32 of the best black dresses ever worn on the red carpet

From show-stopping ballgowns to simple slip dresses, we've rounded up 32 of the best black dresses ever worn by Hollywood's finest...

L-R: 4 black dresses; Beyonce during The 77th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals at Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, Marilyn Monroe attends the Golden Globe Awards where she won the "Henrietta" award at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 5, 1962 in Los Angeles, Eva Longoria arrives at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California, Grace Kelly (1929 - 1982) attends the premiere of the film 'Rear Window' with fashion designer Oleg Cassini
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Black dresses have been a red carpet staple ever since the concept of red carpets started. Popular in the early days of Hollywood glamour, right to this day, there's nothing like the timeless elegance of a classic LBD.

Whether it's a simple 90s slip dress styled with vampy makeup worn by the rising stars of days gone by or eccentric head-to-toe sequined looks that garner all sorts of attention, the black dress will forever be an iconic fashion choice on the red carpet. There's a reason why a black dress is a capsule wardrobe must-have - its appeal is simply timeless.

To pay homage to the black dress, we have put together a list of the 32 best black dress looks ever worn on the red carpet.

32 of the best black dresses ever worn on the red carpet

Sofia Vergara in Zac Posen

Sofia Vergara attends the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

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Wearing a dress straight out of a Disney movie at the 2014 Golden Globes, Sofia Vergara looks incredible in this classic silhouette. With a corseted bodice and billowing black skirt, the Modern Family star paired the dress with a statement pale blue diamond chunky necklace, matching rings and a simple winged eyeliner look. Zac Posen’s dreamy looks have graced many a red carpet and has been worn by everyone from Sarah Jessica Parker to Miley Cyrus.

The best black dresses to buy today 

Gillian Anderson in Hervé Leger

Gillian Anderson at the 1998 Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles

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Gillian Anderson is no stranger to wowing on the red carpet (who could forget the famous built-in underwear dress from 2001?). However, here, she gives us classic black dress perfection in Hervé Leger at the 1998 Golden Globes. The silhouette of the dress is simple but its scalloped corset top and fitted body which flow into an eye-catching trail are what makes it pop. 

Paired with a classic clutch bag and a blingy diamond layered necklace, Gillian completed the glam look with a glowy bronzed eye look and a shimmery darker nude lip to complete the look and bring out her enviable tan.

Angela Bassett in Christian Siriano

Angela Bassett attends the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on January 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

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Proving why a black velvet dress moment is truly timeless, Angela Bassett looks elegant in this Christian Siriano gown at the 2023 Critics Choice Awards. Dramatic puffy layers don this gown to the floor, finishing in a big trail that captured everyone's eyes on the red carpet. Its strapless bodice and high billowing waist give the dress a beautiful shape with plenty of movement. The actress brought a piece of fun to this show-stopping look with a leopard print clutch bag, stacked necklace and dainty pearl drop earrings. 

Faye Dunaway in Theadora Van Runkle

Faye Dunaway with photographer Jerry Schatzberg at film premiere - 19 November 1967

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Bringing the drama to the red carpet in 1960, actress Faye Dunaway is ahead of the times here with this super fun and bold black wrap dress completed with ostrich feather detailing and timeless slicked-back hair. The dress goes into a dramatic feathered hem, which no doubt had beautiful movement as the star walked across the carpet. Here, the iconic '60s Twiggy-esque makeup trend is also a star of the show.

Adele in Armani Privé

Adele attends The BRIT Awards 2022 at The O2 Arena on February 08, 2022 in London, England

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Pictured here on the red carpet at the 2022 Brit Awards, Adele adds a touch of fun to her black dress as she wears a velvet long-sleeved Armani Privé gown that’s completed with a tulle polka dot detailing around the shoulders and chest. The luxurious floor-length gown and Priscilla Presley-esque hair and soft glam make-up give off a vibe of vintage glamour whilst also giving a nod to the present day with long tapered nude nails. A simply timeless look we knew we had to include!

Kate Hudson in Vera Wang

Kate Hudson during Golden Globe Awards 2001

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Bringing the '90s slip dress into the 2000s, here Kate Hudson wears a truly simple yet elegant black dress on the red carpet at the 2001 Golden Globes. Designed by Vera Wang, the reason why we love this dress so much is its sheer simplicity, from its ultra-thin spaghetti straps to its slim fit and minimal train. Kate also wears minimal silver jewellery with this look and tops it off with a fresh complexion makeup look and a pop of colour from a red lippie. The actress attended the awards for her role in the now-cult film Almost Famous

Margot Robbie in Versace

Margot Robbie attends the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California

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The Australian actress and star of Barbie graced the Oscars red carpet in 2024 in this memorable black sequined Versace gown. The gown itself is one of the more simple dresses the Hollywood actress has worn but still makes maximum impact. Its strapless, rounded bodice gives a simple neckline that flows into a close-fitting skirt that skims the floor with a ruched detail around the waist. Margot opts for one interesting piece of jewellery for this red carpet look, a gold and white twisted bangle.

