Celeb stylists reveal which looks wowed them the most.
Let’s be honest, few people watch the Oscar’s anymore for the actual awards. With 2+hours of red carpet coverage before last night’s 84th annual Academy Awards, all eyes last night were on the stars–and what (or who)–they were wearing.
As a stylist myself, I have my opinions on who took home the awards for best dressed. I also went to four of my fellow celebrity stylists Sam Saboura, Sophia Banks-Coloma, Karen Raphael, and Anya Sarre to get their take. Read on for our top 10 Style Winners.
Red Carpet: She may not have won the Best Actress honor for her Marilyn Monroe biopic but, undeniably hands down, Michelle Williams was THE style winner of the night. She stunned in a coral confection by Louis Vuitton, accented with a diamond bow pin and of course, peplum detailing.
“Michelle brought some much needed color and fire onto the carpet with this vibrant dress that was perfectly fitted to her body,” says Karen Raphael, a stylist who has worked with Shenae Grimes. “She was dressing to win an Oscar,” says Sam Saboura, who has worked with Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Aniston.
Reality: First off, let’s discuss a detail seen on many gowns last night, and all over the fashion runways: The Peplum. The short, flared strip of fabric attached at the waist of the gown is a vintage-inspired trend that’s made a very welcome comeback. It was the perfect accent on William’s dress, without taking away from the flowy layers of fabric.
And of course, everyone loved the take on the citrusey color of the year. “I predict it’s a color we will see more and more,” Sophia Banks-Coloma says, a stylist who has worked with Kristen Chenoweth and Amber Heard. But, beware: Choosing a color this bold isn’t for everyone. “If you love taking risks and have an outgoing personality, you can display your confidence and draw some attention by wearing a vibrant color like this coral. However, it is important to make sure that the dress itself isn't overdone, especially if you aren't attending a red carpet event,” Raphael advises. “Make sure that the dress has some kind of structure on either the top or bottom half in order to maintain an emphasis on your body so that the dress isn't wearing you,” she adds.
The best thing we can learn from this look is the uber-flattering silhouette, which works on almost everyone. “I think this dress can work on any body type—thin, petite, or even curvy, but for those who have a smaller top half and good arms, this is what this type of strapless works best on,” Banks-Coloma says.
Red Carpet: Stacy Keibler was a style standout last night; proving she’s much more than just George Clooney’s arm candy (although he was quite the dashing accessory). “Stacy was absolutely mesmerizing!” Raphael says. “She looked so poised and statuesque in this Marchesa number. The one-shoulder detail and dramatic flower-like gathering right at the hips were perfectly placed for her curves, and the metallic satin made her appear like a walking trophy,” she adds. “Perfectly fit, young, and sexy, she’s finally dressing her age!” Saboura says.
Reality:Stacy is all legs, which helps pull off a long satin gown with a ton of fabric. “This fabric and cut doesn't work for everybody, and the length of the dress requires a bit of a taller frame or else you could easily get swallowed up in it,” Raphael says. “The copper color, however, is very pretty on lighter complexions.”
Red Carpet: No one does a plunge like J-Lo. In a moment reminiscent of her iconic plunging Versace gown, she showed up dressed to impress in a pleated and beaded art-deco style Zuhair Murad that dipped low in both the front and the back. “She was sexy and glamorous,” Saboura says.
Her only style slip-up? She may have showed just a little too much for our tastes (and that of the FCC), as bloggers and tweeters were abuzz when the presenter apparently gave a glimpse of the area around her nipple. Either way, we still loved the dress. “The sexy fitted silhouette put her beautiful curvaceous body on display. The deep v-neckline, cutout sleeves, and cinched waist kept the attention on the upper half of her body, which is exactly what works best for a pear shape, and the cream color was beautiful against her olive skin tone,” Raphael says.
Reality: Jennifer Lopez doesn’t try to de-emphasize her famous booty—instead, she just expertly adds a little detail or two up top to draw the eye up. “If you are smaller on top and curvier on bottom, try low-cut and interesting necklines, and/or outstanding sleeve detail,” to emphasize the top half, Raphael recommends. “She has a curvy but toned body and if your body is fit, then you can do the cut-outs and fitted dress no matter what size you are,” Banks-Coloma says.
Red Carpet: The style jury is slightly split on eclectic Girl with the Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara’s ensemble. As the author of The Bra Book, I personally felt her lack of ‘support’ up top was entirely distracting, and the muted tone of the dress washed out her porcelain complexion.
Still, her body looked amazing in her Givenchy Haute Couture gown and for the first time, I felt this indie girl truly looked like a Hollywood movie star. “The minimal jewelry (one Fred Leighton ring to be exact) paired with mostly natural makeup and her signature red lips kept most of the attention on her dress and pretty face. Additionally, the more fitted cut worked perfectly because it didn't swallow up her petite frame,” Raphael says.
