50 Ways to Look Red Carpet Ready
Here's how to look like you're part of the show—not part of the crowd.
You don’t need a red carpet invitation to look red carpet ready. In fact, you can steal the top secrets of Hollywood A-listers and copy their techniques from the comfort of your own home, resulting in a stunning look you can wear anywhere from the grocery store (hey, why not?) to a fancy cocktail party.
Even though celebrities always look perfect while strutting their stuff at some of the year’s most dazzling events, it takes a lot of work to get them looking that glam. And luckily for us mere humans, these tips and tricks will help you look like you belong on the cover of Vogue just like the rest of ‘em. And for more ways to transform yourself into a cover star, don’t miss the 20 Overnight Beauty Products for Always Waking Up Gorgeous.
Get a Tummy Massage
It might sound weird—like, really weird—but seven days before any red carpet event, Vicky Vlachonis—whose clients include everyone from Cameron Diaz to Gwyneth Paltrow—recommends getting a tummy massage. And that might be responsible for keeping celebs looking great in skin-tight dresses.
“No one asks to get the front of their body massaged, but it’s very important,” Vlachonis told Harper’s Bazaar. “Tummy massage can make space for the diaphragm muscle, which rests under the ribcage and can hold a lot of tension, and the solar plexus, which can cause panic under stress. When you are keyed up, that muscle spasm and strain can cause shortness of breath, heightened nerves, fear and pain.”
According to Vlaconis, getting the massage increases blood flow and oxygen to that area, helping keep your digestive system happy—and flattening your stomach by getting rid of bloating in the process. And for more tips for looking great, don’t miss the 20 Celeb Tricks for Always Looking Amazing in Photos.
Up Your Steps
Looking great on the red carpet is a process that starts early. Trainer Harley Pasternak—who’s responsible for Kim Kardashian and Rihanna’s killer bodies—always tells his clients to kick their steps into high gear before their big events.
“All my clients carry a Fitbit and I’ll have them up their steps before events,” he told Harper’s Bazaar. “If they’re doing 10,000, I’ll increase it to 12,000—the goal is to burn more calories from the moment they wake up until they go to bed and I monitor it from my computer.” And for ways to get fit like your favorite A-listers, learn What Celebrities with Perfect Bodies Do Every Day.
Take Advantage of Spanx
If you think celebrities have perfectly-smooth bodies, don’t be mistaken—even Kim Kardashian has admitted she’s a huge fan of body-shapers when she’s wearing skin-tight outfits on the red carpet. She even doubles up on them.
“Sometimes I wear two pairs of body shapers on top of each other—especially when I am heavier, I def double it up,” she wrote on her website. “I put one pair on after the other, and if there’s a longer pair, I always put those on first. But usually, I wear two pairs that are the same length. I try not to layer two different lengths, because I don’t want there to be visible seams; I want there to always just be one seam.” And for more amazing advice, here’s how Top Models Always Look Amazing While Traveling.
Mix Lights and Darks Together
You don’t want to mix them in the laundry (RIP favorite clothes!), but you can definitely do so when you’re building an outfit. Celebrity stylist Anita Patrickson is all about using contrasting colors to flatter your figure, and it’s super easy to do: “If you pair a lighter top with a darker bottom, it will immediately give you a waist because of the contrasting shades,” she told Self. For more savvy style advice, check out the 30 Best Tips For Dressing Well in Your 30s.
Eat Lots of Vegetables
Margot Robbie isn’t one to fuss about her diet day-to-day—only when she wants to look great on the red carpet. Instead of indulging, she makes sure to stick to wholesome veggies a few days before any big events or shoots.
“I don’t have a very good diet. I love beer, fries, burgers. But if I have to get in a bikini, then I’ll eat carrot sticks for three days,” she said. “I’m one extreme or the other. I’m not good at doing moderation. I get miserable if I don’t eat. I can’t just have a salad every day and a half a glass of wine every second day. Can’t do it.” And for more ways to use your diet to your advantage, check out The Perfect Day of Eating—According to a World-Class Plastic Surgeon.