Cher in Bob Mackie

Cher at the 58th Annual Academy Awards

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Cher is simply an icon when it comes to fashion and has given us so many iconic moments, from the red carpet to her 70s hit TV show with her then-husband Sonny Bono. Perhaps one of her most famous looks, Cher channels her inner showgirl in this black Bob Mackie two-piece with a matching shawl and striking headdress.

The singer and actress has a lifelong friendship with legendary designer Bob Mackie, who has designed all of her stage outfits which ranged from the simple to the dramatic - like this one.

Julia Roberts in vintage Valentino

Julia Roberts (Photo by Mirek Towski/FilmMagic)

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Julia Roberts nails black tie event glamour in this simple black velvet dress designed by Valentino. The actress brought elegance to the 2001 Oscars Red Carpet, wearing a dress with white detailing along the neckline and trail, beautifully complementing the monochromatic dress. It was styled with a simple smokey cat eye makeup look, low bun hairdo and chic diamond accessories. 

Not only did Roberts win on the red carpet that night, but she also took home the Best Actress gong for her role in the film Erin Brockovich, the true story of a woman who uncovered a major hidden secret that threatened the health of the residents of a California suburb.

Julianne Moore in haute couture Chanel

ulianne Moore attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California

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Hollywood royalty Julianne Moore is no stranger to sporting sequins when out in public, and knows exactly how to pull it off whether it’s on the red carpet or attending film screenings. Pictured at the 2016 Oscars, Moore dons a floor-length black gown with geometric bodice cut-outs and detailing designed by none other than fashion couture royalty Chanel. Complimenting her fiery hair with a warm, bronze-toned smokey eye and a nude lip, bright silver jewellery finishes off this look and ensures this look remains bold but not too heavy. 

Grace Kelly in Dior

American actress Grace Kelly attends the premiere of the film 'Rear Window'

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Screen icon Grace Kelly gives us an iconic red carpet black dress as she attends the premiere of Rear Window in 1954. Wearing the equally iconic French haute couture branch Dior, Grace looks marvellous in this black gown with white contrast detailing around the shoulders. Paired with oversized pearl stud earrings and short white gloves, this look will always be remembered as a show-stopping black dress moment featuring Dior’s signature 50s fit and flare dress shape that goes in at the waist and comes out for the skirt. Truly gorgeous! 

Hilary Swank in Atelier Versace

Actress Hilary Swank attends the 80th Annual Academy Awards

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Hilary Swank was one of the presenters at the 2008 Oscars, and truly dressed the part, oozing old Hollywood glam with this refined black dress by Atelier Versace which features layers of lace and a see-through top layer. We particularly love the one-shoulder design of this dress, which features cascading flower embellishments from the top all the way to the middle of the dress. Her shimmery eye makeup tastefully finishes off this look by pulling out the silver tones in the dress and simple silver earrings.

Lady Gaga in Alexander McQueen

Lady Gaga attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards

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Snapped here on the Oscars red carpet in 2019, Lady Gaga nails black dress sophistication in this strapless dress designed by British icon Alexander McQueen. With accentuated hips, a full-flowing skirt and leather gloves to add a touch of drama and texture, the singer and actress showed why she is always one to be watched on any red carpet she attends. The face of Tiffany & Co., the star also sported a stunning necklace with a yellowy-green 128-carat diamond. The stone is normally under lock and key in the brand’s Fifth Avenue store and this was reportedly only the third time it has ever been worn in public. Oooh! 

Tilda Swinton in Lanvin

Actress Tilda Swinton attends the 80th Annual Academy Award

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Pictured here at the 2008 Academy Awards in Los Angeles, British actress Tilda Swinton shows us how plain black dresses can be just as impactful as embellished gowns. Wearing French designer Lanvin (who is known for creating flowy, loose dresses), this dress features a full, draping sleeve and plenty of layering to give an expensive and luxurious feel, completed with Tilda’s signature cropped hair and thick silver bangle. The actress attended the award show for her role in Michael Clayton.

Michelle Yeoh in Armani Privé

Michelle Yeoh poses with the award for Best Actress

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Ever glamorous, here is Michelle Yeoh in a head-to-toe sparkly Armani Privé dress that is so shimmery and reflective, it looks black and blue at the same time! The dress features a strapless top and layered, flower-like peplum that flows into a slim-fitting skirt. Her impeccable straight locks give this look an altogether clean finish, and she tastefully completed the look with a chunky silver bracelet and glittering necklace.

