She dishes on her favorite look ever and more!

By Alex Apatoff
Updated August 21, 2015 03:05 PM
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It’s been exactly a year since Rita Ora wore her favorite-ever dress on a red carpet — the high-slit Donna Karan Atelier dress she wore to the VMAS in 2014 — and in the interim, she’s become a red carpet staple. Now, she’s sharing everything she’s learned from her many, many high-fashion looks with PEOPLE.

Rita Ora VMAs 2014


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Even celebs can get starstruck.
She wore another memorable red gown (a 2004 Yves Saint Laurent with a cheongsam-inspired collar) to the Met Gala in May. And the gown’s designer, Tom Ford, also happened to be her date for the evening — leaving her awestruck. “The most amazing designer, that I find literally an inspiration for life, is when I went to the Met Gala with Tom Ford as a date,” she said. “I just thought to myself, ‘I’m literally walking in with the god.’ Now we’re really good friends and I love him.”

She has enough red carpet experience now to know what will stress her out.
Though her sunshine-yellow Zac Posen at the 2014 American Music Awards was a critical hit, she admits that yellow is her least favorite color to wear to an event. And she’s personally partial to music awards shows over all (she told PEOPLE from the set of a VMA promo, which will appear on MTV the weekend of August 22 and 23 as part of MTV’s VMA Brunch). “My favorite red carpets to get dressed up for are music ward shows … I think it’s the most stress-free,” she says. “Doing other award shows — like when I did the Oscars — I was so stressed out. It’s not specifically my world, so you feel more pressure.”

Her ever-changing hair is as high-maintenance as it looks.
Ora doesn’t keep the same hairstyle — or even color — for more than a few days, which is understandably hard on her locks. “I put treatments in every single night — literally,” Ora says. Aside from that, her routine is remarkably low-key; her must-have products are “face cream, eye makeup remover and lip balm.”

Just try to rush her before a red carpet.
“It takes me a good three and a half to four hours [to get ready] because I like to have breaks, eat a bit of food, have a freak out and then I calm down again,” Ora says of her event prep routine, which actually starts 24 hours in advance. “I have a good sleep the night before, I get my face mask, I kind of get ready; I do all the obvious stuff.”

One thing that requires no effort at all: Choosing her red lip.
She has access to every beauty product under the sun, but her desert island pick is a no-brainer: ‘Rita Red’ by Rimmel!

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Are you excited to see her on the VMAs red carpet next week? Share below!

–Nicole Sands