Puffy Sleeves Dominated The 2023 Oscars, But The Look Should Have Never Left The '80s

Although the Oscars can bring dazzling feats of fashion we look forward to all year, not every look is a winner. Case in point from the 2023 ceremony on March 12: Ana De Armas tried to recreate Marilyn Monroe's iconic look, but it just didn't come across as the old-Hollywood bombshell style it should have been. Other Oscar fashion flops came courtesy of Eva Longoria (too sloppy), Alison Williams (too pink), and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (too prom night). And some of the chic designer duds were...well, duds because they incorporated a look that should have been buried along with leg warmers and crimped hair. If you got a jolt of nostalgia as electric as the orange parachute pants you begged your mom for way back when, well, it's no wonder. That's because the show was chock full of puffy, '80s-level sleeves — which, if you've been paying attention, is back in according to fashion elites.

It makes sense shoulder pads were in back then, as they gave women a look of power as they assumed a larger presence in the workforce (big shoulders signal strength and moneymaking ability, according to Fatherly) — but while empowerment is always something to be celebrated, returning to the "Knots Landing" fashion aesthetic isn't the way to go about it. 

Puffed sleeves wore the celebs, not the other way around

The 80s were a unique era in fashion, to say the least. It somehow managed to include preppy chic, power punk, neon spandex exercise gear, and lace miniskirts. The Reagan years were also famous for the over-the-top couture we saw on "Dynasty" and "Dallas": glitzy fabrics held up by massive shoulder pads and puffy sleeves. That style spilled over to the real world, as women wore shoulder-heavy power suits to the office and forced their bridesmaids into gowns with arms that threatened to swallow them up. 

Style settled down in the decades that followed, as excess became less appealing. That's not to say there haven't been flops in recent years — the low-rise jeans and ultra-mini skirts of the early 2000s are best forgotten — but at least the world could rest assured that the Alexis Carrington look was gone for good. Then the 2023 Oscars came along to say "Not so fast." Alongside the form-fitting sheaths and elegant princess skirts were '80s-throwback looks like Angela Bassett's red-carpet gown. She would look amazing in a garbage bag, of course, and the purple color was stunning, but the oversized sleeves were just too much. Still, they paled by comparison to Florence Pugh's puffs, which looked like the toilet paper concoctions the guests put together at bridal showers. Then there was Fan Bing Bing, who was to die for in green, but it looked like the dress was wearing her (not the other way around). 

There were other trends on view during the awards, such as the rosettes donned by the likes of Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry. But the fashion fails definitely belonged to the retro gowns, proving that not everything old deserves to be new again.