This dress is a sexy princess daydream. No offense, Channing, but are you even the hottest Tatum in your immediate family?
2. AMY POEHLER IN ANDREW GN
Amy is a smart, funny, creative, interesting badass—#NastyWomen unite—so it’s thrilling to see her in a dress that rises to her level. And frankly, didn’t we already think of Leslie Knope as a superhero? It’s only right that she’d finally get a cape.
3. KRISTEN BELL IN ZUHAIR MURAD
She’s starring on The Good Place; this dress is our good place. Synergy!
4. KYEMAH MCENTYRE IN KYEMAN MCENTYRE
Kyemah is an incredible young artist. She went viral thanks to the amazing prom dress that she made herself, and the spotlight clearly didn’t faze her, because she followed that up with this gown for BET Honors. It’s made of canvas that she hand-painted with her inspiration—African-American women—she speaks passionately about her desire to question and transform people’s notions and biases about beauty. She even had her own art exhibit this month in New Jersey and has a website that will blow your mind. Basically, she’s got it more together at 19 than we do at, um, well, older than 19. If the children are our future, then ours is looking brighter because of young women like her.
5. CLAIRE DANES IN ZAC POSEN
This year's Met Gala theme of mixing handmade with machine work posed an interesting test for a lot of designers, many of whom didn’t get credit for their artistry because—and this is an actual bummer—red carpet photos don't come with explanatory pamphlets. Thank god Zac Posen extensively used his Instagram to explain that this immaculate gown, twinkly and ethereal on the red carpet, full-on lit up in the dark. It’s fabulous and makes us wish they’d had celebrities pop out onto the red carpet through a darkened tunnel. Kind of like Monday Night Football but considerably more beautiful.
6. NAOMIE HARRIS IN BURBERRY
This is one of the loveliest, most luxe patterns. Couldn’t you see it as a tapestry hanging on King Henry VIII’s wall, as he stomps around screaming about who he plans to behead next? Wait, maybe that image doesn't help sell this; fortunately, who needs a sale pitch for a dress like this when they've got two eyes to see it for themselves? It's glorious.
7. LUCY LIU IN ZUHAIR MURAD
Don’t sleep on Lucy. She's not in the fashion conversation as often as she should be, given that the erstwhile Charlie’s Angel knows how to rock a dress. We like this very gentle lemon number for its quiet elegance—not to mention the way it uses sheer pieces ever-so-slightly, as sexy hints rather than obvious head-smacks. But the real trick is that she’s pulling off the color perfectly. If you’ll pardon the terrible pun on her day job: Dear Watson, that is hardly elementary.
8. NICKI MINAJ IN BAO TRANCHI
OK, this is an obvious head-smack of a sheer dress. But hear us out. We know that’s her pelvic bone. We know it was tough to move in this. We know she even took to leaning against the step-and-repeat to pose more carefully and probably regretted this after three steps onto the red carpet. It’s the antithesis of everything we usually adore, and yet ... does she not also look fantastic in spite of all that?
9. ZOE SALDANA IN DOLCE & GABBANA
There are dresses, and then there are gowns. This, friends, was a gown. That sound you heard in early May was nearly everyone else at the Met Gala trying to desperately to find their thunder, only to realize Zoe had stolen it and stuffed it into her clutch.
10. SARAH PAULSON IN PRADA
Stunning. If we may be so bold, this is the win Marcia Clark should have had in court.
Look, it’s not a Best of the Year round-up without Zendaya working her magic. And this ismagical.
12. GUGU MBATHA-RAW IN BUBERRY
Burberry had a spectacular year. As did Gugu, who wore a number of really lovely confections, but none better than this graceful floral. If you didn’t have a crush on her before, you do now.
13. JANELLE MONAE IN TONI MATICEVSKI
All hail the queen. How Janelle manages to wear black and white almost exclusively, but never look boring, is one of life’s most delicious mysteries.
14. NAOMI WATTS IN ARMANI
This is so elegant, so brilliant, so shiny. Who says you have to be a nominee to make a splash at an awards show?
15. SAOIRSE RONAN IN CALVIN KLEIN
Saoirse spent the 2016 awards season reminding us that she wasn’t just that little girl in Atonement anymore—and nothing in her closet was as gloriously grown-up as this chic, shimmery Calvin Klein frock at the Oscars. Consider her adulthood well anointed.
16. LUPITA NYONG’O IN CALVIN KLEIN, BOSS, AND ELIE SAAB
Lupita remains, as ever, unforgettable. In patterns and sequins, in head wraps and high buns, no matter the event, she was consistent perfection. It was legitimately difficult picking only three of her outfits to spotlight. Teach us your ways, Lupita. Teach us all your ways.
17. YARA SHAHIDI IN TRACY REESE
In a land of starlets vying for attention by any means necessary, black-ish’s Yara stands out simply by being herself. This striped frock is youthful and whimsical, elegant and unusual. Women twice her age would do well to take note.