amazing the engineering.  And so desperate to be sexy.  Desperation isn’t clever and sexy.  1  out of 10.

One more favourite of the night.  Emma Stone, that colour is fantastic on you.  I love the red with red hair.  That dress is fantastic on you.  I love the massive bow and trailing skirt.  It’s very 1930s.  I’m in love.  So much so, I’m giving another 10 out of 10.

You know who didn’t do red right?  Jane Seymore.  She’s still gorgeous.  Her figure is still fabulous.  And the dress is fabulous.  But not on her.  It’s mutton dressed as lamb.  Rather than highlighting how gorgeous she is, it highlights her age, and that she has worked perhaps just a tad too hard to look young.  In this dress, she isn’t aging gracefully.  And even as a 20something, bright red wasn’t Jane’s colour.  It’s just not good.  Jane, go visit Bo Derek and check out what she wore for a lovely dress that will show off how amazing you still look.  2 out of 10.

And one-last not-a-favourite of the night.  Sandra, oh Sandra.  I see where you were going with this dress.  I like the 1930s nod with the blouson cowl-back bodice.  I like the embellishment.  I like the black and ivory.  It’s all very chic.  The mistake is with the skirt.  It’s too try-hard elegant/sexy/red carpet mermaid & train for the bodice.  A straight skirt, maybe with a tiny puddle train, would have taken this out of the ordinary.  Right now it just looks well…cheap.  And the nude makeup and sleek ponytail aren’t helping with the ‘Real Housewives of ____’ effect.  4 out of 10.  

And now, the boring-is-even-worse-than-bad brigade (though I will say that they are better than last-years crop of boring).  So boring I can’t be bothered rating:

Penelope Cruz in ‘yes, I always wear the exact same dress’ boring:

Cameron Diaz in ‘bland and “but it looks like erupting zombie flesh so it can’t be boring!”‘ boring:

Busy Phillips (still don’t know who she is) in ‘last year my dress was hideous, now it’s tasteful and boring, but at least my accessories are still hideous and I haven’t learned to pose’ boring.  I do like the paisley lace though:

Virginia Madsen in ‘no, getting it in the most obnoxious colour known to man does not make it not boring’ boring:

Ellie Kemper in ‘the colour is perfect, the fabric is to die for, and yet it is still boring’ boring:

Kristen Wigg in hideous and boring:

And Jennifer Lopez in ‘so overtly sexy it stops being titillating and just becomes boring’ boring.  Also, that hairstyle must die:

And to finish off the post, a guy. Brett McKenzie, I can’t see much of what you were wearing, but this picture raises it to an automatic 10 out of 10.

You did New Zealand proud.

So that’s me.  What do you guys think?  Agree, disagree?


  1. Oh you are so bang on! I didn’t watch and have not tracekd down, and honestly once I knew Bret had won, I didn’t care about anything else (so parochial!) . They could have all worn paper bags, and it looks like some opted for a not dissimilar look 😉
    SO thank Dear Dreamstress for packaging up the salient stuff! 🙂

  2. Kelly Osborne’s dress is definitely my favorite of this bunch, but her hair is my least favorite, I think that’s what’s making her head look so huge.

    • Elise says

      I don’t know, my husband has a similar round face, but hasn’t been going to the gym while working on his thesis. The result is kind of a funny mish-mash of someone with a (handsome) round face, but a skinny body. He needs to bulk up again to balance out. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t look immediately weird, he just looks better with more muscles.

      Kelly O seems like she has a similar build has my husband, and while she still looks GREAT, she would also look great if she looked like Mae West.

      • Mae West came immediately to my mind – it’s that sort of look like the weird Violet dress The Dreamstress featured a while ago, so I completely understood what she meant when she wrote that a fuller figure would suit the dress better.

        • Elise says

          Man oh man! Can you imagine the violet dress on Kelly? That would be great!

  3. I completely agree on the Rooney Mara’s dress. It hurt my eyes to look at it only because every single time my brain would scream “Trim placement! Trim placement!” in this weird “Danger, Will Robinson!” way. She didn’t not need the weird shields/trim/whatever the heck that is there.

    I also agree on Jessica Chastaine’s dress. I wanted to add some sort of black sheer specked/beaded with gold straps or something. It just ended at the neck line and…nothing. Maybe a necklace would have helped or some bracelets.

    Emma Stone….I don’t agree on. The bow needs to go. It looks like it’s eating her neck. Or some grotesque bandage.

    I loved Penelope Cruz’s dress. Yes, it’s simple and a bit everyday formal but that’s sort of what I love about it. The color is very nice and mellow and the dress at least fits properly. We can’t say that for Melissa McCarthy who looked like she found a matching vintage rhinestone belt and necklace that she thought looked great with her Mom’s 1980’s sheer curtains. Fit never has anything to do with size, as Octavia Spencer shows us very well – it has to do with knowing your body and showing off your assets while minimizing your flaws.

