2 July 2014

Oscar dress code

On 25 March 1968, renowned costume designer Edith Head issued a dress code for the 40th Academy Awards ceremony. Gregory Peck, who had become President of the Academy in June 1967, wanted to restore "dignity" to the Oscar ceremony and had Edith Head write a dress code to be sent out to all of the 2500 attending guests. Minis were banned, actresses were now "requested" to wear maxi or floor-length dresses. In the letter shown below, Head (as costume supervisor for the ceremony) outlined the Academy's new dress-code rules. 

Incidentally, this 40th anniversary edition was held on 10 April 1968, two days after the scheduled date; it was postponed due to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King on 4 April. 

Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Wood were two of the many presenters at the 40th Academy Awards ceremony, both looking beautiful in their (floor-length?) dresses.


March 25, 1968

We in the Academy are delighted to know that you will appear on our 40th Awards Presentation Telecast Monday, April 8th.

However, so many questions have been asked about the style of dress expected on stage that I send you this information:

Actresses are requested to wear formal evening gowns either Maxi or floor length, preferably pastel shades since the setting is very formal and done entirely in white and gold. As you know, long dresses (no Mini or day length) are more graceful on stage and on camera in this type of background. The Academy feels that the dignity of this traditional affair on our 40th Anniversary deserves formal dress.

Men are expected to wear white tie with conventional formal evening accessories.


Edith Head
Costume Supervisor
During Hollywood's Golden Age, Edith Head was Hollywood's most successful costume designer. She was nominated for an Oscar 35 times, winning eight. Head worked with some of the greatest stars and in the pictures we see her with (clockwise) Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Gloria Swanson and Grace Kelly.

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