Sophistication rules the Oscars red carpet

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Old Hollywood beauty was in the air -- and on the red carpet -- Sunday at the 85th Academy Awards as stars channeled actresses of yesteryear with looks that married simplicity with sophistication.

Standouts in the glamour category were about as plentiful as the paparazzi. "Zero Dark Thirty" actress Jessica Chastain stunned in a fitted strapless with sweetheart neckline by Armani Prive. The copper color complemented her red hair and porcelain complexion, and the all-over douse of sparkle accentuated her figure without looking too glitzy.

Several others also opted for strapless, shapely silhouettes in soft hues, including Amy Adams (pale blue Oscar de la Renta) and Jennifer Lawrence (pale pink Dior). Both amped up the drama with voluminous skirted bottoms. Charlize Theron's pixie cut made its Oscars debut, and, like Ms. Lawrence, the actress wore Dior -- an all-white strapless gown with v-cut neckline and flowing train.

Octavia Spencer exuded elegance in a cream Tadashi Shoji -- a usual for her -- with beaded bodice and tulle skirt and wrap around the shoulders. "Les Miserables" actress Anne Hathaway proved wrong rumors that she'd show up in Valentino with a pale pink Prada, punctuated with a single Tiffany's necklace and small earrings -- and an overly pointed chest. (And, yes, @HathawayNipple is already a Twitter handle.)

A handful of stars added a pop of color to the mix. The rainbow included Jennifer Aniston in fiery red, Jennifer Garner in plum, Kerry Washington in coral and Jane Fonda in blinding bright yellow. Reese Witherspoon and Helen Hunt stuck with the fitted strapless trend but did it in iterations of blue. Ms. Hunt's navy dress was from H&M, which she paired with hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of jewelry.

While fashion choices were largely conservative, some starlets picked looks that packed some edge. Jennifer Hudson went with long sleeves and showed some leg in a lace midnight blue Roberto Cavalli. Halle Berry was another of the few who wore long sleeves with her slinky sparkly Versace dress. One of the strongest looks of the night was Naomi Watts' metallic Armani Prive gown, with capped sleeve on one side and sweetheart neckline on the other.

One of the most anticipated ladies of the night was 9-year-old best actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis -- and what pet purse she would carry. She told E! host Ryan Seacrest that she selected her navy Giorgio Armani gown "because it was sparkly." As for the purse, she didn't disappoint: She toted another one of her signature puppy bags, complete with a tiara.

When it came to accessories, stars clearly decided to let their gowns be the focus, as earrings, bracelets and rings were kept small and worn sparingly, while necklaces were hardly worn at all. One of the more interesting accessory choices was Ms. Lawrence draping a necklace down her back.

Hairstyles were neat and classic, with all-down loose flowing curls or neatly pulled back with a few wisps cascading around the face the main looks. Men also kept it classic, most wearing black tuxedos with shawl collars and black bow ties with crisp white shirts.

Some may rank this red carpet as blase -- no one fell down, pulled a prank or popped a strap and flashed the crowd. But it had plenty of simple, unadulterated beauty -- and isn't that what Hollywood glamour is all about?

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Sara Bauknecht: or on Twitter @SaraB_PG. First Published February 25, 2013 5:30 AM


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