It’s award season, and you’ve got a date with the red carpet. Maybe you’re nominated, maybe a nominee’s date, or maybe you’re celebrating a friend’s success. Here are do’s and don’ts to help you look your radiant best and banish regret from the red carpet.
“DON’T CHOOSE A STYLIST JUST BECAUSE SHE GAVE YOUR PUBLICIST A PRADA SWEATER.”
Sound advice from stylist Philip Bloch, who has dressed Halle Berry, Salma Hayek and Nicole Kidman: “Now everyone’s mother, cousin and brother is a stylist. Check what the stylist’s credentials are. Look up other celebrities the stylist has dressed, and ask yourself if you like how they look. Also, if she’s dressed only tall, twiggy blondes, and you’re petite and curvy, it may not be a match.”
BRAVE A BOSSY BLEMISH
“Don’t panic,” says celebrity facialist (Sofia Coppola, Naomi Watts, Halle Berry, etc.) Olga Lorencin of Kinara Spa, home to the Red Carpet Facial. “Running out for cortisone injections, applying retinol or picking and squeezing it will only irritate it more. Not only will you have swelling, but you’ll end up with unsightly redness and even possible scarring. Instead, just ice it.”
EASY ON THE NEW PRODUCTS
“Now is not the time to try any new beauty products or treatments other than very gentle ones,” says Lorencin. “If your skin has serious issues, start seeing your aesthetician two months prior. Don’t drink caffeine — it’s dehydrating. No sodium — it bloats your face. Drink tea made of fresh parsley boiled in water. It’s a wonderful diuretic.”
DON’T UPSTAGE THE BRIDE
There’s a definite red-carpet hierarchy. “When it comes to a dress code, it matters if you’re a nominee, an unnominated celeb, a nominee’s date or a ‘regular’ attendee,” says Bloch. “Let the girls who are nominated be the center of attention.”
LIMIT YOUR RISK
“Don’t get sucked into a trend. If you want to experiment, do it with color,” says fashion critic Stacy London, co-host of TLC’s “What Not to Wear” and former senior fashion editor at Mademoiselle.
“This can work both ways,” says London. “Young girls tend to dress too old, and older actresses dress too young.” As for makeup, MAC senior artist Greg Arlt (Gwen Stefani, Ali MacGraw, Sienna Miller) says, “It should range from glossy, glittery finishes in your 20s to a less-is-more approach in your 50s and 60s.”
PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE
“When it comes to makeup (and hair), bring pictures from magazines: shots you love, and shots you HATE! Do NOT be afraid to speak up! It’s your face,” says Arlt.
“When you find a dress you like, take it out in the light to make sure it’s not see-through and see where perspiration may show,” says London. “Then photograph yourself from every possible angle (wearing the sleekest undergarments) with backlight to see how it will look on camera. Do a dress rehearsal, with full hair, makeup and shoes if you can.”
USE TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Here are tools for your touchup/emergency kit: waterproof eye makeup, a threaded needle, different-size safety pins, double-stick tape and lip gloss (reapply before you exit the limo). Do not touch your hair when the cameras are rolling. Bloch adds, “Pose for photographs (from) the opposite side of your dress zipper. ”
DON’T DO TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE
“One of the biggest mistakes on the red carpet is being over- or underdressed,” says designer Elie Saab. Celebrity hairstylist Frederick Fekkai agrees: “The key is to look styled without looking overly done.”
Dior senior makeup artist Pati Dubroff (Chalize Theron, Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, etc.) says: “These award shows are very special events, and some newcomers don’t go the extra step to hire pros to help them prepare. … Or, on the other hand they overdo a look, ending up looking nothing like who they are (think big curly-Q hairdos). The pictures from these events come back to haunt people for their entire career … something to remember!”
BE COMFORTABLE AND HAVE FUN
Saab says the most important piece of advice for red-carpet newcomers is, “Make sure that you feel great and comfortable in your gown so that your pictures come across with that same feeling. Wear the dress. Don’t let the dress wear you.”
And when all else fails … imagine everyone in their underwear. After all, you’ve been dreaming of this since you were 6. Savor every second.