The Primetime Emmy Awards is a time to celebrate the best TV shows of the year — and the people behind them. It’s also a time to ogle at some of our favorite celebrities on the red carpet!
From Zoe Kravitz to Kristen Bell and Sarah Paulson’s very-mixed-opinion dress of 2014, here are our picks for the best Emmy dresses of recent history.
Lucy Liu, 2012
“Ally McBeal” alum Lucy Liu dazzled at the 2012 Emmy Awards in a structured Versace gown. The glamorous silver dress featured a fitted metal bodice and strapless neckline. Liu wasn’t up for an award that year but was nominated in 1999 for her role as Ling Woo on “Ally McBeal.”
Taraji P. Henson, 2015
Taraji P. Henson, who stars as Cookie on Fox’s smash-hit drama, “Empire,” strutted across the red carpet at the 2015 Emmy Awards in a black Alexander Wang dress. The sheer gown featured a sweetheart neckline, triangle cut-out and chain-link straps for a little bit of edge. Henson was nominated that year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role on “Empire.”
Sandra Oh, 2009
Actor Sandra Oh stunned at the 2009 Emmy Awards wearing a soft yellow gown from Marchesa. The sparkling, form-fitting dress featured intricate beading and an ornate rope draped around the waist. Oh was nominated that year for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Dr. Cristina Yang on ABC’s long-running medical drama, “Grey’s Anatomy.” Nine years later, in 2018, she’d make Emmy history as the first Asian woman to receive an Emmy nomination for a lead role.
Kristen Bell, 2016
Kristen Bell, who stars in NBC’s “The Good Place,” walked the red carpet of the 2016 Emmy Awards in a striking ball gown designed by Zuhair Murad. The voluminous dress featured a daring neckline and dramatic floral pattern. Bell has yet to be nominated for an Emmy Award and many fans felt the “Veronica Mars” alum was snubbed in 2018 for her work on “The Good Place.”
Blake Lively, 2009
Actor Blake Lively, who stared on the hit CW series, “Gossip Girl,” showed up to the 2009 Emmy Awards in a crimson Versace dress. The alluring gown featured a plunging neckline, high slit and paillette design along the bodice. Lively had not been nominated for her role as Serena van der Woodsen on “Gossip Girl,” but did win a People’s Choice Award and Teen Choice Award for her work.
Samira Wiley, 2018
“Orange Is the New Black” alum Samira Wiley shined at the 2018 Emmy Awards in a shimmering Jenny Packham dress. The statement gown was made of silver sequins and featured a draped skirt, cap sleeves and a deep V-neck. Wiley was won the award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Hulu’s original series, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
January Jones, 2009
“Mad Men” star January Jones rocked the red carpet at the 2009 Emmy Awards in a futuristic Versace dress. The structured, white gown featured a sweetheart neckline, metallic cut-out bodice and an alluring mermaid skirt. Jones wasn’t nominated in 2009 for her work on “Mad Men,” but was up for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series the following year.
Keri Russell, 2018
“Felicity” alum Keri Russell dropped jaws at the 2018 Emmy Awards with a black Zuhair Murad Couture dress. The sultry, long-sleeved gown featured intricate beadwork, a plunging neckline, two thigh-high slits and layers of black feathers at the midsection.
Russell was up again in 2018 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Elizabeth Jennings on the hit FX series, “The Americans.” She received nominations in that category in 2017 and 2016 as well.
Jane Fonda, 2017
The iconic Jane Fonda attended the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards wearing a bold pink gown designed by Brandon Maxwell. The stand-out dress featured a bateau neck, long sleeves and custom waterfall-back. Fonda was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on the Netflix series, “Grace and Frankie.”
Olivia Wilde, 2009
Actor Olivia Wilde attended the 2009 Emmy Awards in a white Marchesa gown. The white dress featured a classic mermaid silhouette and faux nude bodice with petal layers and one-shoulder cap sleeve. Wilde, who starred as Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley on Fox’s “House,” has yet to be nominated for an Emmy Award.
Lady Gaga, 2015
Pop superstar Lady Gaga arrived at the 2015 Emmy Awards in a one-shoulder black gown from designer Brandon Maxwell’s debut collection. The sleek, elegant dress featured a structured detail at the hip and a deep, open sleeve that showed off rib tattoos, giving the old-glamour gown a bit of edge. Gaga, who won a Golden Globe for her work on FX’s “American Horror Story,” was nominated that year for Outstanding Variety Special for her live music special with crooner Tony Bennett.
