Got a red hot party invite but a luke warm wardrobe? YLC takes inspiration from the Oscars and shows how to reimagine those red carpet looks for the real world.
Sincere speeches, celebrity selfies and a sea of red carpet elegance that ticked all the right boxes; this year’s Oscars offering delighted fashion pundits, but there’s no escaping that the sea of frothy, largely nude hued perfection was all just a tad, well, bridal, if we’re honest.
While this isn’t a complaint – it’s every girl’s right to play the princess card at the Oscars after all– it’s not an easy look to reproduce at many real life social occasions, unless you happen to be walking down the aisle of a cathedral of course.
While the more minimally inclined A-listers were models of elegance and grown-up restraint, there was still a whiff of the sophisticated bridesmaid about the whole shebang – a look that can so easily slide into frumpy on the turn of a Louboutin.
For those of us with couture cravings on a more modest budget, the key to red carpet style is not to be too literal in the interpretation of A-listers’ looks. Cherry-picking key elements from European high street stores: a silhouette, hue, detail or embellishment, and reworking them to suit your own style – and the occasion – will make for a far fresher look all round.
Here’s a roundup of some of the winning outfits on the night – and how to channel the looks for less:
For sophisticated glamazons
It’s hard not to lump Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams together here because they both pulled off strikingly similar looks: elegant navy column dresses with a gently flared train, minimal accessories and fabulous, glossy hair. It was an exacting lesson in sophisticated, sartorial restraint, and if the Sex in the City girls were walking the red carpet, this would totally be Charlotte’s look. While it could be argued that perhaps they were just a tad too formal for this event – a little more ‘black tie ball at the Embassy’ than Oscars – there’s no denying that navy is now the new black where evening wear is concerned – at any age – and it’s why it’s sure to be replicated long after the pastels have been put away.
Above: Navy Off Shoulder Dress €49.95 at H&M; Bracelet with small crystal stones €19.95 at Veritas; Feather-shaped earrings in gold with ear cuffs at H&M; limited edition gold ‘Belgravia’ heeled sandal with cigarette heel €390 by Kurt Geiger at Top Shop
For day to evening versatility
Jennifer Lawrence has that sassy air about her that girls love and guys find irresistible. As everyone’s favourite personality packed A-lister right now, it was therefore surprising to see her in such a restrained gown – albeit in her favourite show-stopper red, by Christian Dior Haute Couture. The peplum is a trend that’s been around for a while now and, if we’re honest, is starting to feel a little tired, but Jen still nailed it thanks to the design’s simplicity and vermillion hue. Update this look with a more fluid take on the peplum to carry you through effortlessly from day to evening. In any colour so long as it’s red, of course.
Above: Closet Red Cowl Neck Faux Pocket Dress €59 at New Look ; Acid Brights Statement Earring €24.95 at Banana Republic; ‘Lydia’ black heeled sandals £160 by B Brian Atwood at Kurt Geiger; Silver Mesh Clutch €19.99 at New Look. Photo credit: AP
For old school Hollywood glamour
Angelina Jolie exudes old time Hollywood glamour and rarely gets it wrong on the red carpet, and her style over the years has become incredibly sophisticated and yet always manages to stay just the right side of sexy. Her choice of barely there smoky chiffon gown encrusted with beads, by Elie Saab Couture stayed true to her formula, but made for a pretty daring choice given she underwent a double mastectomy and subsequent reconstructive surgery only a year ago. She looked stunning, of course, and, with embellishment huge at the moment, it’s a style steal that translates fabulously to all budgets and looks. Just don’t overdo the accessories.
Above: Ivory Cap Sleeved long Dress £290 by Adrianna Papell at John Lewis; Silver plated diamanté drop earrings €20 at River Island; Mirror Metallic Caged Sandal in silver €227.76 at J Crew. Photo credit: AP
For sex appeal with support
Hervé Léger was on to a good thing when he invented the bandage dress back in the 80’s. Skin tight and leaving little to the imagination, the thick, stretchy webbing-like construction of this style works much like corsetry or all-over Spanx, cleverly pulling you in where it counts -and crucially holding it there – and has been the go-to look for supermodels, footballers’ wives and Kardashians ever since.
What has since morphed into the term ‘bodycon’ (as in body contoured) is a highly influential look that has found its way into almost every brand’s collections in some form or other over the years, and for good reason; it’s actually surprisingly flattering. The jury is still out on Lady Gaga’s demure chiffon scarf, but there’s no denying her Versace gown had all the ingredients for a look that translates rather well to real world girls who aren’t afraid to flaunt their assets. The essential elements to take away from this look are the pale hue and subtly embellished contrast pattern that draws the eye to all the right places for a slimming Jessica Rabbit-like effect that’s perfect for partying.
