Happy Friday, Bombers and Bombshells! Did you hear? I was on the Tom Joyner morning show today with Jacque Reid discussing Awards show style!
Jacque wanted to discuss the politics of red carpet dressing, and more specifically the difficulties women of color might face finding gowns for awards season. The subject arose after actress and comedian Leslie Jones famously couldn’t find anyone to dress her for the Ghostbusters premiere. She voiced her frustrations on Twitter, and Christian Siriano came to the rescue with a red, off the shoulder stunner.
Can it be hard for anyone who isn’t Beyonce to find a dress? Definitely. Most showrooms only carry sample size i.e. a size 4 or 6, so if you’re curvy, you’re most likely out of luck. And then a designer has to think: does this actress align with our brand identity? Is this someone we would choose to market our garments? If you look at most high end designers and see the type of women they include in their advertising campaigns, you’d see that most times they are not touting chocolate or curvy sisters. So what’s one to do?
Below, 4 solutions:
1. Request from a Designer Who is Known to be Kind to Brown and/or Curvy Women
Aside from Leslie Jones, Christian Siriano has dressed Janelle Monae, Queen Latifah, Zendaya, and First Lady Michelle Obama! He even outfitted Viola Davis yesterday as she accepted her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Siriano dresses women of any shape, color, age, or size, and does so beautifully. Ditto for Michael Costello, Brandon Maxwell, Tracy Reese, Cushnie et Ochs, and more. Seek and find out who those designers are. Work with someone who ‘gets it’ (i.e. gets that you’re beautiful, valuable, and worthy and why in the world wouldn’t they jump at the opportunity to dress you?!?)

2. Go with a Smaller Designer
If you don’t need a ‘runway’ piece per se, there are loads of young designers ready to dress you for the next red carpet. LaQuan Smith, Marquette 21, Shades of Shea, and Mychael Knight all spring to mind as designers who are super talented, but not necessarily putting on high wattage runway productions during international fashion weeks. It’s a win-win for both parties: you get a dress, and they get exposure.

3. Invest in a Stylist Who is Super Connected
Some stylists have a roster of A-list clientele, and can get you a dress based off of their relationships with designers and showrooms. But be warned, stylists are not cheap (some have a day rate of $6,500!), and because they’re poppin, they might not have time nor need to work with you. Still, it won’t hurt to ask! The right stylist can change your life, so they’re definitely worth the investment should you find the right one (cue Micaela Erlanger and Lupita Nyong’o; Law Roach and Zendaya).

4. Buy or Borrow
Yes, these dresses can be expensive, but if you want that look, perhaps make that investment. Otherwise, there is always Rent the Runway.

What do you think?

*For updates on where I’ll be, like the Claire Sulmers Facebook page here. Also, be sure to get my book! It’s available on Amazon.com here.



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