Go for Stilettos
If you’re going to wear heels, you might as well do it right. According to celebrity stylist Aly Scott—who’s worked with Scarlett Johansson in the past—stilettos are the way to go. Especially because they instantly make it look like you’ve logged some extra hours at the gym. But how high should you aim for? 5 to 6 inches is the best way to go: “They help elongate your curves and make your body proportions look better,” she told Beauty Riot. And if you need to elevate your shoe game, here are The Sexiest New Shoes for Women.
Use Setting Spray to Reduce On-Camera Shine
No one wants their skin to look shiny on the red carpet with hundreds of cameras flashing in their face—or anywhere, for that matter. According to celebrity makeup artist Eugene Williams, the best way to combat grease is by using a trustworthy setting spray.
“As a celebrity makeup artist, a big concern with on-camera makeup is making sure that the skin isn’t too shiny,” Williams told TODAY. “Try using Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray once your makeup is complete. This setting spray has a temperature-controlled technology that lowers the temperature of your makeup to keep everything in place up to 12 hours.” You can also Simplify Your Life With These 20 Multitasking Beauty Products.
Say No to Alcohol and Salt
Sorry, no salt or alcohol is allowed if you want to look like some of Hollywood’s top stars on the red carpet. Aside from making his clients up their steps before events, trainer Pasternak also has them cut down on anything that’s going to make them bloat.
“Tortillas and tequila isn’t a good look when the whole world is watching. Alcohol and salt can cause you to retain water, and even the fittest physiques can look doughy and pallid if you overdo the bloating brothers salt,” Pasternak told Yahoo!. “[Instead], make sure you drink tons of water. I actually make my clients drink at least one small bottle every three waking hours.” If you need some help staying away from the drinks entirely, consider consulting the 7 Genius Strategies For Successfully Navigating Dry January.
Hit Up the Tailor
Getting clothes tailored might only seem like something celebrities do, but you can actually get items fitted to your body for less than you think—and it makes all the difference in looking red carpet ready, wherever you are.
“Every stylist has their go-to tailor. Mine is brilliant,” Alessandra Ambrosio’s stylist Jennifer Mazur told Cosmopolitan. “I don’t do hems with tape and stuff. It doesn’t stay and it’s uncomfortable for the client. Everything is personalized because you don’t want somebody on the carpet not feeling her best. You want her to feel like, ‘Wow, this was custom-made for me.'” And before you hit up your tailor, be sure to check out the 20 Secrets Your Tailor Doesn’t Want You to Know.
Don’t Be Too Matchy-Matchy
It’s tempting to match everything for a big event—your blue dress is the exact same color of your favorite pair of heels, after all!—but Maria Menounos told InStyle to avoid it at all costs: “Don’t match your shoes to the color of your dress—that’s very 1990s prom,” she said. And for more sterling fashion advice, bone up on the 40 Best Tips for Dressing Well in Your 40s.
Use Jell-O for Long-Lasting Lip Color
Wearing a bold, bright shade of red lipstick is a great way to look red carpet ready. The only issue? If it rubs off or smears, your night goes downhill pretty quickly. Luckily, makeup artist Joanna Schlip has a creative solution: “Lick your lips and then smooth on Cherry Jell-O,” she told Refinery 29. “Simply dip fingers into the powder packet and apply to moist lips for a long-lasting stain.” Then, put your red lipstick on top and it’ll stay in place all night long.
Use Cut-Off Nylons to Prevent Your Dress from Clinging
Everyone has experienced this dreaded scenario: Your dress is clinging to your backside and you’re left tugging at it all night long. To combat the issue, just take a pair of tights and turn them into super-thin shorts that will prevent anything from sticking.
“Simply cut off the legs and you have yourself the thinnest pair of boy shorts ever,” celebrity stylist Cassey Sawhill told Beauty Riot. “These work wonders under silk charmeuse gowns or as an undetectable layer under lighter colors where even the triangle of a thong would be seen. Use a cheap pair from the dollar store and save the legs for ultra-sheer socks that can be worn later with super slim boots.”
