We may earn commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back. Why trust us?

The 42 Most Talked-About Oscars Dresses of All Time

We've got Billy Porter's tuxedo dress, Gwyneth Paltrow's sheer style and other unforgettable red carpet looks.

scandalous oscar dresses
Getty Images

All of Hollywood's biggest stars will come out for the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 27. While Oscar predictions may be the main draw, it's really the fashion — the good, the bad, the ugly – that will have everybody talking. But like most things, you can't really appreciate what's in front of you until you know how it all started. For that very reason, we've rounded up the most scandalous Oscar dresses from years past.

As you browse, you'll notice that "scandalous" is a relatively loose term. In addition to a range of shocking, barely-there ensembles (think: Cher's sheer black dress), we've also included tons of Oscar looks that simply generated some buzz. From Jennifer Lopez's plunging neckline to Billy Porter's memorable tuxedo dress, it's clear that the Academy Awards have seen no shortage of controversial red carpet fashion choices. You know what that means: If we're lucky, we'll see a few more head-turners this year.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Bette Davis
Hulton Archive / StaffGetty Images
1 of 42
Bette Davis, 1936

The Dangerous star was so convinced she wouldn't win Best Actress, she wore an old costume to the ceremony — a plain navy dress. After her surprise victory, rival Joan Crawford reportedly sniped, "Dear Bette! What a lovely frock."

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Barbra Streisand
ABC Photo Archives / ContributorGetty Images
2 of 42
Barbra Streisand, 1969

Barbra made history tying with Katharine Hepburn for Best Actress, but that wasn't the only memorable moment of the night. The Funny Girl star apparently didn't realize the bright lights would turn her sequined pant suit transparent.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Cher
Ron GalellaGetty Images
3 of 42
Cher, 1974

Cher wore a midriff-baring ensemble the year before, but this flowery bandeau top exposed a lot more than just her abs.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Edy Williams
Michael Ochs ArchivesGetty Images
4 of 42
Edy Williams, 1974

So many questions: Is that a leopard-print bikini? What's with the fur coat? And can someone please explain the dog?

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Farrah Fawcett
ABC Photo ArchivesGetty Images
5 of 42
Farrah Fawcett, 1978

The '70s style icon wowed in a slinky gown by Stephen Burrows.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Cher
Getty Images
6 of 42
Cher, 1986

Designer Bob Mackie didn't hold back making this legendary sequined ensemble complete with a sky-high feathered headdress.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Edy Williams
Getty Images
7 of 42
Edy Williams, 1986

More than a decade after gracing the red carpet in a bikini, Edy decided to take an even more daring approach. Carefully arranged strands of pearls leave very little to the imagination in this outfit.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Cher
John T. BarrGetty Images
8 of 42
Cher, 1988

None of the Kardashians can pull off a naked dress quite like this. The Goddess of Pop won her first Oscar for Moonstruck that year, wearing another Bob Mackie creation.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Demi Moore
Getty Images
9 of 42
Demi Moore, 1989

It was the '80s, but Demi really should have steered clear of bicycle shorts while designing this ensemble herself.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Kim Basinger
Getty Images
10 of 42
Kim Basinger, 1990

The Batman actress also tried her hand at fashion that year, dreaming up this, ahem, interesting suit-ballgown hybrid.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Cindy Crawford
Getty Images
11 of 42
Cindy Crawford, 1991

The supermodel attended the 63rd Academy Awards with new boyfriend Richard Gere in tow. The plunging sheath by Versace still tops best-dressed lists more than two decades later.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Geena Davis
Getty Images
12 of 42
Geena Davis, 1992

She may have won acclaim for Thelma and Louise, but Geena didn't hear much praise for this bustier top-and-ruffled skirt combo.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Whoopi Goldberg
Getty Images
13 of 42
Whoopi Goldberg, 1993

Underneath the comedian's purple satin skirt was a pair of paisley pants and a blindingly-green lining.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Lizzy Gardiner
Getty Images
14 of 42
Lizzy Gardiner, 1995

American Express didn't want the costume designer using their brand in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but they had no problem providing 254 expired cards for a one-of-a-kind Oscars dress. The real question is, how did she sit down?