Drew Barrymore, 2009
Actor and beauty mogul Drew Barrymore looked like an absolute dream at the 2009 Emmy Awards in a blush pink Monique Lhuillier dress. The sleeveless gown featured a fitted bodice with a whimsical, feather-like skirt. Barrymore, who stars in Netflix’s horror-comedy series, “Santa Clarita Diet,” was nominated that year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her role as Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale in the limited drama, “Grey Gardens.”
Millie Bobby Brown, 2017
Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven in Netflix’s hit series “Stranger Things,” attended the 2017 Emmy Awards in a white Calvin Klein By Appointment gown. The strapless dress featured a sleek fitted bodice and full tulle skirt, with an ivory bandana tie wrapped around the waist. Brown was nominated that year for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work on “Stranger Things.”
Sarah Paulson, 2014
Sarah Paulson, star of FX’s “American Horror Story,” arrived at the 2014 Emmy Awards in a custom Armani Privé dress. The avant-garde gown featured floor-length black netting peppered with red dots and gathered at the waist. Though fun, Paulson’s outfit polarized fans, half of whom panned her look and half of whom loved it. She was nominated that year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her role as Cordelia Goode Fox on “American Horror Story.”
Tracee Ellis Ross, 2018
“Black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross stole the 2018 Emmy Awards with her fuchsia Valentino couture gown. The voluminous, off-the-shoulder dress featured ballooning sleeves and layers of taffeta plissé and was cinched at the waist. Ross received her third nomination in 2018 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Rainbow “Bow” Johnson on ABC’s hit sitcom.
Priyanka Chopra, 2016
Bollywood-turned-Hollywood star Priyanka Chopra made a grand entrance at the 2016 Emmy Awards in a red Jason Wu dress. The one-shoulder gown featured an empire waist, satin belt detail and ruched draping that lead into a flowy skirt. The “Quantico” star wasn’t up for an Emmy Award that year but was tapped as a presenter.
Linda Cardellini, 2013
“Freaks and Geeks” alum Linda Cardellini dazzled at the 2013 Emmy Awards in her plum-colored Donna Karan Atelier gown. The strapless dress featured sweeping petal folds that flowed into a lengthy train. Cardellini, who starred in Netflix’s thriller-drama “Bloodline,” was nominated that year for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Sylvia Rosen in AMC’s period drama “Mad Men.”
Zoë Kravitz, 2017
Zoë Kravitz, who stars in HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” attended the 2017 Emmy Awards in a whimsical Dior haute couture dress. The daring, feathered gown featured a black bodice with a plunging neckline and a full multicolored skirt. Kravitz, who’s also a singer and model, wasn’t up for an Emmy Award that year, but “Big Little Lies” did snag the award for Outstanding Limited Series.
Ryan Michelle Bathe, 2018
Actor Ryan Michelle Bathe turned heads at this year’s Emmy Awards in her cream-colored Melissa Masse gown. The shimmery mermaid dress featured a plunging neckline ruched at the bust, a cinched waist and elaborate shoulder detail. Bathe wasn’t nominated for an Emmy Award this year but was there supporting her husband, “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown. Bathe and Brown did act opposite each other on Lifetime’s hit military drama series “Army Wives.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, 2011
Actor-turned-lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow walked the red carpet at the 2011 Emmy Awards in a midriff-baring two-piece Pucci gown. The sheer black-and-nude dress featured extended cap sleeves, a hip-hugging skirt and sparkling Victorian-inspired pattern. That year, Paltrow was nominated for and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Holly Holliday on Fox’s musical sitcom “Glee.”
Kerry Washington, 2015
Kerry Washington was a vision at the 2015 Emmy Awards in her silver Marc Jacobs gown. The futuristic midi dress was made entirely of mesh and featured a thigh-high slit, embellished shoulder and ornate art deco hem. Washington wasn’t up for an award that year but had been nominated previously for her role as Olivia Pope on ABC’s wildly popular political drama “Scandal,” as well as her portrayal of Anita Hill in the television movie “Confirmation.”
Regina King, 2016
Actor Regina King looked absolutely stunning at the 2016 Emmy Awards in her soft red Elizabeth Kennedy dress. The strapless gown featured a structured bodice with a sweetheart neckline and a sheath skirt with a lengthy train. King was won an Emmy that year for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her role as Terri Lacroix on ABC’s “American Crime.” She also won an Emmy Award in 2015 for her work on the since-canceled crime drama, and walked away with another Emmy in 2018 for her work on Netflix’s limited series “Seven Seconds.”
