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Here Are The Most Memorable 2018 MTV VMA Red Carpet Outfits

Come on, just try to beat Lil' Kim's 1999 breast-baring purple jumpsuit. Just try.

The MTV Video Music Awards are a special kind of awards show. Compared to the Grammys or the Oscars or even the Golden Globes, the VMAs are less prestigious, more accepting of bad behaviour, and overall — let's be honest — often more fun. Kind of like a regular awards show's younger, drunker little brother, who just shaved his head and who may or may not end the night by puking in the bushes.

Mary J. Blige, Diana Ross and Lil' Kim present the award for Best Hip-Hop video during the 1999 MTV Music Video Awards.
Mary J. Blige, Diana Ross and Lil' Kim present the award for Best Hip-Hop video during the 1999 MTV Music Video Awards.

For that reason, the fashion usually corresponds to an aesthetic that can best and most generously be described as "wacky." Unconstrained from the expectations of ballgowns and tuxes, people attending the VMAs tend to take risks. Think of the most memorable VMA outfits from the past: there's Rose McGowan's 1998 completely sheer beaded dress, which she's explained she meant as a protest about how women's bodies are viewed after her alleged rape by Harvey Weinstein. There's Lil' Kim's iconic lavender pantsuit-and-boob-pasty combo from 1998. And who could forget the meat dress Lady Gaga wore in 2010, or Dennis Rodman wearing a shimmery tank top in 1995?

It's hard to make an impression anymore — we can't think of many outfits from recent awards that have attracted that kind of attention, although some of this year's attendees sure did try. Here are some of this year's most memorable outfits.

Wow: Cardi B
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Cardi B, who's leading this year's awards with ten nominations, looks gorgeous in this ruched velvet magenta dress. The silhouette flatters her curves, and her new short hairdo lets her show off a stunning pair of turquoise earrings that contrasts really nicely with the rich jewel-tone dress. (Remember how great her Met Gala dress was? Don't underestimate her, style-wise.)
What? Dascha Polanco
Nicholas Hunt via Getty Images
You'd think the "Orange is the New Black" star would take every opportunity to demonstrate how gorgeous she is outside of a prison jumpsuit. Instead, she went for grandma lace, illusion netting, and alien eyeshadow.
Wow: Shawn Mendes
Kevin Mazur via Getty Images
Canada's own Shawn Mendes looks adorable in this two-tone double-breasted navy and forest green suit.
What? Lil Xan and Noah Cyrus
Mike Coppola via Getty Images
The person on the right is Miley Cyrus's little sister Noah. The person on the left is a 21-year-old rapper named Lil Xan, whose name is apparently a reference to Xanax. Both should have known better.
Combo Wow and What? Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande
Paul Zimmerman via Getty Images
How long do you think it took Ariana Grande to get her hair done? Do put on those thigh-highs and that shiny metallic strapless dress? You'd think in all that time Pete Davidson could have, I don't know, ironed a button-down, maybe? At the very least, he could put on a fitted t-shirt and a nice pair of shoes. Come on, man.
Wow: Amara La Negra
Nicholas Hunt via Getty Images
Latin pop singer Amara La Negra looks stunning in this green mermaid-silhouette dress with gold beadwork. A dress that comes with a cape is usually a good idea, in our experience.
What? Nico Tortorella
Dia Dipasupil via Getty Images
There are pictures of Nico Tortorella's full outfit available, but frankly, just his head and neck say more than enough.
Wow: Bryce Vine
Nicholas Hunt via Getty Images
Bryce Vine is doing some serious power clashing in this loud pattern combo, in a way that feels both tailored and well-suited to the event.
What? Chloe x Halle
Dia Dipasupil via Getty Images
The matching pattern is cute, but when your dresses look more like the backdrop than the actual backdrop, maybe you want to reconsider.
Modified Wow: Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka'Oir
Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images
Are these outfits both ludicrous? Yes. But they seem right for the MMVAs, somehow.
What? Camilla Cabello
Nicholas Hunt via Getty Images
This dress is too formal for the event she's attending, and something about the colourblocking is very evocative of a bedspread that might be on sale at Anthropologie, next to some pastel ceramic bowls.
On the Fence: SZA
Nicholas Hunt via Getty Images

Yes to the flowers on the shoes. No to the wrap-around sandals. Yes to the pretty colour and glamorous cut of the dress. No to the material that makes it look like SZA skinned a muppet.

Wow in an "Only Amber Rose Could Pull This Off" kind of way: Amber Rose
Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images
Just a casual Monday night Madonna-inspired red patent leather dominatrix with a leather face mask and whip. Because it's Amber Rose — who described herself tonight as an "intergalactic space slut" — it works.
What? Audrina Patridge
ANGELA WEISS via Getty Images
It looks like patches have fallen clean out of Audrina's dress. Is she trying out the shabby chic look to try to win back Justin Bobby?!
Wow: Bobby Lytes
Matthew Eisman via Getty Images
A message we can all get behind.
What? Tiffany Haddish
Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images

Tiffany Haddish is without a doubt one of the most talented people attending the VMAs. How did she end up with such a baffling dress? The lines, the polka dots, the translucent mesh — it has no idea what it wants to be.

Wow: Olivia Munn
Kevin Mazur via Getty Images
A pretty dress that evokes a purple disco ball seems like just the right tone to strike for the VMAs.
What? Sabrina Carpenter
ANGELA WEISS via Getty Images
Mummy chic.
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