Above: Nude Pink Strapless ‘Cameo’ Bandage Dress €334.90 at Forever Unique; Black semi-precious stone drop earrings €13 at River Island; Britton Nude Italian leather pouch with gold metal trim £150 at Kurt Geiger; ‘Malva Biscuit’ sandals with snakeskin detail strap €195 at Reiss. Photo credit: AP
For fresh faced ingénues
Lupita Nyong’O looked every inch the Grecian goddess in her choice of gown by Prada. The gorgeous combination of powder blue pleats against glowing brown skin was summery perfection, and brought a much-needed freshness to the proceedings and one of the few concessions to colour, which, for real-world gals, is huge this spring. It’s a look that could go either way very easily – floor length pastels tend to be more Queen Elizabeth’s bag – but minimal gold jewellery and just a flash of orange lipstick ensured it felt modern and bang up to date.
The key to this look’s success is one of contrast; dark skin and hair works beautifully with pale colours, and it’s a case of picking a hue that compliments your own colouring. While the floor length looks great on the red carpet, Grecian style pleating translates well to maxi and midi lengths for less formal affairs and is surprisingly forgiving over lumpy bits too.
Above: Turquoise Chiffon Maxi Drape Dress €89.99 at Mango; ‘Mafiriri’ leaf headband ethically handmade in Kenya €37.92 by Made Jewellery at ASOS; ‘Kathondi’ Four Pack Bangles ethically handmade in Kenya €28.09 by Made Jewellery at ASOS; Zachi Metallic Sandals €75 by Nine West at Kurt Geiger. Photo credit: AP
For sultry Veronica Lake inspired Va Va Voom
Let’s be clear: This is not an outfit for mere mortals. Sure, some can pull off a plunging neckline, or a backless number, but working both, along with a figure-hugging mermaid tail and padded shoulders, requires oodles of confidence and nothing short of physical perfection. For those blessed with the necessary attributes, then there’s the question of occasion – it’s a dress that ranks so highly in the glam stakes that many brides would be hard pushed to avoid the Krystle Carrington gibes. And yet, somehow, on the red carpet, it just works. In fact it worked so well, that Kate Hudson, arguably, managed to steal the show.
For old school Hollywood glamour at it’s best, this look is hard to beat, but it’s best to exercise a little restraint if you plan to replicate the look at Stockholm’s choicest watering holes: a plunge front and backless look can all get a teensy bit fleshy – and why a maxi length works best. To channel this look successfully in the real world, it makes sense to pare things down somewhat drastically by cutting down on the myriad design elements – the draped bolero with padded shoulders and cowl back is a good place to start – and accessorising with only minimal jewellery, some killer heels and a natural looking tan. Veronica Lake hair highly recommended of course.
Above: ‘Revelation’ maxi dress with plunge front and strappy, low back €126.41 by Solace London at ASOS; Diamanté tassel drop earrings €15,95, M&S Collection at Marks & Spencer; Handmade Fringed back necklace €42.75 by Hedgehog Project at Etsy; Mirror metallic sandal in silver €189.48 at J Crew. Photo credit: AP
For fairy tale princesses
Well, didn’t she look divine? This look had it all and Cate Blanchett seemed to float to an almost otherworldly level of gorgeousness; an ethereal, dreamy vision in nude embellished tulle by Armani Prive, with exquisite hair and make-up, and featuring some serious – yet oh so tasteful tasteful – diamond action. She was every inch the proper movie star, and while many might get lost in all this frothiness, Cate’s cool air of intelligence and keen gaze elevated the whole ensemble to another level.
Replicating it isn’t as terrifying as it may first appear either – nude is a flattering colour that works on many skin tones –by shortening the length and toning down the embellishment, this pretty look is ideal for girls who prefer a more feminine and demure approach to dressing up.
Above: Miyaa Nude Feather Appliqué Motif Dress €565 at Ted Baker; Pearl Effect Chandelier Drop Earrings with Swarovski Elements €43.95 by M&S Collection at Marks & Spencer; ‘Hit It Off’ sandals €49.16 at ASOS. Photo credit: AP
For modern starlets with – or without – a baby on board
For many of us, a bun in the oven represents something of a paradigm shift in the style stakes that is hard to reconcile with the woman we once saw in the mirror. Others – like Olivia Wilde – seem to embrace the change without missing a beat. Her elegant high-necked black gown, courtesy of Valentino, contained a clever back vent with white insert that kept the focus off her front in a chic look that was part minimalist mod, part Audrey Hepburn; and one that makes for an interesting choice for those not expecting too.
Above: Slit front contrast maxi dress €84.28 by ASOS Collection at ASOS; white sandals €89.95 by Zign at Zalando; Handmade Plump White Agate Drop Earrings €36.30 by SimplySleek at Etsy; Monochrome Multirow Magnetic Bracelet €13 at Next Direct; Jewelled Boxed Clutch €35.10 by New Look at ASOS. Photo credit: AP
We hope we have inspired you pick out your own Oscar-winning outfit! (Please check individual stores for shipping costs, terms and conditions).
Sam trained as a fashion journalist and with experience working in magazines and media, she put her career on hold to ‘trail’ the spouse and raise her two boys. After almost a decade living in Asia she now resides in Luxembourg where she has been blogging and freelance writing.