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Grammy Fashion: Why Pop Just Doesn't Get It

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Amanda Hallay reviews The Good, The Bad and The Just Plain Ugly of this year’s Grammy Awards fashion.

The fashion buzz at this year’s Grammy Awards centered on CBS’s now famous dress code.  Nothing too low-cut, nothing that shows the crotch, buttocks must be covered – all sensible directives, not just in terms of morality, but in terms of trend.

The world is surely getting bored with celebrities believing that the more flesh they show, the ‘hotter’ they appear. At last year’s Grammy Awards, Lady Gaga allowed what CBS referred to as her ‘puffy bits’ to escape from her high-crotched sequined leotard in a performance that was seen as more gross than glam even by her die-hard “Little Monsters.” Other performers came to the red carpet in dresses that were little more than two strategically placed straps. Look, we all have bosoms (if we’re gals) and we all have puffy bits. If a man wants to see them on a screen, he can visit any porn site and see both without having to listen to rambling acceptance speeches.

That understood, I was interested to see how pop’s biggest names (many famous for flaunting their so-called ‘booty’) would respond to the new dress directive. Actually, I was curious to see if they’d follow it at all. Would stars who call themselves “bootilicious” be thrown into confusion if told sternly to cover up?

Only a couple got it right. Some got it half-right. Some looked just plain awful, and – of course- some refused to adhere to the dress code at all. They  looked passé and ridiculous next to the (admittedly few) stars who followed the rules and looked ‘fashion-forward’ (an expression I hate, but after sitting through the Grammys I am too mentally drained and physically exhausted to come up with a better one).

So here it is: The Good, The Bad, and the Truly Just Plain Ugly of this year’s Grammies.

Katy Perry
KATY PERRY looked a little bit – ahem – ‘top heavy’ in her sea foam Gucci gown, but overall, she got it right, and added a much needed touch of elegance to the evening's proceedings.

Alexa Chung

Just because it’s Valentino, it doesn’t mean it’s evening wear, and ALEXA CHUNG missed the mark in a summer day dress (in evening, in winter!) and looked as if she were off to a tea party with Alice in Wonderland.

Maria Menounos

Oh, why did the slit on this otherwise beautiful dress have to be so high? Had it not been, MARIA MENOUNOS would have gotten it so right in her high-necked, long-sleeved, minimalist gown in chic pale yellow.

Miranda Lambert

When working class girls in Liverpool, UK, go out for a night on the town, this is how they look.  Fake tan? CHECK. Flowing dyed blonde locks? CHECK.  Overly plunging neckline? CHECK.  Sheer skirt to reveal legs? CHECK!  MIRANDA LAMBERT should have Ferried Cross The Mersey in a gown that just made her look…well….common.


What the hell was this all about?  A cute enough outfit for a posh lunch (in the ‘80s) or a trendy cocktail party (in the ‘80s), but we were all expecting more from  Beyonce at music’s biggest night.


If this was in a solid and not this ugly print, I would have loved ESTELLE’S elegant get-up, the tiny bit of tummy and flamenco style train reminiscent of Rita Hayworth in her heyday.

solange knowles

SOLANGE KNOWLES always seems to get it right, and this year’s Grammy’s were no exception.  Elegant and interesting, Beyonce should take a note from Little Sister’s (or is she the younger one?) Book of Style.


ADELE wore a pretty dress by Valentino – but again, it’s not an evening dress, it’s a cocktail dress, and for a black tie event like the Grammies, Adele should have opted for elegant instead of ‘cute’.  Furthermore, beware of too much print, Adele’s shapely curves are somewhat lost beneath this veritable explosion of pink peonies. public Institutional Advancement Photos Blogs Jennifer Lopez resized 600

J-NO!  Ignoring the Dress Code, Jennifer Lopez’s skin-revealing dress was not only ill-fitting (look at all the puckering!) but just looked desperate and old hat.  This was a shame, as if there’s one artist who can (when she wants to) look ladylike and elegant, it’s the ever charming J-Lo, and it was a mistake for her to flout – rather than embrace – the dress code.


Am I nuts? I really liked this! ESPERANZA’S gorgeous gown would have worked better as a solid (as opposed to a print that looked sprung from Van Gogh’s nightmares), but the overall impression was that of an artist so confident in her own talent that she doesn’t feel the need to go for excess skin or shock effect to get herself noticed.  Nicely done, Ms. Esperanza!

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I have a feeling that ASHANTI’S Tony Ward Couture gown probably looked prettier in real life than on the screen, and it’s never a good idea to let your shapewear show.  Still, the singer looked more pretty than raunchy, which is a rare and wonderful thing on the red carpet these days. public Institutional Advancement Photos Blogs Nicole Kidman resized 600

Is it me, or is everyone bored of seeing NICOLE KIDMAN in beaded or lacy gold evening dresses? This one isn’t even good (it’s by Vera Wang, by the way) and her lackluster coif just added to the overall sense of ‘blah.’ I also feel that, for such an glittering event, husband Keith Urban should have rethought his footwear.

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TAYLOR SWIFT’S J Mendel gown was okay, but haven’t we seen this sort of caper a million times too often in the past few years? BOR-ing!

florence welch

There used to be an expression: ‘Dog of a Dress.’ Nobody really says it anymore, but perhaps FLORENCE WELCH’S bizarre creation by Givenchy might launch a revival of the insult! Recalling a costume from a ‘70s episode of Dr. Who, one has to wonder what planet Givenchy were on when they dreamed this reptilian number up – and what planet Florence Welch was on to wear it!

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If there’s one artist I would have wagered would ignore the Grammy Dress Code it’s RIHANNA, so shame on me!  Not only did she embrace it, she triumphed in it with her sophisticated gown by Azzedine Alaia, living proof that you don’t have to be shakin’ (and showin’) that booty to look stylish and sexy. 

So there you have it; one woman’s round-up of this year’s Grammy fashion. Was I shocked by anything? No (because I stopped being shocked by anything years ago).  Was I bored?  A bit, but I’d rather be bored by lack-of-luster than bored by people trying to shock me. Next year’s Grammy Dress Code? I think Rule 1 should read; ‘BE INTERESTING’ (accompanied by a photo of Solange Knowles in anything she’s ever worn).

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Amanda Hallay is a full-time faculty member in the Fashion Merchandising Department, trend forecaster, and former  International  Fashion Editor of ‘Couture’ and ‘Men Mode’ magazines.  She lives in a tiny coastal village on Long Island where they don’t have red carpets – and she’s very glad for that.

Topics: music, pop culture, fashion trends