    A gown not here but that I didn’t like at all – Livia Giuggioli’s (Colin Firth’s wife) gown. Shelf! Ruffle placement was all wrong and I swear she could have carried her purse in her “shelf”.

    • And I love the ridiculousness of Emma Stone’s bow. It reminds me of the 1930s evening dresses I posted. If fashion wasn’t ridiculous once in a while we’d have to realise that it really is ridiculous.

      The problem to me with Penelope Cruz’s dress is that she wears that same shape to every red carpet event. It’s too predictable. Nice, but predictable.

      I didn’t see Colin Firth’s wife. I try to avoid the partners (even George Clooney’s “Oh, I thought it was a *dress up like an Oscars* party” girl), because there are already too many people I want to talk about on their own! Unless one was spectacular. Then it would get a mention!

  4. Love your snarky comments! I, too, am surprised that I love Kelly Osbourne’s dress so much…*runs off to find some mesh for insets*

    I loved the color of Maria Meno-what’s-her-face (never heard of her!) gown, but that back was unfortunate. Also, Brett McKenzie! <3

  5. Michelle William’s dress was by far my favorite. I’d give it a 9 of 10, cause I’d wear it in a heartbeat.
    Emma Stone looked fantastic in that dress, but I’m not a big fan of the bow. Perhaps if it was more chiffony and less structured I would have liked it better, but it did look fantastic on her.
    There was a whole lot of ugly, but there was some good, too 🙂

  6. It is fine by me that you don’t like Jessica’s dress. It makes me feel less guilty about planning to break into her abode and steal it.

    And yes, I too was so disappointed by Melissa McCarthy’s dress. I really wanted her to knock it out of the park, you know?

    Had to do quite a bit of Google searching last night to find an image of Mrs. McKenzie in what I think was her Zambezi dress – black and strapless, rather structured, with a necklace.

    • I do like Jessica’s dress, I just don’t love it, and I just don’t think it didn’t look that good on Jessica. It would look a lot better on you!

      • Elise says

        Or on Jennifer Lopez! She always stands up straight, and she could really carry all that embroidery!

  7. I pretty much have to agree with your assessment – there weren’t a lot of crazy wow dresses, and there were a lot of safe choices.

  8. Stella says

    Have to agree with these, especially “erupting zombie flesh”. Kelly’s is my favourite. I’m giving her the full 10/10 and I love the hair colour; it reminds me of the 18th century too. I’d probably copy it myself if it wasn’t for my No Dye Rule.

    • They do make this stuff called hair chalk. So far it’s only in coral and bright purple and aqua, but I’m petitioning them to make it in pale grey pastel shades 😀

      • Stella says

        I need to look into this. I would be all over that if it came in grey.

      • Stella says

        So… Google informs me that hair chalk is simply regular blackboard chalk or chalk pastels soaked in warm water for a couple of minutes and applied to the hair, with a bit of hairspray used as a fixative. You can have any colour you want.

  9. Cornelia Moore says

    first response, before I read a single word, was one long OOOooooh! Octavia takes a 20 out of 10 for me! she’s simply smashing in this dress, exquisite. no-one else comes close to her this year-
    and while I’m thinking of it, the dresses tend to be far better this year, and this year I’m only 85% in agreement with you. Michelle gets away with her dress because, yes, it is Tangerine Tango, a lovely color-though not on everyone can wear that color. I don’t mind the cut. not crazy, but contrary to you, I hate Emma’s big bow. and you did complain when someone else did it-not sure who or just when, but I remember you didn’t care for it. the skirtlet on Michelle’s dress should go, then it would be excellent.
    I, too, should love Jessica’s dress, and I would, but for me it looks too much like a full body girdle. too boudueau-ish (sp?). I’m really at odds. I like it…but I don’t…but I do…but I don’t…but…
    Melissa. complete, utter disaster. first reaction-good God no. and after a 4th, really hard look, it would look bad on anyone. deadly color. offensive folds, frumpy drapes, the only thing going for it is the belt. Melissa should have worn a primary color tube dress with straps perhaps with beading cascading off a hip, something that didn’t make her look like she had on a plastic grocery bag like this dress did. worst dressed.
    I really like Kelly’s dress, but she looks too much like Jessica Rabbit in it, if ya know what I mean…she’s much too top heavy, and the dress magnifies and accentuates that way too much.
    YAG!!! I’m blinded! isn’t that fireman neon yellow? I adore the lace but PLEASE! a little more subtle background color. my eyes hurt!
    and that white dress is just bad, and the haircut is right behind it-and together? bleh! what isn’t boring on it is ugly. sorry. jmo.
    sea foam green is the only thing going for this dress-and the strap is so wrong. an after thought that didn’t work, imb…
    totally in agreement with you on the next two-love Maria’s skirt, but not her top. not crazy about either Emma or Jane’s dresses, either. they’re just ok. love red, these don’t do anything for me otherwise. you’re absolutely right abt Sarah’s outfit, and I don’t remember Penelope’s so can’t critic.
    I thought Cameron’s not so boring, just a bit odd, I sort of like Busy’s (but with that blond hair she’d do better in emergency red or electric blue, even emerald), Virginia-another satin bedsheet dress.
    but I LOVE Ellie’s outfit! she got the color right, it compliments her curves and her coloring, very tastefully done, it isn’t overly busy (the pattern may be a bit, so perhaps a solid would have been “better”, though boring), but I just thought she looked great.
    I swear I’ve seen someone else in Jennifer’s dress before, Danielle Steele’s characters, I think, or a soap oprah woman. the one who got nominated for something like 9 academy awards but didn’t win one until after that…Collins?. looks like a Madam, and I don’t mean a proper Ma’am, I mean a Madam…erg…I suppose it could be called a “come hither” dress…
    that last photo is a real kick. the shadow makes it look photoshopped, though. but it’s still a kick, lol.

