Whether it was Bjrk’s ridiculous “it is a swan, but I am going to pretend it is a dress” concoction or Halle Berry’s gorgeous Elie Saab dress with its appropriately-placed flowers that allowed the ceremony to remain at a “PG” level, the fashion is often more entertaining then the actual ceremony. Though I am no fashion expert – I once thought Blossom was really cool – I have read enough “In Style” Oscar editions to compile a small dissertation on what makes a great Oscar dress.

First of all, I have noticed that being extremely beautiful helps, and having an actual Oscar nomination seems to give a certain glow to the actress. An example of this is Gwyneth Paltrow, who was praised for the pink Ralph Lauren dress she wore when she won the Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love,” but then was practically stoned a few years later when she wore a slightly avant-garde black Armani dress that was assailed by the critics as being a bit too reminiscent of something Wednesday Addams might wear to the prom. Three actresses who are prime examples for great Oscar fashion are:

1) Nicole Kidman in 1995 in a chartreuse Versace that was criticized by some but praised by others for its boldness. If anyone can wear the color chartreuse, it is Nicole Kidman.

2) Kate Hudson in 2001 shined in a lace Vera Wang from the Couture Collection. This was quite a triumph after she had a worn a dress that looked like it was a hand-me-down from the Shania Twain collection at her first Oscars two years before that.

3) Lately, Renee Zellwegger has been looking a little insane with her dark brown hair, her affinity for anything black and her bizarre attraction to Jack White of The White Stripes. However, at the 2001 awards, Renee was all sunshine when she wore a vintage bright yellow Lily et Cie gown.

Of course, if one is going to talk about the high fashion points of the Oscars, then one must mention the low points, as well.

1) You can never talk about bad Oscar fashion without mentioning one name – Cher. Cher wrote the book on bad Oscar fashion. Every year, her Bob Mackie dresses and assorted head pieces became more and more outrageous and were one of the most entertaining parts of the show.

2) In 1999, a young Jennifer Lopez attended the Oscars. She did not yet demand to be called J-Lo and was still only on husband No.2. Her mess of hair extensions and form fitting dress, which focused on her rotund back side, was not something the priggish Oscar crowd was ready for.

3) In 1986, Demi Moore addressed the issue of spandex not being included at enough formal events. She decided to attack this issue head on by wearing a velvet spandex/long coat gown to the ceremony. Yes, Demi, spandex is a privilege and not a right, but then again being able to dress oneself should be considered a privilege as well.

Though I am partial to the fashion, I admit I will often watch the entire ceremony because I am a big star-struck dork and think the Oscars are one of the only opportunities that we get to see a real glimpse of celebrities – well, the Oscars and that page in “Us Weekly” that claims “Celebrities – They’re Just Like Us” and then for a moment, I feel like I have something in common with Lindsay Lohan because she too, drinks Diet Coke.

For a few moments, we get to see these usually glamorous, larger than life beings squirm in their seats as the name from the envelope is read. That is why looking good at the Oscars is essential, because even if you are feeling completely worthless inside after blowing what could be considered the greatest moment of your career, you can still say you looked good.

The gown choices for this year’s ceremony, which airs Feb. 27 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC, will assuredly be stunning with glamourous nominees such as Hilary Swank, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Annette Bening and Natalie Portman. As for my predictions for who is going to win the Oscars – wait, they give out awards at this show, too?



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