The 2018 CMAs Red Carpet Ranked Best To Worst

The country stars came out in a big way for the 2018 Country Music Association (CMA) Awards on Nov. 14, 2018. Hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, the evening celebrated a demographic of stars that may not be as well known in fashion circles or the Met Gala, but can still put themselves together just as beautifully as anyone when given the opportunity. That is, for the most part.

There was something about the 2018 CMAs that made celebs of seemingly otherwise sound mind suddenly have a penchant for feathers, which are almost never flattering and usually never an improvement on an outfit (unless Big Bird was having some sort of episode, we guess). For every sparkling, dazzling diva, it seemed there was a dud in clashing colors, ill-fitting attire, or worse — something that was just plain boring. (Here's looking at you, Underwood!)

Behold, the most standout red carpet looks from the 2018 CMA Awards ... for better or for worse, in that order.

Maren Morris is solid gold

J.Lo, is that you? Maren Morris channeled her inner Jennifer Lopez in this glittery golden number by Julien Macdonald, complemented beautifully by bronzed skin (even if it appears she went a little overboard on her gams), drop earrings, a warm smoky eye, ombre hair, a few rings, matching open-toe heels, and dewy skin. The slit, cutouts, and dazzling, deep V-neck scream "Jenny From the Block" more than, say, "Jenny With a Banjo" — in the absolute best way. "Rich," indeed.

Danielle Bradbery follows close behind

Danielle Bradbery won first prize on The Voice in 2013, and she comes in second behind Maren Morris in terms of the best CMA red carpet styles. Bradberry's sparkling champagne-colored number Jovani frock was accented by stripes, dangling glittery pieces on the shoulders, and an open back. Bradbery wisely lets the dress do all the work and avoided overpowering her look with too many accessories, opting for just subtle earrings, and she kept her makeup and hair simple with an easy updo, bronze skin and lots of highlighter. Bradbery proved she's beyond "Worth It."

Sharna Burgess dances with greatness

Dancing With the Stars pro Sharna Burgess was white hot in a low-cut number with a high slit, a semi-sheer top, and a fringe on the skirt. The simplicity of her gown is a beautiful contrast to her bold red hair, matching lipstick, and diamond earrings.

Burgess was on hand to support her DWTS partner Bobby Bones, but he wasn't why she was excited to be there. "I'm actually geeking out right now. I'm trying to play it really cool but Garth [Brooks is right behind me]," she admitted to Entertainment Tonight. "I was standing there with Bobby and Garth turns to me and he's like, 'You look really beautiful tonight.' And I froze! That was my first time [meeting him]. I froze. I didn't know what to do. I messed up, I panicked." Well, Brooks was right. Here's hoping Burgess finds herself a mirror ball to gaze upon her greatness tonight.

RaeLynn is simply stunning

RaeLynn took a risk on the red carpet with this black number accented by a giant pale pink ruffle, but she pulled it off beautifully. The former Voice star kept the gown from wearing her with her minimal accessories — it appears she's rocking little more than her nose, engagement, and wedding rings along with simple drop earrings — and her bold, vampy lip and smoky eyes. The "Tailgate" singer told People earlier this week that she "couldn't wait" for her husband Joshua Davis to come home from military training, so here's hoping this star has her plus-one by her side on the next red carpet. 

Kimberly Williams Paisley gets it white

Actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, wife of country star Brad Paisley, showed off her killer arms in a white gown a bit reminiscent of Meghan Markle's Stella McCartney wedding reception dress. The differences here are in the neckline, which is still a halter, but more square around the shoulders. Kimberly's dress is beautifully tailored to show off her enviable curves. She opted for a simple chignon and emerald drop earrings with subtle makeup and long lashes. Her bracelet further accentuates her toned triceps.

Lauren Alaina is all good

Guys, seriously, how cute is Lauren Alaina? The American Idol alum sports a low-cut baby blue gown with floral, sparkly details, coordinating earrings, her signature nose ring, and a silver clutch and bracelet. The A-line gown has a divine defined waist, and the subtle lacing up the bodice is a unique touch. What makes Alaina's style extra great is just how happy she appears. She floated down the red carpet alongside her fiance, model Alex Hopkins. Between her huge smile and her glowing skin, the bride-to-be looks radiant. Bravo!

