An Investigation: What Were The Dresses That Defined The Decade?

These memorable looks from 2010's will stay with us for all the right reasons: they embody a message as well as a moment

Dresses of the decade

by Laura Antonia Jordan |

In the noughties, the world’s most photographed women took their dresses in two ways: safe or sexy. There was nothing challenging about them, they were pap-pleasing surefire hits made for Best Dressed lists (you wouldn’t want to get a rep as ‘difficult’ right?). But in the 2010's women bit back. You could see a reenergised confidence and a refusal to kowtow to the rules of conventional beauty in gutsy, boundary-pushing dresses made for showing personality, rather than simply looking 'nice' (see: Gaga’s meat dress, which kicked off the decade and still shocks now).

Because, now, who cares about being pretty when you could be powerful? Propelled by the advent of Instagram – where a celebrity, just like the rest of us, can be the architect of their own image – this was the decade of the dress that said something. There it was starkly written across the red carpet at the Golden Globes blackout (‘We’ve had enough!’), there it was in Rihanna’s gargantuan Guo Pei Met Gala dress (‘I have arrived!’), there it was in JLO’s Versace mega-moment (‘Who says sex symbol status stops at 21?’).

Running the gamut from political to performance art, they are all wildly different, yet sing from the same hymn sheet. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but the right dress can tell an entire story.

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2010: Lady Gaga's meat dress at the MTV Video Music Awards

We're not sure what she was thinking, but it definitely wasn't 'I'm a vegan'.

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