5 Secret Ingredients That Go Into a Successful Red Carpet Outfit

Award season is upon us, and if you think it has nothing it can teach you and your wardrobe, you're wrong. Whether you're making an appearance on the red carpet or simply making an entrance to a first date or dinner party, there are tips you can learn from the professionals. Having been on the red carpet quite a few times now for my job as a fashion correspondent, I can say from experience that a lot of consideration is put into every (and I do mean every) aspect of any big-day outfit.

Louise deciding on her looks for the Oscars.

Your look usually starts with your dress (or for some, like the glamorous Evan Rachel Wood, your suit). It's the foundation for the rest of the look—the hair, the makeup, the accessories. I don't work with a stylist: I choose everything myself (which is fun but also scary), so what if I'm barking up the wrong tree and the look is totally off? Being heavily pregnant and attending the InStyle Awards a couple of months ago, I had exactly that crisis of confidence.

I wanted to do something different, so I went for a burnt-orange dress, which was worn on the runway beneath a bra top. It wasn't maternity, just stretchy, and I had a seven-month bump to fit. On the way in the car, I suddenly freaked out (watch that actual moment on my vlog here!), but thankfully in the end I stood up straight, put my hand on my hip and (I think?) the outfit looked pretty cool.

So for all red carpet events, from my perspective anyway, there's a balance between trying something new/bold/fun but also making sure it's flattering. If you're being photographed from all angles, the risk of getting a dodgy pic is huge, no matter how used to it you may be.


Getty Images

On Louise: Victoria Beckham dress

So I'll start my red carpet search online, checking out the collections from fashion week, scrolling through Instagram for ideas and then attending fittings with brands and PR companies. I have a lot of buddies in the business who are kind enough to lend me dresses, shoes and bags for big events, so I'll head in and try on a few dresses. I don't go nuts and try on thousands—I tend to know quite quickly what works and what doesn't.

My recent trip to the Emmys was unique for me, as I was also dressing the baby bump and it was the middle of New York Fashion Week, so I had to pick gowns online to be sent to my hotel. I ended up with three contrasting options (in fact, you all helped me choose which one looked best by voting on my Instagram). My body was changing so fast that the navy one didn't fit after a couple of weeks, and the black one I ended up wearing was so low-cut that I needed to ask the boss of NBC if my cleavage was appropriate for the show!

On Louise: Bambah outfit and Fabergé jewellery from Gemfields

It can be stressful to pick something you feel comfortable being photographed in, not to mention wearing in front of thousands of TV viewers (especially while pregnant). But there are a few tricks I've nailed down over the years to make the whole process go more smoothly, and they can apply to a big celebration of any kind. Read on my for my tips on how you can achieve your very own red carpet–worthy look this season.



Getty Images

On Louise: Pronovias dress; Jimmy Choo clutch and sandals; Fabergé jewellery from Gemfields

Believe it or not, underwear is an incredibly crucial detail. You could have the most elegant gown and look like Cinderella, but the slightest underwear line could ruin your look entirely. Always opt for seamless underwear, or to be safe, a lace or silk thong should do the trick. Make sure it's a color that matches your skin so it doesn't scream out from underneath any lighter-colored items. Spanx is a personal favorite of mine.




On Louise: Monique Lhuiller dress; Nine West sandals; Fabergé jewellery from Gemfields

While you might be tempted to go for that body-hugging, one-size-too-tight dress, I can assure you you'll regret it after an hour or two. Comfort is actually a huge deciding factor for me when choosing a red carpet look—that whole "fashion over comfort" line is definitely not in my playbook for award season. Little secret: I actually wear flip-flops after I've walked the red carpet and am in position because 1) they're comfortable and 2) actors are surprisingly not that tall! Shy away from anything that would cause you pain. I once had bruised ribs from a solid metal belt I wore when I hosted the EMAs for MTV in Frankfurt. Never again.


On Louise: Naeem Khan dress; Jimmy Choo sandals; Fabergé jewellery from Gemfields

Putting your hair up isn't a must, but it definitely has its perks. Not only does is it look elegant, but it's a great way to show off statement jewelry (I always go for eye-catching earrings) and requires fewer touch-ups, which makes life so much easier for a long day in front of cameras.




Louise interviewing Jennifer Lopez at the 2017 Golden Globes and wearing Monique Lhuiller.

Whether it's a dress, a jumpsuit or a chic tailored suit, I highly recommend picking clothing that's not ethereal, slightly transparent or less structured—that'll have you feeling anxious about potential nip slips in photos (or on live TV, in my case!). Pick something you could wear for five hours without having to adjust. I'm often standing outside for this amount of time, so I also take into account the weather. I've shivered my way through certain red carpets, and I've also sweated my way through others. The same goes for events like a weddings or parties—check to see if you'll be standing outside or on grass, as these factors make a difference to how much fun you'll have.




Louise interviewing Kate Winslet, Julia Roberts and Penelope Cruz.

Yes, you read that right. Conversing with celebrities is thrilling, of course, but most people don't realise that we stand in the same position all day without even getting breaks to pee! You're bound to get hungry somewhere in there, so I always bring a granola bar and water for those few seconds when I get a break between interviews. It also doesn't hurt to bring mints—you certainly need to have good breath when you're interviewing Ryan Gosling!




Louise is a pro at doing her own makeup.

The best cosmetics for a look that doesn't need touching up? A mattifying primer—Smashbox makes a great one—to keep your T-zone from getting shiny. Waterproof mascara, waterproof eyeliner and lips lined with a pencil underneath your lip color. I also stay away from darker or brighter lipsticks—I'm talking for hours, so a subtle neutral tone is less obvious if it rubs off before I get time to reapply.

See more of Louise's fashion adventures on her site, LouiseRoe.com.