Kerry Washington’s Scandalous Red Carpet Style Always Stands Out

Honestly, thank god we live in the same time as Kerry Washington. The woman is a living legend, with an unmatched repertoire that covers everything from dramatic biopics like Ray, superhero films like Fantastic Four, and of course, her celebrated role as Olivia Pope in the hit Shondaland show, Scandal. For three decades Washington has been making an impact on the screen and stage, which of course means she’s become a red carpet pro throughout the years as well. But don’t expect demure simplicity from a Washington style moment. The actress loves drama, color, exciting silhouettes, and unexpected accessories. She’s not afraid of ruffles, patterns, and she definitely has never met a sequin she didn’t like. Because of that, Washington often gravitates toward designers like Dolce & Gabbana and Zuhair Murad, though she loves to mix it up and has worn just as much Ralph Lauren, Brandon Maxwell, and Etro. Basically, when it comes to Washington’s style, one should always expect the unexpected, which is what we love about her. Below, we’re looking back at the last 20+ years of Washington’s red carpet moments, tracking the actress’ style journey and her best looks from premieres, Met Galas, and award shows.

2023: “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” Met Gala

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Washington wore a three piece Michael Kors Collection look to the 2023 Met Gala, likely inspired by Karl Lagerfeld’s love of black lace.

2023: Vanity Fair Oscar Party

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The actress grabbed this beautifully gathered dress from the Donna Karan archives.

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2023: Critics Choice Awards

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The actress brought a bit of whimsy to the 2023 Critics Choice Awards in a colorful, bead-covered Armani Privé fall 2022 gown.

2022: The School For Good And Evil Premiere

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Washington was seemingly inspired by Sharon Stone at the 1998 Oscars with her green Ralph Lauren look, which paired a casual, cropped polo on top with a much more dramatic taffeta skirt.

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The actress added a bit of edge to her Elie Saab spring 2022 haute couture mini dress with a pair of black tights.

2022: “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” Met Gala

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Going for a more sultry look at the 2022 Met Gala, Washington attended the event in a sheer Tory Burch dress with a high slit and matching opera gloves.

2022: Screen Actors Guild Awards

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Washington went for drama at the 2022 Emmys, standing out in a neon yellow Celia Kritharioti spring 2022 couture gown for all the right reasons.

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The corset on this lilac Etro gown added both shape and intrigue to an otherwise simple, cowl neck silk dress.

2020: Vanity Fair Oscar Party

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The Egyptian-inspired Zuhair Murad spring 2020 couture two-piece Washington wore to the Vanity Fair Oscar party truly is a work of art.

2020: Golden Globes Awards

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Washington wasn’t afraid to show a bit of skin at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards, attending the event in a look from Altuzarra pre-fall 2020, featuring a silk skirt, blazer, and body chain.

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The actress decided to change things up for the 2019 Emmys and attended the event in black sequin pants and a ruffled tuxedo shirt from Alexandre Vauthier’s fall 2019 haute couture collection.

2019: Toronto International Film Festival; American Son Premiere

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When Washington wants to make a statement with a bold pattern, she turns to Zuhair Murad, just as she did for this fall 2019 couture dress she wore to the premiere of her film, American Son, at the Toronto Film Festival.

2019: “Camp: Notes on Fashion” Met Gala

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Washington’s ruffled Tory Burch dress had “Negativity is noise” scribbled throughout the peach skirt and sleeves.

2019: Vanity Fair Oscar Party

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Over-the-top dresses have never scared Washington, and in 2019, she wore this sheer nude Schiaparelli spring 2018 haute couture dress with ruffled tiers, visible boning, and a white belt to the Vanity Fair Oscar party.

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While it’s rare to see Washington in pants, the embellishment details, cutouts, and overskirt on this silver Atelier Versace jumpsuit place it squarely within the actress’ style wheelhouse.

2018: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination” Met Gala

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Washington went for a slightly more simple look at the 2018 Met Gala, attending the event in a long-sleeved, gold sequin-covered Ralph Lauren Collection gown.

2018: Vanity Fair Oscar Party

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A black leather mini dress from Alexandre Vauthier spring 2018 with matching thigh-high boots made for an edgier look at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar party.

2018: Golden Globe Awards

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Washington paired her black, sequin-covered Prabal Gurung dress with a pair of floral-embellished Roger Vivier booties.

2017: “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” Met Gala

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Washington looked incredibly cool in a patchwork Michael Kors dress at the 2017 Met Gala.

2017: Scandal 100th Episode Celebration

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The actress celebrated the 100th episode of her hit show in a navy J. Mendel fall 2017 dress with tiers of ruffles and tulle.

2017: Screen Actors Guild Awards

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While at first glance, this white, off-the-shoulder Cavalli Couture dress looks very ethereal, a closer look reveals the embellished leopard print pattern, which adds a bit of unexpected edge.

2017: Golden Globe Awards

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Since Washington loves a bold, ornate look, it makes sense that she often turns to Dolce & Gabbana to dress her for events, just as she did at the 2017 Golden Globes.

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Washingron didn’t let pregnancy keep her from showing some skin, and she attended the 2016 Emmys in a strapless black dress by Brandon Maxwell.

2016: “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology” Met Gala

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A red-headed Washington embraced a Morticia Addams-type look at the 2016 Met Gala with the help of Marc Jacobs.

2016: Confirmation Premiere

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Washington wore a classic floral dress by Dolce & Gabbana to the premiere of her film, Confirmation.

