Red Carpet Style Isn’t Just Expensive Dresses

Red Carpet Style Isn’t Just Expensive Dresses
Reading time: 6 min

Each year, the Oscars, the Academy Awards and the Brits are all preceded by an even more highly anticipated event: the walk up the red carpet. Red carpet style is the talk of award season, whether it's who's wearing which designers or what the most popular color of the season will be.

While many celebrities turn to high-end designers to provide outfits for the occasion, there's a rising trend towards wearing high-street fashions, unknown designers or one-of-a-kind items. With their bold choices, these celebrities are proving that red carpet style isn't all about expensive dresses.

It's How You Wear It

Red Carpet Style

It's true what they say: it's not what you got, it's what you do with it that counts. In the wise words of supermodel Kate Moss: ''Just remember that ultimately, dressing is always about attitude, feeling comfortable and confidence.''

And there are some celebrities that are definitely proving that point on the red carpet. The first actress to spring to mind is Helena Bonham Carter, who is well known for marching to the beat of her own drum when it comes to fashion. While her ensembles may overwhelm a less confident wearer, she pulls them off because of her own confidence. Similarly Tilda Swinton has been known to showcase a number of bold looks on the red carpet that it seems only she could pull off, because they're so clearly drawn from her own personality. Feeling comfortable in your outfit is the first step to looking great, whether you're wearing a designer gown or a high-street dress.

Affordable Fashion

Red Carpet Style

Supporting the idea that fashion isn't just about labels, many stars have chosen to wear more affordable outfits on the red carpet. Not only does this make it easier for fans to copy their style, it also means that they can keep their red carpet favorites - as many designer dresses are sent back at the end of an event.

At the Golden Globes in 2016, Alexandra Daddario wowed the crowds in her dress, but it came from a surprising source: Forever 21. The outfit was found on the high street and cost the star just $30. Forever 21 is popular source of inexpensive elegance among many A-list names, with Selena Gomez also having worn outfits from the store during her red carpet events.

Another popular high-street chain is ASOS, which has supplied high street red carpet style for the likes of Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson. It seems ironic, given that the store, whose name is an acronym for As Seen on Screen, originally took its inspiration from celebrity outfits rather than the other way round.

Even global superstars such as Beyoncé have been known to turn to the high street for red carpet style. At Fifth Avenue's 2014 event, the singer wore a sequinned dress from TopShop - the store with which she now has a capsule collection.

And recently, young star Millie Bobbie Brown proved that it's not just outfits that can be sourced on the high street. Her first make-up tutorial posted on YouTube captured hearts when she explained that she ''didn't want to use things you guys can't afford'' and instead opted for high street products.

Accessorizing Up

Red Carpet Style

One of the easiest ways to dress up a high-street dress into red carpet style is to add some eye-catching accessories. Celebrities often choose simpler outfits in order to shift focus to their bags, jewelry or shoes.

Bulgari has long been a favored choice for the stars, with their sparkle seen on the likes of Anne Hathaway and Olivia Wilde. They also have a popular menswear range, with their cuff-links sported by Hollywood actor Gerard Butler on the red carpet.

Accessories are also a great way to add personality to a formal outfit. Naomie Harris wore mismatched shoes from the Raf Simons' collection for Calvin Klein to walk the red carpet, while Janelle Monae opted for a gold crown headband by Jennifer Behr at the 2017 Oscar Awards. Whoopi Goldberg made waves when she showed off an eye-catching diamond-encrusted cuff bracelet in the shape of an elaborate octopus, while Jared Leto made waves with snake decorations topping his loafers at the Academy Awards in 2016.

Fashion With a Statement

Red Carpet Event

They say elegance comes from within, and many celebrities have truly taken this to heart on the red carpet. Many celebrities have taken the opportunity to show off the causes that matter to them, rather than just the designers they love.

At the recent Met Gala awards, Lena Dunham's black and red dress was detailed with a subtle nod to one of her many causes. She showed off a Planned Parenthood pin on Instagram as she got ready for the event as a way of expressing her support for the organization.

Similarly, Simon Helberg and his wife Jocelyne Towne used their time on the red carpet to draw attention to the refugee crisis. Helberg held up a sign reading ''Refugees Welcome'' in his photographs, while Towne opted for an even bolder statement, with ''Let Them In'' written across her chest.

Emma Watson, a long-time environmental and gender quality activist, paid tribute to eco-friendly fashion when she wore a recycled dress on the red carpet at the Met Gala 2016. Her red carpet style was designed by Calvin Klein, and was made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.

Some red carpet protests have involved the fashion itself; Jennifer Lawrence received wide praise from her peers when she answered a red carpet question about her dress with a joking: ''this is the top, and this is the bottom''. The answer kicked off a wider movement in which Hollywood actresses rejected questions about their outfits in favor of questions about their work.

Whether they're choosing political outfits or simply focusing on sparkle over skirt, it seems that celebrities are increasingly exploring red carpet style outside the traditional expensive dresses - which makes the 2017 red carpets all the more exciting.