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Susan Sarandon
Getty Images
15 of 42
Susan Sarandon, 1996

Something about the '90s inspired celebs to wear sunglasses both indoors and at night, but Susan's shades were the least of her problems in this shiny (and brown!) halter top.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Ashley Judd
Getty Images
16 of 42
Ashley Judd, 1998

Years before Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction, Ashley made headlines after an up-to-there slit revealed a little too much for primetime television.

Scandalous Oscar Dresses
Getty Images
17 of 42
Cher, 1998

At this point, it would be more scandalous if Cher didn't wear something revealing to the Oscars. This shimmery number maintained the trend, from outlandish headdress to beaded hem.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Charlize Theron
Getty Images
18 of 42
Charlize Theron, 2000

Charlize wowed in a tangerine gown by Vera Wang, but the actress later claimed the bombshell moment had an unintended effect. "I can't tell you how many times I've auditioned for a role, only to have my agent come back and say, 'Listen, Charlize, they saw you in the orange dress and they don't think you can do it,'" she explained.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Edy Williams
Getty Images
19 of 42
Edy Williams, 2000

The consistently-daring actress was back at it again in what can only be described as a figure skater's ensemble gone wrong.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Matt Stone and Trey Parker
Getty Images
20 of 42
Matt Stone & Trey Parker, 2000

The South Park creators spoofed Jennifer Lopez's infamous Grammys moment and Gwyneth Paltrow's princess gown in an extremely memorable Oscars debut.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Björk
Getty Images
21 of 42
Björk, 2001

No Academy Awards article would be complete without Bjork's iconic swan dress. Ellen DeGeneres spoofed it. Kevin James wore one. Valentino even riffed the theme in its 2014 spring collection. But no one can ever top the musician "laying an egg" on the red carpet. Ever.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Kate Hudson
Getty Images
22 of 42
Kate Hudson, 2001

The press skewered Kate Hudson's Oscars debut, hating on everything from the Stella McCartney cape to the extremely-curly hair. But the young actress didn't pay any mind to the criticism. "I felt so beautiful, and I have it in my closet still to the day," she said at a 2012 Vogue event.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Gwyneth Paltrow
Getty Images
23 of 42
Gwyneth Paltrow, 2002

Although she later regretted not wearing a bra, Gwyneth still likes her "goth" look by Alexander McQueen. Unfortunately, few critics could get over the sheer top and heavy eyeliner.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Halle Berry
Getty Images
24 of 42
Halle Berry, 2002

The Monster's Ball star also opted for a transparent bodice, but her Elie Saab dress (with strategic embroidery) received glowing praise. It's now routinely cited as one of the best Oscars dresses of all time.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Hilary Swank
Getty Images
25 of 42
Hilary Swank, 2005

Thanks to a daring backless gown, the Best Actress nominee drew the inevitable comparison of looking like a million bucks.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Sally Kirkland
Getty Images
26 of 42
Sally Kirkland, 2007

Former Best Actress nominee Sally Kirkland is always an Oscars personality, but a circus tent on top of some precarious pasties is a real head-scratcher.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Tilda Swinton
Getty Images
27 of 42
Tilda Swinton, 2008

Cosmo later wrote, "Please save Tilda from the black velvet garbage bags holding her body hostage." It's safe to say she did not make the best dressed list.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Charlize Theron
Getty Images
28 of 42
Charlize Theron, 2010

Charlize usually nails the red carpet, but bloggers had a lot to say about the conspicuously-placed rosettes on her Dior gown.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Madonna
Getty Images
29 of 42
Madonna, 2011

Fans wanted to know where Madge put her pants, but a black leotard under a see-through skirt seems quite tame by today's standards.

Scandalous Oscars Dresses - Jennifer Lawrence
Getty Images
30 of 42
Jennifer Lawrence, 2011

Jennifer would go on to cement herself in Oscars history (who could forget that fall?), but this Calvin Klein number attracted plenty of attention — and comparisons to Jessica Rabbit.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
More From Fashion