Use Lotion to Tame Flyaways
One thing you’ll always notice about celebrities on the red carpet is that their hair is always flawless—not a flyaway in sight. To master that look, just keep some lotion on hand.
“If it’s humid or raining the day of the awards and you’ve already had your hair styled, rub a small amount of lotion between your palms and use your hands to coax pieces back into place,” hairstylist Martial Vivot told TODAY.
Get Subtle Hair Shine with Glitter
Glitter is typically a no-no, but not if you use it subtly. Surprisingly, it’s actually esthetician and beauty guru Scott-Vincent Borba’s secret to giving hair a natural-looking shine cameras easily pick up on the red carpet: “I’ll take ultra-fine glitter powder and mix it with hair spray, then I’ll use this mixture when styling,” he told StyleCaster.
Perk Up Your Chest with Tape
Who needs a boob job when you have surgical tape on hand? Kristen Bell isn’t the type who’s afraid of TMI, and that’s exactly why she shared her secret to red carpet-worthy cleavage. Or, what she calls a “nip lift.”
“When you need a non-surgical boob lift to perfectly fit into you Emmy dress: Step 1. Tape your nipple to your shoulder. Step 2. Repeat on opposite side,” she wrote on Instagram.
All right, it sounds weird, but a lot of women in Hollywood do it: You just take some Leukoflex surgical tape—Bell’s brand of choice!—and give yourself a nice lift that stays put all night long.
Go for a Flattering A-Line Dress
If you’re having trouble choosing a dress that will help you look red carpet ready, always go for anything A-line, which instantly offers up a slimming silhouette.
“Anything that nips in at the waist and flares out is instantly going to give you a feminine shape,” celebrity stylist Micaela Erlangert told Who What Wear. “Regardless of whether you’re bottom-heavy, boy-shaped, or petite, an A-line will accentuate the most amazing parts of your figure.”
Try Stick-On Underwear
Even if a celebrity’s dress seems like it requires going commando to wear it, that’s rarely the case. To get the no-lines look, all it takes is grabbing some stick-on underwear.
“We dress a lot of celebs in slits and, when we do, we have stick-on underwear that has no sides,” Mazur told Cosmopolitan. “It’s nude and it covers the front and a little bit of the back. Everyone is thinking she is not wearing underwear, but she very well could be. You just can’t see it.”
Show Some Ankle
You might have gotten made fun of for wearing jeans that weren’t long enough as a kid (no, there’s not a flood coming!), but rocking high-waters as an adult will have you looking as chic as a celebrity on the carpet.
“Show a little ankle. It’s a modern look and much cleaner than super tight-fitted pants that are just right or slightly too long,” celebrity stylist Erin Walsh told Elle. “Have a tailor take your pants up to just above your ankle. It’s always flattering and somehow always looks elegant. Or even go nuts with scissors if you are strapped for time.”
Get an Hour Glass Figure in Seconds
Getting a gorgeous hour glass figure isn’t something that can happen magically—but there is a way to score some carpet-worthy curves with your wardrobe.
“Any top that draws in at the waist and has a slightly longer length naturally creates a subtle hourglass, a look that will never go out of style,” celebrity stylist Tara Swennen told Who What Wear.
Use Cold Spoons to De-Puff
Haven’t been getting a whole lot of sleep lately? You’re not alone. Luckily, there’s a celebrity-approved remedy for that will make you look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed during your event. Hollywood skincare guru Kate Somerville told Health all it takes is massaging in a caffeine-packed eye cream using two chilled spoons: “The cold metal speeds up the depuffing process,” she said.
Don’t Wear Too-Tight Clothes
When you think of looking red carpet ready, you probably instantly picture yourself in something tight and form-fitting. But before choosing your outfit, just make sure it’s not too over-the-top: “Wear something that’s fitted, but not too tight. You don’t want to be that weirdo that can’t sit down,” Maria Menounos told InStyle.