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The actress mixed hard and soft aesthetics at the Oscars in 2016, attending the event in a Versace dress with a structured leather bodice and more relaxed white skirt.

2016: Vanity Fair Oscar Party

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The actress kept the Versace theme going and wore the brand to the Vanity Fair Oscar party that night as well.

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Washington made a statement at the Emmys in a silver, embellished Marc Jacobs gown with an unexpected hemline.

2015: “China: Through The Looking Glass” Met Gala

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While normally, Washington gravitates toward a darker, more seductive look for the Met Gala, in 2015 she opted for a more demure ensemble, attending the event in a pink Prada dress with a knee-length hem and voluminous overskirt.

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Washington looked gorgeous in an embellished Miu Miu dress with a structured bodice at the 2015 Oscars.

2015: Golden Globe Awards

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The texture and color block details of this Mary Katrantzou pre-fall 2015 dress added some modernity to the otherwise classic look.

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Washington brought some color to the Emmys red carpet in a bright orange Prada column gown with a sparkly mini skirt peaking out through the high slit.

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For the 2014 Oscars, a pregnant Washington went for a simpler look than we are used to seeing her in. The actress wore a gray-ish purple satin crepe gown from Jason Wu that cascaded off her growing bump.

2014: Screen Actors Guild Awards

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While her Oscar look fit more squarely into the realm of maternity style, Washington flipped the notion of dressing for a bump on its head when she arrived pregnant to the SAG Awards in a stomach-baring midnight blue silk skirt and cropped, bright pink embellished top from Prada.

2014: Golden Globe Awards

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Showing off her wide style range, Washington opted for simplicity at the Globes in 2014, attending the event in a pale green Balenciaga gown.

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Washington embraced her more romantic side for the 2013 Emmys when she wore an ethereal Marchesa spring 2014 dress.

2013: “Punk: Chaos to Couture” Met Gala

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While Washington has worn some pretty punk looks in the past, she went for a more classic, glam aesthetic for the Met Gala in 2013, wearing a purple floral Vera Wang dress with leather gloves to add some edge.

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The actress supported her film, Django Unchained, in a coral Miu Miu dress with an embellished bodice.

2013: Screen Actors Guild Awards

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Washington loves contrasting between the soft and the structured, which is likely why she gravitated toward this gorgeous Rodarte dress.

2013: Django Unchained UK Premiere

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If you look closely at the Giles spring 2013 dress Washington wore to the Django Unchained premiere, you will see a horse printed on the skirt.

2012: LACMA Art + Film Gala

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Washington wore an embellished Gucci mini dress to the LACMA Gala in 2012.

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The actress looked like a bonafide Hollywood star in a sequin-covered Vivienne Westwood gown at the 2012 Emmys.

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Washington looked red hot at the 2011 Emmys in a completely beaded Zuhair Murad dress.

2011: “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” Met Gala

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A closer look at this turquoise Escada dress reveals some subtle sequins on the bust, a detail Washington seems to love

2011: Vanity Fair Oscar Party

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When in doubt, Washington will always gravitate toward sequins, like she did when she wore this tonal Escada dress to the Oscar after party in 2011.

2010: For Colored Girls Premiere

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With Washington’s love of patterns, it’s surprising this is one of the rare times we’ve seen her in Missoni.

2010: “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” Met Gala

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This beautifully draped, red dress Washington wore —which matched the Met steps carpet—was designed by Thakoon Panichgul for The Gap.

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Washington celebrated the opening night of her Broadway show in a bright pink, embroidered Marchesa dress.

2009: White House Correspondents’ Dinner

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Though Washington ditched her trusty sequins for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, she still made an impact thanks to the unique silhouette of this J. Mendel dress.

2008: Lakeview Terrace Premiere

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Washington celebrated the premiere of her new film in a figure-hugging, red and white Oscar de la Renta column dress.

2008: Cannes Film Festival Closing Ceremony

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The actress went for chic elegance in a light blue ball gown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.

2007: Cannes Film Festival; Ocean’s Thirteen Premiere


A year earlier, she wore a more quintessential Washington dress, one with a bit more attitude thanks to the layers of ruffles and bejeweled belt.

2007: “Poiret: King of Fashion” Met Gala

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Washington kept it simple for the 2007 Met Gala in a hunter green dress.

2007: I Think I Love My Wife Premiere

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We can’t decide what’s more cheerful about the Oscar de la Renta dress Washington wore to the premiere of her film, I Think I Love My Wife—the bright yellow color or the floral details on the skirt.

2006: Little Man Premiere

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Washington looked adorable in this velvet mini dress with a peplum skirt and bejewled collar at the premiere of her film.

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The actress embraced a more retro look for the 2006 CFDA Awards, wearing a light pink, silk taffeta knee-length dress to the event.

2006: Cannes Film Festival; Summer Palace Premiere

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It’s official, royal blue is Washington’s color. I mean, who can argue with that after seeing her in this dress from the 2006 Cannes Film Festival?

2005: Golden Globe Awards

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It may have been her first-ever Golden Globes, but Washington already knew she had to show off the back of her simple, yet beautiful light blue Narciso Rodriguez dress.

2004: Toronto International Film Festival; Ray Premiere

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The actress celebrated the premiere of her film in a drop-waist, black layered dress.

2004: Against the Ropes Premiere

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Washington has been taking style risks for over two decades, and in 2004, she attended the premiere of Against the Ropes in a chartreuse mini dress.

2002: Bad Company Premiere

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While these days it’s rare to see Washington in pants on the red carpet, back in 2002 she looked more than happy to be wearing a white suit to her film premiere.

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