On the Oscars Red Carpet, Men Took the Fashion Risks This Year

Leah Bourne

Anticipation leading up to this year’s Oscars red carpet had everyone wondering what Lupita Nyong’o, Sandra Bullock, and Cate Blanchett were going to wear on the biggest night in fashion. And while it would be hard to say that any major actress made a fashion faux pas, once the dust (and the buzz) had cleared, most of the gowns fell pretty flat.

MORE: See All the Dresses From the Oscars Red Carpet

Stuart Emmrich, the editor of the New York Times’ Styles sections tweeted: “Nothing wrong with Cate, Lupita and Jennifer’s [Lawrence] looks tonight, but haven’t all three looked better this red carpet season?” It’s hard to imagine any of these dresses going down in Oscars fashion history along with gowns like Nicole Kidman’s chartreuse Christian Dior Haute Couture Gown she wore in 1997 and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Tom Ford white caped number she wore in 2012.

MORE: 25 Oscars Dresses That Will Go Down in History

What will be remembered from this year’s red carpet was the fashion worn by the men. Yes, in years past guys were relegated to the background on the Oscars red carpet in predictable—albeit tasteful—black tuxedos.

Not so this year: From white dinner jackets, to ruby cufflinks, to—gasp!—shorts, it was the men who really emerged as the risk-takers this year. InStyle Editor Ariel Foxman tweeted: “This year’s red carpet is either low-key or princess. The men are outta the box.” Well it’s about time.

86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Oscar winner Jared Leto in Saint Laurent
Photo: Getty

Best Supporting Actor winner Jared Leto may not have been able to pronounce Saint Laurent, the label that dressed him for the awards, but his look—a cream dinner jacket, black pants, and crimson bow tie stole the show. That he was also wearing Harry Winston ruby shirt studs is further proof that the actor turned rocker turned actor again put some serious thought into his Oscars look.

Leto wasn’t the only one wearing a white dinner jacket—Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Seacrest also jumped on the trend.

No one took quite as big of a fashion risk on the carpet as Pharrell Williams, though, who wore a Lanvin tuxedo jacket with shorts. Yes, thanks to Pharrell “shortxedos” might now be a thing. Love them or loathe them, at least he tried something.

86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Pharrell Williams in Lanvin
Photo: Getty

Newcomer Michael B. Jordan who starred in “Fruitvale Station” stood out on the red carpet in Givenchy with Navajo-inspired collar clips and metal plated shoes. It wasn’t long before said shoes were trending on various social media platforms with men clamoring to buy them. Who says guys can’t sell fashion?

86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Michael B. Jordan in Givenchy
Photo: Getty

And there were plenty of other smaller, but noticeable, fashion risks taken by a roster of other A-list men, too. Kevin Spacey, for instance, wore a navy Burberry Prorsum tuxedo. Leonardo DiCaprio couldn’t stop showing off his Jennifer Meyer cufflinks. And Will Smith—normally so predictable—wore a scarf tucked into his tuxedo and velvet smoking slippers.

Celebrity stylist Lee Harris recently told the Hollywood Reporter: “I miss the days of people taking risks … I feel like everyone’s so worried about worst dressed lists, they miss the joy of dressing up.” It’s a sentiment that definitely held true for the women at this year’s Oscars, who for the most part seemed  more intent on not getting it wrong than on getting it really right.

The lack of multi-page spreads in every magazine under the sun dedicated to what men wear to the Oscars means that there’s much more room for them to take red carpet risks. And the fact that they are is right in line with trends off the carpet: According to Euromonitor International, global luxury sales are set to grow by 3 percent this year, the slowest rate in four years, though they’re being buoyed by the strongest segment—men’s accessories.

Will we continue to see more of men stepping it up fashion-wise on the red carpet? One can only hope. And if it helps men at home dress better in the process? Well, that’s just a welcome byproduct.