Rita Wilson remains perfect

Rita Wilson looks absolutely intoxicating in her low-cut, sequined, wine-colored gown, complete with a sash accentuating her waist and several long necklaces and a bracelet. Her tousled waves look great, her nails match her dress, and she's positively glowing. Wilson, who served as a presenter, told Entertainment Tonight that her songwriting is partly inspired by her battle with breast cancer — she underwent a double mastectomy in 2015, but only revealed the news recently.

"In [my new] album, I have a song called 'Tear by Tear,' that literally, I remember going to church, and I was with my priest, and I was just crying," she said. "It was not a good time, some just difficult times, and he said, 'It's OK, It's OK. It's alright to cry, because sometimes you can cleanse yourself.' And in Greek, we have a word for it called catharis, which means cleansing," Wilson shared. "So I wrote a song called 'Tear by Tear,' and it's about sometimes you just have to cry to get on the other side of it, and get it all out." Thankfully, it looks like she's having a great time now.

Kellie Pickler is a golden girl

Fellow American Idol alum Kellie Pickler opted for an Old Hollywood look for the 2018 CMAs red carpet. Wearing a goldenrod one-shoulder mermaid gown, the Pickler & Ben co-host sported a wavy lob, major eyelashes, and a bold red lip. She accessorized with pretty gold starburst drop earrings and gold bracelets. It would be easy for this dress to overpower Pickler or veer too much into Beauty and the Beast territory, but she rocks it beautifully and evokes a bit of Michelle Williams' iconic mustard look from the 2006 Oscars.

Martina McBride blacks out

Martina McBride was the perfect foil for Kimberly Williams-Paisley's all white look. Clad in a fitted, black, off-the-shoulder mermaid gown with a massive tulle skirt, McBride kept the rest of her ensemble simple. She sported dark nails, a nude lip, glittering, star-shaped earrings, and a smoky eye with long lashes to bring out her baby blues. The Martina's Kitchen Mix author was on hand to present at the CMAs, but chances are this country legend already feels like a winner.

Kelsea Ballerini channels Barbie

There were a lot of ways that Kelsea Ballerini's Barbie pink dress could have gone wrong, but the 25-year-old Tennessee native played this perfectly: sleek hair, simple earrings, and natural-looking makeup kept the "I Hate Love Songs" singer, who was nominated for female vocalist of the year, from looking like she got lost on her way to the Mattel factory. While Ballerini confessed to Taste of Country that she didn't think she'd go home with a trophy this year, she can at least be proud of pulling off the nearly-impossible by slaying in this ensemble.

Alicia Witt is ravishing in red

There's an old wives' tale that says redheads should never wear red. Alicia Witt is here to prove that theory wrong in a big way. The actress, singer and songwriter rocked a low-cut red Jonathan Kayne gown with sheer panels and floral details in the fabric. She kept her makeup natural and rosy, with her bangs framing her face beautifully. The only negative here isn't the color of the gown, but the cut: The long train and shift in pattern causes the bottom half of the crimson number to appear ill-fitted, despite the top hugging Witt's frame nicely.

Kacey Musgraves suits up

Kacey Musgraves darkened her hair and her ensemble for the 2018 CMAs. She sports an open, black sheer top with gold accents, a country-true collar (check out that button) and slightly flared cuffs, black pants, and heels. Her makeup is bold and a step out of her comfort zone. While we're used to seeing her with heavy lashes, towering high hair, and smoky eyes, the "Space Cowboy" crooner kept her newly black locks sleek and opted for a bright red lip instead of playing up her peepers.

Lilliana Vazquez sticks with her theme

Lilliana Vazquez rocks a low-cut leather number and sticks with the biker-rocker theme with pyramid studs on her belt, black heels, and her black and gold spiky, fringed earrings. The style expert complements her look with bronze makeup, smoky eyes, black nails, and partial highlights in her dark hair. Make no mistake: The Today personality certainly looks great, but this edgy ensemble seems to scream more "VMAs" than "CMAs."

Carrie Underwood hits a bump in the style road

Carrie Underwood, who co-hosted the CMAs for the 11th consecutive year with Brad Paisley, couldn't look bad even if she tried — and even after the major facial surgeries she underwent last year after a fall. The "Cry Pretty" singer shows off her baby bump (she announced she's having a boy!) with a fitted nude gown adorned with purple and pink floral embroidery. She rocks her signature blond waves and smoky eyes. She looks pretty, hands down, but we're used to seeing so many red carpet looks featuring over-the-top sparkles, sequins, and beading from the American Idol champ that this low-key Uel Camilo number almost registers as lackluster. 

