They say you should dress for the career you want - not the one you have. If that's true, what did those Oscars 2013 ensembles REALLY mean? Carlene Thomas-Bailey decodes the most striking red carpet looks and ponders where the actresses hope the dresses will take them next...
Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Couture
What the dress means for her future career: To some of you, this may scream fluffy bedding. But what you don't know is that this fashion statement is J-Law celebrating being the hottest actress in Hollywood. You thought it was her time last year with The Hunger Games? Wrong. This year, no expense (read fabric) was spared and in this mighty dress she was literally un-ignorable. Directors will see her as an almighty actress who could very well take over from Cameron Diaz/Drew Barrymore/Jennifer Aniston, and you will forget a time when you did not know the name Jennifer Lawrence.
Jennifer Garner in Gucci
What the dress means for her future career: OK here's the deal. It might look like just a purple dress but it's more than that, literally AND metaphorically. It speaks volumes (pun intended) and what it's saying is: "Please don't relegate me to voice Disney animated films and cute-but-bad romantic comedies. I know in recent years it's been Ben's wife this and Ben's wife that, isn't Ben great as director etc.? But this dress will remind you that I was in Juno, people!" (And lest we forget - the classic, 13 Going On 30). With this dress, she is saying, "Hear me roar Hollywood, I am back!" Now he's got an Oscar, Ben can babysit the kids and we're expecting a Jen-shaped return to the limelight.
Anne Hathaway in Prada
What the dress means for her future career: All right, this is what happened. She had this stunning dress planned, but it got lost in the post. Then, while at a six-year-old's princess-themed birthday party, inspiration struck. She thought, "How best to show the world that I'm this year's actress who got made under for a film (classic Oscar-chasing behaviour a la Charlize Theron) and rocked it?" So she's wearing a pale pink dress, age appropriate for a child who's under 10. But on the upside, it's so tight there's no way she's hiding a bump under there so adios those pregnancy rumours. Celebrity – one. Tabloids - nil.
Kristen Stewart in Reem Acra
What the dress means for her future career: Here's the thing, K-Stew had a rough 2012. So what she needed here was something that said, "I'm intriguing and fabulously on trend. Don't be bored by my moodiness, and please forget that affairy thing last year because Twilight is over and I need to make rent". The dress works and gives us a fresher Kristen, who's more than just a slightly silly girl who went off with a vampire. Also, the crutches she used to hobble up the red carpet added intrigue. The question is, will it pay off in Hollywood?
Sandra Bullock in Elie Saab couture
What the dress means for her future career: Hello bombshell! That's the MO (modus operandi) here. She's saying, "Hey directors, don't forget I was the star in the Academy Award winning The Blind Slide". She is reminding us she is a great actress and also that despite the nasty cheating business with her frankly horrible ex, she is still hot and possibly bedding Bradley Cooper (rumours are rife). Hurrah! Sandy is still a catch! So don't mentally shuffle her off to that place where 40 something actresses go until they hit their Meryl Streep stride again. She is here and she ready to work.
Kerry Washington in Miu Miu
What the dress means for her future career: Shout out to Kerry Washington, who I think it's fair to say will no longer be just be getting offered love interest parts. This woman has knocked it out the park this year with a role in the most talked about film of 2012/2013 Django Unchained. She's knows she's a big deal and this dress is a "let me cement my place as one of the hottest Hollywood actresses around today". If she doesn't get a lead in a cool film or become a designer's muse within the next six months, the world has gone mad.
Renee Zellweger in Carolina Herrera
What the dress means for her future career: This is what I think happened, she wanted to show producers and directors that she doesn't always play it safe. She wanted a showstopper dress that screamed, "Here's an actress who shines (literally)". Also the wispy piece of hair flying in the front of her face is weird. Loving the toned arms though (do I spy the influence of celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson?). Maybe there's a fitness DVD franchise offer there, if the movie roles dry up?
Quvenzhane Wallis in Armani Jr, accessorised with puppy purse
What the dress means for her future career: Every designer was vying to dress this little star and I must say the winning look was very regal, in a kind of The Tudors way. But never mind the dress, can we have a moment for the puppy purse? Also the hair is flawless and the tiara headband shows directors that this little kid means business. She just got the new movie role of Annie, plucking it from the hands of (the now ancient in child star years) Willow Smith and this outfit is reminding Hollywood she's not just a child-Oscar-nominee, she's one to watch. Also, she was way cooler than most of the actresses there tonight and she didn't try half as hard. Quvenzhane rules. Fact.
LOVE THE OSCARS? Take a flick through all the red carpet looks this year...