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Great Outfits in Fashion History: Young Oprah Winfrey in a Mesh Dress and Silk Jacket

It's easy to imagine this look worn today by a Brooklyn twenty-something on her way to a poetry reading.
Oprah Winfrey in 1998.

Oprah Winfrey in 1998.

There are perfectly good celebrity style moments, and then there are the looks that really stick with you, the ones you try desperately to recreate at home. In 'Great Outfits in Fashion History,' Fashionista editors are revisiting their all-time favorite lewks.

Oprah Winfrey is perhaps better known as a business woman and media mogul than as a walking fashion plate, but that doesn't mean she can't deliver on the red carpet. Though Winfrey has gravitated toward mature, ladylike looks for most of her career, one of my all-time favorite Winfrey looks is the kind of thing I can easily imagine an arty twenty-something in Brooklyn donning for a poetry reading.

It's an outfit Winfrey wore to the 1998 California premiere of "Beloved," based on the novel by Toni Morrison – and it was a rather momentous occasion, considering that all these years later, it's still somehow the only major cinematic rendering of one of Morrison's novels. (Dear Hollywood: wyd?) It was a project Winfrey championed and starred in that took 11 years to make, so it's no wonder she wanted to show up looking her best when the film finally debuted.

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For the occasion, she selected a floor-length, form-fitting black dress with spaghetti straps and a low-cut front. A mesh overlay added a little bit more coverage but also a bit of edge, taking the look into a new category of cool. Over top of that, Winfrey added a light jacket, also floor-length, in a golden-brown silk with a red-and-white floral print. Diamond earrings and black patent leather shoes finished off the ensemble. 

It probably wouldn't be hard to recreate this look by heading to your local vintage store, but in case you need some help, we've gathered some starting points in the gallery below.

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