The 2021 Oscars Red Carpet Was All About the '90s Midriff

The inspo is basically: "Anything Jennifer Aniston wore in 1999."

oscars 1990s 2021 midriff
(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Several of the top A-list actresses at the 2021 Academy Awards (opens in new tab) brought back a '90s fashion trend by wearing creative cutouts and crop tops.
  • Zendaya (opens in new tab) and Best Actress nominees Vanessa Kirby, Audra Day, and Carey Mulligan all wore the trend on the red carpet.
  • This trend was epitomized in the '90s by red carpet icons like Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, and Jennifer Aniston.

Tonight's Oscars (opens in new tab) is an award show like none other. The show's producers took great pains to make the show feel as normal as possible during a decidedly abnormal time. Instead of broadcasting from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood as usual, the ceremony was staged at Union Station in Los Angeles, to better comply with COVID-19 restrictions and maintain a safe environment for everyone in attendance.

This has also been a landmark year for the Oscars in terms of diversity and inclusion among the nominees and in speeches. In a lot of ways, it feels like we're watching the Academy Awards step into modern times. That isn't the case in every way, though. When it came to fashion on the red carpet, it felt like stepping back in time to the '90s thanks to the prevalence of partial midriffs.

In case you need a little visual reminder of the '90s trend we're talking about, it's creatively-cropped cutouts like Jennifer Lopez's (opens in new tab) at the 1998 Golden Globes:

Several of the top A-list actresses at the 2021 Academy Awards brought back a '90s fashion trend by wearing creative cutouts and crop tops. Zendaya and Best Actress nominees Vanessa Kirby, Audra Day, and Carey Mulligan all wore the trend on the red carpet. This trend was epitomized in the '90s by red carpet icons like Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, and Jennifer Aniston.

(Image credit: Jeffrey Mayer)

Or Halle Berry (opens in new tab) at the 1997 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards:

halle berry photo by sgranitzwireimage

(Image credit: Steve Granitz)

Or most of Jennifer Aniston's (opens in new tab) personal wardrobe in 1999:

jennifer aniston

(Image credit: Getty Images)

jennifer aniston

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3799 los angeles, ca friends stars jennifer aniston and courteney cox at the 5th annual screen actors guild awards sag held at the shrine auditorium photo by dan callister online usa, inc

(Image credit: Dan Callister)

Tonight, it almost felt like the most fashionable A-listers at the Oscars created a shared mood board full of those pictures and used it as their guide in choosing their looks.

Zendaya (opens in new tab) wore a custom Valentino cutout dress in stunning canary yellow and Jimmy Choo heels. The actress accessorized with Bulgari diamonds reportedly (opens in new tab) worth more than $6 million in total.

los angeles, california – april 25 zendaya attends the 93rd annual academy awards at union station on april 25, 2021 in los angeles, california photo by chris pizzello poolgetty images

(Image credit: Pool)

Best Actress nominee Vanessa Kirby (opens in new tab) (for her role in Pieces of a Woman) showed just the tiniest sliver of midriff in a light pink Gucci gown (opens in new tab) and accessorized with Cartier jewels.

los angeles, california – april 25 vanessa kirby attends the 93rd annual academy awards at union station on april 25, 2021 in los angeles, california photo by chris pizzello poolgetty images

(Image credit: Pool)

The United States vs. Billie Holiday starAndra Day (opens in new tab), who is also nominated for Best Actress, opted for a custom, gold Vera Wang (opens in new tab) gown with a large, asymmetrical cutout.

los angeles, california – april 25 andra day attends the 93rd annual academy awards at union station on april 25, 2021 in los angeles, california photo by chris pizzello poolgetty images

(Image credit: Pool)

Finally, Carey Mulligan (opens in new tab), also nominated Best Actress for her role in Promising Young Woman, wore a shimmery gold Valentino Haute Couture gown (opens in new tab) with a cutout high on her midriff and Cartier High jewelry diamonds.

los angeles, california – april 25 carey mulligan attends the 93rd annual academy awards at union station on april 25, 2021 in los angeles, california photo by chris pizzello poolgetty images

(Image credit: Pool)
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Kayleigh Roberts
Weekend Editor

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.