11 Grammys Red Carpet Looks That Shocked When They Debuted

The Grammys are notorious for bringing out a particularly experimental array of red carpet styles. Unlike more formal awards ceremonies where guests are expected to clothe the majority of their bodies and typically dress in floor-grazing gowns, the Grammys seem to inspire a creative free-for-all in which a transparent green, cut-to-there dress is as likely to show up as a chest-baring white tuxedo. These are visionaries, after all, and a little imagination is all part of the industry. We looked back to the bold style choices of Grammys past, and found 11 looks that completely shocked us when they walked the carpet. (Admittedly, now they seem, well... just like Grammys garb.)

Kim Kardashian

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Backless, front-less, and slit up-to-there: it seems like Kim Kardashian nailed the quintessential outrageous Grammys dress. The fact that it’s gold and glittery merely adds to the ostentatious allure.


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There’s low-cut, and then there are dresses that look ready for open heart surgery. While we applaud Eve’s bold red halter with beaded embellishment, it looks pretty risqué for something that millions of viewers will see on broadcast TV.


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If we were to name a red carpet trend over the past several years of the Grammys, it would attempting to wear the least amount of fabric that qualifies as clothing in an artfully frayed fashion. Fergie rocks this particular trend in a fringy white… dress?

Roselyn Sanchez

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We’re used to seeing cleavage on the red carpet, but a derriere-baring dress is unusual. Roselyn Sanchez’s slinky dress uses a strategically-placed sunburst to cover up her posterior.

Maria Menounos

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It seems as though Maria Menounos mistook the Grammys for an after-hours club. While we applaud her bravery, the ensemble still straddles the line between real clothing and lingerie.

Lady Gaga

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We couldn’t very well leave out the veritable queen of shock value when addressing Grammys style. Lady Gaga’s look at the 2012 Grammys was an overload of netting, transparent fabric, and glistening black corsetry.

Lil' Kim

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We’re not quite sure what to call this number, as Lil Kim’s ensemble is missing a few elements that would typically qualify it as a dress.

Margaret Cho

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We call it Peacock Chic. This feathered ensemble leaves little to the imagination despite being floor-skimming and long-sleeved with a high neckline — quite an accomplishment.

Christina Aguilera

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There are moments in fashion when a look is just shy of working, and Christina Aguilera’s dress is in that unfortunate grey area. Were the deep plunge neckline not quite so open, the dress would have been a glamorous choice for the awards.


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Rihanna is a master of switching up her image, one day arriving on the red carpet in a diaphanous Alaïa gown, the next trying out a turquoise and purple prom dress of sorts. This particular performance ensemble of barely-there shorts, a mesh top, and stockings looks more like warmup gear from an ’80s dance movie.


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We’re going to be honest: this looks more like a glorified bikini than a dress. But props to M.I.A. for attempting this look while pregnant!