Clinton Kelly’s Stylist Secrets to Get Real Women Red Carpet Ready

This week, I styled Shanna, Lindsay, Olga and Kim for the Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards. These four women had each lost weight and cut their risk of cardiovascular disease—what an accomplishment! So I gave them the five-star celebrity treatment to get them ready for their big reveal. But since every woman has big events in her life she wants to look extra-good for, I thought I’d share the behind-the-scenes styling secrets we used to create the red carpet dazzle. Here’s how we got each woman looking her best.

Clinton Kelly Woman's Day Red Dress Makeovers
Clinton Kelly Red Dress Makeover - Shanna


  • If you’ve got an hourglass figure, the trick is to show off your curves without getting too sexy. We chose a body-conscious dress with a high neckline and straight skirt to skim her body without clinging. A little gathering emphasized Shanna’s waist, and we took the hem up a bit to break at the narrowest part of her knee and make her legs look longer.
  • STYLING SECRET, REVEALED: We stitched Shanna’s necklace to the dress so it would hit just right. Not for everyday use!
Clinton Kelly Red Dress Makeover - Lindsay


  • If you’re petite and curvy, the key is to emphasize the hourglass. And the best way to do that is to accentuate the waistline—here, with a patent belt. A dropped sweater balances out Lindsay’s full skirt (which was hemmed, of course, to hit just right).
  • STYLING SECRET, REVEALED: Between the sweater and the retro silhouette, Lindsay’s ensemble ran the risk of looking matronly. We opened up the neckline by an inch to show a little (very ladylike) skin.
Clinton Kelly Red Dress Makeover - Olga


  • If you’re large-busted but narrow from the waist down, it's easy to look top-heavy. Olga’s petite, too, so we needed to create balance without adding too much dress. A wider shoulder strap de-emphasizes her bust, while ruching at the waist and hips creates the illusion of curves on her bottom half.
  • STYLING SECRET, REVEALED: We cut almost two feet off the dress! Originally floor-length, it was too formal—and too much fabric for her frame.
Clinton Kelly Red Dress Makeover- Kim


  • If you’ve got a curves and a tummy, your best bet is to create structure. Kim’s shift dress has darts under the bust and arms to skim her figure without adding bulk. The dark lace overlay draws the eye away from her midsection and up toward the neckline.
  • STYLING SECRET, REVEALED: Often people go bare-legged for a big event, but sheer black hose are just as dressy and slimming, too.

Bonus Styling Secrets!

For a really big event (like your wedding—or meeting your ex’s new girlfriend), there are two styling tips that apply to all women: Sky-high heels and double Spanx. Yes, I mean Spanx on Spanx. I’m not saying either of these is super-comfortable, but it’s what a girl’s gotta do if she wants to look her absolute best. Consider it an endurance test and reward yourself afterwards with a long, hot bath and a glass of champagne. And if you think I can’t relate, look up my Bad Sandy costume on Instagram. I’ve felt your pain.

Images: Courtesy Woman's Day/Rabbani & Solimene Photography


Can’t let International Women’s Day go by without a shoutout to 5 of the strongest, kindest, smartest, most hardworking women I’ve ever met.

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