In Ryan Murphy’s latest project,
Impeachment: American Crime Story, Sarah Paulson plays the infamous Linda Tripp, former White House Employee and confidant of Beanie Feldstein’s Monica Lewinsky. Though her character might have been shocked by the sudden scrutiny she experienced once Lewinsky’s affair with President Clinton became national news — Paulson herself is no stranger to the microscope sometimes cast on her looks and her personal life. “Every time that you go anywhere on the red carpet, now there are websites dedicated to picking you apart,” she once told the New York Times. And on the red carpet, Paulson has had her share of hits and misses alike; over the past two decades, she’s come into her own, sartorially speaking, eventually eschewing the very pretty, yet sometimes characterless, looks of her early career in favor of chic designs by smaller labels like Cushnie et Ochs, Etro, and Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini. She’s gotten more experimental and more dramatic, and she’s developed an on-trend bleached bob that adds instant edge to anything she wears. Here, we look back at Sarah Paulson’s best red carpet moments, from her early days as a stage actress to one of Ryan Murphy’s favorite screen presences. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
For her first major red carpet in over a year and a half, Paulson stepped out in a simple, asymmetrical dress with a figure-complimenting detail.
Sarah Paulson in Alexandre Vauthier at the
Impeachment: American Crime Story premiere at the Pacific Design Center on September 01, 2021 in West Hollywood, California. George Pimentel/Getty Images for TIFF
Paulson sparkled in a glittery gown with matching neck and waist embellishments and sheer long sleeves.
Sarah Paulson in Prada at the "The Goldfinch" premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 08, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.
Kevin Mazur/MG19/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Joined by Jeremy Scott and the rest of the 2019 Moschino crew, Paulson wore a bow-adorned black dress with a bubbly accessory in hand to the 2019 Met Gala.
Sarah Paulson in Moschino at the 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City.
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
This quirky number was a bit of a departure for the actress, though it did include her signature long sleeves.
Sarah Paulson in Gucci at the "Game Of Thrones" New York Premiere at Radio City Music Hall, NYC on April 3, 2019 in New York City.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Picked right off the Fall 2019 runway, Paulson stunned in this gorgeous fuchsia dress at the 91st Academy Awards.
Sarah Paulson in Brandon Maxwell at the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Mike Marsland/ Mike Marsland/WireImage
While Paulson covered up this fiery dress for part of the night, she later ditched the cream jacket to reveal a strapless neckline.
Sarah Paulson in Prada at the UK Premiere of "Glass" at The Curzon Mayfair on January 09, 2019 in London, England.
This sequined, fringe-covered dress was the star of the show at the premiere of the female-led
Ocean’s 8 movie.
Sarah Paulson in Prada at the world premiere of "Ocean's 8" at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 5, 2018 in New York City.
Paulson stuck with one of her go-to designers as well as her favorite sleeve length for the 2018 Met Gala.
Sarah Paulson in Prada at "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & the Catholic Imagination", the 2018 Costume Institute Benefit at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City.
The dark gloves and accessories provide a stark contrast to the bright yellow hue of this floor length gown, a color story Paulson has played with in the past.
Sarah Paulson in Marc Jacobs at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.
Paulson is not afraid of a little sparkle and she proved that in this cutout dress reminiscent of a disco ball.
Sarah Paulson in Carolina Herrera at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
This two-toned velvet dress by Dutch designer Ronald van der Kemp is hardly the last time Paulson wore with this daring shade of yellow.
Sarah Paulson in Ronald van der Kemp at the the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.
Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
This custom blue silk Prada gown, trimmed with ostrich and marabou feathers left the actress looking as if she was floating up the stars at the 2017 Met Gala.
Sarah Paulson in Prada at "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum on May 1, 2017 in New York City.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Paulson looked like a Golden Globe herself in this golden Marc Jacobs gown at the 2017 awards, perfectly matching the hardware she took home for her performance in
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Sarah Paulson in Marc Jacobs at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.
Paulson brought Marcia Clark as her date to the 2016 Emmy Awards when she took home the award for portraying the prosecutor in
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Sarah Paulson in Prada at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Long sleeves are another recurring trend in Paulson’s arsenal — here, she wears one of Italy’s most promising young designers, working a freshened-up bleach job.
Sarah Paulson in Philosophy Di Lorenzo Serafini at the
People Vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story For Your Consideration event in Los Angeles, California, April 2016. Photo by Getty Images.
Carol premiere, Paulson livened it up in a shimmering a-line dress.
Sarah Paulson in Etro at the premiere of
Carol in New York, New York, November 2015. Photo by Getty Images.
Simple and sleek, the sporty high neckline contrasts with the elegant off-the-shoulder detail.
Sarah Paulson in Cushnie et Ochs at the 25th annual Gotham Film Independent Awards in New York, New York, November 2015. Photo by Getty Images.
Paulson treads on Countess territory — the character played by Lady Gaga — with this strong, pointy-shouldered sheath.
Sarah Paulson in Monique Lhuillier at the premiere of
American Horror Story in Los Angeles, California, October 2015. Photo by Getty Images.
Lately, Paulson has increasingly foregone color and opted for body-hugging dresses that extend past the knee. Here, she also debuts that short, mussy bob that we love.
Sarah Paulson in Prabal Gurung at the 5th annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards in Beverly Hills, California, May 2015. Photo by Getty Images.
Paulson took a more classic and staid approach for the 2014 AHS premiere.
Sarah Paulson in Zac Posen at the premiere of
American Horror Story in Hollywood, California, October 2014. Photo by Getty Images.
Tulle everywhere — this Armani gown recalls the early silhouettes Paulson favored, but with a whole lot more character.
Sarah Paulson in Armani Privé at the 66th annual Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California, August 2014. Photo by Getty Images.
When she opts for color, Paulson regularly selects blues and greens, which have played off the auburn-tinged hair color she comes back to again and again
Sarah Paulson in Prada at the Met Gala in New York, New York, May 2014. Photo by Getty Images.
For the premiere of
12 Years a Slave, Paulson opted for an off-the-shoulder silhouette that echoes 19th-century trends while adding a contemporary edge.
Sarah Paulson in Vivienne Westwood at the premiere of
12 Years a Slave at the 51st annual New York Film Festival in New York, New York, October 2013. Photo by Getty Images.
American Horror Story red carpet has always offered a place for stars to experiment — this feathered Reem Acra dress is right on tone.
Sarah Paulson in Reem Acra at the premiere of
American Horror Story in Hollywood, California, October 2012. Photo by Getty Images.
She still had a fairy princess side, though.
Sarah Paulson in Reem Acra at the 64th annual Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California, September 2012. Photo by Getty Images.
By 2012, Paulson was experimenting with different prints and silhouettes, often opting for more niche labels like this Isabel Marant look.
Sarah Paulson in Isabel Marant at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences lunch in Universal City, California, August 2012. Photo by Getty Images.
Paulson’s hair has evolved as much as her red carpet style — here, she debuts soft curls and a new blonde look with an ivory strapless gown.
Sarah Paulson at the 64th annual Golden Globes in Beverly Hills, California, January 2007. Photo by Getty Images.
Classic silhouettes like this black strapless number were also frequent picks.
Sarah Paulson at the 59th annual Tony Awards in New York, New York, June 2005. Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic.
Paulson and BFF Amanda Peet arrived in a pair of Miu Miu ensembles — cute and bright defined her early looks.
Sarah Paulson in Miu Miu at the IFP/LA Filmmaker Labs in Los Angeles, California, March 2003. Photo by Getty Images.