Get a Natural-Looking Glow from Skin Spray
Ever wonder how stars get that subtle glow that makes them look perfectly dewy but not greasy? It’s a hard middle ground to find, but if you use the right product, you’ll get it down. Celebrity makeup artist Troy Surratt told Health he skips illuminizer and uses a hydrating skin spray instead to perfectly reflect light: “Today’s starlets want to look supple, not sparkly,” he said.
Carry a Small Purse
It’s tempting to carry around a big purse to hold everything you need, whether it’s an extra pair of shoes for when you can’t tolerate your heels anymore or hairspray for when your ‘do gets all out of whack. But if you want to look as stylish as possible, an oversized bag is only going to bog you down: “Nothing ruins a great look like a big daytime purse,” celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch told Marie Claire. Instead, grab your cutest, most minimal clutch so you don’t outshine the rest of your look.
Keep Your Makeup Minimal
Sometimes the best way to look red carpet-ready is simply keeping things, well, simple. Have fun with your look, but avoid going too over-the-top.
“This is not the time to try something new, like 12-inch fake eyelashes. A little bit goes a long way,” stylist Bloch told Marie Claire. “Bold red lips are great, but don’t do this and a smoky eye. Pick one. You only want to take a lip gloss and maybe some mascara with you, so know your limits.”
Tame Brows With Lip Balm
You can buy as much brow gel as you want, but nothing’s going to give you a look that’s as full and flawless as lip balm. No, seriously: “Grab unscented lip balm and apply along the brow line to shape and mold as you see fit,” makeup artist Annie Tevelin told TODAY. “They won’t budge all night!”
Use Red Lip Stain on Your Gums for White Teeth
Wearing red lipstick automatically makes your teeth look whiter, but you can take things a step further for an even more notable effect: “If celebrities don’t have time to whiten their teeth, but want a sparkling white smile, I’ll use a red lip stain on the gum line,” Borba told StyleCaster. “This instantly makes teeth look whiter.”
Use Brow Powder on Your Hairline
Most people use brow powder to fill in their brows—no surprise there!—but supermodel Chrissy Teigen is no ordinary person. Her secret to a flawless look is using it to fill in her hairline for a more polished finish.
“I have very light baby hairs,” Teigen told Refinery 29. “Yes, you must fill in your hairline with your brow powder. It’s crucial. I do it every day [because] it makes me more put together, without being put together.”
Cover Up Imperfections with Concealer
Everyone has imperfections, whether it’s discoloration or zits. To look like you’re ready to walk the red carpet, you want to have the most flawless skin possible—and Katy Perry’s makeup artist Anthony Nguyen says that means grabbing some concealer: “It covers well without looking heavy, photographs beautifully, and I can depend on it to last throughout the day,” he told Byrdie.
Blot to Avoid Cakey Makeup
No one wants that cakey makeup look. Ever. And to prevent it on red carpets and beyond, celebrities use blotting papers before applying powder: “The less moist your makeup, the less powder will settle into creases,” makeup artist Kristofer Buckle told Health.
Use Ice to Get Rid of Puffy Eyes
But not on your eyes—in your mouth. It sounds odd, but the quick method actually does some good, getting rid of red, puffy eyes even more effectively: “To reduce puffy eyes, place an ice cube on your tongue and hold it to the roof of your mouth for ten minutes,” Borba told StyleCaster.
Use Wet Eye Shadow for an Epic Smoky Eye
Mastering the perfect smoky eye can turn into a mess real quickly, but it’s about to get easier—promise. Creating the look only requires using a little wet eye shadow.
“You don’t want to see a gap between the lashes and the line,” makeup artist Kate Lee told PopSugar. “To cheat and make it look professional, you want to make sure it goes to the lashes. To use liquid liner would look harder and more intense. Doing a smoky eye without a line is what makes it soft and beautiful.”
Use a Papaya Face Mask for Radiant Skin
If you have a big event coming up, you need to amp up your skin care routine. Emma Stone’s facialist Georgia Louise always recommends using a papaya fruit-infused mask in the shower. In an interview with People, she said the fruit enzymes work with the steam to give you all sorts of plumping and smoothing benefits that will make your skin look fresh and healthy.
