Every time Hollywood hosts a big awards show, The Gloss‘ intrepid deputy editor Ashley Cardiff whines about how everything looks the same. EIC Jennifer Wright, however, loves when everyone looks all classically pretty and romantic and soft.
Here, they discuss the omnipresence of Ashley’s much despised Sparkly Neutral Gown, especially among the many Golden Globes dresses. And they wonder, what does it mean to be well dressed on the red carpet?
Jennifer: Last night made me exceptionally happy. Soshanna wore a little hat on Girls, and everyone at the Golden Globes wore nude fishtail dresses. The world has finally come around to my point of view, and I’m proud of it for doing so.
Ashley: It’s true, the red carpet really played to your strengths last night. Which is why I do red carpet coverage and you don’t–if you were in charge, everyone who looked “well bred” would be best dressed and that’d be that.
Jennifer: I’d also say they looked “clean haired” and “aristocratic.”
Ashley: That’s your type.
Jennifer: Those things are really important to me. Everyone was that!
Ashley: It’s true! Sparkly, neutrals–beiges, nudes, pale pinks, what have yous–with lots of side swept waves and “updated Old Hollywood” beauty makeup. It was your dream red carpet and my nightmare of mediocrity. I felt like Kurtz.
Jennifer: Why do you think it’s mediocre? People seem to do it so rarely that, to me, simply looking tasteful and appropriate is super exciting.
Ashley: Actually, people do it all the time. Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood… these women always wear sparkly strapless neutrals. I’d say 50 percent of red carpet stuff is sparkly neutrals. And it looks really dumb when it’s one after the other.
Jennifer: But it looks SO GOOD on everyone. Meanwhile, things say, Tilda Swinton wears, only look good on Tilda Swinton.
Ashley: That’s not true! Janet Jackson threw a major curveball at Cannes a few years ago and wore Haider Ackermann, a style already worn a few times by Tilda. Jackson looked incredible; the best I’ve ever seen her look. If people weren’t so terrified to experiment–and risk asshole bloggers like me hating on them–they’d find that a lot more looks good on them than they think.
Jennifer: Yes, but it can also go horribly wrong
Ashley: True. But who gives a shit?
Jennifer: I would rather go with something a little boring that I knew looked great. If it were me! I’d be insecure! And something that was historically proven to work well on people. Like, if I get married, I plan to wear a wedding dress, not a bikini and a gas mask.Ashley: That’s exactly the thing; these dresses are popular because they’re an easy way to avoid the worst dressed lists. But people forget that you should only be trying to please yourself with fashion–I think insecure famous women trying to appease their stylists results in far, far more fashion disasters than just good old risk taking.
Jennifer: But, Ashley, the human world is not built for experimentation with crazy fashions. That was only true for the year 1969, I think, where seemingly everyone was free to wear tutus, beads or bizarre headdresses.
Ashley: There’s no one stopping you from wearing tutus, beads or bizarre headdresses. There’s no one stopping you from wearing a bikini and a gas mask. The secret of red carpet dressing is that if you dress like yourself all the time, eventually people will just accept it. Helena Bonham Carter doesn’t end up on Worst Dressed lists anymore because she’s Helena Bonham Carter and she doesn’t give a fuck. Oh, you don’t like her mismatched shoes? Eat a bag of dicks, says HBC. Again, I think women look much worse when they get talked into things. And I’m just personally sick of all the playing it safe.
Jennifer: I think Helena Bonham Carter is just really, really bad at dressing herself. I do not come away thinking “she is brave.”
Ashley: She’s terrible at it! But that’s not the point. She exists outside the red carpet ecosystem. It’s well established that she doesn’t give a shit, so critics kind of regard her from far away. And that’s what happens when you do what you want.
Jennifer: So, you’re saying, be bad at dressing yourself?
Ashley: No, I’m saying do what you want and people will learn to deal with it. As opposed to: try urgently to appease everyone all the time, whether by being talked into things you don’t want to wear or by wearing what everyone else is wearing. This is as true on red carpets as it is in junior high.
Jennifer: What if you just like nude tasteful dresses? Should you pretend you cannot assemble shoes? I’m going to wear nude ballgowns to the office from now on. Because I’m free.
Jennifer: You can wear confusing shoes, if you want.
Ashley: And eventually, I’ll stop making fun of you because, ultimately, you win. I don’t mean to suggest that Helena Bonham Carter is the gold standard of red carpet dressing, by the way.
Jennifer: No, you did.
Ashley: No, I don’t. I think Tilda actually succeeds where Helena just looks like a crazy person wandered in front of the cameras. I guess my point is style can’t really be forced. I don’t know what my point is. My point is you’re boring.
Jennifer: My point is your shoes are dumb.
Ashley: My point is you have no soul.