The job of a celebrity stylist is nearly complete once the star steps out onto the red carpet, but it’s the prep work involved in getting them there that’s a Hollywood storyline in itself: last-minute changes, emergency runs to the seamstress and stress therapy beforehand all make for
brilliant red carpet reveals.
Now that awards season has officially kicked off, we chatted with Marissa Joye Peden— an L.A.-based celeb stylist, who is outfitting red carpet starlets this year, including
Gone Girl emerging star Emily Ratajkowski—for her expert tips on surviving the red carpet in style.
Red carpet style secret #1: Fit is everything.
There’s no way around this one—if the gown is ill-fitting, it just won’t work. Imagine if Elizabeth Hurley’s iconic safety pin Versace dress didn’t hug her curves in all the right places? (Neither can we.) On the day of the awards show, explains Peden, “I make it a policy to have a seamstress there with me to take their measurements and do alterations because I think that the most important thing to looking good is to make sure that you have a really good fit.”
You don’t want to get snapped fussing with your hemline on the red carpet. “If things don’t fit right, then you’re going to be tugging at them or pulling them up or you have to worry about weird undergarments,” she says. Most major alterations are done a few days ahead.
Red carpet style secret #2: Have a back-up plan.
Even if you have your heart set on a gown, it’s always a good idea to have two or three options on hand, just in case your co-star plans to show up in a similar dress—like at
last year’s Oscars, when Anne Hathaway made a last-minute gown switch after she found out that Amanda Seyfried was wearing something similar.
That’s an exception—Peden says you should have your gown finalized the day of the event. “There are backups until the last fitting but after that, everything’s kind of in place and it should work,” says Peden, who once rushed a celeb client to the Armani offices in Beverly Hills 30 minutes before an event so a seamstress could sew everything directly onto her body.
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Red carpet style secret #3: Don’t rely on double-sided tape.
“It’s good for a quick fix,” says Peden, about the age-old celeb secret for tucking and keeping the dress in its proper place, “but it doesn’t always stay and that’s where you see girls when you can see the tape or there’s a malfunction.” You know the kind that she’s referring to. “I would rather have dresses that fit.”
Red carpet style secret #4: Carefully consider undergarments.
Whether it’s a full-body armor of Spanx to hold everything in place or a flesh-toned slip, what you wear underneath the gown can pretty much make or break your red carpet look. “I love Commando underwear—I live by it,” says Peden, who stashes multiple pairs of these invisible panties in her stylist’s kit. “I’m always giving them to girls—they’re just completely invisible under everything!”
Red carpet style secret #5: Wear comfortable footwear (just kidding!)
You can’t always expect to find fabulous strappy heels that match perfectly to your dress and fit comfortably (but let us know if you do). “A really good trick—one that I always have in my kit—is spray deodorant,” says Peden. “A lot of the time shoes are a little too small or girls’ feet are swollen or sweaty, and they actually help shoes fit better.” Spray deodorant inside of the heel of your shoe before heading out. “Your foot slides in and it just stays cool and dry. It’s kind of miracle.” Amen.
Red carpet style secret #6: Master the graceful car exit.
Avoid a quintessential Lindsay or Britney moment: swing both legs together before stepping out of a limo. “Most girls are going to have someone with them—whether it’s their date or PR—so I would say have them get out first and have someone lend you a hand and make sure things are in place before you step out,” advises Peden. “That’s why you have good backup.”
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Red carpet style secret #7: Practice your red carpet pose.
You want to work your dress in front of the cameras—not the other way around. “If there’s a slit, you definitely want to show that,” she says. If there’s detailing down the side or down the front of the gown, you want to be careful not to cover it but putting your hand on your hips. “For a backless dress, you want to make sure you swing around and give them a back shot.”
Red carpet style secret #8: …and give ‘em your best side.
It’s just like how you practice at home in front of the mirror to capture the perfect selfie, “Most girls know their angles, too,” says Peden. So they work the camera for a flattering shot that flawlessly highlights both the dress and themselves.
Red carpet style secret #9. Pack your clutch (seriously).
Not just an accessory to complement your outfit, a well-stocked clutch bag can get you through the night. “I have to make sure that clutches fit iPhones,” says Peden, with a laugh. “And the makeup artist usually sends them with their lip gloss.”
Peden once received a clutch back from young starlet Bella Thorne, who had forgotten to empty out its contents beforehand. “There was her lipstick from the night before and some Slim Jims,” she recounts. “I think that’s good idea, especially if you’re going to a movie premiere. Those can be long.”
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Red carpet style secret #10. Rest up.
“I think the best thing you can do before an awards show is to just relax,” says Peden. “I love a place in L.A. called Beverly Hot Springs. They do a body scrub in this natural thermal springs and you just walk out and feel like a whole new person. I think that’s really good for them to do beforehand.” And of course, to practice your totally surprised face for the moment they call your name.