    • Oh God! It’s so bad! It’s like a Project Runway design where they just ran out of time to finish the back of the dress. “Sweetie, your bustier is showing.” And a close up of the bust really makes it look like Ariel’s shell bra!

  10. I’m with Isabella – I loved Penelope Cruz’s gown. Mind you I’ve never watched the Oscars before, so I have no basis of comparison. If she *does* wear the same cut every time… well, that’s kind of boring, but at least she’s found something that works for her and sticks to it! And I thought this blue gown was gorgeous. It was one of the few which made me sit up and go “oooh! I want to make and wear that!”

    I cannot make up my mind about Emma Stone! I really like the dress… but not on her? I think her neck is a little too short to handle that enormous bow. Or something? It just doesn’t look quite right, but I really love the gown, so I’m not sure what’s “off” for me.

    I want Jessica Chastaine’s dress. OH MY. I would wear that in a heartbeat. And I do agree about Sandra’s dress… oh dear.

    So fun to see your ratings and comments!

  11. I agree with most of your ratings. But *not* with your rating for Emma Stone’s dress. To me, the entire bow issue is an irrelevance. That horrible half-ruff thing on the neckline kills it for me, and would even if the lumpy bodice and ho-hum waist treatment didn’t. (To say nothing of the fact that her coloring is a perfect illustration of why people say redheads shouldn’t wear red. Sorry, I don’t think the color is perfect on her) I’d give it a 2, and that’s only because there are worse gowns on the page.

    P.S. I *loved* Cruz’s and Kemper’s dresses. (On the other hand, there were a lot of tacky gowns among the stuff you placed in that category.) Maybe I’m just a boring person. 😉

    • I really, really wavered on Kemper’s dress, but I just couldn’t make it say anything to me other than “reasonably pretty dress”. It just lacked that one bit of oomph.

  12. Missi Pyles dress fabric makes me think “Mother of the Bride”. Ick. JLo’s dress says Cleopatra. Just what you’d expect from her. No surprise. Yawn. I liked Melissa McCarthy’s dress. I don’t do sleeveless but I think I’m a better coloring for it.

  13. Leimomi you are hysterical, but I have to say I agree with you on most counts. I definitely don’t care for the “trying to be super sexy or super clever and just looking like I’m trying too much” look.


    • Thank you! I’m always surprised when people say I’m funny. It’s not how I think of myself, and I’m tickled pink that it works.

  14. Elise says

    wwwwwwwOk, ok, ok, I had soooo much fun commenting on the comments! Talking about dresses is sooo much fun!

    You really hit the nail on the head with so many of the dresses, Dame Dreamstress! I will disgree with you only on one point: Busy Phillips was actually Michelle William’s date, so boring was exactly what she was going for, to let her friend shine.

    All together now: Awwwwwwwwwww

  15. I more or less agree with everything…
    Octavia Spencer’s dress – on her, too – is an instant “ooh”. I don’t know who Octavia Spencer is (yet), but if she’s as fabulous as her fashion sense and her dress here, she must be fabulous indeed.

      • I know that now. I don’t follow, I only catch up, with the help of pointers like this post… I like her in her photos. She sort of reminds me – the way she looks in the photos – of Konkona Sen Sharma, an Indian actress I know from Aaja Nachle, a film I saw thanks to my sister’s interest in Indian dance. Whoo, this sounds convoluted. In short, they both seem lively and expressive and fun and fabulous, so I guess I will be seeing The Help one day. 🙂

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