The best part of any award show is watching the parade of celebrities make their way down the red carpet and assessing their look. When I watch the Oscars I want the presenters and winners to be so gorgeous they take my breath away. These celebrities have every advantage including gowns tailored to their exact measurements, the most beautiful jewelry imaginable, and top stylists to guarantee that their hair and make-up will be perfection. So why do some women look amazing while others fall short? What is the secret to creating an “award winning” outfit?
Here are the key things that make an ensemble outstanding:
- Color – Black can be stunning, but it is never memorable. Does the color bring out the beauty and individuality of the wearer? Does it enhance their complexion, or does it just make a statement?
- Fit – A gown either fits perfectly or it doesn’t. Does the style flatter her figure and make the most of her assets? Are we distracted by too much bare skin or cleavage?
- Personal Style -Too much dress overwhelms even the most stunning woman. Is the outfit suited to the beautiful creature wearing it, or does she get lost? Or is it so understated that it lacks pizzazz?
- Accessories – The art is in the mix. Do the accessories support the overall outfit and draw the eye upwards to the face? Does the jewelry relate to the style of the outfit?
- Beauty Alchemy – Hair, make-up, posture and a sweet smile: When all the pieces come together in an alchemical way we sigh with pleasure at the beauty of it all.
We can keep in mind the same basic ideas when creating our own ensembles. Here are my favorites from Oscar Night. (If you missed the show most of the dresses are posted online today.)
- Anne Hathaway’s eight costume changes were my favorite part of the evening. She looked incredible in every outfit, and I appreciated how her hair was styled differently to enhance the look of each gown. She gave me the thrill I was waiting for – bravo!
- Halee Berry took my breath away while managing to look natural in her blush colored tulle confection. Her make-up and simple diamond earring were perfection. Sigh.
- Young Hailee Steinfeld wore a beautiful, sweet dress that I just loved.
- Helen Mirren was impeccable and stunning in her long sleeve gown, once again showing the youngsters how it is done.
As I side note here, I thought Ms. Mirren and most of her colleagues looked ridiculously thin. In their tight fitting gowns their heads all looked unnaturally large. Just a reminder of the unconscious power of the images we are exposed to.
Some of the ensembles bothered me, and here’s why:
- Jennifer Hudson’s dress did not fit properly, so I was distracted by the slice of breast that appeared ready to pop out, especially from the side. Sandra Bullock’s dress also fit awkwardly through the chest. What a shame as these two women usually look stunning.
- Marisa Tomei’s 1950’s gown was intriguing, but the entire look didn’t come together. It is hard to wear vintage without the appropriate jewelry and hair. Scarlett Johansson’s violet lace Dolce and Gabbana was a cool dress, but with choppy hair and sans jewelry she looked awkward instead of luscious.
- Amy Adams’s delicate coloring was overwhelmed by her spectacular, sparkling blue gown, and the contrasting necklace didn’t help. At last year’s awards her huge necklace again overwhelmed her delicacy. Perhaps it gives her confidence to dress in such a dramatic way.
- Poor Melissa Leo’s disturbing dress had too much going on – lace, sparkles, high neckline, big front slit. Bummer.
Some of the evening’s choices gave me pause, and not in a bad way. Nicole Kidman’s white, heavily patterned gown was unusual but I liked her overall look, especially the fresh pony tail with bangs. I appreciated Gwyneth Paltrow’s attempt to look modern even if she did look slouchy. Did I like Jennifer Lawrence’s beach babe red dress? I’m not sure, although it suited her. I wanted to love the lavender lace on Mila Kunis, but the gown didn’t read well on TV. I do know that Cate Blanchett’s Givenchy gown was so weird I didn’t know where to look except away.
I’m not interested in the smug assessments of the celebrity fashion bashers. In fact, it goes against my nature to be overly critical. The great thing about style is that we all have our individual take on what we like. In the end, fashion is all about a matter of taste. There is no one right way to look. Learning how to feel comfortable in your own skin and feeling sexy at any age is your first step to fashion greatness.