Deep in Nashville’s historic downtown is a street called Broadway, which each year becomes increasingly more like some debauched adult Disney World. On this road, at any given moment, are innumerable bachelorette parties, but also the massive Bridgestone Arena—a curious location for a legendary spot that just last night held the 53rd Country Music Academy Awards. Unlike last year, the red carpet was shockingly devoid of cowboy hats. (Perhaps there was a shortage due to all the aforementioned bachelorette parties?) In its place were bright colors and textures and sequins and political statements—truly interesting garments I was not expecting to see. The honky tonk has left the building, y’all.
Carrie Underwood’s wonder women Jared Lehr dress (above) looked impossible to walk in, but improbably fun to wear because, let’s be real, that cloudy train has some cape-like qualities. I like it fine. But I know there’s better. You know there’s better. Let’s find the better looks.
Kacey Musgraves is quickly becoming a red carpet person to watch, and this Big Bird-but-make-it-fashion flapper dress is doing it for me. The Bachelor’s Laura Bushnell also wore yellow—a mistake. Natalie Hemby’s dress is perfect and I am now in the market for a cheap version of it. Commenters, help me.
Two-piece, super-cropped gowns are usually kind of wack, but Kelsea Ballerini pulls it off in this geometric RaisaVanessa number. Kylie Morgan’s velvet blue mini dress is the official look of Yawn City and I love pregnant Maren Morris. I especially love pregnant Maren Morris in a Honayda frock alongside her handsome husband Ryan Hurd, who wore dark blue Dolce & Gabbana.
Miranda Lambert’s Tony Ward gown feels pretty ‘00s to me, but in a shockingly good way? I applaud Kelleigh Bannen for wearing a dress that I can only assume is 100000 degrees at all times. Her name is Kristin Chenoweth, she is a showgirl.
The CMA red carpet is not a costume competition, but Jennifer Nettles should win it all. Her fit served as direct commentary on a prevailing issue in the country music industry—you know, the one where music executives, DJs and labels refuse to play women artists on the radio? The back reads, “EQUAL PLAY,” and the front, “PLAY OUR FUCKIN RECORDS,” as well as “PLEASE & THANK YOU.”
LANco wore outfits that individually represent each drink on Starbuck’s seasonal menu. (It’s a lot of caramel colors, is what I’m saying.)
Old Dominion? More like Oy, Dad-minion. There are simple fits for simple boys, however, those leopard print heeled boots can absolutely stay.
Introducing Gigi Hadid, Ice warrior. I like it all—even the exposed bra. The Bachelorette’s Hannah Brown wore an Atelier Zuhra piece that is somehow not a wedding dress, but also not not a wedding dress. Hmm. Wonder what Tyler Cameron thought about both his exes rocking the same shade. Runaway June’s coordinating leopard print is sweet. They should talk to the guy from Old Dominion.
Halsey has never looked better and she always looks good. Deanna Carter’s patterned mini dress is loud and sleepy, all at once. Reese Witherspoon is wearing an Atelier Versace cocktail dress that exists directly in the intersection of my interests and my mother’s, which is nice.
No one will ever out-country Brooks and Dunn. The Osbourne Brothers did not talk to each other while getting dressed. Dan and Shay, my mortal enemies, looked sharp. Sue me.
Ashley McBryde’s jumpsuit is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, much like herself. Martina McBride is a cotton candy dream and Brandi Carlile’s suit is perfection. I will be taking no further questions at this time.
Jimmie Allen’s the best dressed man on the carpet, bar none. I mean, his golden booties literally read “DAD,” because his partner is pregnant. What a way to make the announcement! AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys is trying to be country now, and I don’t hate his stylistic evolution. Lil Nas X invented yeehaw culture, lest you forget.
I like that Little Big Town always style themselves in an incongruous fashion, it sort of highlights their roles as individuals in the band. That said, I would love to join
Evanescence’s black parade, I mean Lady Antebellum.
Who could hate Amanda Shires’ space buns, or Jason Isbell’s leather pants? Trisha Yearwood’s zebra print is fun and only Garth Brooks could dress down a tuxedo. Props. Nicole Kidman wore fiery Versace sequins and Jimmy Choo shoes, and Keith Urban was also there.
Legends only, of course: Tanya Tucker’s brown and turquoise is unfuckwitable. Dolly Parton is a doll. Pink’s Julea Domani by Zeena Zaki look is possibly the most conservative dress she’s ever worn, and I love the burnt orange for the fall.
I’m not sure why or how Pink and Sheryl Crowe attended together—I was unfamiliar with their friendship before this photograph, but now it is the only thing I am able to think about. Also, Crowe’s angular body-con dress shines bright like a diamond.
RaeLynn and Reba dressed in shockingly similar, sexy Morticia fits, but there’s room for both. I’m particularly partial to RaeLynn’s Tadashi Shoji gown and Gbgh jewelry. Their desert goth children, Devin Dawson and Leah Sykes, also looked ready to join the Adams family.
Hardy, Morgan Wallen and Dierks Bentley all wore colored velvet, and I really appreciate the marginal effort.
Last and certainly least, let’s look at some guys: Scotty McCrery wore a suit. Mitchell Tenpenny also wore a suit, but a hat and glasses, too. Travis Denning wore a suit.
That’s it, y’all.