FLASHBACK: Red Carpet Don’ts
We would just like to state that in no way do the below “rules” reflect on the designers who have toiled late into the night making amazing creations. We’ve seen the clothes, like, in the flesh – they’re good dress. They can’t help it if actresses look bad. We call it “when bad actress happens to good dress”. If you want any chance of looking half-decent, just do the reverse of what we tell you to do. It usually works for us.
No back-to-front dressing – I’m a-lookin’ at you, Celine Dion. Back to front is just wrong. Unless you have the sudden urge to disrobe at the drop of a hat. And, by the way, that hat should have been dropped (just sayin’). An angled whatever it was you chose to wear upon your head, well, words fail me – and the only way to keep you dressed for the duration of a night is to put your jacket on back to front? NO!
Never match your skin to your dress. If it’s tan you look TOWIE. It’s not that we don’t like TOWIE, it’s just that we’re not too fond of their penchant for taking an orange to a tanning salon and saying, “I want this. On my skin. But older. Think dried-up, rotting orange.” On the other hand, pale ain’t great either. One camera flash and its goodbye young ingénue and hello Casper. We know that there’s usually a posthumous award, but the people who get those are dead. You are still in the land of the living and while your only chance at award glory might be to die, if you’re breathing, a little colour helps to communicate that. Even if it is achieved with a spatula application of foundation and rouge.
And, on that note, never match your face to your dress, unless you want to a) resemble a shiny, new, half-price DFS sofa. We are thinking, of course, of J.Lo in her various golden-tan-coloured – or should that be caramel, chiffon, beaded? – creations. Half the time you can’t tell where the décolletage ends and the dress begins. Or b) enter the land of the pale skinned in pale-hued couture and, oh yes, we do mean Michelle Williams. Those photographers have a hard enough job trying to get you to look at them. They have kids at home to feed, they need a money shot, not a poltergeist negative. “Where’s Michelle? I could have sworn I had her. At least I caught a Kardashian arse. What’s the going rate for those?” Girlfriend, if you must insist on stealing my face, the least you could do is treat it with respect – go back to the yellow and red lips
Yes, we are still on matching face to dress when you’re out accepting awards. So many subcategories, you wouldn’t believe. Anyway, it’s important to remember, if you’re planning on crying when accepting your award, steer clear of pink. Firstly, if you’re lucky – and this is (we underline) an extenuating circumstance – it kinda contradicts points 2 and 3 above as your face will match your dress. If not it’ll clash. Plus, when screwing up your eyes and (there is no nice way of putting this) gluing your hair flat to your head, you look bald, ergo, like a bawling baby. I think we all can admit that we are still traumatised by one Gwyneth Paltrow. Please refrain from any further scarring. We can’t afford the therapy.
In 1989, Demi Moore made quite the memorable exit. It consisted of a basque, cycling shorts and a half-skirt that sprouted from her arse in what, we are assuming, she thought was a sexy, certain girl in birdcage with plume derrière fragrance ad, but had the effect of more manky pigeon – and all in velvet, too. As a proud Moore raised her hands above her head and twirled the cameras recoiled in horror. She had – and we’ll pause here for dramatic effect – designed the outfit herself. To put it mildly, it wasn’t her finest moment. There’s a reason designers are designers and take over the job of creating otherworldly couture numbers for you to wear and you don’t have to buy (ie free, wet-dream clothes). They kind of know what they’re doing. Cutting cloth that makes even the dregs of society look good is no easy task. Don’t think just because you’ve been given the opportunity to have all of the world’s cameras pointing at you for all of five seconds you can make your own outfit. The clue is in your profession’s name: actor. Yes you can play a designer on screen, but in real life, when the director says cut, he means stop, not attack satin with scissors. Other notable victims include Kim Basinger in that white satin, one-armed monstrosity, and the costume designer from Priscilla Queen of the Desert in her gold Amex creation – honey, just because you got nominated for dressing men in drag, it doesn’t mean you have to dress like one.
What might be worse, if that is at all humanly possible, than the above point, is reiterating the above point a mere four years later. And no, Whoopi, re-creating the bustle-skirt thing as a bustle-cape atrocity in lime green does not help. We know that dark skin makes colour pop but there’s popping and then there’s having to walk around with one of those strobe-light warnings attached to your front. Do you really want your favourite grandpa, who’s been up all night waiting to watch you walk that stage, to have a heart attack when the spotlight hits you?
The following point is simultaneously a subcategory of the above as well as being a point all on its own, as in a “could write a 10-page essay on it” point. We call it The Maternal Curse. Now, we know that most famous ladies have a very special bond with their mothers, more friends than daughters and that they would do anything for them. But when assessing the situation in the cold light of day, what girl, past the age of five, allows her mother to have a say in what she wears? Really, who? Apart from Beyoncé, that is, who took the whole thing to a new extreme by allowing her mother to not only dress her but design the dress, too. Obviously the inspiration must have been upside-down whale draped in baroque curtain, for nothing else could explain it. We do understand that Beyoncé agreed to wear the aforementioned monstrosity out loving her mummy and being a big believer in her designing talents (she bankrolled a label for her) and also knowing that no amount of magazine credits guarantees the level of exposure a good red-carpet look does, but there’s something to be said for looking in a mirror before you leave the house and inflicting pain upon an unsuspecting public’s eyes. We tend to find that a card and maybe a bunch of flowers on Mother’s Day is enough of a demonstration of our feelings.
