The Country Music Association Awards are back in Nashville, but last year's detour to the Big Apple seems to have made a lasting impression on some, particularly the fashion forward in the group.
Gone -- for most women, at least -- are the royal-blue ruffles, black lace poufs and oversize baubles that have characterized awards shows in years past. (Though Barbara Mandrell, bless her heart, was trying her best to fly that country days of yore fashion flag).
Instead, youthful silhouettes and minimal jewelry made a lasting impression on the Szish Dish.
The men, alas, have a ways to go. But if they take some cues from hot new stars like Keith Urban (winner of the Best Male Artist award, although he was sorely missed by all) and the quirky, curly-haired Dierks Bentley, who knows what sartorial treats next year might bring?
The Best Dressed
Leeann Rimes: I spotted Leeann in the front row at multiple runway shows during New York Fashion Week, and she clearly has been doing her homework. Her pale lavender silk wrap dress fit her perfectly, and the barely-there jewelry (small earrings) made a big statement. Leeann gets the unofficial Szish Dish style-setter award. Welcome to the party, Ms. Rimes.
Martina McBride: Simply gorgeous. Simple hair, simple jewelry, simple makeup, simple black, draped top.
Sheryl Crow: Working the vintage Herve Leger, Sheryl goes out on an asymmetrical limb and pulls it off.
Eva Longoria: This Texas native looked sultry and chic in her sparkly animal-print number, although her hair extensions were almost as tall as she is.
Faith Hill: More beautiful than ever with her black dress, smoky eyes and smooth 'do, Faith Hill is a country classic. Carrie Underwood: Underwood was right-on with the mini dress (and her legs looked amazing). She's a rising star, and looked every bit the part.
The Worst Dressed
Barbara Mandrell: The ghost of Country Music Awards past … she had it all! Big, stiff hair, dangling earrings that interfered with the high neckline of her dress, and lots and lots of black lace and poufs.
Trisha Yearwood: The picture says it best (Check out the slideshow).
Lee Ann Womack: All mixed up -- a modified 1960s beehive paired with a blah black velvet dress and strappy metallic sandals.
Kimberly Williams-Paisley: OK, we know she's pregnant with Brad Paisley's baby (or, as she described herself when she couldn't read the teleprompter, "knocked up and blind"), but the tiered, red and black baby doll dress was way too much baby and not enough doll.
The headband plus the bohemian earrings were overkill. The Szish Dish would have liked to see something simpler and more elegant on this supercute, "according to Jim" actress.
Indeed, CMA fashion has come a long way … now we just need to work on the hair and makeup.
The Man Rut: Some guys are still all country, all the time: Brad Paisley (cowboy shirt, white cowboy hat, scruffed-up faded jeans, square-toe boots); Kenny Chesney (black jeans, black shirt, black cowboy hat); Brooks & Dunn (all the fixin's).
Matchy-Matchy Makeup: The biggest and most-often-repeated beauty blunder was eye makeup that matched the dress. Although Leann Rimes rocked, she still got stuck looking matchy-matchy. Purple eye shadow with a lavender dress makes a youthful look appear matronly.
Carrie Underwood is young and beautiful, but she hid her natural looks behind too much makeup, including blue and purple shadow that coordinated with the beads on her dress.
Big Hair: Jessica Simpson has effectively replaced Jennifer Aniston as having the most-copied-hair in Hollywood. And although the trend seems to have gone South, isn't that exactly where it started in the first place?
Behold the Blond Bombshell Brigade: Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert Leeann Rimes, the lead singer from Sugarland and that blond chick from The Wreckers.
Even the guys like hair with air — or what I like to call "the Man Mop" — and by that, I mean Keith Urban, Ronnie Dunn, Billy Ray Cyrus, and the blond Rascal Flatts dude
Rock-Country Doppelgangers: One last thing that struck me was this: Many country stars seem to have rock 'n' roll counterparts, at least when it comes to their looks. Little Big Town (so Fleetwood Mac-esque!) Ronnie Dunn (Eric Clapton crossed with David Bowie), Gretchen Wilson (Lisa Marie Presley) and Miranda Lambert (Jessica Simpson).