AFTER A LONG, late Oscar night, I met a friend Monday for caffeine and a recap. We covered the highs (Sandy Bullock, so cute) and the lows (Why was George Clooney acting like a jerky jock in a high school assembly?). And then, the big question: “Who,” my pal asked, “wins Best Dressed?”

Pause. Long pause. In the sea of strapless Cinderella dresses (Miley, Penelope et al), and strapless columns (Maggie G., Kate Winslet, etc.), no one great gown really stood out. I flirted briefly with naming Sarah Jessica Parker‘s daring Chanel sack dress, which should be commended for its originality if not for its look. (Butter yellow? Ick.) Finally: “Meryl Streep looked good, except for her hair,” I said. My friend agreed: “It was very pretty and age-appropriate.”

And so puts a cap on awards season 2010, when benign traits like, sigh, “age-appropriate” win the style game. Has the red carpet become so routine that we’re no longer bowled over by a beautiful dress? Or has A-list status become so tenuous that stars play it way too safe? In any case, in a night made extra-exciting by the unexpected sweep by “The Hurt Locker,” what a disappointment that there was no fashion equivalent.

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