Leighton Meester, 2009
“Gossip Girl” alum Leighton Meester looked like a goddess at the 2009 Emmy Awards in a white Bottega Veneta dress. The ruched, drop-waist gown featured dramatic shoulder knots, a deep neckline and flowy, layered skirt. Like her co-star Lively, Meester wasn’t nominated for an Emmy Award that year but did win two Teen Choice Awards for her work on the CW teen drama.
Sofia Vergara, 2017
“Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara made headlines at the 2017 Emmy Awards for this white mermaid gown designed by Mark Zunino. The strapless dress featured a plunging sweetheart neckline and bold ruching that flowed into a full fishtail skirt. Vergara wasn’t up for an Emmy Award that year, but was nominated previously for her role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on the hit ABC sitcom.
Padma Lakshmi, 2012
“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi stood out at the 2012 Emmy Awards in a tangerine Monique Lhuillier dress. The strapless gown featured a sweetheart neckline and voluminous fishtail silhouette. Lakshmi wasn’t up for an award that year but had been nominated in the past for her hosting duties on Bravo’s hit food competition show.
Claire Danes, 2016
Actor Claire Danes shined at the 2016 Emmy Awards in a gold Schiaparelli haute couture gown. The shimmering dress was made with textured silk chiffon fabric and featured a draped skirt, exposed back and plunging neckline. The “My So Called Life” alum was once again nominated that year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work as Carrie Mathison on Showtime’s spy thriller “Homeland.” She had previously won two Emmys for that role.
Eva Longoria, 2010
Eva Longoria grabbed attention at the 2010 Emmy Awards in her black Rober Rodriguez gown. The dramatic dress featured a structured bodice, embellished skirt and a lengthy train. Longoria, who starred on ABC’s hit dramedy “Desperate Housewives,” has yet to be nominated for an Emmy Award.
Rose Byrne, 2013
Actor Rose Byrne turned heads at the 2013 Emmy Awards in a pale pink Calvin Klein two-piece dress. The waist-bearing gown featured a sleeveless wrap halter top and floor-length sheath skirt. Byrne wasn’t up for an Emmy Award that year but was nominated in the past for her role as Ellen Parsons on FX’s legal thriller “Damages.”
Sarah Hyland, 2015
“Modern Family” alum Sarah Hyland walked the red carpet at the 2015 Emmy Awards in a wine-colored Zac Posen gown. The floor-length dress featured an off-the-shoulder neckline, structured bodice, flared skirt and a daring cut-away back. Hyland was not up for an award that year and has yet to be nominated for an Emmy.
Connie Britton, 2013
Connie Britton, who played Tami Taylor on NBC’s beloved drama, “Friday Night Lights,” stole the show at the 2013 Emmy Awards in a velvet dress from Naeem Khan’s 2013 fall collection. The cyan-colored gown featured a mermaid train and ornate gold detailing embroidered into the fabric. Britton was nominated that year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Rayna James on ABC’s smash-hit, “Nashville.”
Allison Williams, 2012
“Girls” alum Allison Williams made a splash at the 2012 Emmy Awards in her emerald green Oscar de la Renta dress. The form-fitting gown featured a peplum waist and structured neckline with architectural detailing. Williams, who starred in the blockbuster thriller “Get Out,” has yet to be nominated for an Emmy Award.
Camila Alves, 2014
Brazilian model Camila Alves turned heads at the 2014 Emmy Awards in a white gown from Zuhair Murad’s Resort 2015 ready-to-wear line. The mermaid dress featured a bateau neckline, three-quarter sleeves and intricate mosaic pattern with sheer detailing from head-to-toe. Alves was there to support her husband, actor Matthew McConaughey, who was nominated for his work on the first season of HBO’s crime drama “True Detective.”
Emilia Clarke, 2016
“Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clark walked the red carpet at the 2016 Emmy Awards in a cream-colored Atelier Versace gown. The fitted, strapless dress is made of slick chainmail and features a sculptural, draped bustline and cinched waist. Clarke was nominated that year for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Daenerys Targaryen — otherwise known as Khaleesi — on “Game of Thrones.”
Evan Rachel Wood, 2011
Actor Evan Rachel Wood dazzled at the 2011 Emmy Awards in a black gown from Elie Saab’s fall collection. The mermaid dress featured black sequins, structured cap sleeves, exposed back and lengthy train. Wood, who stars on HBO’s “Westworld,” was nominated that year for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her role as Veda Pierce in “Mildred Pierce.”
Nina Dobrev, 2011
Nina Dobrev stunned at the 2011 Emmy Awards in a scarlet dress designed by Donna Karan. The strapless dress featured a sweetheart neckline and mermaid silhouette with origami folds along the bottom. The Canadian-born actor, who starred in CW’s teen drama “The Vampire Diaries,” was not up for an award that year.