ACM Style: In Defense of Manuel, Poppies and Bow Ties

LAS VEGAS — No matter what you wear on the ACM Awards red carpet, people will love it. Or they will hate it. And then they will analyze it. So here’s my analysis of E!’s analysis: It’s all wrong.

On their Best and Worst Dressed list from the 2014 ACM Awards, they criticized newcomer Frankie Ballard ’s style. But it sounds like they didn’t even know the backstory.

After winning one of Kenny Chesney’s Next Big Star competitions in 2008, Ballard had his first breakout hit with “Helluva Life” in 2013. And when it went to No. 1, his gift to himself was this custom designed Manuel Couture suit.

“I’d always wanted one. I grew up idolizing Dwight Yoakam, so I said if the song hit No. 1, I was getting one,” he said of the bright blue suit covered with hand-stitched embroidery and an Indian chief on the back. (I asked him how much it cost, but all he said was “real expensive.” If I had to guess, I’d say it was around $5,000.)

And after we talked about pop vs. country for a while, he pointed to his suit again and told me, “Look at me. This ain’t anything but country.”

Then the always-gorgeous Shawna Thompson of Thompson Square made the worst list because of her poppy-print gown. They called it an “overwhelming floral explosion.” So, should she have worn a plain black dress and blended in with rest of the plain black dresses? What if poppy prints are the new black?

E! also took issue with two of the younger girls on the carpet — Jamie Lynn Spears and Raelynn. But I thought each one of them looked completely age-appropriate in their spunky little short dresses. Let’s face it, you should be showing off your legs while you still can. And I bet if they’d worn floor-length gowns, they would have been called out for looking too matronly.

Who did E! like? Miranda Lambert in Randi Rahm, Kellie Pickler in Romona Keveza and Taylor Swift in J. Mendel. (Swift’s wasn’t so much of a dress. It was more of a belly-baring white crop top and a black maxi skirt. She paired it with Casedei shoes, an M2M Atelier bag, Marina B earrings and bracelet and a fabulous gold initial ring from Jennifer Fisher.)

I agree that those women looked all kind of gorgeous. But there was no mention of one of my personal favorites of the night — bow ties.

Thomas Rhett wore a polka dot one on the red carpet, and Tim McGraw had one on during his performance of “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” from his upcoming Sundown Heaven Town album.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.