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posted: 2/26/2012 1:00 AM

What will we see on the red carpet?

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  • Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt arrive on the red carpet at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards last month in Los Angeles. Their Oscar arrival will be a big deal as well.

      Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt arrive on the red carpet at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards last month in Los Angeles. Their Oscar arrival will be a big deal as well.
    Associated Press

  • Celebrities will stroll down the red carpet past fans, en route to the Academy Awards show.

      Celebrities will stroll down the red carpet past fans, en route to the Academy Awards show.
    Associated Press

  • Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion director for US Weekly magazine, says to "expect something very colorful and very beautiful" from Viola Davis, shown arriving at the Golden Globe Awards last month, at Sunday's Oscars.

      Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion director for US Weekly magazine, says to "expect something very colorful and very beautiful" from Viola Davis, shown arriving at the Golden Globe Awards last month, at Sunday's Oscars.
    Associated Press

 
 

Honestly, what's more intriguing: Who will win the Academy Award for Best Actor, or what Angelina Jolie will wear on the red carpet?

Fashion-savvy viewers know the real excitement to tonight's Academy Awards takes place before the show, when Hollywood's A-list stars make their grand entrance.

"You don't know what you'll see until the girl steps out of the car," said Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion director for US Weekly magazine.

Sitting on our couches in old jeans and hoodies, we'll fawn over the stars' glamour and beauty, which took an army of experts and a small fortune to create.

Even better, we'll mock all of their hot messes and fashion missteps.

Those with the most beautiful dresses will stay etched in our memories forever (remember Halle Berry's deep red floral appliqu Elie Saab gown in 2009?) and so will the bad (two words: swan dress).

The film critics have all predicted what will happen at the awards show. Below are some insights into what we'll see at the real show.

Fashion forecast:

• Experts predict bright bold colors (like yellow), pastels (especially mint), gold and other metallics, and neutrals.

• Styles will range from romantic, 1920s-inspired glamour with lace, high necklines and opulent beading to low-cut, high-slit, va-va-voom dresses. Celebrity stylist Jeni Elizabeth predicts "back-sexy" looks with low scoopback dresses. "The cleavage these days is in the back," she says.

Chicago designer Borris Powell, who won last year's "Oscar Designers Challenge," expects figure-flaunting silhouette gowns with chiffon. "We're going to see a sexy, bombshell look," he said.

• Sleeves -- both long and cap -- are making a comeback, says celebrity stylist and Arlington Heights native Susan Ashbrook. "It used to be sleeves were the kiss of death. They were for women over 60, but I credit Angelina Jolie for bringing them back," said Ashbrook, who has helped dress Jolie and hundreds of other Hollywood A-listers for red carpet appearances, and just released the book "Will Work for Shoes: The Business Behind Red Carpet Product Placement."

Ashbrook predicts a lot of big dresses with full skirts and long trains for a "dramatic entrance."

• Stylists also envision cutouts and laser-cut detailing, which make dresses stand out.

• For accessories, sparkly headpieces and headbands, "statement" cuff bracelets and bold gemstones (like black diamonds) are expected.

What will men wear (in case anyone notices):

• Man SPANX. Male bodyshaping undergarments are popular now to smooth out any imperfections, stylists say.

• A put-together look. "Men seem to put a lot more effort into what they're wearing now," says Charnin Morrison. "It's not their dad's tuxedo anymore."

• Bow ties, some with prints, or classic narrow ties with tie clips. "Men don't want to be known for their ties," says Greg Shugar, founder of The Tie Bar in Naperville, a company that's outfitted countless Hollywood actors on the red carpet with neckwear. "They'd rather float in the background and not make a mistake. It's women who are obligated to make some type of statement."

Other trends:

• Attention to the plus-ones. The husbands, wives and dates of the stars are getting attention now more than ever on the red carpet. George Clooney's girlfriend, Stacy Keibler, has little acting experience but you can bet she'll have her photo taken as much (if not more) than Meryl Streep.

• More fashion-forward looks for "real" sized women. "Designers are now making their gowns as gorgeous for them as they are for our typical size 2," Elizabeth said. "It's fabulous."

Who we're excited to see:

• Angelina Jolie. "Whatever it is that she's going to be wearing, everyone's jaw is going to drop. It's always perfection," Charnin Morrison says.

• "Bridesmaids," reunited. The adult women from the hit comedy -- including Plainfield's Melissa McCarthy, a Best Supporting Actress nominee -- have become almost like the Brat Pack of the 2010s.

• Nick Nolte. While Jean Dujardin will be dashing and Jonah Hill will be slimmed down, Nolte might be "the only one who does something different," Charnin Morrison says.

• Viola Davis. "Expect something very colorful and very beautiful," Charnin Morrison says.

• Jennifer Lopez. "Let's face it, she's a fashionista," Ashbrook says. "Plus, she has a new boyfriend, a huge career ... we're gonna see all-out glamour."

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