There comes a time in every girl’s life, usually around the age of 13, when they learn about the importance of good underwear, namely, the gift of the bra. The bra is, to many, no matter their size, God’s gift in fact. Let’s be honest, girls have been dealt a pretty crap hand, so you’d think something that makes them appear a) pert and b) to own breasts that do not resemble jelly freshly released from its mould, and ergo not a perv magnet, would be an item they would remember to wear on an important night out. Admittedly, there are some girls out there blessed with elastic skin and bosoms so pert they can get away with it. However, past the age of – ouuu, we’ll be generous – 20, your skin ain’t what it used to be. Without the right support and in a tight top, especially one that’s slightly sheer and gauzy, you look as though you have two thoroughly squeezed-out teabags attached to your chest. And if we wanted to spend an evening looking at squeezed-out teabags, we could probably find all we need to arrange a viewing in our kitchen. No prizes for guessing we are referring to Gwyneth in 2002. Why oh why do you insist on traumatising us so? All we ask for is one ceremony that does not cause us to spend the next year waking every night quietly trembling and sobbing into our pillows.
Do go a little crazy. And when we think crazy, we are thinking Björk dressed as swan complete with egg. We’re sure it was a commentary on the circle of life or something. Maybe Africa, the Western world and children. Or the plight of battery-farmed hens. Egg-laying is easier in open surroundings than a cage. Yes, people may scratch their heads and at first want to commit you to an asylum. But they won’t. Men in white coats straitjacketing celebrities in front of a camera isn’t really the done thing, unless you happen to Britney. But then she wasn’t walking down a red carpet. And you have to admit Björk as a swan did look rather radiant. There are limits to birthing, though. Fake tulle or papier-mâché, or whatever the hell they were, eggs are fine. However, we will draw the line at – and what we say next may cause some people to question our sanity, but to be honest we wouldn’t put it past half of today’s famous faces – birthing. Water breaking is to be steered well clear of. Remember, you have to return your dress. We know that egg birthing and arriving in an egg are territories that have both been charted, so if worse comes to worst, you can always do a Lara Flynn Boyle and channel five-year-old ballerina. The girl is still getting good column inch and, really, that’s kinda the reason you make the effort.
Do wear diamonds. Lots of ’em. Big ones. Round your face. We’re thinking earrings, chokers, tiaras. Look on them as your very own halo maker. When that camera flashes, you’ll be bathed in light. Your very own heavenly white glow. Think of Liz Taylor. Does she ever look anything less than goddess-like in her pictures? They also act as your own personal retouch. Bleaching out your face bar your lips and eyes. Obviously, heavily accented lips and eyes help.
Never fake bare skin. What? How do you do that, you ask? Well, cast your minds back to 2005, when Melanie Griffith emerged from her limo, complete with crutch, looking for all intents and purposes a little more burns victim than Hollywood glamour. You see, Melanie had chosen to wear a backless dress, except the dress had a back. Made from one of those nude “flesh”-like, tight fabrics most commonly used in ice-skater costumes. Being a little loose, when pulled it looked more gauze stuck to flesh than sexy expanse of skin. Limping on a crutch kind of reinforced the idea of victim of tragic incident, and we don’t think that’s quite what she’s going for. There’s a reason tit tape was invented and, despite its name, it works equally well on other body areas.
Whatever you do, be yourself. Oddly, it works. Look at Helena Bonham Carter. Look at Cher. When have you ever seen that lady step out in anything less than what can only be described as a sheer body stocking with some artfully placed feathers or spangly bits? And, yes, her outfit choices might land her on every worst-dressed list going, but at least they land her on a list and at least she stands out. Who remembers the girls on the give-good-dress lists? Yeah, they look pretty, but they’re basically playing Barbie to some overpaid stylist. They look uncomfortable. They look off. The girls who are true to themselves and to hell with the consequences actually look like they’re having fun, which, in the land of frozen facial expression, is no mean feat. And you know what else? They are remembered. Like, forever. Their outfits never die. So, by all means, do a Cher. Otherwise you’ll just end up blending into a sea of pastel and nude-toned blandness. Damn the outfit critics, Joan Rivers will love you. Who wants to be house white when you can be champagne?
In other points, wear clothes that fit, eg jackets that end below your breasts not above them, Jennifer Hudson. Never hire the same stylist that everyone else is using – you’re not starring in Attack of the Actress Clones. Never channel ones of those Barbie Princess cakes, especially when blessed with an immobile face (Tyra Banks) – you don’t want some rich kid throwing a tantrum while their high-powered parent tries to buy you to shut them up. Maybe immobile faces are just wrong, especially when you cry like Nicole Kidman and resemble some scary alien spawn and not a human. Don’t wear something that, in the future, will be pinpointed as the inspiration for Snooki’s classy outfits and therefore the demise of society/TV/teenage girls everywhere, Anne Hathaway. And Charlize Theron, artful satin folds on breasts resemble more wilted rose than rosebud. Never think that wearing what is essentially a poodle on your head is a good idea, Kate Hudson, especially when combined with a prohibition rodeo girl number, but feel free to do “mermaid”, as long as it’s more aquatic mermaid in the manner of Marion Cotillard than “acid trip gone wrong rainbow mermaid” like Faith Hill. And if you are gonna be a mermaid, do not turn up in a wheelchair, unless you want to be publicly lynched by Bette Midler on Twitter. That’s her act, so steer clear.
And yes, sometimes, it is okay to wear an old T-shirt.
Taken from 10 Magazine Issue 42