Grab Some Whitestrips
If you’d rather have actual pearly-white teeth instead of faking it, there’s a fix for that—and it won’t even cost you big bucks. While plenty of celebrities get expensive whitening treatments, Dr. Kevin Sand—a cosmetic dentist to the stars—told People that Crest Whitestrips also do a great job in a short amount of time.
“They’re easy to use, don’t cause a lot of sensitivity, and they work,” he said. “[But] if you drink a lot of red wine, the treatment won’t last as long!” And for more ways to make your chompers shine, check out the The Single Best Way to Make Your Teeth Whiter—Naturally.
Find Your Perfect Pose
You can’t look red carpet ready without a go-to pose. While there are plenty of flattering options to choose from—like putting one hand on your hip or looking over your shoulder—there’s only one to really avoid: just standing there.
“Very few people can be photographed straight on and look amazing,” red-carpet photographer Dave Bennett told Glamour. “You want to see a defined waist and hips. Putting a hand on the hip and elongating one leg is a way of creating that.”
Get Rid of Giant Zits with Cortisone Shots
Zits tend to pop up at the worst times, and if you happen to wake up with one on your face that looks more like Mount Everest than a pimple, you can always visit your derm for a cortisone shot. It works so fast it can calm down the most painful cystic acne in even a few hours.
“My patients have my cell-phone number,” dermatologist Jessica Wu told Refinery 29. “So, if they wake up with a painful cyst between their eyebrows or on the tip of their nose, I make a house call and inject a tiny drop of dilute cortisone under the skin. The anti-inflammatory effect of the cortisone shrinks the lump within a few hours.”
Protect Your Fresh Mani
A pretty, fresh manicure is a red carpet must. The only problem? If you’re short on time, it’s all too easy to mess it up before you even get to your event. That’s exactly why Jessica Biel’s manicurist Casey Herman told E! News she has a secret to keeping everything looking polished: simply applying Zoya Fast Drops on top.
Use Some Mousse
Mousse should never go out of style as long as you use it correctly. Instead of going overboard and getting a crunchy outcome, take some tips from Teigen’s hairstylist Giannandrea Marongiu, who told Byrdie he was able to give her gorgeous waves using a $5 bottle of Tresemmé Beauty-Full Volume Touchable Bounce Mousse. Just run it through damp hair then style for a soft, bouncy look.
Get Your Highlight and Contour On
Contouring and highlighting probably isn’t part of your everyday makeup routine, but it’s a must for big events: “Contouring and highlighting is an easy way to transform your everyday makeup into red carpet-ready,” celebrity makeup artist Tim Quinn told YouBeauty, who recommends applying powder bronzer from your temples to your cheekbones to your jawline, then liquid illuminator on your brow bones, inner corners of your eyes, on top of your cheekbones, and any other areas you want to pop.
Try False Lashes
There aren’t many people who have naturally long and luscious lashes, which is why most of Hollywood’s A-listers wear falsies on the regular—even Kim Kardashian.
“I cut mine in half for a more realistic appearance, then add a line of glue to the base of the strip,” she told InStyle. “Look in the mirror—head up, eyes lowered—and use the handle of an eyeshadow brush to help keep the outer corner of your lid closed. Apply the strip to your lash line, and hold for five seconds.”
Self-tanner has come a long way from even a few years ago. What used to be almost always an orange outcome has now turned into something anyone can manage using at home without turning into an oompa loompa. And Julianne Hough’s product of choice? Prtty Peaushun Skin Tight Body Lotion.
“It’s perfect because it’s not too much color—you don’t feel like you’re caking on a big-time self-tanner,” she told Byrdie. “It’s just something I’ll put it on that morning before getting dressed, and it washes off at night. It comes in four different colors. And it’s really dewy. It leaves your skin feeling really glowy and fresh. I’m obsessed with it.”