Grace Jones in Issey Miyake

Grace Jones in Issey Miyake at the 25th GRAMMY Awards

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The queen of cool, Grace Jones shows why she knows how to rock the red carpet. Wearing this future-forward Issey Miyake dress with signature pleated lines and structured workwear shoulders. Jones took this outfit one step further, wearing her staple 80s bold blush/ eye look/ lip look which complements her truly oversized umbrella-esque headpiece. Grace Jones was a lifelong fan of Miyake’s designs and was often spotted wearing his cutting-edge pieces. Her iconic 80s statement makeup is still easily achievable for those wanting to make a real statement.

Marilyn Monroe in Norman Norell

Actress Marilyn Monroe attends the Golden Globe Awards

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What red carpet list would this be if it didn’t include Hollywood royalty Marilyn Monroe? Pictured here attending the 1962 Golden Globes, Marilyn’s ever-famous style is front and centre as she wears a ballgown glittered within an inch of its life. Designed by Norman Norell who was well-known for his mermaid-style event gowns, the dress is a true example of Old Hollywood glamour at its best. Featuring cut-outs around the arms and an interesting v-neck, the starlet completed the look with her signature winged eyeliner and coiffed curly hair, a classic '50s hairstyle.

Helen Mirren in Badgley Mischka

Actress Helen Mirren attends the 73rd Annual Golden Globes

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Helen Mirren has always found a way to show her tasteful and classic fashion taste throughout the years. Snapped here on the Golden Globes red carpet in 2016, she wears a classic floor-length gown that features a sweetheart neckline with a mesh twist and 3/4 sleeves. The sweetheart neckline is a wonderful choice to give focus to the star of the show, a dazzling Harry Winston necklace (with a matching bracelet, of course). She's also rocking a chic short hairstyle that we're bookmarking for our next salon trip.

Winona Ryder in Chanel

Winona Ryder during The 69th Annual Academy Awards

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The queen of '90s vampy style, Winona Ryder gives her version of red carpet fashion with this vintage-inspired hand-embellished Chanel gown with a white underdress. The layered chiffon detailing creates an eye-catching dress with a glamourous 20s Flapper feel. She paired the vintage-inspired look with velvet block heels and a classic, cool-toned grunge smokey eye and bold red lip.

Diana Ross in Vivienne Westwood

Diana Ross arrives at the 2017 American Music Awards

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Singing legend Diana Ross makes a fun statement with her red carpet black dress as she attends the 2017 American Music Awards. Designed by edgy British designer Vivienne Westwood, Diana’s headpiece is the star of the show here, as many pieces of fabric seem to be coming out of her head! The drama doesn’t stop with the headpiece, as the dress is a signature Westwood layered ruched asymmetrical dress with a structured waist and long flowing tulle train. This structured look was finished with a small choker and a dramatic black smokey eye that we think Diana absolutely nails. 

Kate Moss in Burberry

Kate Moss attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)

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A fun take on trench coats and outerwear, Kate Moss wears a it-girl black dress on the red carpet at the 2022 Met Gala. Its theme, ‘In America: An Anthology of Fashion’, gave us plenty of attention-grabbing looks from Blake Lively’s stunning rose gold coloured gown to Kim Kardashian’s nude-illusion dress. But always a fan of an understated, cool take on the theme, Kate Moss opted for this iconic black dress - and we love it.

Featuring all the elements of a typical trench coat, this dress was designed by British fashion house Burberry and is tastefully finished with simple diamond jewellery and a sparkly black clutch. 

Jennifer Garner in Versace

Jennifer Garner attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards

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Adding a touch of sparkle to a black dress is never a bad idea. Here, Jennifer Garner exudes smart glamour in a black Versace gown while attending the 2016 Oscars. Perhaps the focal point of this look itself is the long, asymmetrical train of a silkier material that works so well with sparkle detailing on the bodice and waist. The actress injected a bit of edge to her look with a slightly backcombed up-do, simple neutral makeup and deep burgundy nails and statement diamond jewellery. 

Whitney Houston in Nichelle Gainer

Whitney Houston accepting Grammy for Best Pop Vocal in 1988

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This fun embellished dress was worn by pop diva Whitney Houston at the 1988 Grammys and we love its flattering knee-length style and bedazzled spaghetti straps. The singer completed the outfit with thin silver jewellery, cuffed silver heels and her signature cropped curly hair. Here, Whitney is pictured holding her well-deserved Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy award she won for I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

Renee Zellweger in Carolina Herrera

Actress Renee Zellweger poses backstage during the 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards

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Proving that less can be more, Renee Zellweger stopped the show at the 2006 Golden Globes wearing Venezuelan designer Carolina Herrera. This simple dress featured a halter-neck detail, leg split and ruching at the waist to create an hourglass silhouette. A short, flowing chiffon train and a healthy golden tan finish off this effortless take on red carpet elegance and is a major inspiration for our next formal event.

