There are great takeaways from the red carpet of this year’s Golden Globes awards.  Fashion worn by the stars can teach us so much about the current times. Most often, fashion designers provide stars, through stylists, design options that are reflections of current and forward thinking design concepts.  With so many stars, and so many trends and styles to wrap your head around, I curated a detailed selection to help illustrate the takeaways from the red carpet. [Photo images by Getty.]

Some of the earliest commentators to appear on TV, including Nicole Ritchie [how did she suddenly appear on the style scene with her upcoming plum spot on an NBC prime time show?] identified the theme of the night as “Classic Elegance.” I’m not sure Ritchie even knows what the hell that is.  Yes, there was elegance.  There would be a natural expectation to see elegance on a Hollywood red carpet.  But in terms of the timelessness that the concept “classic” supposes, the best looks were more up-to-the-moment, or they bucked trends altogether and stayed true to an individual.

Form-fitting gowns encapsulated trends for the evening’s red carpet.  Embellishment, like beading was also important for the evening, as were feathers.  There continued to be an absence of color on many stars’ bodies this year.  But when there was color – and there was – it was not unified behind just one. In that sense it was refreshing to see some newness.  But as you’ll see in my takeaways from the red carpet, not everyone was successful with their color choices, as well as with other choices.

Several ladies took to a mermaid style gown.  But none looked as modern and as graceful as Evan Rachel Wood.  She had the right amount of coverage, gorgeous skin and hair, and minimal jewelry allowed one to take in the entire look, including the radiant star.

Blue isn’t the most common red carpet color. You don’t always see women rushing to wear it to other formal events.  Usually, as a color, dark blue whispers, “trust me.”  But when you see my favorite selections of blue, they also rank as some of my favorite looks of the red carpet.  Not pictured, but still of important note, several men wore midnight blue tuxedoes.  This is considered more formal and dressier than wearing black.  It may not show up well on TV, but in person, it’s crisp and looks fantastic on most men. When the light hits midnight blue, he looks brand new.  Of special note here is the light blue outfit worn by Tilda Swinton.  Most critics are sure to pan this outfit.  Maybe you won’t like it either.  But one of the great takeaways from the red carpet is to appreciate this look.  For Swinton, it’s authentic to her sense of avant-garde individuality.  Masculine looking up top, feminine down below, with her Bowie-esque hairstyle, she’s a piece of creative work. Even the pale blue color psychologically communicates a sense of creativity without wearing neon colors.  It’s my favorite of the night.

Berry colors were present on the red carpet in various intensities.  These three examples show how varied the gown styles were for the evening, and how varied a range of color can be.  Jessica Alba may have played it safest.  Julianna Margulies may have been the most body conscious.  And Emma Stone may have been the most fashion forward with her two-toned Lanvin gown with belted embellishment.  But all three were very tastefully chosen and worn.

Skin tones were not exactly a fresh fashion concept to this year’s red carpet.  Many got it wrong, and made me feel sleepy just at the sight of them.  But three stood out to me as striking examples of “successful streaking.”  Well, okay, they just went nude for the night.  Again, some critics disagree with me about Nicole Kidman’s gown, thinking that it washed her out.  But it worked for her because this sort of Maharaja warrior inspired beading beautifully repeated her hair color, and its vertical design takes your eye straight up to her flawless face.  She’s one well-dressed woman.  Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland may be more diminutive, but looks statuesque in her embellished Dolce & Gabbana gown. The belting repeats the two-tone and twisting in her hair. Love it! Red is always a stand out, but not always in a good way.  Worn the way Angelina Jolie did, with bold red lips and finished with red bag, her ivory gown with red accent was a definite winner.  While I wish that Brad Pitt [and all the men] had better scrubbed up their facial scruff, he sure looked great in his vested tux and bow tie.

Kate Winslet and Madonna both had the right ideas with what they wore.  Generally, I liked the gowns.  But both of them seemed to need to give their breasts some breathing room.  Winslet, wearing black on top, should have made her top half appear smaller.  Still, she seemed to have the appearance that her breasts could not be contained.  Madonna just looked smashed.  Also, one of the great takeaways from the red carpet is to notice Madonna’s use of gloves and jewelry with her gown.  They didn’t work with all the volume, and with her hands at her sides, which would be a typical stance, makes her look wider than she is with a full gown.  It was a great looking gown, though, and the texture and her hair looked great.

There’s a saying that there can be too much of a good thing.  Charlize Theron’s look showed too much skin, although at least her midriff was covered.  The bow was a bit full, too.  It looked like a growth coming out of her waist.  Paula Patton’s gown was gorgeous, but it was too yellow for her.  The red carpet reporters were gushing over it.  But as another one of the takeaways of the red carpet, you should always want to keep in mind to have the compliment be about you and not just on what you’re wearing, especially when fashion experts comment.

Jessica Biel’s nude lace gown and shabby chic hair made me think that she went to the lingerie department and bought a Claire Pettibone sleepwear item and had it altered so it would show some leg.  It may look good for a Malibu beach wedding, but it made me feel sleepy.  Melissa McCarthy had one of the funniest moments on film this year, and her red carpet look also struck me as funny.  That hair said “sister wife” and the gown wasn’t far behind. I know that her body proportion makes gown selection a challenge.  But why does she have to look like she’s standing on top of a small box? It’s not natural looking.  Reece Witherspoon’s look didn’t work for me either.  The hair was all over the place, and so was the bottom of the gown.  Strangely, though, she could hardly walk in it.  You have to be able to move in your clothes.

What were they thinking?  Elizabeth McGovern’s gown appears to look like two pieces, and it looks like a tasteless bruised mess of black and blue.  Oh, yes, light blue is supposed to be creative, you’ll remind me.  But this is a disaster. That’s also why Tilda looks so freaking amazing! Naya Rivera’s gown has the most noticeable seem running right down the middle.  It’s simply unseemly!  Kelly Osbourne looks like she got up from a winged back chair and took it with her.

When I say that some red carpet looks are not to be believed, you need look no further than just a couple of key examples.  Significant additional takeaways from the red carpet can be learned from these.  First, don’t try to channel another star’s appearance.  Just be yourself.  Lea Michele hardly looks like herself, and she looks like a bad copy of Halle Berry.  I haven’t heard one bad thing about Octavia Spencer’s gown.  But I don’t like it.  The runaway star of “The Help” needed some herself!  It looks as though the gathered jeweled front were somehow electrified and made her hunch forward into a stomach crunch position while still standing.  It doesn’t look comfortable, and it doesn’t look like it’s “her.”  If you rent a gown, or if you invest to own your own, you’ve got to make sure it’s one you can stand tall in, or at least look like you are.

Women considering a gown for a special occasion should contemplate silhouette, shape, proportion, fit, the psychological aspect of color, and the total look including all accessories.  Men actually have similar considerations to make, even though conventional wisdom says there are fewer choices. That also means that an error becomes that much more obvious and cannot be camouflaged by outrageous patterns and accessories. Also, as we have seen in these photos, hairstyles, cosmetics, and general grooming – especially on the men – are crucial to completing a total look and often are the crux of what makes someone look glamorous or a slob.

What are your favorite takeaways from the red carpet? Who did you think looked the best and inspires you?