When I was a kid growing up in Minnesota, televised awards shows were appointment viewing. The Oscars were King, but the Emmys took a close second. At nine years old, I never imagined I would actually get to GO to one of these events.
My good friend Paul is actually nominated for an Emmy this year (yay Paul!) and he asked me to be his date.
Mmmmm. Well, I guess I could do that.
But, what to wear? How should I do my make-up? What about shoes? My hair? The list of questions goes on and on. And it starts to sound really expensive. Of course, celebrities have help with all of these things. They have stylists, professional make-up artists, hair dressers, etc.
So what’s a girl from St. Paul to do besides panic?
How about enlisting help from all my amazing girlfriends who are fashionistas in their own way? Brilliant! Add a little practical mid-western sensibility and what you have is a somewhat affordable way to take on the red carpet with confidence.
It all starts with the dress.
I’m always on the lookout for a long dress that is affordable and fairly classic. That way when an event comes up for which I need formal-wear, I’m not scrambling. The BCBG Maxazria store at my nearby mall was closing. I had never shopped there before, but when I saw the signs, “Everything Must Go!” and “75% off!” I thought I’d take a look around.
It helped that I had my dear friend Mary with me. And as only truly good friends will do, we encouraged each other: “You have to get that!” We both ended up walking out with a fairly reasonably-priced dress: mine is cobalt blue with an off-the-shoulder “Bardot” neckline.
The dress is a little long in front, and I do sew (I’m from Minnesota – we ALL sew), but I didn’t trust my ability with a roll-hem. So, I posted a request for a tailor recommendation on Facebook and my friend Paula came to the rescue.
Paula is an amazing costume designer that I have worked with a number of times in the theatre. And she offered to alter the dress as a favor. Not only that, she also gave me some amazing fabric tape to keep that Bardot neckline in place.
Next on the attire list: shoes. The dress has a slit up the center, so my shoes will definitely be noticed. I tried on a pair I had in my closet. A platform sling-back in tan patent-leather. Too casual. I started looking on-line, as well, and was this close to purchasing a Sam Edelman stiletto in the same cobalt blue as the dress – ON SALE – through Zappos. My hubby was helping me with the order (he is a huge Zappos fan) and the pair of shoes was in the cart. He was about to hit, “purchase” and the pair went away – before our very eyes! Someone had bought the pair out from under us!
That evening, I was having dinner with my friend Jami. I told her about going to the Emmys, and she asked about the dress and shoes I had chosen. I told her the sad tale of my “stolen” shoes and she said she had a pair that might work that I could borrow. (We happen to wear the same size). Little did I know that she was going to loan me her Jimmy Choos. (How generous and trusting is that, right?) I tried them on and sure enough – they work perfectly.
Moving on to the hair/make-up.
Oh, but first – remember the neckline I mentioned? That off the shoulder “Bardot” style is beautiful, but in trying on the dress with the Jimmy Choos I noticed my “unsightly” tan lines. I hike outdoors for my workout. I wear sunscreen and a shirt, but my work-out bra has left me with lines. Even though I’m proud of my Minnesota heritage, I can’t walk the red carpet with a farmer tan, now can I?
Did you know that you can get your entire body air-brushed? I know, right? I remember doing a “Mystic Tan” once for my honeymoon trip to Hawaii. It was stinky, incredibly claustrophobic and didn’t last very long. Never again.
But this air-brushing thingy is kind of cool. My friend Selah has walked a lot of red carpets and she swears by this process. A trained technician sprays you (in the shade you want) exactly where you need/want to be sprayed. It sounded interesting, but with prices between $50 – $100 for an application and never having done it before (what if my skin looked orange?), I decided to research other options.
I could use the can of Neutrogena Micro-Mist self-tanner I bought last summer. But who wants to smell like they just left the beach? A few strokes of the keyboard and I had my solution. A product called Tan Towel. A package of ten towelettes runs about $24. It has no smell. And you can wipe the towelette on exactly the area you want to tan. I did a trial-run yesterday and it works like a charm!
Remove farmer tan: CHECK!
Back to my make-up, I knew my friends Treva and Greyson would have great ideas. I showed them pictures of the dress and they both suggested a smokey eye and neutral lip would look great. I contemplated hiring a make-up artist, but really didn’t want to spend the money (this being a Do-It-Yourself blog post). With all the YouTube videos out there on “How to fill-in-the-blank” I thought, I can do this. And I’m an actress, so I happen to have A LOT of make-up. (My friend Ana talks about her “make-up graveyard.” I SO know what she means.)
My latest make-up love affair is with the Charlotte Tilbury line. My friend Mary (of the BCGB dress shopping) turned me on to her products. Mary’s face just glowed when I saw a photo of her on Facebook. And while Mary has a natural glow, she told me she was wearing Charlotte’s foundation. The great thing about the foundation is that it doesn’t look like you have make-up on.
In terms of eye shadow, I’m going to use my old stand-by MAC products. I’ve been using this line for many years. I love the colors. And I’ll do a couple practice sessions for the smokey-eye look with a You-Tube video playing on my iPad next to my make-up mirror.
The one thing I am determined to conquer is lashes. I’ve used false eye-lashes on-stage over the years and I’ve also used them for events, cutting them in half and just placing a small piece of the last at the outer corner of my eye. But it’s tricky to get them on straight and you can see them up-close.
I looked into magnetic lashes – yes there is such a thing, but from the reviews I read, don’t waste your money.
What really works well are the individual lashes. I recently had two different make-up artists use these on me for on-camera work. The lashes look so natural – they blend in beautifully and really help your eyes pop. It takes a little practice, but there is a YouTube video for this as well. And you can purchase these individual lashes at the drugstore or on Amazon for around $12.
Hair was going to be a problem. I don’t normally wear my hair up (unless it’s in a pony-tail under my ball cap), so I was either going to have to hire someone or risk trying to do it myself and failing miserably.
My friend Jennifer is a hairstylist – she cuts and highlights my hair and I happened to have an appointment with her recently. I showed her the dress and she suggested flat-ironing my hair. She showed me how to section my hair, taking small pieces at a time, to give the hair that really smooth, sleek look. She also suggested a product by Sebastian (I love their hairspray) called Trilliant Thermal Protection and Sparkle Complex (quite a name, right?). You spray this on each section as you blow-dry and it gives you beautiful shine. ($12 on Amazon).
Treva and Greyson also had great ideas about jewelry. A simple necklace and a drop earring. And while I trusted their instincts implicitly, I did happen to pursue People Magazine where a photo-spread of Nicole Kidman in various red carpet appearances helped me determine that, in terms of jewelry, less is more. Who am I to go against anything Nicole would do? She’s a fashion icon.
Final bits of advice for the day: My friend Mady has helped a lot of women look fantastic on the red carpet with her fabulous face products. She reminded me, make sure you eat a good meal before you go. And don’t drink too much water during the event. Going to the restroom can be tricky during a televised event.
And I won’t want to miss a thing by being stuck in the bathroom.
As I count down to the big day, (Sunday, September 17), I look back over this process and realize how much I have learned about some fairly frivolous subjects. But you know what? With all that is happening in the world right now, a little mindless frivolity isn’t so bad.
In looking at the bigger picture, I am reminded that great friends can help you be your best self – inside and out.
The only thing that’s missing from Emmy night is my own nomination.
In the meantime, GO PAULY!