The 2022 Met Gala Theme, Explained—and 6 Trends to Expect on the Red Carpet

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The Met Gala is returning on the first Monday of May, and we couldn't be more excited to delight in all the sure-to-be spectacular red carpet looks. This year's theme is In America: An Anthology of Fashion, and the dress code specifies "gilded glamour" and "white tie." What does that mean, exactly? 

Vogue offered some more context to the theme and dress code: "The 2022 Met Gala will ask its attendees to embody the grandeur—and perhaps the dichotomy—of Gilded Age New York," the magazine explained. "The period, which stretched from 1870 to 1890 (Mark Twain is credited with coining the term in 1873), was one of unprecedented prosperity, cultural change, and industrialization when both skyscrapers and fortunes seemingly arose overnight." 

To better understand the fashion from that time period, I went straight to the source and unearthed some amazing historical photos. At this year's Met Gala, we can expect to see over-the-top looks with tons of different trends piled on: lace, velvet, ruffles, tassels, pleats, ribbon, gloves, parasols, embroidery, corsets, full skirts, headpieces, puffed sleeves, bows, and more. Phew! That's a lot of trends to keep track of.

As for the white-tie element of the dress code, this calls for floor-length formal evening gowns or three-piece suits with tailcoats, vests, and bow ties. Something tells me there will be plenty of rule-breakers when it comes to this directive, however. 

Scroll down to look back at some authentic looks from the 1870s to 1890s, and see my predictions for modern-day interpretations. 

1. Headpieces

met gala 2022 theme explained

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American actress Lillian Russell donning an elaborate feathered headpiece in the 1880s. 

2022 met gala theme historical outfits

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Fanny Davenport wore a feathery hat for this portrait in 1870s New York. 

2. Statement Puffy Sleeves

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Did you know that Winston Churchill's mother was American? Born in New York, Jennie Jerome married Lord Randolph Churchill and later gave birth to the future prime minister of England in 1874. 

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This 1890s dress comes complete with a smattering of different details, including beads, lace, tassels and ribbon. 

3 High Necklines

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This 1875 photo shows a woman wearing some of the biggest trends of the period: a nipped-in waist, bustle dress, headpiece and gloves. 

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I expect to see plenty of high-neck styles at this year's Met Gala, just like this American dress from the 1880s. 

4. Corsets

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How cute is actress Lillian Russell, pictured here in 1890? 

met gala 2022 theme examples

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This corseted dress was made by an unknown American designer in 1885. 

5. Intricate Details and Embroidery

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Actress Marie Prescott poses for a portrait in the 1880s. I love the frilly sleeves and floral embroidery. 

met gala 2022 theme examples

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This stunning American-made dress from the 1870s features beautiful lace insets with ribbon trim. 

6. Parasols

gilded glamour outfits from the 1800s for the 2022 met gala theme

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This glamorous photo was taken in 1885 in Detroit, Michigan. 

gilded glamour outfits from the united states 1800s fashion

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Two American women pose with golded parasols circa 1885. 

My Modern-Day Predictions

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Headpiece? Statement sleeves? Frills galore? Check, check and check. This Rodarte F/W 19 look ticks all the right boxes. 

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I hope someone pays homage to the late American designer Virgil Abloh on the red carpet. Might I suggest this look from F/W 22?

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I absolutely need someone to wear this look from Alexander McQueen S/S 07. 

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This is certainly a striking take on the corset trend, courtesy of Schiaparelli Haute Couture S/S 22

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Brandon Maxwell's F/W 22 collection included this beautiful corseted dress that could very well make an appearance at this year's Met Gala. Bonus points for the full skirt. 

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The full skirt on this Vivienne Westwood dress from the '90s would fit in perfectly at the Met Gala. 

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I'm obsessed with this frilly Alexander McQueen S/S 20 number. 

met gala 2022 theme examples

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The ladies of the Gilded Age loved ruffles, so this Giambattista Valli S/S 22 dress may make an appearance at the Met Gala. All this outfit needs is a parasol to complete the look. 

Next, the best new-in dresses.

This story was originally published on Who What Wear U.S. and has since been updated.

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