Thursday, November 5, 2015

The 2015 CMAs: Red Carpet Review

One of the many things that nearly all annual red carpet events have in common is that you tend to see many of the same faces, year after year. So let’s see how some of them have changed their red carpet style since last year! I’ll pull a few comments from the red carpet review I wrote for last year’s CMAs and compare them to this year, and then I’ll wrap it up with a few new folks who made the cut this year.

Carrie Underwood

In 2014, Underwood was several months pregnant, but managed that awkward stage very nicely in this flared gold lace frock with asymmetrical hem.

I’m not sure if she felt the pressure to show she’d gotten her figure back, but this year’s stunning peach gown with flared skirt, pleated peplum, and wide décolleté certainly proved that she has. The color works surprisingly well with her coloring, and the silhouette emphasizes her curves without looking like it’s working too hard. Elegant but sexy, this stunning gown puts Underwood solidly back on the best-dressed list where she belongs.

Kacey Musgraves

I was too busy being horrified at Musgraves’ horrific beehive ‘do last year to even notice her dress.

Wow, she more than made up for the hair AND the dress with her va-va-voom 2015 look. Channeling old Hollywood glam with her clingy bias-cut dark teal satin halter gown with cleavage to spare, softly waved hair, and pink lips against porcelain skin, Musgraves is all grown up this year. You go, girl! Er, woman.

Rachel Holder 

In 2014 Rachel Holder wore a lovely gown that unfortunately did not fit or flatter her as well as it could have.

She does not seem to have learned from her mistakes, because once again in 2015 she wore a beautiful gown that could have been much more flattering with a few minor alterations in fit. Tight instead of fitted, it wrinkles across the front and outlines the boning and the lining instead of skimming over her beautifully curvy figure. But the color is absolutely gorgeous on her, the more natural makeup and skin tone is much more flattering than 2014’s bronzer, and her necklace and earrings are sheer perfection. Not a completely perfect look, but she’s definitely moving in the right direction.

Kellie Pickler

I loved Kellie Pickler’s 2014 gown, with its studded detailing, rich fabric, and elegant lines. It was conservative yet unusual.

Pickler went in a very different direction this year, but her gown was still an eye-catching twist on a classic look. Deep royal purple satin with a fitted bodice flaring into a soft but structured skirt, a broad plunging V neck, only a wide silver cuff bracelet as an accessory, and simple hair and makeup resulted in a gorgeous clean and elegant look. Nicely done.

Last year there were several couples who worked well together on the red carpet.

Sadly, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton have divorced since the 2014 CMAs, when they appeared like this.

Shelton wore the classic “CMA tux” of dress shirt, suit jacket, and blue jeans, and Lambert wore a lovely and feminine Greek-inspired pale pink column.

If the best revenge is living well – and looking good – Lambert is definitely getting her revenge in her 2015 striking black column. Utterly simple, adorned only by a wide matte satin belt, long vertical stripe, and angled neck detail, it calls attention to her fun pink-tipped hair and sassy posture. I don’t love the hair drooping over her eye, but I can picture her flipping it rebelliously, so I’m giving her a pass.

Sorry, Blake, I missed you on the red carpet and your look on stage was boring. Step it up, dude.

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood

In 2014, Yearwood and Brooks went classic but dull, she in a long, high-necked black gown, and he in his usual all-black suit and oversized hat.

In 2015, Brooks kicked it up a notch in an impeccable standard tux with satin shawl collar, and Yearwood brightened her look in an ecru textured column with simple silver necklace and clutch. I don’t love her slicked-back hair and overdone eye makeup, but she looks more alive and happy than last year, so I’m still putting them in the “improved” column.

In 2014, there were a few bands who caught my eye for their nicely unified look, their expression of individuality that was somehow tied together, or an effort to “clean up good” without losing their uniqueness. There were also a few who couldn’t quite figure how to present a unified front. Let’s see how each group has changed over the past year.

Lady Antebellum

In 2014, Lady Antebellum went with low-key, slim suits for the men and a tastefully clingy black gown for the lady, all in dark, subdued colors.

In 2015, they showed a bit more personality in the men’s choices of striped tie and fabulous open-necked black-and-white polka dot shirt and the lady’s print sundress with perfectly coordinated lipstick. Still elegant and classic, but showing a bit more personality and uniqueness. It’s a good change.

Little Big Town 

In 2014, Little Big Town was all over the map with different kinds of suits, different lengths of dresses, and very few coordinating touches.

In 2015, there’s still not a lot of color coordination, but the level of formality is a lot more uniform, and I feel like the band members (particularly the women) look a lot more at ease with their styles than the prior year. They look more like they’re wearing clothes and less like they’re wearing costumes. Plus, I kind of love the crazy black-lined flaps on the red dress. They work with the wild curly ‘do and the coordinated red smirk. And the guy on the right seems to be morphing into David Beckham, which is never a bad thing.

Fall Out Boy 

In 2014, Eli Young Band succeeded with the formula of black jacket and pants plus bright pops of color in personalized accessories.