Cassadee Pope can't quite rock this

Just like Cassadee Pope can't always seem to decide whether to go with her pop-punk Hey Monday roots or her newer country persona, the singer's look at the CMAs also appears to be going in two different directions. Her two-toned hair distracts from her great face (her eyes look amazing, though); Pope's midnight blue and black dress looks like someone patched two different gowns together because of the different patterns on the deep-V bodice and skirt. If she would have embraced either pattern completely, this ensemble could have been a win.

Nicolle Galyon is almost blank

Songwriter and producer Nicolle Galyon is probably more used to being behind the scenes than on red carpets, so we can give her a bit of a pass for this miss. Her white cutout dress with a deep V-neck might be pretty, but the dress, as well as her shape, are almost completely obscured by her sheer white jacket. Still, her hair and makeup are beautiful, and her rose gold earrings are stellar. She probably looks fantastic underneath that pointless piece of fabric, but the point is, we simply don't know.

Mackenzie Foy's feathered faux pas

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms actress Mackenzie Foy was on hand to present at the 2018 CMAs, but her otherwise cute A-line dress had a bit too much going on for it to work. The sequin piping around the neckline, arms, waist and hem look awkward with the pale pink pattern, and the feathers at the bottom make the entire ladylike ensemble look like an art-deco lampshade. The only thing more awkward may have been that time in 2012 when she met Taylor Lautner in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.

Stephanie Quayle got too colorful

Stephanie Quayle's nude dress with bright red florals had potential for greatness, but the blue sash robbed her of the opportunity. Though it accentuates her waist nicely, the color looks off-putting on the gown. Her turquoise earrings may have worked as an additional pop of color, but again, the sash gets in the way because of contrasting with the red and beige, the jewelry looks like it's trying to match the blue, and if that's the case, Quayle still missed the mark.

Jennifer Nettles makes us want to sing a country song

Jennifer Nettles' 2018 CMAs red carpet number may as well be a country song, because it's beautiful, yet tragic. The color looks incredible with the Sugarland singer's skintone, and her simple hair and smoky eyes are beautiful. It's everything else that becomes a problem. The sheer, beaded overlay glossing over her undergarment isn't obvious enough to look totally deliberate. This still could have worked if the seemingly randomly placed feathers hadn't mucked up the mix. All that's missing, folks, is a pickup truck — with one of those feather clumps dangling from the rear view mirror.

Maybe Sierra Hull was just cold?

Sierra Hull took what appears to be an adorable Chi Chi London dress and went through all the work of coordinating it with blue drop earrings and cute heels, only to completely obscure her style with an open salmon coat. In fairness to Hull, it was a cold, rainy day in Nashville, but this is why you have assistants and/or plus-ones at events — to hold your jacket while you shiver briefly for the sake of vanity, then put it on as soon as your time on the carpet concludes.

Olivia Culpo still exists

Listen, it's probably physically and scientifically impossible for Olivia Culpo, a former Miss Universe turned Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, to ever look bad. That said, it's unclear why someone with no obvious connection to music other than once dating Nick Jonas (and doing mediocre karaoke on Instagram) is strutting around at the CMA Awards in this outfit — other than setting up a massive thirst trap. Maybe that was the point, considering she endured a breakup with NFL pro Danny Amendola in March 2018. Culpo is basically wearing a very cheeky swimsuit under a sparkly fishnet, accented with earrings and a seriously cool cat-eye, but we doubt anyone is paying attention to the latter.

Meghan Linsey already knows how we feel

Based on her expression, Meghan Linsey may already know how most folks feel about her outfit. The bizarre blue velvet brocade covers what appears to be an uncomfortable black cage on her chest. She's wearing heavy metal around her neck and Orange Julius-inspired hair extensions. It's a lot, and yet we still had to Google her to get up to speed on the singer who broke out on the scene as part of country duo Steel Magnolia. Whatever she's attempting to achieve here isn't working for us, but maybe this will earn her the attention she's clearly craving.

Who's to blame for Ryan Hurd?

How's this for a tragedy? Ryan Hurd showed up to the CMAs with pants that were way too short, shoes that were way too shiny (in the cheap-looking patent way, not the "professionally done and/or new" way), and a gold jacket ... and he showed up like this with his gorgeous wife, Maren Morris, who was the best dressed star of the evening. Here's hoping she made him sleep on the couch for this. Then again, maybe his coordinating suit was her idea. These newlyweds may have a lot to talk about, but hey, you win some, lose some, right?