I wonder about this every time I look at best dressed lists. Because, in retrospect, it’s really easy to tell who looked good and who looked bad. Sitting there, you can just spiral your head back and forth like it’s on a sprocket muttering “what was Nicole Kidman thinking?” But good lord, the ability to identify a bad omelet does not mean that I can lay an egg.
I wonder if this is like going on a first date with someone and realizing that you can instantly tell their personality flaws – because they’re referring to the waitress as “sugar tits” – but they will never be able to tell what’s wrong with them, even though everyone else can see it so clearly. Nor will you ever know what’s wrong with you. I think picking Oscar dresses might be like that. Which is to say: horrible. A horrible blind guessing game where you vainly try to make some sense of who you are, and what your style is. I think it was Plato who said, “it was almost inevitable that Nicole Kidman would look fugly one of these days.”
And even if you’re someone who is somewhat good at knowing what is tasteful and what’s not – this isn’t like “you know not to wear tie-dye to work if you don’t work at Ben & Jerry’s.” This Oscar gown is a type of clothing that you don’t normally wear. This is the type of clothing you wear maybe one day a year. Okay, unless you’re in the Sultan of Brunei’s harem. Other than that, you’re just going to be out of your element. And since they’re coming from reputable designers it’s not as though any of the dresses are going to be so obviously ugly that they’re unwearable.
Even in those “I probably shouldn’t wear tie-dye to work” scenarios, think about how many times you’ve looked back at pictures of yourself and wondered why you were wearing whatever you were wearing. Think about bad choices you’ve made when you were simply choosing items that you have a lifetime of experience with. If you’re a new starlet you have minimal red carpet experience.
The odds are in favor of you making a terrible choice.
I feel for people like Helena Bonham Carter who seem to at least suspect that something in her judgement is… flawed. Like when she said she thought her Oscar dress would probably be a disaster and it was indeed, hideous (boring for her! Insane for anyone else! Grotesque for everyone!) Though I’m also wondering if, maybe after she said that, the costume designer, Colleen Atwood who made the dress was just like, “she thinks it’s going to be a disaster? I’ll show her a disaster.”
Because the Oscar fashions really aren’t determined by just one person. When you know you’re going to be judged by millions of people, it’s natural that you’d want people to advise you. It goes along with the idea that you can’t know your own flaws unless someone else tells you. So, of course everyone relies on a stylist. But honestly? I believe stylists fuck with their clients. Sometimes. Not all the time. SOMETIMES, though. They must, right? Maybe with the best intentions – trying to get people to see their conservative client in a new slutty way! – or maybe with the worst if they just hate them.
So, you’re screwed if you don’t use a stylist, you’re screwed if you do.
And even if your stylist isn’t gorgeous, and even if you’re able to wade through the myriad of bad-decision dresses to find something appropriate and not crazy well, it might photograph badly. Or it might just not look as beautiful on film as it does on life. Film is tricky like that.
Or critics might just decide that it was “boring” because critics are jerks.
In conclusion: If I had an Oscar dress I would like it to have a train made out of peacock feathers. I think about this all the time. Like, at least once a week, in case someone calls me and tells me I’m famous now and I have to go to the Oscars. Plain on the top, peacock feathers on the bottom. The only guarantee of success. Everyone should get on that