I was planning to do a round up of the Oscars best dressed today, like most day-after-the-award-show commentary on fashion sites. I was going to talk the trends (gold and nudes), who didn’t quite make the mark (Janelle Monae), and what designers made the most impact (Gucci and Louis Vuitton). But, I woke up today thinking about how tired that conversation is. (I also live-tweeted the red carpet arrivals, so if you want those notes, check twitter.) What I did notice last night was that there wasn’t a a major fashion moment. Some critics may not agree as Raf Simons made his red carpet debut with Naomi Harris, but I was waiting for the Lupita Nyong’o pale blue Prada gown moment, and it never happened. Someone in something that really takes your breath away. And today, while flipping through best and worst dressed slideshows, I keep coming back to the ones I like: Dakota Johnson, Alicia Vikander, Brie Larson, and Taraji P. Henson. The first three are more controversial as I’ve seen them on best and worst dressed, but Taraji, was universally best dressed. For me, what the women have in common is not exclusively a ‘best dressed’ title, but all four women exuded a calmness, a simultaneous confidence, elegance and effortlessness, while maintaining their “everyday” appeal dressed in their finest on the world’s stage. They looked like themselves. Let me explain.
The prep time leading up to an event such as the Oscars is months for some people. I know this because I read countless articles posted about ‘how to prepare like a celebrity’ for these events. The effort and hours and amount of people that go into making one celebrity red carpet ready is insane. The extent to which celebrities go to maintain their carefully articulated brand is extreme, and for some completely transparent. We see celebrities going to dinner, dropping their kids off at school, getting in and out of cars, walking around New York, literally everywhere, doing normal people things. So we have an idea of their off duty vibe. Every time I see Dakota Johnson, whether it’s a paparazzi photo or on a talk show – she is as poised in a Gucci gown as she is in jeans and loafers. This comfort with herself is an acceptance thing, not a learned thing. So many women I see on the red carpet are fidgety and appear anxious, and I can’t help but think: girl, chill, just be yourself. The women on my list last night all had a similar level of comfort with themselves. And it was a significant distinguisher for me. Not that other women didn’t look beautiful, many did, but those at ease were glowing.
I know some women love to pull out all the stops when it comes to formal dressing. They have no interest in “looking like themselves” when the best version of themselves is so attainable. I have friends who fully embrace a full set of fake eyelashes and Kylie’s lip kit on a Friday night to dinner, and I love them for it. There is a level of personal acceptance in this over-the-top dressing as well. I just wish more women felt comfortable in whichever direction they choose. I long for the non-stylist days when everyone just wore what they liked. And the actor-as-brand defining moments were less so.