For Jesse Garza, co-founder of Visual Therapy, a New York-based luxury fashion consulting firm, there are three elements that must be present for a fashion look to work. They apply whether on the Oscars' red carpet or on your everyday woman. First, the person wearing it has to love it, it needs to be flattering, and it needs to fit the person's image. In addition, the look needs to be appropriate for the occasion.
One of Garza's favorite Academy Award contenders for Best Actress this year and the best-dressed on the red carpet list is Julianne Moore. "Moore owns it; whether she's in Tom Ford or Givenchy," Garza told International Business Times. "She's an example of a person who walks into a room and they have 'it,' they shine. Her clothes reflect her in an authentic way." Her fashion type, according to Garza? "She's avant garde chic."
Garza and his "glam squad" at Visual Therapy break down five general style types: Classic, Chic, Whimsical, Bohemian and Avant Garde.
Although Charlize Theron is not an Oscar contender this year, Garza said she generally looks flawless on the red carpet, and he cites her Oscars 2013 appearance in a white Christian Dior gown as one of his favorites. "She killed it," he said. "Charlize is the example of when a celeb aligns a brand with who they are."
The biggest mistake a star can make, said Garza, is not wearing the right color, which can make them look washed out on camera, or wearing an unflattering silhouette. Although some would say Rihanna was being fashion-forward at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in her pink, voluminous empire-waisted Giambattista Valli gown, Garza was less impressed.
"Rihanna recently wore a gigantic circus dress," he said. "I get it, it looked fabulous on the runway, but not so much in real life. And it didn’t seem appropriate for the occasion; she couldn’t even sit at the Grammy awards."
"Lately, the Oscars have gotten really conservative," says NYC-based stylist Gigi Solis, who's been a stylist for more than 20 years. "Everyone just wants to look glamorous and pretty."
Solis, like Garza, marks the late-90s as the time when stylists began to outfit the stars on the red carpet for the Oscars. It's likely that stylists were behind Uma Thurman's 1995 lavender Prada dress and Nicole Kidman's iconic Chinese cheongsom-inspired Christian Dior dress in 1997. In contrast, it's hard to imagine that a professional stylist had a hand in the sartorial, hair and accessories disaster that was Juliette Lewis in 1992, the year she attended the Oscars infamously sporting corn rows and an ill-fitting satin dress accessorized with satin gloves.
Solis' favorite Oscars look of all time is Julia Roberts wearing vintage Valentino in 2001, when she won an Academy Award for her role in "Erin Brockovich." The dress was designed in 1992 and made to evoke classic Hollywood. It was an unusual yet timeless-looking dress, said Solis.
"It all starts with the dress," Solis said of the Valentino look. "But every element -- Julia's hair, makeup and accessories -- complemented the look." Solis also said Roberts looked like a true celebrity -- glamorous and dazzling.
"These days, celebrities are so much like us," she said. "But this look evoked a time when stars were truly glamorous, like royalty, something to aspire to."