Every year, the TV BAFTAs showcase the best of British high fashion, all sparkle and glamour with a dash of individuality and flair. But this year has seen an important red carpet style development – the emergence of celebrity power couple dressing.
As a star of the small screen, your most impressive accessory on the red carpet is now your other half. This can be your best friend, your agent, your on-screen host or co-star, but if happens to be your real-life spouse, partner or even your current girlfriend or boyfriend, so much the better. And it’s a trend that can inspire us mere mortals as we prepare for our own special events.
London’s Royal Festival Hall was awash with celebrity couples posing proudly, some even walking hand in hand, and many wearing carefully co-ordinated outfits. But do not mistake complementary for matchy-matchy. Here’s an example.
Rule 1: Be co-ordinated, not matching. There is an important difference. The idea is not to look like a poshed-up version of the sort of couple who wears precisely matching anoraks or fleeces every time they leave the house. Instead, you should aim to look as if you go together, but are equally at ease when separated, not like Little Bo Beep in search of her sheep or Little Boy Blue without his horn. This means choosing colours that work together. Formal black tie events such as the Virgin Media TV BAFTAs can make this easier if men follow the traditional black tie rules and wear a black tuxedo suit, white shirt and black tie (bow tie or long, the red carpet does both). But if the woman wears black, you are in danger of merging into one being, especially in photographs. Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory cleverly avoid this, by him wearing a midnight blue suit and tie so that her black ruffled lace gown is given the definition and attention it deserves. But Marvin and Rochelle Humes both wear black and lose the detail of their otherwise carefully considered evening wear.
Rule 2: Do match your smartness level. If one of you is dressed for the ambassador’s dinner while the other looks as if they are heading off to next door’s barbecue, it’s not going to work. Julian Barratt and Julia Davis have both dressed up for the TV BAFTAs red carpet, but both have a slightly undone, unpolished finish to their looks. His wayward hair and chunky lace-up shoes chime perfectly with her casual up-do, vintage-style dress and retro platform heels. If she had gone all-out sleek and sophisticated, he might have looked as if he wasn’t really trying.
Rule 3: In general, only one of you can wear bright colour. In male-female couples, this is not usually a problem, but if both you and your “date” are female, care is required. Bold colours must not clash. But if you wear the same colour, you’ll look like bridesmaids or flight attendants. Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman hit the right note by choosing a red trouser suit and black dress respectively. Their outfits are far from similar, but they work together. Note how they both wear pointy heeled courts.
Rule 4: Match your grooming effort: If your hair is sleek and styled but your partner’s is unkempt, if your make-up is immaculate while his (or her) brows and beard could do with attention, it will simply look as if one of you was either in a rush or just doesn’t care. I’m a Celebrity star Emily Atack chooses a red dress that might have looked a little too summer-casual compared with boyfriend Rob Jowers smart in a tux, but her perfect hair and make-up elevate her ensemble admirably. Never under-estimate the power of a red lip.
Rule 5: Look easy and proud to be with each other. Kelsey Grammar and Kayte Walsh demonstrate this beautifully with their equally elegant dressing and contented smiles.
* read about the new made-to-measure suit revival here