Sun lets stars come out in style on Oscars red carpet

Heavy rains earlier in the day gave way to a flood of fabulous fashion on the red carpet of the 86th Academy Awards.

Stories of poor weather delaying the arrival of some celebrities' gowns peppered Oscar preshows. But come show time, the sun popped out, and the stars looked stunning.

Neutrals, pastels and whites, along with doses of darks and metallics, were the night's trending colors. Lupita Nyong'o, among the best dressed, added pale blue to the palette of jewel tones she has selected this awards season in a pleated Prada gown with deep V-neck (designed for her) and a simple headband.

"It's a blue that reminds me of Nairobi," she told red carpet correspondent Ryan Seacrest.

Others who opted to keep their colors soft included Cate Blanchett in a heavily embellished nude Giorgio Armani gown ("It's heavy, but I love it," she said), Jessica Biel in a sparkle-drenched champagne Chanel couture look, Giuliana Rancic in a full-skirted Paolo Sebastian choice and Portia de Rossi in a cream patterned Naeem Khan halter-style dress. Channeling the cape dress that was all over the New York Fashion Week runways last month was Kate Hudson in white beaded Versace with cape-style draping.

Others chose to spice things up with sparkle. Angelina Jolie's Elie Saab gown was a cascade of them over sheers, and her loosely curled long locks gave her an air of relaxed elegance. Kristin Chenoweth looked sharp in a gold metallic, art deco-inspired Cavalli gown that complemented the sass and class of her pixie cut. The disco ball bodice on Anne Hathaway's black Gucci gown shimmered like a thousand diamonds.

It was a red carpet light on eye-catching colors, but Jennifer Lawrence radiated in a fitted red Dior gown with peplum waistline (and it was refreshing to see her in such a rich hue). Bette Midler heated things up in a red-over-cream Reem Acra dress from the runway. She showed some skin but kept it fun and flattering.

And then there were the dark goddesses of the night. Charlize Theron looked divine in black Dior with a dramatic V-neckline and sheer-and-banded mermaid train. Julia Roberts did a peplum in black lace, and Idina Menzel dazzled in a curve-hugging hunter green Vera Wang gown. Sandra Bullock redeemed herself from earlier in the awards season (still can't fall in love with her colorblock dress from the Golden Globes) with a navy satin Alexander McQueen dress that gathered and draped in all the right places.

Amy Adams, a usual fashion favorite, went for understated sophistication in a navy strapless peplum gown by Gucci couture. Although beautiful, it was a tad underwhelming compared to some of her past red carpet picks.

It was nice to see so many men flex their fashion muscle with something different from the traditional black tux and bow tie. Cream-over-white tuxedos and dress shirts were one theme, which Mr. Seacrest, Jared Leto (no man-bun, sadly) and Matthew McConaughey each sported. Blue and burgundy were among the other color alternatives.

Of course, it wouldn't be an awards show without a few surprises. Pharrell Williams ditched his infamous Arby's hat for a black tux with shorts that showed off a leg tattoo.

"You're hatless and shinful," Mr. Seacrest said.

Liza Minnelli appeared in a voluminous cobalt blue top and pants -- and matching blue hair streak. Kudos to her for taking a risk, but it was one that seemed better suited for the Grammys.

Actress June Squibb, 84, might be new to the Oscars, but she's no novice to fashion. Tadashi Shoji made for her a beaded emerald dress and jacket, proving that like fine wine, personal style and confidence only get better with age.

Sara Bauknecht: or on Twitter @SaraB_PG.

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