In 2015, Fall Out Boy took that formula in a slightly more classic direction. Black dress pants and various styles of black tux jackets paired with personal choice of black or white shirt, tie or no tie, buttoned or not buttoned, and hat or no hat, resulted in a classy and unified but not uniform look. Not quite as much personality as Eli Young, but clean and classic.

And, finally, the men. In 2014, the men hit it out of the park. There were plenty of elegant classic looks and plenty of distinctive but not wacky looks. Did they do as well this year? Let’s see.

Dustin Lynch 

Once I was able to tear my eyes away from Lynch’s dazzling smile in 2014, I was impressed by his deep blue tux and crisp grey shirt.

In 2015, Lynch’s smile is just as dazzling, as is his grey-on-grey brocade, black-trimmed slim tuxedo, paired with a deep blue shirt, tie, and pocket square, and pristine black boots and ten-gallon hat. This cowboy still knows how to git along, little dogie.

Darius Rucker 

I was impressed by Rucker’s deep plum velvet tux jacket in 2014, which he paired with jeans and a white shirt and dark tie. 

I was even more impressed in 2015 by his cobalt blue silk suit with coordinating tie and pocket square and charcoal grey shirt. The jacket seemed the slightest bit tight across the chest, but the pants were perfectly tailored with just the right break, and I loved the bit of grey cuff peeking out from the jacket sleeves. Hoot hoot!

There were some notable looks worn by celebrities who didn’t make my list last year, so here are a few looks we may be revisiting next year.

Danielle Bradbery

I’m not always a fan of the trend of short skirts with long see-through overlays, but something about the angles of this one, along with the pretty lace edging and the dotted Swiss panels, appeals to me. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the rest of the dress, with a plain round neck and princess seaming, but I like this look a lot.

Erika Christensen

I loved this dress a bit less when I saw Christensen moving in it, but for posed photos, the long draped ruffle added a graceful line to this off-one-shoulder flared gown in a bold electric blue. A lovely, feminine but not frothy silhouette.


The CMAs are a great place to break out a casual short dress in lieu of a gown, and Jewel picks a perfect short frock: glittery silver fabric and coordinating strappy shoes and clutch, plunging neckline and sleeve cutouts with perfectly-camouflaged modesty panels, and picking a single facial feature to highlight with makeup (in this case, her eyes). Nicely balanced, not overdone, but subtly eye-catching.

Kimberly Perry

If I had calves like Kimberly Perry, I’d live in dresses (and 9-inch stilettos) just like this: A stark black clinging column with a round neck and a single long sleeve, with one side cut short and filled in with a panel full of polka-dot cutouts. Striking and sexy, Perry pairs it perfectly with straight sleek hair, minimal makeup, and impeccable posture. Wow.

And of course, what is a list of hits without a list of misses to counterbalance it? Here are a few folks who might need to step it up next year.

Jennifer Nettles
I really wanted to love this look. I felt like I should love this look. The woman is gorgeous. The dress is gorgeous. And yet somehow, they just don’t work together. I think that maybe the dress is more suited for a voluptuous figure than a slender one. Perhaps if the skirt rested lower on the hips instead of above the navel, or if the neck of the modesty panel were less obvious, it would have worked for me. Perhaps if I hadn’t seen it from the side, a view which made it look gappy and poorly-fitted. But I’d love to see Nettles put her amazing figure into something that suits her better next year.

Justin Timberlake

For the most part, Timberlake had good elements, they just didn’t work together. The short-waisted tux jacket didn’t work with the untucked white shirt, the untucked shirt was too casual for the buttoned-up collar, the cool suede boots were too fancy for the distressed jeans, and the not-a-hair-out-of-place coif was at the wrong awards show. Next year, I’d like to see Justin trade the white shirt for a softer colored open-necked shirt, downgrade the tux jacket to a textured suit jacket, and cover the hair with a cowboy hat the same shade as the suede boots. That would be a little bit country.

Lindsey Sterlin
I don’t usually like dresses with different-colored tops and bottoms, but I think I’d have made an exception in order to fix this look. I love the skirt of Sterlin’s gown: it’s just the right amount of clingy, with a tiny puddle of hem and a small train, and sparkly vertical trim lengthening the lines of her legs. But the horizontal lines of the bodice, combined with the skin-toned shades near Sterlin’s face, do not flatter the way they should. I’d love to see a bright emerald, cobalt, or burgundy fitted corset bringing color and curves to the existing skirt.

Megan Linsey

Much like Rachel Holder’s gown this year, Megan Linsey’s gown had a great concept and an even greater color scheme, but the look fell apart because it was badly fitted. Linsey’s boobs are being squashed up and out, she looks like she can hardly walk or breathe, and her miserable expression says she is painfully aware of it. I love the color and spangle of the bodice and the coordinating hint of green in the velvet skirt; I love the hint of mermaid in both the colors and the silhouette; I love the asymmetrical platinum bob, the smoky eyes, and the pink lips. One size larger all around and Linsey would have looked like the beautiful bombshell that she is.

See you again at next year’s CMAs!!

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