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 |
Updated on

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.


Dresses of the Decade - Grazia

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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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2012: Angelina Jolie in Atelier Versace at the Oscars

AKA the night Ange's right leg stole the show from the rest of Hollywood.

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2013: Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Couture at the Oscars

JLaw fell on the way to collect her Best Actress award, and the world fell for her in fairytale Dior.

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2013: Kim Kardashian's debut Met Gala in Givenchy couture

Previously NFI, this was the moment Kim was welcomed into the fashion establishment.

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2015: Rihanna in Guo Pei couture at the Met Gala

The dress that launched a million memes. True A-listers don't just own the red carpet, they cover it.

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2016: Beyoncé’s Roberto Cavalli in the Hold Up video

A masterclass in revenge dressing courtesy of a Peter Dundas for Roberto Cavalli dress, a flash of black bra – and a baseball bat.

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2017: Michelle Obama leaves the White House in Jason Wu

The quintessential diplomatic dresser, Michelle chose maroon Jason Wu (a designer she put on the map at the inauguration ball) for her final appearance as FLOTUS.

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2018: The Golden Globes blackout

Hollywood's leading ladies said 'Time's Up' in their coordinated red carpet blackout.

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2018: Serena Williams' Off-White tennis dress at the US Open

In the face of the haters, Serena keeps on doing her. A true champion on and off the court.

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2019: J-LO's Versace dress

JLO is 50. Fifty!. Just let that sink in. Even better the second time around, her Versace moment broke the Internet.

READ MORE: JLo Took Her Iconic Versace Dress To Saturday Night Live

READ MORE: Kim Kardashian Style: Best Dresses and Outfits

READ MORE: Serena Williams: 'I'm Not Sorry For Anything'

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