Reality: I would have preferred to see her wear some color, although I did like that she stepped away from her ‘safe zone’ of black. “When you are extremely petite, long dresses, heavy fabrics, and crazy colors can overwhelm you. Even deadlier is over-accessorizing. For petite girls, less really is more,” Raphael says. Now, let’s address that issue with the top half. I would have loved for a little more structure up top, to give her bust a bit of a boost.
Red Carpet: To me, Viola Davis was red carpet perfection in her emerald green Vera Wang dress, complete with matching earrings and eyeshadow. "What a jaw dropping gown this was," Raphael says. "The color was electric and just popped on her darker complexion while giving her a flawless glow. The figure hugging dress also emphasized how fit she is—something that can easily be bypassed in the wrong dress."
Banks-Coloma agrees. "[This dress] brought attention to her gorgeous figure, fitting her perfectly at the top and then curving around the hips in the perfect way." And those toned arms? She's definitely giving Cameron Diaz a run for her money (although Diaz gets an honorable mention in her cream-colored Gucci).
Reality: This look had everyone green with envy. "Bright colors in strong shades are extremely flattering for dark skin tones and very fun to experiment with," Raphael says.
Also daring? Her covetable cleavage, which I feel was the appropriate amount to make a statement, but not distract from the overall look. However, "you must proceed with caution," advises Raphael. "It's a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. Use a lot of double stick tape and an amazing bra to try and avoid a disaster, and minimal movement also helps."
The right accessories are important here, too. "When you wear emerald, pair it with silver accessories for a head to toe styled look," advises stylist Anya Sarre, who has worked with Lara Spencer and Nancy O'Dell.
Red Carpet: White-hot Gwyneth Paltrow failed to disappoint per usual, in a striking Tom Ford ensemble‹complete with a floor-length cape. Minimal jewelry and a low-ponytail kept the emphasis on the dress, which hugged her thin frame in all the right places. "She pulled it off so elegantly, and the combination of the cape with her fitted one shoulder silhouette only further increased the beauty and uniqueness of this outfit," Raphael says. Saboura adds, "Statement-making and new. She is modern goddess in this dress."
Reality: "Yes, you have to be long and lean to wear this dress," Banks-Coloma says. Realistically, pulling off a cape of this caliber is a bit of a challenge, unless you're Gwyneth Paltrow of course. "However, it is possible to rock a muted version of this trend when going to an upscale event," Raphael says. "At the start of the night, wearing a structured cape that matches your dress can be alluring and poses as a great alternative to a concealing, heavy coat."
Red Carpet: Trending as the #bestdressed on Twitter almost the entire night, the public has spoken: The Help's redheaded beauty Jessica Chastain was Oscar's Golden Goddess in her form-fitting gilded gown by McQueen.
"Big risk equals big reward," Raphael says. "The dress was regal, dramatic, and definitely made a much needed statement." Banks-Coloma says the look was exciting. "The black with the gold lace embroidery looked like a statue out of the McQueen exhibit at The Met."
Reality: We'll make no bones about it: It takes a slammin' body and, ahem, ample assets‹to pull off this dress. "If you are bigger chested like Jessica, stick to a sweetheart, scoop, or lower-cut neckline in order to create a cleaner line with less volume up-top," Raphael recommends. We love that she kept the rest of the look minimal as to not compete with the dress.
Red Carpet: 28-year-old Rose Byrne wowed in black that was anything but basic. Proving the bold shoulder is still best, the Bridesmaids star rocked the one-shouldered disco-inspired Vivienne Westwood. "She sparkled in black sequins," Sarre says. "This dress worked because it was a dark color, making the look classy and classic."
Reality: Head-to-toe sequins are doable, as long as you keep it on the dark side. Toned arms also help pull off this look, which shows you can be sexy without showing too much skin.
Red Carpet: Angelina Jolie was all about "sex appeal and sleek drama," Saboura says, keeping it smartly simple with minimal details like a structured bodice and a slit, albeit a very deep one at that. She exudes old Hollywood glamour in this black velvet Versace gown. "The high slit helped Angelina display her best feature front and center... her long longs, and she made sure to emphasize this by posing with her leg strategically popping out of it in every single picture," Raphael says. We love that she chose to accent with pretty tousled hair, basic black pumps, and bright red lips.
Reality: If you opt for a black dress, make sure it incorporates at least one dramatic or distinguishing feature, like Angelina's slit. "Use your body shape as a guideline to where you want to draw attention. If your best asset is your arms, try not to cover them up. If it is your waist, then make sure it is emphasized," Raphael says.
Red Carpet: Model-turned-actress Milla Jovovich may have been an Oscar newbie (first time!), but she looked like she'd been gracing that iconic carpet for years. Everyone was talking about her pale and shimmery Elie Saab. "Milla shined in this classic white one-shoulder dress that complemented her hair and skin," Sarre says. Saboura agrees. "This was her first time at the Oscars and she wowed!"
Reality: "Pull off your own old Hollywood glam look by trying a white one-shoulder dress with red lipstick," Sarre suggests. The swirls of beautiful beading helped create an hourglass shape on Milla's thin frame. And don't forget the mermaid shape that's reined the red carpets, flattering on almost all body types.