The Washington Post

Met Ball: When sheer dresses go wrong

Perhaps it’s time to institute a rule for sheer dresses: That they should cover no less than 50 percent of their wearer’s body, perhaps? A hard-and-fast number would have aided Beyonce at last night’s Met Ball, where a surprisingly sheer Givenchy sheer dress landed her on many worst- dressed lists in an example of risk-taking gone awry.

When sheer dresses are done right, they become instant classics, like Halle Berry’s 2002 Elie Saab Oscars dress. When they’re done wrong — oh so wrong — they’re mocked on the Internet for years, as in the case of Rose McGowan’s 1998 MTV Video Music Awards Dress that left very little to the imagination. Beyonce’s black-and-sheer beaded dress with a purple ombre train falls in between.

View Photo Gallery: Celebrities arrived on the red carpet for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala in New York.

Cher shows off her Oscar for best actress and her Bob Mackie black sequined see-through gown after winning the award for her role in "Moonstruck" at the Academy Awards April 12, 1988. (LENNOX MCLENDON/AP)

Berry’s Oscar, too, was acceped in her famous burgundy Elie Saab dress, but that was widely praised, both for its gutsiness, and perhaps because its overall coverage was balanced out by a full, opaque skirt. Same goes for Jennifer Lopez’s famous 2000 Versace Grammy dress, with its see-through jungle print and plunging neckline, offset by a long hem and sleeves.

Beyonce’s dress, admittedly, isn’t much skimpier than these — but its cluster of unflattering beading, which seems to resemble an abstraction of the human skeletal system, combined with the sheerness of the dress and the ombre skirt’s unfortunate resemblance of a Muppet’s pelt, altogether creates one seriously unflattering gown.

Marc Jacobs arrives at the Met Ball. (Charles Sykes/AP)

But for all who put Beyonce on the worst-dressed list for her sheer gown and her Cher moment, they’d do better to replace her with another guest at the Met Ball who one-upped her: Fashion’s former enfant terrible, Marc Jacobs, wore a see-through black lace tunic, accessorized with pilgrim-buckle shoes, white boxer briefs, and a smirk.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.


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