It’s hard to believe, but our Best Dressed Woman of the Year has a distinct challenge when it comes to getting red-carpet ready, thanks to her 5’2” frame. We disagree (um, hi every perfect look from awards season!), but we respect the hilarious reason why she steers clear of pouffy princess gowns: “I’d look like a mushroom,” Witherspoon, 39, says.
The Oscar winning actress, 54, was born with a standout accessory: red locks. “I always think, ‘How is her red hair going to accent this?” her stylist Leslie Fremar tells People. Her out-of-the-box color pairings (like this green Givenchy Haute Couture dress and purple Chopard earrings) feel so high-fashion.
Kaling, 36, asked The Mindy Project‘s costume designer Salvador Perez (who helps style her for the red carpet) for a sleek black gown to wear to the Vanity Fair Oscars party, and Perez delivered – with a twist. “I wouldn’t put her in a [plain] black dress – too easy!” he says, which meant he added subtle crystal trim to make the dress stand out. “We did the train separate and attached it to the dress with crystals. And we did the same treatment in the slit of the arm and then across the body. It was just a little bit of sparkle against the skin.”
What’s something all the Pitch Perfect 2 director’s looks have in common? They’re as fab from behind as they are from the front. “She does a back shot better than anyone,” says Wendi Ferreira, who styles Banks, 41, with her sister Nicole. This Dolce amp Gabbana gown is a perfect example.
For a long time, Miller was the patron saint of bohemian glamour, but this year she’s gone for more “simple and well-tailored” ensembles. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a hint of something a little eccentric. Take this Balenciaga tweed dress, for example. A close-up of the collar shows that it’s made of metal rings looped together.
The 37-year-old actress will try just about any silhouette out there, but she had an extra-special reason for being more experimental than usual over the past: She became a mom to twin boys Cy and Bowie in late 2014. “[New motherhood] is such a beautiful time in someone’s life,” says her stylist Petra Flannery, noting the two of them got to play with new fits and patterns (like this waist-cinching Prabal Gurung gown) to “celebrate the curves she never really had before.”
When it comes to her red carpet choices, Byrne, 36, isn’t afraid to take risks. Case in point: the sheer black number she wore for Burberry’s “London in L.A.” show. “We deliberately didn’t line that dress or put a strong slip under it, because you would lose all the effects of the beautiful lace,” Byrne’s longtime stylist Penny Lovell says. “Rose was like, ‘I’ll just wear big knickers and it will be great!'”
When selecting her accessories for the red carpet, the actress loves to collaborate with her stylist Jessica Paster. “She immediately picked out those shoes,” Paster says of the chartreuse Jimmy Choo slides Blunt, 32, wore with this colorful Peter Pilotto midi. “She’s very bold and not afraid of color. She has fun with clothing.”
This polished 15-year-old (here, in a dress by Giamba) has been working with stylists Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson since she was 10. “We’re very protective,” says Lincoln. “Earlier this year
she wore her first pair of platforms …[we] had this mom moment like, ‘Wait, isn’t she too young for platforms?’ It seems like just yesterday she was
graduating from a flat to a kitten heel!”
This Versace design fit Hudson, 36, so well, it didn’t even require fashion tape. Another surprising fact? It was originally a gown. “A couple of hours before [Versace’s couture] show I thought we should cut it,” the star’s stylist Sophie Lopez tells People. “A Versace seamstress showed up and we made it shorter. It was amazing.”
SEE MORE IN THE 2015 STYLE ISSUE
Check out the 9/21 issue of People – on newsstands now – for more on our best-dressed women of the year.