Best and worst Oscar dresses

Surprise—it’s my first fashion post! But I do pay attention to fancy dresses at awards shows (men are boringly similar in tuxedos, and when they deviate, it’s usually horrible). I didn’t watch the Oscars, but am a sucker for collections of red-carpet pictures on some websites. These are from Vogue, and I’ve looked at other sites as well. I’m just going to award Best Dress and Worst Dress. (Photos by Getty Images.)

Best dress: It’s Natalie Portman, who chose to make a political statement with her dress by having the names of un-nominated female directors embroidered tastefully on her Dior Haute Couture gown. It’s not that revealing compared to, say, what Charlize Theron wore (a lovely dress in itself), but it’s classy and tasteful, and nicely complemented by the cape.

And Titania weighs in:


Worst dress. Kristen Wiig. What was she thinking? (The designer wasn’t even identified, and I’d recommend that he or she hide out for a while.) This dress has been compared to lasagna, and you can see why. As a biologist, I’d say it resembles a nudibranch.


Magnificent Chromodoris Nudibranch (Chromodoris magnifica). Moalboal, Philippines


  1. darrelle
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I think your Worst choice is a good one. I wonder, isn’t Kirstin Wiig a comedian? Maybe this dress was supposed to be funny? I can’t say why exactly but I do find it funny. As soon as I saw it I burst out laughing.

    • Mark R.
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Yes, she’s a comedian. When I first saw the dress I thought WTF? Later, when she was doing her bit with Maya Rudolph, it worked better in context. Either way, it’s not appealing to me.

      • Posted February 11, 2020 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        I took it that way. She did a comedy sketch in the show, and this was an unstated part of it.

        Actually, I think it is fun to wear something goofy to these sorts of things.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      Yeah and it makes me like her even more.

  2. dogugotw
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Nudibranch? I’m thinking more like a squid’s mantle since the wavey things don’t go all the way around.

  3. Martin Levin
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Try a site called Go Fug Yourself, run by Heather and Jessica, two witty women who are also on Twitter. They are funny and precise, and cover a lot of ground. They too thought that Wiig’s dress (intentionally) comic, I thought) resembled a sea creature.

    • Posted February 11, 2020 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      It’s still ugly and I don’t find it funny. So be it!

    • sugould
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Who wore it better?
      Definitely the Nudibranch.

  4. Ann German
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    C’mon, prof! What’s the matter with wanting to look like a gorgeous creature like a nudibranch?!?!? Don’t be such a stuck-in-the-mud (like a gorgeous nudibranch).

    • Ann German
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      And, btw, I thought Billie Porter’s outfit was the bee’s knees!

    • Ann German
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      And, btw, I thought Billie Porter’s dress was the bee’s knees!

    • Posted February 11, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      A nudibranch is infinitely more attractive than that dress!

  5. GBJames
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    When I saw that red dress I thought of a Zygon.

    • James Walker
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      … which is funny because my sister and I used to refer to Zygons as “those lasagna monsters”.

      • Posted February 12, 2020 at 6:01 am | Permalink

        There’s no way I’m ever eating one of your lasagnes.

        • darrelle
          Posted February 12, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

          My thought exactly.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink


  6. sted24
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    ‘classy and tasteful’ is good. ‘Selfless and brave’ is better…

  7. Posted February 11, 2020 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Red nudibranch video:

    (We thought Kristen was endorsing Red Lobster.)

    • Posted February 11, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t love this Chanel outfit on Billie, even though she looked comfy:

      • Posted February 11, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        I rather like her fashion choices. Interesting and definitely not going for the all-so-boring nympho pop star look.
        Here I am, all a titter about H’Wood fashions! ..The hell is wrong with me!?

        • Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          Hahaha… I know… I thought that about myself too. Who cares, eh?

      • Filippo
        Posted February 11, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        From the 2/10/2020 NY Times photo, “she” was sporting rather impressive chin whiskers. I confess that I am not familiar with Billy Porter. Is s/he a trans female, or a trans male? Or a cis-male all decked out in riotous splendor?

        I think fashionistas are no less obligated to hold forth on the sartorial splendor of those who, by all outward appearances, appear to be cis-male politicians.

        (How can one be sure? Ought they not be asked on the record, at the circuses that pass for debates, what their gender identities are? Possibly there’s at least one “revolving” gender identity running for office. Give Nancy Pelosi and other female politicians a break, Vanessa Friedman.

  8. Posted February 11, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know why anyone would want to look ridiculous, but I guess that is her thing.

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Portman’s dress is interesting, but I am not sure how much of a statement it is, if it is so small it has to be pointed out. Johansson’s and Theron’s dresses were nice. Tom Hanks looked like he stole his tux from a boy. In an age when men have abandoned the cummerbund, points to Keanu Reeves for wearing a vest with his tux.

  10. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Years ago Tea Leoni went to some award show and on the red carpet proclaimed she got her dress in China Town for $20. It was a lovely simple dress. Imagine how that would go over now. Cultural appropriation.

  11. dd
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    The red “lasagna” dress which our gracious interlocutor, Dr. Coyne, disses is Valentino Haute Couture.

    It couldn’t possibly be pret-a-porter given the extraordinary tailoring.

    (You see how great it is to have gay readers!)

  12. dd
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I forgot to add:

    Wouldn’t surprise me if those dresses were not in the $70-100,000 range each.

  13. jedijan
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    I simlly cannot abide the fakeness that is the Oscars, but usually like looking at the dresses after. While the worst dress simply has to be a bad joke, it is not as simply ridiculous and laughable as the nude dresses of late. Anything to get noticed hey girls?! Natalie Portman always exudes professionalism and class as demonstrated is her clothing choices, so I am not surprised by your #1 choice. I haven’t sought out the dresses this year as a few outlandish ones have polluted the media already, so they have effectively diminished any remaining interest I had. Thank you for sharing Natalie Portman’s dress though; all is not lost it seems.

  14. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    I think Billy Porter looked great. I love the boots and the bracelets the most.

  15. Evan Plommer
    Posted February 11, 2020 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Good for Kristen Wiig, doing her own thing. No need to follow the opinions of others.

  16. Dominic
    Posted February 12, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Missed on the birthdays –
    George Hadley was born in London on this day in 1685 –

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