Get Rid of Blemishes with Visine
Visine isn’t just great for getting rid of eye redness—it also helps reduce red spots from acne. Instead of being left with a big mark on your face, the solution helps reduce inflammation, making it look much better—and easier to conceal: “Visine and nasal sprays are vasoconstrictors, so they work like a topical steroid,” dermatologist Kathy Fields told Refinery 29.
Amp Up Your Brows
Full, bold brows are a red carpet must, but you don’t need to do anything drastic to make them look like those of your favorite celebrities. According to makeup artist Roxy Saffaie, all you really need to do is brush your brows up then fill them in: “I take a pencil and just start in the sparsest sections,” she told Well+Good. “I’m not going to immediately start drawing a line because my goal is to make them look natural.”
Add a Blazer to Give You More Shape
One of the easiest ways to look more polished, put-together, and ready to take on a bunch of cameras is by throwing on a perfectly-fitted blazer, which stylist Patrickson says is the perfect way to make it look like you have an hourglass figure.
“I just love the structure of a blazer,” she told SELF. “When you’re not feeling your best, it’s the most flattering piece of clothing that anybody can wear—regardless of their shape or size.”
Use Nude Eyeliner
Want to look extra awake and energized during your event? Charlize Theron has a simple trick up her sleeve she rocks on the red carpet on the regular: nude eyeliner: “My makeup artist is a genius. One of the things he taught me is to use nude pencil eyeliner to outline the inside of my eyes for a brighter look when I’m feeling tired,” she told Elle.
Rock the High-Waisted Look
How amazing are high-waisted pants? They flatter everyone who puts them on, hiding any problem areas and instantly giving off a beautiful shape.
“This style is so popular because, contrary to popular belief, it is a style for everyone,” style expert Jaimie Hilfiger told StyleCaster. “High-waisted looks appeal to the older customer who needs a little more coverage and also to the young fashionista who is on the verge of every popular trend that comes to the market. [And] they only appeal to women of all ages, but also to women of all shapes.” Bonus: wearing high-waisted jeans is one of the 30 Best Tips for Dressing Well in Your 30s.
Use Some Salt Spray
Don’t just take advantage of salt spray during the summer months—use it year-round to give your hair the texturized red carpet look everyone wants: “Hair right now is about feeling healthy and fresh,” Paltrow’s hair stylist Adir Abergel told Goop. “Salt spray is the best way to bulk up fine hair types.”
Go Crazy with Mascara
Some days you might forgo mascara, but if you want to feel red carpet ready, it’s the perfect way to give yourself more of a polished, dramatic look in seconds. Rachel Zoe’s makeup artist Joey Maalouf told Byrdie he uses it on both the top and bottom lashes to “add volume” and “bring attention to the eyes.”
Use Oil-Free Moisturizer
Being on the red carpet means being surrounded by tons of cameras, and no celebrity wants to wind up with pictures of themselves with super-dry skin. To combat the issue, Anna Kendrick makes sure to lather up with lotion before any big events.
“I try to use a ton of oil-free moisturizer, so that I’m not cracking at the seams but I’m not breaking out,” she told InStyle. “I love Dermalogica Active Moist. People literally comment on how dewy my skin looks when I use it.”
Give Winged Liner a Try
Giving yourself nice, winged liner is the perfect way to take your look from everyday to red carpet bold. According to makeup artist Patrick Ta—who works with celebs like Blake Lively and Kim Kardashian—all it takes is going slow and drawing the wing with eye shadow, then filling it in with gel liner.
“All of my clients love having their eyes be lifted, and with a wing, it really enhances that almond eye shape,” he told E! News.
Make Your Lips Extra Pout-y
A perfect pout isn’t easy to score, but Hollywood’s elite have certainly mastered the look—even if it takes a weird technique. Emma Stone’s makeup artist Rachel Goodwin uses a lip mask on her before any red carpet events with Tony Moly’s Kiss Kiss Lovely Lip Patch being her favorite, which plumps and firms lips in minutes. Or, if that doesn’t do it for you, try out any of the 10 Top-Selling Korean Beauty Products That Are Worth the Hype.
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