Red carpet ready

The fall signals the beginning of the glamorous celebrity awards season, with the recent Emmys and the MTV Awards leading up to the Oscars in February.

Similarly, ‘tis also the season of many black tie and holiday galas in the Okanagan.

If you have a formal to go to this year, take a cue from the most iconic looks of red carpets past. Check out some of the best looks in the picture above, along with current ensembles for sale at BCBG under their celebrity counterparts.

Striking colour 

Black tie evenings allow us the freedom to don unusual and vivid hues, as Nicole Kidman did at the 1997 Oscars (yes, that was 22 years ago). Her Dior gown was part of the first collection by designer John Galiano and remains as current today as it was then.

You too can go with head-to-toe chartreuse, or peacock blue, or hot pink - colours you probably wouldn’t imagine wearing during the day. Whatever you fancy is doable on formal nights.

Deep V-neck dresses

Jennifer Lopez’s naval-baring plunging neckline at the 2000 Grammys made headlines around the world. This year at the Emmy’s, Game of Thrones’ star Emelia Clarke channeled JLo with a barely-there top on her midnight colour gown.

While most of us wouldn’t go to these extremes, the deep V-neck is a classic sexy evening look. This is a great option for highlighting a statement necklace or earrings. Just ensure you have appropriate body wear underneath to keep everything in place.

Tuxedo dressing

Diane Keaton is the absolute icon when it comes to fancy suiting. Several times she has adorned jacket and pant ensembles for awards shows, sometimes even including a necktie.

Emulate the look with a lux suit. This look can be played up or down with different shirts underneath, from a classic button up to a jewelled bodysuit.


While some don’t think short skirts are proper for black tie, you can appropriately show off great gams like Jennifer Lawrence did at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar party.

The key, as with her Tom Ford-designed dress, is to keep modest on top with a high neckline and/or full sleeves. Minidresses also are great for highlighting statement sandals.

Other classic red carpet looks include:

T-shirt and full skirt

many celebrities have played with this look over the years such as Sharon Stone, Diane Keaton, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Take a floor-length skirt, in anything from fitted satin to brocade to tulle, and pair it with a simple white tank, T-shirt, or button-up on top. The juxtaposition of luxe and simple signals effortless chic.


Beyonce announced her pregnancy at the the MTV Video Awards in 2011 wearing a one-shoulder Lanvin gown.

Dresses with asymmetrical necklines or hemlines bring an unexpected twist to evening wear.


Both Nicole Kidman and Emma Stone donned red gowns with huge bows at the neckline (to different events of course) while Eva Mendes’ dress at the 2009 Golden Globes featured a large white bow at the hip.

If you are wearing a bow to black tie, go big or go home, as they say.

Open back 

When Hilary Swank accepted her Oscar for Million Dollar Baby in 2005, she was wearing what looked like a modest dress from the front. But the completely open back revealed all skin.

Like V-necks and mini dresses, this look needs to be balanced with coverage on other parts of the body plus appropriate undergarments.


For her first red carpet appearance at the Golden Globes in 2014, Lupita Nyong’o chose a stunning red Ralph Lauren gown with a shoulder-to-floor matching cape.

A long cape or shawl with your dress oozes glamour, and is also practical for warmth and coverage.


Julia Roberts’ black and white gown for the 2001 Oscars has been hailed as one of the most iconic of all time, and was labelled “vintage” because it came from the 1992 Valentino archives.

While I don’t necessarily deem nine years old as vintage, many evening wear looks from yesterday have stood the test of time. They simply don’t date as quickly as day wear.

You may find one in your own closet or at a second-hand store, and some simple adjustments will have you looking resplendent in 2019 and beyond.


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About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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