By Paul Chi. Photos: Getty Images.
Celebrity stylists already face the daunting task of searching for the perfect show-stopping couture gown or the right tailored suit for their clients’ red-carpet appearances. The next challenge, which is often forgotten since we only see the final product, are undergarments that won’t show, enhance the look of the dress, and also do their intended jobs. This can be extremely difficult when dealing with gowns cut to the waist (think Jennifer Lopez’s infamous Versace dress at the 2000 Grammys), sheer panels and illusion netting (which Kim Kardashian West is oh so fond of), and even a basic fitted gown that hugs every nook and cranny. Vanity Fair spoke with a number of stars at The Hollywood Reporter’s Most Powerful Stylists in Hollywood dinner party co-hosted by Jimmy Choo in Los Angeles on Tuesday to find out what they really wear underneath their designer duds.
“I have a complicated relationship with Spanx in a sense that I don’t like the idea of feeling the need to suck and tuck things in. But at the same time, in certain dresses it actually makes a difference between looking good or looking fantastic,” revealed Sarah Paulson, who swept awards season by winning an Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, and Critics’ Choice award for her performance as Marcia Clark in FX’s American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. “I’ve been known to wear them, but I try not to mostly because I like to feel my own body in clothing and that’s hard to do when wearing Spanx.”
At the Emmys last September, Paulson wore an emerald-green sparkling Prada couture gown with a plunging neckline that put her on many best-dressed lists. “It didn’t feel daring to wear that dress. I thought my boobs are still where they are supposed to be, and I’m going to do this while I can. There was no stick tape,” she said. “It was the construction of the dress. It was so fine that I didn’t need it. I never was worried about them falling out. If someone wants to see it that badly, I’m happy to give them a show. I don’t care. It’s just a boob!”
While some stars have to return the outfits they wear on the red carpet, Paulson managed to hang on to her winning Prada—which she considers one of her favorite dresses of all time. “Sometimes I just put it on like a bathrobe and answer the door for the U.P.S. guy,” she said. “I put it on whenever I can.”
Busy Philipps, who accompanied her best friend Michelle Williams at every major award show this season, admitted that she wore no undergarments under her velvet, sheer Elizabeth Kennedy dress at the Academy Awards.
“For my Oscars dress, I couldn’t wear anything underneath,” she said laughing. “There wasn’t any room so that night was a special night for me. I normally wear the very thin underwear that doesn’t have lines. I wear the Commandos. I have found through this award season that I didn’t need to wear Spanx or anything, which is a great feeling.”
Singer Mary J. Blige also prefers to be bare underneath her designer gowns. “If I’m at an awards show, and if I’m not overweight, I’m not wearing anything but what I’m wearing!” she said. “Spanx and shapewear are important, but if you don’t need them, they can sometimes end up making you look like you haven’t worked out all your life. You have to be careful on what you put on. When they are too tight, they make you look overweight. What I wear is regular underwear and bras or nothing else.”
Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali, a newly minted Oscar winner, sticks to boxers or briefs for his undergarments. During award season, he was one of the best-dressed men to walk down the red carpet. Ali says he’s always appreciated fashion and enjoys dressing up in suits.
“I’ve always been very conscious of what I was putting on even as a little kid. I would pick out my whole outfit at night so I knew what I was going to wear the next day. I started doing this when I was in the second grade,” he said. “I put together an outfit, iron the shirt and put it all together. Sometimes, I’d get up in the morning and I would change it because it didn’t feel right for the day. So I’ve always been like that. I’ve been very conscious of what I wear all my life.”
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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