From thigh-high splits to bare midriffs, red-carpet fashion stylists love to dress their A-list clients in daring gowns that will put them firmly in the spotlight.
Yet, at this week’s Golden Globes Awards, it was covered-up women of a certain age who outshone starlets young enough to be their daughters — females in their 50s and 60s who displayed a sartorial confidence that proved the passing years are no barrier to true beauty and glamour.
They also carried themselves with the knowing poise of women who have grown into their sense of style — unlike the young, try-hard millennial stars.
Julianne Moore, 58: Givenchy designer Clare Waight Keller’s chic take on the tuxedo is teamed with a delicate column skirt to deliver modern evening glamour that really works for Moore
Halle Berry, 52: Always one to step confidently into the spotlight, former Bond girl Berry wowed in a cleavage-baring, thigh skimming claret couture gown by Zuhair Murad
Sandra Oh, 47: It takes a confident woman, whatever her age, to wear a white evening gown, but this Atelier Versace stunner was a refined choice for the host of the show
Nicole Kidman, 51: Kidman knows her willowy frame is the perfect foil for slender column dresses that skim her silhouette. This svelte shape has become her signature style — this time in a custom creation by Michael Kors
Julia Roberts, 51: Proving you can still be a Pretty Woman beyond age 50, Julia combines androgynous black tuxedo trousers with romantic tulle by Stella McCartney
The standout was Julianne Moore, who turned 58 last month and went bold with her red-carpet attire, opting for a modern take on the white tux — a crossover halterneck bodice with satin lapels and co-ordinating beaded skirt by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, the designer of the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding gown.
Moore set the tone for the evening, with a queue of forty and fiftysomething women redefining contemporary glamour.
Where once the passing of time might have meant stepping out of the spotlight and handing the baton on to a younger generation of rising stars, the doyennes of the film and television industry are now in their prime — and proud to show it.
‘Hollywood witnessed a huge shift in the late Nineties, when actors were suddenly competing with supermodels for magazine covers and the pressure was on to learn how to dress,’ says fashion expert and author Bronwyn Cosgrave.
Allison Janney, 59: In a stunning fishtail gown by Christian Siriano plus dramatic pendant, Janney’s smile showed just how at ease she was in her figure-hugging style
Penelope Cruz, 44: The Spanish actress looked every inch the superstar in a celestial-themed halterneck black and purple gown with glittering accents
‘The likes of actresses Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Penelope Cruz, Julianne Moore and Julia Roberts experienced that shift and accepted that dressing up was part of their job. That’s why you see them stepping up to it at every event.
‘And the smart ones, such as Allison Janney, Moore and Kidman, always stick to colours and silhouettes that are tried-and-tested.’
That’s where age trumps youth: those up-and-coming talents in Tinseltown may benefit from the dewy glow of tender years, a midriff that is still two decades away from menopausal spread and triceps that are naturally toned from holding a smartphone, but they’re still finding their fashion feet.
Even with the help of experienced stylists, establishing a ‘look’ takes time and is about the chemistry between garment and wearer, as well as the simple aesthetics of a style.
Rowan Blanchard, 17: Teens should have fun with fashion, but walking the red carpet dressed as a pink loo roll cover, even if it is by Marc Jacobs, isn’t going to secure A-list credentials for Disney darling Rowan
Lady Gaga, 32: The Valentino hyacinth hued gown is a vast improvement on her past red-carpet form (meat dress, anyone?), but Lady Gaga’s matching lilac hair is a step too far
Elsie Fisher, 15: In her bespoke velvet suit by Kenzo, with matching boots and bag, the Eighth Grade star has yet to master the poise to carry herself on the red carpet and in fact blends into it
Dakota Fanning, 24: This Armani Prive column of duchess satin should be the epitome of serene style — but Dakota looks like she’s auditioning for the Tin Man in a remake of The Wizard Of Oz
It might be that a nubile young actress looks stunning in a satin slip dress when she is standing in front of a mirror in the fitting room of a designer’s atelier.
But ask her to walk confidently in it while being photographed from every angle and she may suddenly become self-conscious, losing the composure that comes with a static pose.
Look at Julia Roberts, 51, styled by Elizabeth Stewart in a pair of sassy black taffeta tuxedo trousers layered with a one-shouldered bodice and frothy flesh-toned tulle train by Stella McCartney — the perfect combination of elegance and easy insouciance.
On a less self-assured woman, such a statement style could have overwhelmed, but Roberts is so comfortable in her own skin that she simply shines.
The truth is that, these days, the traditional dos and don’ts of fashion have been discarded and age is no longer a barrier to looking fabulous. After all, these older actresses are women of style and substance and they have the sartorial sense and superb talent to match.
It’s wonderful to see them walking the red carpet with confidence and celebrating their achievements. As should all older women.
Jodie Comer, 25: The Killing Eve assassin seemed swamped by her ruffled tulle Ralph & Russo gown. Sadly, the British actress was more Victorian widow than 21st century starlet
Amber Heard, 32: Wearing a classic black-and-white prom design by Monique Lhuillier, Aquaman actress Amber Heard looked somewhat uncomfortably overwhelmed in the full-skirted gown
Emma Stone, 30: Emma’s rather shapeless pale peach Louis Vuitton gown, embellished with silver beading, didn’t quite cut it for the opening event of Hollywood awards season