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08/20/2018 21:49 EDT | Updated 08/21/2018 14:24 EDT

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.

Frank Micelotta / Getty Images
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
    Wow: Cardi B
    Nicholas Hunt via Getty Images
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    Wow in an
    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
    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
    Wow: Bobby Lytes
    Matthew Eisman via Getty Images
    A message we can all get behind.
  • What? Tiffany Haddish
    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
    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
    What? Sabrina Carpenter
    ANGELA WEISS via Getty Images
    Mummy chic.