08/26/2013 10:50 EDT | Updated 10/26/2013 05:12 EDT

Clothes, what clothes? MTV Video Music Awards reveal plenty of skin, not much to wear

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The clothes that had everyone talking at MTV's Video Music Awards were mostly notable for their absence.

Miley Cyrus appeared on stage in a revealing leotard, then stripped down to a nude bikini to twerk for Robin Thicke, a protruding tongue her most prominent accessory. Lady Gaga started out in a modified nun habit before stripping to a Birth of Venus-inspired clamshell-bra bikini.

On the red carpet, though, skin was revealed a little more strategically. Even Gaga's Prabal Gurung gown, made of lame bonded satin, had a sweetheart neckline and sweet rosettes. Katy Perry flashed a lot of leg in a leopard-print Emanuel Ungaro, along with a grill that said "Roar," promoting her new single.

Taylor Swift wore an Herve Leger gown with a plunging neckline in elegant navy that matched good friend Selena Gomez — who showed some leg and seemingly half a bra in her custom Versace dress. Rita Ora had a feathered train so long she needed help carrying her gown by Alexandre Vauthier, but still flashed plenty of leg.

Among the men, Video Vanguard award winner Justin Timberlake wore a suit — but no tie. It was a look Robin Thicke also chose for the red carpet, before changing into a striped zoot suit for his performance.

Macklemore — the night's other big winner with Ryan Lewis — wore a powder blue suit and fur. (No word if it came from a thrift shop.)