Angelina Jolie in Atelier Versace

Actress Angelina Jolie arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards

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No one exudes vampy elegance like Angelina Jolie, who has given us plenty of stunning fashion moments on the black carpet and beyond. Pictured here at the 2012 Oscars, she wears a black velvet dress designed by Atelier Versace. The dress features plenty of layered, ruched detailing and a leg split, Jolie completed the look with matching peep-toe heels, tousled loose waves and her signature red lipstick. Our other favourite part of the look? Her effortless smokey eye look - which is easily achieved at home using a cream-based eyeshadow that’s diffused across the eye. Simply gorgeous!

Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé

Actress Cate Blanchett attends the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)

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Black dresses don’t always need to be plain, as Cate Blanchett demonstrates in this fabulously intricate lace Armani Privé gown, which she wore on the 2014 Golden Globes red carpet.

The actress won a Golden Globe for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine and was pictured here in a floor-length gown with lace overlay, studded with gorgeous crystals. Blanchett also sports a timeless vintage hairdo and diamond jewellery. 

Molly Ringwald in Chanel

Molly Ringwald and Adam Horovitz

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80s film sensation Molly Ringwald wears a black dress so modern it would not look out of place on the red carpet in the 21st century! The gown, designed by Chanel, is an embellished square-neck floor-length gown with a criss-cross pattern all over. Thick shoulder straps give the dress a nice structure without over complicating things, while her iconic red hair, bold lipstick choice and no jewellery give the outfit a personal touch that is truly Molly Ringwald. 

Eva Longoria in Zac Posen

Actress Eva Longoria arrives at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards

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While this dress may look like your typical formal work dress on the top half, it is far from workwear on the bottom half. This Zac Posen gown, worn by Longoria at the 2011 Golden Globes, adds a touch of grown-up glamour to a relatively simple dress with its bow around the waist and substantial trail. The Desperate Housewives star completed the glam outfit with a glowy makeup look and a pale nude lipstick. 

Bella Hadid in Schiaparelli

Bella Hadid attends the "Tre Piani

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Supermodel and activist Bella Hadid never disappoints when it comes to red carpet style. Perhaps one of her most famous looks, this jaw-dropping black dress with a rounded shoulder silhouette is truly memorable because of the gold detailing on the top of the dress that resembles lungs. 

With a statement chunky gold chain around the neck and earrings to match, this floor-length gown went viral on social media because of its creative and innovative design by Italian fashion house Schiaparelli, who has given us everything from life-like animal gowns to iconic bold silhouetted coats on the runway. 

Beyoncé in Atelier Versace

Beyonce during The 77th Annual Academy Awards

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This iconic red carpet black dress was worn by pop royalty Beyoncé at the 2005 Oscars. Her elegant strapless fishtail gown was elevated by its sumptuous velvet material and the singer's eye-catching silver dangly jewellery. She opted for a sparkly black clutch which perfectly complemented her shimmery eye makeup look. This was the singer's first time at the Oscars and she performed three songs at the illustrious event. 

Penelope Cruz in Azzedine Alaïa

Actress Penelope Cruz on the red carpet

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Spanish actress Penelope Cruz often wows on the red carpet and the 2008 SAG Awards was no exception. Here, she channels her inner mermaid in a vintage Azzedine Alaïa black gown complete with a showstopping glittery fishtail. The elegant black velvet material of the gown drapes gives a beautifully flattering shape to the bodice and elegant rail. Cruz finishes the look with simple, beach-ready waves.

Amal Clooney in Dior

Amal Alamuddin Clooney attends the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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Proving that a bold accessory choice can work, style icon Amal Clooney gave us this memorable black carpet moment back in 2015 when she attended the Golden Globes. This was a divisive look for Amal as many weren't keen on the white clutch bag and gloves - but we're a fan of this striking monochromatic look.

Her Dior frock featured an asymmetrical neckline and ultra-thin train from the shoulder to give a flowy, more feminine edge to the look. 

Elena Kiratzi

Elena Kiratzi is a freelance writer from London, who covers everything from beauty and fashion to travel and the importance of discussing the issues facing women today. Elena began her career in journalism by completing a course on the media and creative industry with the Media Trust, which led to her to write for Red Magazine where she interviewed her own Mum about the topic of menopause awareness. She then went on to complete a digital internship with the team at woman&home and cultivated a passion for lifestyle and culture writing.

When she's not planning her next big adventure or playing with her cats, she's always on the hunt for the next exciting product launch to attend or scrolling Pinterest for inspiration to create her next moodboard