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The stars played it close to the vest at the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles Sunday in skintight strapless sheaths in black, white and electric brights, generally opting for a fishtail siren look. “I feel like a MILF in this dress,” said Rachel Griffiths of her body-hugging vintage Chanel. “I feel hot and sassy, and my husband’s loving it.”

American designers dominated the red carpet: Zac Posen scored with Best Supporting Actress winner Katherine Heigl, Donna Karan dressed Minnie Driver, Kyra Sedgwick went for Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera dressed Tina Fey and Narciso Rodriguez once again dressed Julia Louis-Dreyfus. “He knows how to accentuate a woman’s positives and let go of the other stuff,” Louis-Dreyfus said. Debra Messing also made a repeat showing in black-and-white Ralph Lauren, while Ellen Pompeo relied on her friend Michael Kors for her navy blue strapless number. “It’s beautiful and classic,” she said. “American style.”

As for the jewels, the recent string of engagements and nuptials meant actresses like Heigl, Kate Walsh, Eva Longoria and Christina Aguilera opted to show off their own sizable rocks rather than borrow some hefty bling.

Of course, there were some missteps — namely the sideswept, short, tangled updos sported by Heidi Klum, Anna Paquin and Walsh. They looked like Dairy Queens. And Vanessa Williams didn’t go the fish route, but her birds-of-a-feather tiered dress by Kevan Hall was a miss, as was Hayden Panettiere’s Marc Bouwer number.

“She’s wearing a tent,” said Driver of Panettiere’s voluminous gown. “She’s 18 and she’s wearing a tent.” In her defense, Panettiere said, “I’m wearing this because it’s beautiful, and I can only wear this dress when I’m at the age that I am.” What will she wear when she’s 19?

Thank goodness some industry vets were around to show the newbies how it’s done, as Sally Field did in geranium red Valentino. “I’m wearing Valentino tonight because it’s beautiful,” she said, “and it’s a little foolish to wear it around the house.”

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