The Oscars’ best dressed men, women . . . and salad greens?

Jada Pinkett Smith.David Livingston/Getty

BEST KALE DRESS — Jada Pinkett Smith

The last time we witnessed a true red carpet water cooler moment was Bjork’s 2001 swan dress. Does anyone remember anything else about the 2001 Oscars besides that dress? Also, does anyone remember water coolers? Well, step aside Bjork, because a giant piece of kale is casting a sizable shadow over your swan. Jada Pinkett Smith wore not just a dress, but a Jean Paul Gaultier sculpture that bore a striking resemblance to the leafy green vegetable. Perhaps I’m being repetitive by calling it kale. Seaweed? Spinach couture? Let’s agree that it’s art, and not necessarily a dress. Pinkett Smith should be applauded for hauling it around — and even sitting in it!

Nicole Kidman. Jordan Strauss/Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

BEST DRESSED — Nicole Kidman

If Kidman ever decides to retire from public life, red carpets everywhere will go into mourning. The Australian actress, nominated this year for “Being the Ricardos,” is the most reliable source of old-school glamour in Hollywood. Always in Armani, always impeccably styled, this year Kidman wore a custom-dyed strapless pale blue gown with a deep-V neckline and a bedazzled train. Other actresses on the red carpet attempted a train (always risky), but Kidman was most successful at pulling it off. I’m all for avant-garde, modern looks (thank you, Kristen Stewart), but there’s nothing like a swoon-worthy red carpet moment.

Jessica Chastain.Emma McIntyre/Getty

ON THE FENCE — Jessica Chastain

Here’s the thing about Jessica Chastain’s iridescent Gucci gown. I know I’m supposed to like it, but something seemed amiss. Could it be that bronze and lilac were not intended to live together on the same piece of clothing? Is it that a sparkly top shouldn’t be paired with chiffon? Or is it that the floral embellishments along the hem remind me of a bedskirt my grandmother had in the 1970s? I’m sure Tammy Faye would have approved, and maybe that’s all that matters. Hopefully next year Chastain will call Rita Moreno for sartorial advice.

Kodi Smit-McPhee.Mike Coppola/Getty

BEST MENSWEAR — Kodi Smit-McPhee

Smit-McPhee’s powder blue suit was part prom, part power. It was divisive, but fashion isn’t always pretty (we’re looking at you, kale dress). Smit-McPhee’s suit was part of the the tone-on-tone trend of the night for gents. Witness the monochromatic moments of Jeff Bridges, Wilmer Valderrama, Jason Momoa, Sebastián Yatra, Wesley Snipes, and Jesse Plemons. The other must-have piece of menswear for the carpet was jewelry. Let’s call it the year of the boy brooch. Am I right, Rami Malek? We’re giving an honorable mention to Simu Liu for his smile and for standing out from the pack in blazing red hot tux.

Tracee Ellis Ross.Jae C. Hong/Jae C. Hong/Invision/AP

BOOBY PRIZE — Tracee Ellis Ross

Is that Gypsy Rose Lee, or the star of “Black-ish”? Let’s start with the positives. It’s a pretty color. Many actresses putting their stilettos on the carpet arrived in red (Rosie Perez, Amy Forsyth, Marlee Matlin, Kirsten Dunst). But there was something missing with the red that Ross was wearing, namely the top of the dress. Some may claim her Carolina Herrera gown had a plunging neckline. Nope. A plunging neckline would mean the dress had something remotely resembling a neck. What Ross had were pasties. It also wasn’t just what was happening up top. The hemline wasn’t quite gown, not exactly a tea length. Timothée Chalamet also gets a booby prize for skipping the shirt altogether. Is that really how your mama raised you Timothée?

Timothée Chalamet.Mike Coppola/Getty
Olivia Colman.Emma McIntyre/Getty


Here’s a confession: No matter what Colman wore to the Oscars, I would have loved it. Thankfully she pulled off her most successful red carpet look to date in a silver pleated Dior gown. It was a true 1930s show-stopper. The key to pulling of a classic dress without looking matronly is all in the styling, and Colman’s loosely gathered tresses and playful make-up keep the proceedings light and fresh.

Zoe Kravitz.ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images


Everyone loves a good Audrey Hepburn reveal. “The Batman” star channeled Hepburn in a satin, baby pink gown by Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent. But it was the styling that truly conjured the spirit of the legend. A simple diamond necklace (was it from Tiffany?) and bangs (who doesn’t love bangs?) truly brought the look to life.

Saniyya Sidney.VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images


The “King Richard” star brought some much needed fun to the carpet. At just 15, Sidney was already dressing like an awards show pro (meaning she has great taste, or hired a very talented stylist). Her floral, strapless Armani gown was as playful as her smile. To top to all off she sported the trademark Hepburn bangs.

Rita Moreno.VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images


If you were suffering through the truly terrible E! red carpet pre-show chatter, then you likely noticed that the words “icon,” and “iconic” were being tortuously overused. The only time those words were truly applicable was when 90-year-old Rita Moreno arrived in a black Carolina Herrera gown and explained her sartorial inspiration. “I just love the way I look. Kill me, sue me!” You tell them EGOT! And then there was the hat. “This is from France and I just thought ‘What the hell?’ and then I put a black wig underneath, because, ‘What the hell, right?’” Ms. Moreno, we’ll give you a standing ovation no matter what the hell you wear.

Kristen Stewart arrives at the Oscars.Jae C. Hong/Jae C. Hong/Invision/AP


It seems almost impossible, but Stewart managed to make a deconstructed (and I do mean deconstructed) tuxedo feel dangerous and glamorous. The “Spencer” star, her hair playfully piled to one side, wore a satin jacket and a button-up shirt. But when you’re Stewart, do you really need buttons? All hail the punk princess! Somewhere, Joan Jett is nodding her approval.

Billie Eilish.Jordan Strauss/Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP


If we’ve learned anything from the Oscar-winning films “Gone with the Wind” and “The Sound of Music,” it’s that curtains make fabulous frocks (they also can be transformed into chic lederhosen). This information was not lost on Billie Eilsih. She studied up on her curtain-as-fashion history and arrived at the Oscars draped in a curtain-like Gucci gown. Yards of ruffles swallowed her up like a storm cloud of ennui and melancholy. But by the end of the night she proved she was more than window dressing when she scored an Oscar for “No Time to Die.”

Christopher Muther can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther and Instagram @chris_muther.