Emmy Fashion Preview: We Choose Our Must-See (Fashion) TV

Let's be frank: When someone throws a viewing party for the Emmys or the Oscars, the shindig never begins with the ceremony itself. It kicks off around the time the red carpet parade begins.

That's because everyone knows that the fashion is just as much a part of these programs -- heck, often the most interesting part -- as the doling out of awards and the long, overbearing speeches that result.

So here, we're discussing what we're really looking forward to -- and that's watching the stars sashay down the red carpet during what always feels like the official start to the fall television season. (One person we wish we could add: Nominee Gwyneth Paltrow, who reportedly won't be attending the ceremony. Boo!)

Here's who we'll be watching for... for better or for worse:

Julianna Margulies

Although an Emmy award for her role in The Good Wife has eluded Margulies, that hasn't stopped her from coming away a winner on pretty much every red carpet she's graced. Margulies, who is both a nominee and presenter this year, tends to favor black gowns adorned by a little something special or unexpected, and has done well using that fashion formula. But we absolutely love seeing her in red and saturated jewel tones, too. We're crossing our fingers for something emerald green or purple this year, which would look stunning with her hair and coloring. But regardless, she's our sure thing for the best-dressed lists.

Jane Lynch

Not only will Glee's Lynch make a most excellent Emmy host, what with her quick wit and dry sense of humor, we are also hopeful that she can shine on the red carpet. To be fair, we haven't been a big fan of her previous red carpet choices, but we are hopeful that this huge place in the spotlight inspires her to wear something less prom/ballgownish and in favor of something 50-something-and fabulous. We want to see one of our faves rock it out on the red carpet. I mean, she's the host. She's gotta bring it... right?

January Jones

For us, Mad Men actress Jones has become one to watch because her desire to be edgy and different tends to be a polarizing force for the fashion police. She nearly always makes the fashion write-ups and broadcasts after award shows, but somehow manages to simultaneously make the worst AND best-dressed lists from the same event. Still, people always seem to be talking about her afterward, and isn't that what every celebrity really wants anyway?

Mariska Hargitay

We can't help it, we have a little girl-crush on Hargitay, best actress nominee for Law & Order: SVU. True, she's had a whole lotta experience on the red carpet, so perhaps that accounts for why she's turned in far more hits than misses over the years. But our favorite thing about her style -- and the thing that makes her stand out from the rest -- is that she manages to make looking glamorous seem effortless. She never seems to try too hard, yet almost always gets it right. If only everyone were so lucky...

Christina Hendricks

OK, fine, we'll admit it: Hendricks -- nominee for outstanding actress in a drama for her role as a long-suffering secretary-turned-office manager -- has truly only had one red carpet stunner, and that was her look at the 2008 Emmys. We have been rooting for her ever since, only to be disappointed by her (washed out, or overpowering, or ill-fitting) choices since then. This year, we are giving her one more chance to live up to her character, Joan's, fashion sense. If she fails, we're gonna need a cigarette and a double bourbon on the rocks, stat.

Sofia Vergara

There's no denying it: This Modern Family actress (and nominee for supporting actress in a comedy) could wear a dress made out of a cat's hairballs and, as long as it was form-fitting, she'd still look smokin' hot. But we know she's got much better taste (and stylists) than that, so we're counting down the days to seeing her va-va-voom down the carpet.

Lea Michele

With a consistent run of gorgeous and varied red carpet gowns, Glee star Michele has earned a spot as a red carpet darling. The best thing about Michele is that she's so young and fresh, and unafraid to experiment with different styles. From full ball gowns to slinky, sexy numbers to eye-popping dresses that scream "Look at me!," Michele is full of surprises and we love it. With great styling to match, Michele has got a million different looks -- and we've only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Red carpet coverage begins at 5 p.m. (EST) on the E! network.