A toned-down red carpet

The Baltimore Sun

The red carpet at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards threw into sharp relief just how safe female musicians are required to play it these days when it comes to their image.

The steady stream of jewel-toned gowns, softly waved tresses and unremarkable diamond baubles was eerily similar to the red carpet scene at the Screen Actor Guild Awards a few weeks ago. Since when did pop and rock stars start dressing like actresses?

Rock 'n' roll rebellion may have been in short supply, but classically pretty ensembles were everywhere. Purples and deep blues were the hues of the evening, with Rihanna nabbing best-dressed honors in a sapphire scoop-neck Zac Posen dress with feathers peeking out from under the knee-length hem. The tutu-inspired look was young and kicky, its frilliness a perfect contrast to her boyish new haircut.

Natasha Bedingfield (boasting a head of soft golden curls) also looked glam-but-understated in a royal purple strapless Reem Acra gown with a wide belt, while Alicia Keys affected modern-day royalty in a navy Armani Prive halter gown with a mermaid-ish train that swirled to the floor like liquid (but kept it real with a curly Mohawk-like 'do).

Soulful singers Corinne Bailey Rae and Nelly Furtado chose another of-the-moment jewel tone, electric blue, and while both opted for strapless styles, Rae's abbreviated confection resembled a mess of blue candy wrappers. Pop tart Fergie looked sophisticated in a pale yellow Calvin Klein column gown and a sizable diamond necklace -- but who wants to see Fergie looking like she's ready to accept an Oscar? Bring on the hot pants and knee socks!

Thankfully, the men amped it up a bit. The look du jour for men was dark-on-dark with everyone from Ne-Yo, Ludacris and members of the Foo Fighters and Daughtry rocking black or charcoal suits over black button-down shirts. Hip-hop mastermind Jay-Z went with a classic tuxedo (bow tie and all), while Seal schooled all the young dudes in a gleaming white Yves Saint Laurent suit over a white shirt and a black printed skinny tie by Japanese brand Mastermind.

Still, all the well-behaved fashion had us pining for the days of Pink's one-legged stretch pants, and even Avril Lavigne's Converse All-Stars.

Emili Vesilind writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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