As anyone who is interested in film or fashion would know, those little golden men called the Oscars were handed out last Monday. They are, by the way, really dipped in 24 karat gold. And just as important as who actually won the awards is what guests wore to this ultra-glamorous, ultra-fabulous event. Who can forget Halle Berry in that sheer burgundy gown, receiving the first Oscar given to an African-American actress? Or Gwyneth Paltrow’s voluminous Barbie pink number? Or, as a matter of fact, Angelina Jolie’s leg sticking out of her strapless black dress slit up to there? Oscar dresses have inspired everything from fashion trends and wedding dresses alike, and suddenly getting all dolled up for a big formal event makes us feel like we are hitting the red carpet too. Here are some fool-proof tips for looking smashing at every party.
- Keep it simple. More is not merrier! If you are already wearing a showstopping outfit in a bold color, or anything intricately beaded, appliqued or has things like lace, then go very simple on the hairstyle, makeup and jewelry. You are better off with a sleek blow dry and understated makeup and accessories than piling up curls, super red lipstick, and glittering baubles all over. However, if your outfit is in a neutral color, and a basic cut, with no bells and whistles, then you can amp it up with big volume hair, or a striking red lip, or jaw dropping accessories. Check out Rosamund Pike’s Oscars look this year as a peg. Vavavoom red dress, simple chignon, natural face, barely-there stilettos, and no accessories. That’s my girl!
- Pay attention to accessories. Make sure they complement rather than take away from your outfit. Cool tones are set off with silver, and warm tones are set off with gold. For instance, a pastel blue dress looks good with silver stilettos, and a rust or chocolate-colored gown looks good with gold. Nude shoes are fine (provided they are formal-looking), they are quite versatile and they make the legs look longer too. Black is acceptable with a black dress, but white pumps are not acceptable for evening wear. They just look wrong in general. As for bags, the smaller and more elegant, the better. No matter how expensive your designer bag is, if it isn’t a clutch or miniaudere, you’re better off without it.
- Stick to the classics or go totally bold. When it comes to formals, something classic and sophisticated always works out best. This is not a time to experiment on clashing colors, neon, crazy cut outs, or some sort of new trend. Unless, of course, you want a totally bold effect, which is a very risky move. Either you go Angelina Jolie (who is always impeccably dressed) or you go Sharon Stone (who wore her husband’s white shirt with a Vera Wang skirt to the 1998 Oscars). This year, my ultimate peg for elegance is Reese Witherspoon, who showed up in an off the shoulder white gown with black accents. She looked amaaaaaazing! As for out-of-the-ordinary, Emma Stone came in a lime colored Elie Saab and rocked it out of the park as well.
- Be modest. I am no prude, but do you really have to go so sheer, or show so much skin? An occasional cleavage-baring neckline, or a very low back, or a very high slit is fine if the dress is plain. But wearing something that is sheer and dangerously cut, or excessively revealing cut-outs is not the right way to attract attention—especially if your body is not perfect! Sometimes trying too hard to look sexy only makes you look cheap.
- Choose quality. I cannot stress this point enough because all your efforts will go down the drain if your dress is made of an inferior fabric that creases, looks lumpy, does not fit well, or falls apart. If you can afford to have your dress custom-made, please do so. Ensure you have fit the item, and you have stepped out into the light to see if any parts turn out to be see through. Check if you can move or dance in the dress, or even breathe. If you’re buying ready made, choose well and make sure the item comes in limited supply. You wouldn’t want to have a ‘twin’ at the big event! As for shoes, always choose quality because they will give you better comfort and durability. At least you won’t be grimacing at the party because your straps are digging into your flesh or missing out on the fun because you can no longer walk. And on jewelry? Only the real thing. No matter how small the piece is, for as long as it isn’t fake, you will look and feel more elegant than anyone wearing cheap bling.
- Groom well. Check for lipstick stains on the teeth, any food particles stuck in between your teeth, any rips on your dress, any perspiration marks. Come equipped with cotton buds to repair makeup smears, a little sewing kit, a little talc powder, duct tape (in case a shoe strap snaps), breath mints, a small vial of perfume, oil blotting paper, a compact, lipstick and safety pins. Take periodic trips to the ladies room to make sure everything is in order. And for Heaven’s sake come in the right underwear! Nothing should be showing through any flash photography, and there are no visible panty lines, bra straps, or seams that should be seen that night.
- Smile. It would be a shame to get everything right and look like a million bucks but not have anybody to talk to or to seem insufferably stuck-up. Smile a lot, mingle, get to know people, and take a keen interest in the company of others. People always gravitate towards the nicer ones than the women who think they are better than everyone else. And people can sniff out fakers too, those who call you darling and give you air kisses or pay you compliments but won’t remember your name afterwards. Your goal is to look absolutely smashing and to also have a good personality to match. Otherwise, no matter how you look, you will remain forgettable.
- Pose like you mean it. What did you get all dressed up for if you’re going to slouch and look awkward in all your photos? If someone wants to take your picture, stand up straight, angle your body so it’s not squarely facing the camera, lift your head and stick out your chin just a little bit (to prove you have a neck) and show the world your natural megawatt smile. Some people advise to put your hands on your hips so that your arms will look smaller but that only makes you seem like you are joining a beauty pageant. Posture is everything here, and you can easily look like you’ve shed off 10 pounds if you get this right. Do not pout or do a duck-face at the camera please. That is so 2010.
- Have a good time. Well Cinderella, now is your time to shine. Make friends, dance, have some cocktails, and then know when your cue is to call it a night. It is best you leave with a light buzz and a good laugh instead of totally wasted and throwing up all over your gown, drunk calling an old flame. That said, have fun at the ball!