The 10 Most Breathtaking Gowns At The Oscars

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This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

You watched the movies, filled out your ballots, and hosted your parties. And all of your hard work paid off, because last night, we got to bask in the glow of glitter and sequins, trains, tiers, and tuxes. 

We saw the stars turn it out, and it was…okay, to be totally honest. Most people played it safe, and a lot of dresses didn’t entirely wow us. But of course, there were some stellar standouts — and ahead, you’ll find the 10 dresses that were truly the crème de la crème

So, let’s look back at the looks that we’ll be using as a standard by which to measure all dresses until, well, next year. Now, the award for best-dressed actress goes to…


Amy Adams
The minute we saw this dress, we were reminded of the stunning mille-feuille Valentino from Carrie Bradshaw’s swan-song episode. This Oscar de la Renta creation is one of the best examples of couture on the carpet. The detailing is precise enough to keep you on your toes, but bold enough that it won’t go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle. A classic choice for a classic actress who’s never been a great risk-taker, style-wise. 

Photo: Stewart Cook/Rex/Rex USA


Jane Fonda 
Clearly, Jane Fonda is some kind of wizard, but we’re not here to talk about her insane body. We’re here to talk about her dress. The shining, bright-yellow Versace Atelier gown has a definitive ’80s vibe (are those shoulder pads?), but that’s more than acceptable. In fact, it’s wonderful. As cliché as it is to call her a ray of sunshine, we just don’t know how else to put it. Ladies, let this be a reminder that there’s no excuse for dressing down when it comes to the biggest night of the year. 

Photo:Jim Smeal/BEImages


Jessica Chastain 
For pale, fair-haired women like Jessica Chastain, there’s always a nervous intake of breath whenever a gown even approaching nude is involved. And it’s true — in theory, the Zero Dark Thirty star should’ve been a washed-out bore in this sparkling taupe custom Armani gown. But anyone with eyes knows that’s far from true. We can’t explain how she did it (though the Harry Winston jewels probably didn’t hurt), but sometimes, wrong is just so right

Photo: Stewart Cook/Rex/Rex USA


Amanda Seyfried
During her Les Misérables press blast, we woke up to images of Amanda Seyfried looking absolutely spot on, day in and day out. Her love for the dramatic and boundary-pushing had us hooked. One of our favorite dresses was this gorgeous McQueen, and apparently she was in agreement. The actress went with Sarah Burton’s work again last night. And she brought it — pale, glamourous, and shimmering, Amanda Seyfried blew away any competition. 

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages


Naomi Watts
Naomi Watts is certainly no slouch on the red carpet, but when she showed up last night looking like an Armani Privé-clad android, she set her own personal bar even higher. Watts went avant garde without being overdone, and let her meltingly glamourous sequined number speak for itself with just the perfect touch of Neil Lane diamonds. If this is what our robot overlords look like, we welcome them with open arms. 

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages


Sally Field
Though it’s a little unusual to see fall ’12 couture on a 2013 red carpet, leave it to Sally Field to throw silly rules to the wind in favor of an undeniably gorgeous and flattering Valentino stunner. The incredible gowns from that collection didn’t get nearly enough play, if you ask us, and so we absolutely don’t fault Field for her pick. While long sleeves can often feel boring and stereotypical on older actresses, in this case, the opposite is true: She looks sexy but refined, fashion-forward, and iconically chic. 

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages


Salma Hayek
Three words: velvet and jewels. When in doubt, go for the old Hollywood classic (although honestly, we’d venture there was very little Hayek doubted about her McQueen dress). The almost-body-con fit and high-necked collar combined in one of the most regal gowns of the evening, but Salma being Salma, wore it with both power and sensuality. We love the simple gold clutch and Cindy Chao jewels she added on as well, which balanced the embellishment up top brilliantly. 

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages


Kerry Washington
Granted, she didn’t go the vampy, dark directionwe were betting on. But she’s as charming as ever in red, sparkling Miu Miu and Louboutin Decolletes. On a silhouette that shouldn’t look particularly modern, but somehow does, the real game-changer here is the pool of fabric at the back — one of the most effortless-yet-approachable trains we’ve seen in a while! 

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages


Charlize Theron
The truth is, Charlize Theron could show up wearing a Hefty bag and we’d still think she looked breathtaking. But last night, she didn’t. Instead, the graceful and gorgeous Theron opted for a clean, white Dior Haute Couture floor-length gown with a peplum waist. The only accessories Theron added were two sparkling bracelets — fitting, since her short hair and crisp neckline lent itself to minimalistic perfection. 

Photo: Stewart Cook/Rex/Rex USA


Zoe Saldana
The amazing thing about this Alexis Mabille dress — also topped with Neil Lane jewels — is its ability to be at once stiff and sweeping, prim and sexy, light and dark. It kind of reminds us of Saldana herself, who’s as serious on screen as she is lovable in real life. This is the kind of couture you can look at for several hours and still continue to discover new angles and surprising details. 

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

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