Awards season is upon us, and while you may think that doesn’t share anything in common with your wardrobe, you’d be wrong! Whether you’re making an appearance on the red carpet, or simply making an entrance to a first date or dinner party, there are tips you can learn from the professionals to feel ready for any eventuality. Having been on the red carpet quite a few times now, for my job as a fashion correspondent, I can say from experience that a lot of careful consideration is thrust into every aspect of your outfit (some less obvious than others).
Creating your look usually starts with the dress (or for some, like the glamorous Evan Rachel Wood—the suit). It’s the foundation for the rest of the look—the hair, the makeup, the accessories. I don’t work with a stylist, I choose everything myself (which is fun but also scary), so what if I’m barking up the wrong tree and the look is totally off? Being heavily pregnant and attending the In Style Awards a couple of months ago, I had exactly that crisis of confidence. I wanted to do something different, so I went for a burnt orange dress, which was worn on the runway with a bra top over the top, and giant earrings. It wasn’t maternity, just stretchy, and I had a 7 month bump to fit. On the way in the car, I suddenly freaked out (watch that actual moment on my vlog here!) but thankfully in the end, I stood up straight, put my hand on my hip, and (I think?) the outfit looked pretty cool. So for all red carpet events, from my perspective anyway, there’s a balance between trying something new/bold/fun, but also making sure it’s flattering. If you’re being photographed from all angles, the risk of getting a dodgy pic is huge, no matter how used to it you may or may not be.
So, I’ll start my red carpet search online—checking out the collections from fashion week, scrolling through Instagram for ideas, and then by attending several fittings with brands and PR companies. I have a lot of buddies in the business who are kind enough to lend me dresses, shoes and bags for big events, so I’ll head in and try on a few dresses. I don’t go nuts and try on thousands—I tend to know quite quickly what works and what doesn’t. My last trip to the Emmys, in September, was unique for me, as I was also dressing the baby bump, it was the middle of a very busy New York Fashion Week, and so I had to pick gowns online to be sent to my hotel. I ended up with three completely contrasting options (in fact, it was you guys who helped me choose which one looked best by voting on my Instagram). My body was changing so fast, the navy one didn’t fit after a couple of weeks, and the black one – which I ended up wearing and loving, was low-cut enough I needed to ask the boss of NBC if my cleavage was appropriate for the show!
It can be stressful to pick something you feel comfortable being photographed in, not to mention wearing in front of thousands of TV viewers (especially pregnant). But, there are a few tricks I’ve nailed down over the years to make the whole process go more smoothly, and can also apply to any major event from award shows to weddings and big celebrations of any kind. Read on my for my tips on how you can achieve your very own red carpet-worthy look this season…
Believe it or not, it’s a crucial detail. You could have the most elegant gown and look like Cinderella, but the slightest underwear line could ruin your look entirely. Always opt for seamless underwear or to be safe—or a lace or silk thong should do the trick. Make sure it’s a color that matches your skin so it doesn’t scream out from underneath any lighter colored items. Spanx is a personal favorite of mine.
While you might be tempted to go for that body-hugging, one-size-too-tight dress, I can assure you you’ll regret it after an hour or two. Comfort is actually a huge deciding factor for me when choosing a red carpet look—that whole ‘fashion over comfort’ line is definitely not in my playbook for awards show season. Little secret: I actually wear flip flops after I’ve walked the red carpet and am in position, because 1) for comfort and 2) actors are surprisingly not as tall! Shy away from anything that would cause you pain or to refrain from breathing. I once had bruised ribs from a solid metal belt I wore when I hosted the EMA’s for MTV in Frankfurt. Never again.
Putting your hair up isn’t a must, but it definitely has its perks. Not only does is it look elegant, but it’s a great way to show off any statement jewelry (I always go for eye-catching earrings), and requires less touch ups—which makes life so much easier for a long day in front of cameras.
Whether it’s a dress, jumpsuit, or chic tailored suit, I highly recommend picking one that is not ethereal, slightly transparent or less structured—they just won’t do and will have you feeling anxious of a risking a potential nip slip in photos (or on live TV in my case!). Pick something you could wear for 5 hours without having to adjust or fix it constantly. I’m often standing outside for this amount of time, so I also take into account the weather at that time of year. I’ve shivered my way through red carpets, and equally, sweated my way through them. The same goes for being at an event like a wedding or party—check beforehand if you’ll be standing outside, or on grass, as all these factors make a difference to how much fun you’ll have.
Yes, you read that right. Conversing with celebrities is thrilling of course, but most people don’t realise that we stand in the same position all day, without even getting breaks to pee! You’re bound to get hungry somewhere in there, so I always bring a granola bar or banana and water for those few seconds you may get a break between interviews, and to keep your energy levels up. It also doesn’t hurt to bring mints – you certainly need to have good breath when you’re interviewing Ryan Gosling!
The best cosmetics for a look that doesn’t need touching up? A mattifying primer—Smashbox does the best, to keep your tea zone from getting shiny. Waterproof mascara, waterproof eyeliner, and lips lined with a pencil underneath your lip color. I also stay away from darker or brighter lipsticks—I’m talking for hours so a more subtle, neutral tone is less obvious if it rubs off before I get time to re-apply.
See more of Louise’s fashion adventures on her site, LouiseRoe.com.