This year, the Primetime Emmy Awards were mostly virtual, which made both celebrities and normies wonder what would happen in terms of the fashion. Presenters were allowed on the live set at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but most nominees video-chatted in from the comfort of their computers — and there was no preshow red carpet. What to wear? In a letter sent to nominees prior to television’s biggest night, the show’s producers offered some guidelines: “Our informal theme for the night is ‘come as you are, but make an effort!’”
“Effort” was interpreted in many ways. Most people opted for casual work-from-home outfits, but there were a few who still managed to create memorable fashion moments, especially on social media, including Tracee Ellis Ross, Zendaya, and Billy Porter. Scroll on for the best looks of the night.
Best Statuette Impression: Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis Ross may not have received an award for her role as Rainbow Johnson in Black-ish, but that’s okay. She was a living, breathing version of the Emmy statuette herself in a golden Alexandre Vaulthier gown. Given the metallic shine and all the frills cascading down the skirt, the gown could’ve easily worn the wearer. But Ross, who can pull off anything, made it look natural.
Most Casual Take on Glam: Jennifer Anniston
Putting out a fire “onstage” has got to be an Emmys first, but Jennifer Aniston made it look easy and even elegant while wearing vintage Christian Dior. Her simple black sheath dress and loose beach waves showed that she took her appearance in this strange ceremony seriously — without taking it too seriously.
Most Glamorous Loungewear: Jameela Jamil
Wearing pajamas to the Emmys is a vibe — and one that Jameela Jamil identifies with. (Wouldn’t you if you were on your couch?) But since it’s still an awards show, after all, she threw on a multicolored sequin dressing gown by Markarian.
Best Examples of Fashion With Deeper Meaning: Regina King and Sandra Oh
Regina King was one of the nominees who wore multiple looks. On Instagram, she wore an electric blue Schiaparelli dress, which would’ve made for a jaw-dropping red carpet moment any other year. During the show, she changed into a pink Schiaparelli suit and a T-shirt emblazoned with an image of Breonna Taylor and the words “Say her name.” Sandra Oh also used her clothing to speak to our unprecedented moment: Her hanbok-style bomber jacket is embroidered with the phrase “Black lives are precious” in Korean. Note the matching face mask to top it off.
Most Likely to Fly Away: Yara Shahidi
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Yara Shahidi in Prada feathers!
Coolest Cheongsam: H.E.R.
H.E.R. wore a modern take on the cheongsam from Vera Wang. Also known as a qipao, a cheongsam is a type of Chinese dress with a fitted silhouette. The hot-pink fabric with neon-orange piping made it more 2020 than 1920.
Best Hieroglyphics: Laverne Cox
If Hollywood ever decides to do another reboot of The Mummy, I have one request: Cast Laverne Cox. Whether she’d be the hero or villain doesn’t matter — just look at her in this custom Kim Kassas Couture. It’s the flowy black jumpsuit with cutouts revealing hieroglyphic embroidery for me. Anubis, who?
Best Spin on a Suit: Dan Levy and Billy Porter
Tuxedos may be dapper, but they rarely make for memorable fashion moments. Both Dan Levy and fashion-favorite Billy Porter, though, took the opportunity to do something a little different with their formalwear. Levy wore Thom Browne’s spin on a classic suit, which included a pleated skirt in lieu of pants, while Porter brought all the drama in head-to-toe white — with a long cape train and Rick Owens platform boots.
Best Boudoir Scene: Alex Borstein
Alex Borstein arguably had the best interpretation of “come as you are, but make an effort.” Looking this lavish in bed isn’t easy. Her time on screen was brief but effective, and the photos capture all of the details — the black slip, the lacy pink robe, the dog, and the fact that she’s in a bed on a roof (?). She deserves an Emmy for this alone.
Chicest ‘90s Disposable Cup: Holland Taylor
Sure, it’s Prada, but that print reminds me of something …
Most Likely to Belong in a Museum: Cynthia Erivo
If Cynthia Erivo’s dress was hanging at a museum, I’d think it was a beautiful piece of abstract art. But it comes to life on her body, accessorized with Tiffany diamonds.
Best Old Hollywood Glamour: Robin Thede
The voluminous skirt, elegant neckline, and cinched waist on this Christian Siriano gown are old Hollywood in the best way.
Best New Hollywood Glamour: Zendaya
Even at a pandemic awards show, Zendaya wore not one but two perfect looks. The first, by recent CFDA award winner Christopher John Rogers, brought refined elegance. And the second, by Armani Privé, was a fresh take on Old Hollywood glamour: a dramatic polka dotted skirt paired with a crystal bra bodice.