13 Iconic Emmys Looks We'll Never Forget
Velvet, couture, and so much more.
Every year, there are two separate sets of winners at the Emmys: the ones onstage, and the ones on the red carpet. Yes, perhaps just as memorable and monumental as the TV awards themselves are the crazy, chic, and sometimes confusing get-ups worn by the small-screen stars attending the event. From gold jumpsuits to feathery tutus, these are the most iconic Emmys looks of all time.
Betty White (1986)
At the 1986 Emmys, actress Betty White stunned in a sequin-embellished lavender gown. That year, the actress took home her third Emmy, thanks to her performance as Rose Nylund on Golden Girls (her previous two wins were for The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the late 1970s). "I am the lucky one who gets to come and pick up this beautiful 'golden girl,'" she said during her acceptance speech, before thanking her Golden Girls co-stars.
Paula Abdul (1990)
Paula Abdul has never shied away from shimmery styles. Case in point: the figure skater-inspired mini dress she donned at the Emmys in September 1990, the same year she showed up to the Grammys in a glittering Bob Mackie gown.
For TV's biggest night, however, Abdul paired her bedazzled dress with an equally extravagant accessory: an Emmy. She won that night for her choreography on The Tracey Ullman Show.
Cindy Crawford (1992)
Cindy Crawford might've only been a presenter at the Emmys in 1992, but suffice it to say, her outfit stole the show. Between the black bustier, high slit skirt, and beret, Crawford's look was the ultimate combination of glamorous and sexy. Menswear has never looked so good.
Rosie O'Donnell (1992)
It takes a lot of guts to wear a leopard coat with a crushed velvet newsboy cap and tassled scarf to a star-studded award ceremony. But that's precisely what presenter Rosie O'Donnell did back in 1992 at the Emmys, despite the fact that she was only just beginning to make a name for herself at the time. Some people loved the look, some people hated it—but either way, no one can deny that this unique get-up is one of the most iconic Emmys ensembles of all time.
Cyndi Lauper (1995)
The 1995 Emmy Awards belonged to Cyndi Lauper for two reasons: 1) She took the red carpet by storm when she showed up in a gold-and-black jumpsuit with a funky updo to match, and 2) She won an Emmy in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category for her role on Mad About You.
Jennifer Aniston (1999)
Jennifer Aniston, champion of the minimalistic look and pioneer of "The Rachel" haircut, threw TV fans for a loop when she showed up to the 1999 Emmys wearing a sequin-embellished halter gown paired with beachy waves. The late '90s look earned Aniston a spot in the unofficial award show fashion hall of fame. (Also, can we please appreciate Brad Pitt's alien-inspired shades for a second?)
Sarah Jessica Parker (2000)
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Sarah Jessica Parker was just as influential in the fashion world as her Sex and the City character, Carrie Bradshaw. And though pretty much all of her early aught looks were legendary, the pink tutu Oscar de la Renta dress that she wore at the 2000 Emmy Awards was a true fashion moment.
Even today, Parker's pink feathery tea-length dress remains one of the most iconic Emmys looks of all time. Over a decade later in 2015, Bustle wrote a tribute to the dress, noting that "anyone else wearing the number would have looked like a ballerina princess."
Oprah Winfrey (2002)
At the 2002 Emmys, Oprah Winfrey stunned in a Bradley Bayou number reminiscent of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. It was at this ceremony and in this dress that Winfrey took home the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, giving a speech almost as memorable as her get-up.
"The greatest pain in life is to be invisible," Winfrey said in her acceptance speech. "What I've learned is that we all just want to be heard. And I thank all the people who continue to let me hear your stories, and by sharing your stories, you let other people see themselves and for a moment, glimpse the power to change and the power to triumph."
Joan Rivers (2003)
Joan Rivers and red carpet style are practically synonymous. The late talk show host, commentator, and comedienne was famous both for her fashion feedback and for her own looks, including this feathery frock that she wore to the 2003 Emmys. When Rivers passed away in 2014, The Hollywood Reporter included the gown in their round-up of the star's 10 all-time wildest fashion moments.
Barbra Streisand (2004)
Only someone as over-the-top as Barbra Streisand could pull off a look like this. Was the velvet cape and matching dress practical in the California heat? Hardly. But this is Barbra Streisand we're talking about, and if the EGOT winner wants to wear a velvet cape, she'll wear a velvet cape, thank you very much.
Laverne Cox (2017)
Though Laverne Cox didn't leave the Emmys in 2017 with a trophy, she did manage to win everyone over on the red carpet. Her look—a black-and-gold high slit Mikael D gown—was flashy but fashionable, the perfect ensemble for such a groundbreaking performer.
Cox has made television history so many times at this point that it's hard to keep track. But we'll do our best: In 2013, she joined Orange Is the New Black, becoming the first transgender person with a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show; in 2014, she became the first transgender person nominated for an Emmy; and in 2017, she was nominated a second time, though she ultimately lost to Alexis Bledel. For this look alone though, Cox is absolutely a winner.
Tracee Ellis Ross (2018)
Bright pink was the color of the 2018 Emmy Awards, and nobody rocked it better than Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross. In fact, in her puffy-sleeved pink Valentino Haute Couture gown with the vibrant eyeshadow to match, the Emmy nominee was such a stunning sight that she literally brought people to tears.
"I almost shed a tear when [Ross] hit the carpet," Essence fashion and beauty director Julee Wilson told the Associated Press at the time. "She cements her status as a style icon every time she gets dressed. But then again, she was birthed by Diana Ross, so it makes sense."
Jonathan Van Ness (2018)
In 2018, Emmy-winning Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness came to slay in a Maison Margiela high slit mesh and sequin dress that he paired with a Prada clutch and Pierre Hardy platform booties.
"Growing up, I definitely put on every nail polish, every heel, every scarf—I definitely had my mom's knock-off Hermes scarves in my hair and around my waist—those were my skirts, and I loved it," Van Ness told Out magazine about his nonbinary style preferences. "I've been wearing heels and wearing makeup and wearing skirts and stuff for a minute, honey." Say yaaaas to that dress, Jonathan! And if you want to look as flawless as JVN, check out these 30 Fashion Trends That Will Never Go Out of Style.
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to follow us on Instagram!