More than a dozen women 50 and older are nominees for television's Emmy Awards ceremony on Sept. 17. All are amazing actors, and their fashion strategy is equally awesome. Their signature looks offer great tips for the red-carpet moments of our own lives — the parties, weddings, work events and reunions — that call for some prime-time primping. Take a look.
Viola Davis ('How to Get Away With Murder')
A boldly colored fit-and-flare gown with an eye-catching neckline is Davis' go-to formula for success. For example, she looked stunning in her hot-pink Marchesa dress at last year's Emmys and yellow Michael Kors at this year's Golden Globes. She amps up the anticipation with unexpected hair changes.
Tip: A strapless corset-bra makes wearing a one-shoulder, strapless dress or a deep décolletage neckline stress-free if you're a bosomy woman like Davis.
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Robin Wright ('House of Cards')
If you're edgy, prefer neutrals and have cool hair like Wright and her Claire Underwood character, a severe and slinky minimalist dress sends a confident message. Her second-skin dresses with a twist — high-necked or dipping dangerously low — suit Wright's style on camera and off. For last year's Emmys, a silver-sequined slip dress with black lace insets and a thigh-high slit showed off her new textured bob and an even-more sculpted Wonder Woman body.
Tip: A minimalist gown needs equally pared down extras, such as natural, neutral makeup, a sophisticated short cut or bob, minimal or no jewelry, and pointy black heels.
Jane Fonda ('Grace and Frankie')
Feminist Fonda makes high maintenance look so worth it. Her worked-out shape and perfect posture make rocking clingy gowns like the red Atelier Versace at the 2015 Globes or a cobalt-blue version at Cannes jaw-droppingly possible. Fonda's strategy: pairing long, sleek sleeves with peekaboo illusion cutouts or skintight tailored pantsuits, topped off by a bouffant shag, false lashes and glitzy chandelier earrings.
Tip: Try a jumpsuit instead of a gown, and add metallic pumps, a jeweled belt, statement earrings and a strip of false lashes to your usual makeup.
Allison Janney ('Mom')
Work the V. At 6 feet tall and with a swimmer's physique, seven-time Emmy winner Janney can wear anything. Playing a recently sober single mom and waitress, her TV wardrobe is jeans basic — so it's no wonder she favors thigh-high slits and plunging necklines as with last year's Emmy dress, a Badgley Mischka.
Tip: Dare to bare, but keep a role of double-stick tape in your clutch. Wide V-necklines make every woman's body better, regardless of shape or size. Unless you're tall or just have long legs, beware of slits: They can make sitting, walking or crossing your legs a challenge.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus ('Veep')
Black or white always looks classy. Petite Louis-Dreyfus sticks with this color scheme in one-shoulder, strapless or halter column dresses. Need proof? Check last year's Emmy winner in a black, lacy halter gown with patent leather details by Carolina Herrera, as well as the one-shoulder black Safiyaa dress she wore in 2015.
Tip: You don't need to wear sky-high stilettos to appear taller and slimmer. Just wear one color from head to toe, with an elongating neckline.
Felicity Huffman ('American Crime')
Make it romantic. Always toned and trim, Huffman trended up by adding more flow below in the cascading champagne tulle and lace gown by Tony Ward at last year's Emmys, as well as the pleated navy halter by Laura Basci in 2015. The 5-foot-5 actress usually wears her hair up for the camera — and because flowing locks and a flowing dress can be too much. She also cleverly uses husband William H. Macy as a photo-op prop and partner for picturesque passion.
Tip: You can look feminine without looking girly. No need for big Disney ball gowns; just choose a column dress with tiers of ruffles or any dress with a floaty mesh overlay embellished with lace or sparkles for coverage with a bare effect. Nude and pale pink or peach shades rule.
Nicole Kidman ('Big Little Lies')
True fashionistas always take risks. The edgy, black-lace illusion dress Kidman wore to this year's CMT Music Awards or the flesh-colored and beaded backless Armani from this year's Oscars are unforgettable ... but so is that green sequined Gucci with feathered parrot shoulders from this year's Screen Actors Guild Awards. She never has to worry about anyone else wearing the same thing.
Tip: Affordable, trendy but grownup gowns from labels such as Adrianna Papell, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Aidan Mattox, and Fame and Partners cost between $195 and $400. They come in off-shoulder, tiered, pleated and illusion styles that break your mold — but not your bank account.
Jimi Celeste/Getty Images
Jessica Lange ('Feud')
Blue flatters every skin tone and projects a cool and calm confidence. Lange chooses it often in Old Hollywood fit-and-flare mermaid styles, such as the off-shoulder navy blue J. Mendel (paired with glitter-covered Jimmy Choo peep-toe pumps) she wore at last year's Emmys or the J. Mendel draped front V-neck in cobalt from the 2015 Tony Awards.
Tip: Though stores say red is the hot trend, blue is the best-seller. Choose your favorite — from turquoise and royal to indigo, cornflower, navy or baby — and lock in the movie star look with an asymmetrical, off-shoulder or wide V-neckline, glowing makeup and softly waved hair.
Angela Weiss/Getty Images
Susan Sarandon ('Feud')
Décolletage gets the message across. If you've got it, flaunt it in a green off-shoulder Alberta Ferretti gown down to there, like Sarandon did at this year's Cannes Film Festival, or the white tux by Max Mara and standout black bra she wore at this year's SAG Awards. The latter captivated the internet and launched a zillion tweets.
Tip: Get a good balcony bra or a corset and work those V-necklines. Of course, a good moisturizer with sunscreen applied from hairline to bra line is part of the deal — and how much skin to show depends on your style and guts.
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Laura Dern ('Big Little Lies')
Want to appear cutting-edge stylish but not feel too trendy? Keep the shape sharp and graphic, and then fill in the details, as Dern did in a blue Gabriela Hearst strapless column with midriff cutouts and removable train for this year's Met Gala. Or check out the midnight-blue and sequined column dress with multiple spaghetti straps by Rodarte that she wore to the Oscars this year.
Tip: Look for a neckline that is consistent and is you — like Dern's straight-across choice — simple or notched.
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Michelle Pfeiffer ('The Wizard of Lies')
Find your "look" and a designer or label that personifies it. Pfeiffer likes sleek, simple and tailored — that’s why she has been a Giorgio Armani fan for 20 years — but at The Wizard of Lies premiere she wore Michael Kors, which like Armani, reveals body shape, and not too much skin. Her long wavy hair and natural-looking makeup complement either designers’ pared-down aesthetic.
Tip: Having a favorite designer, label or brand helps you shop online for events since you know the sizing and fit work for your body. Getting a special dress deal via a flash sale makes splurging just above your price range guilt-free...and you can buy and try more than one, just be sure shipping for returns is free.
Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images
Leslie Jones ('Saturday Night Live’)
Her outrageous humor and language is a match for Jones' look-at-me colorful gowns. Designer Christian Siriano got her started on the crimson carpet for the Ghostbusters premiere last year in a fiery red off-shoulder number that showed plenty of curve and cleavage. Clearly, Jones likes to make a statement and did so again at this year’s BET Awards in a green halter dress with a plunging neckline by Michael Costello.
Tip: Keep a sense of fun. Fashion should be an opportunity to dare to bare — whatever your shape or size. It's the one time when breaking all the rules about what to wear over 50 (and Jones just turned the half-century mark) lets you have the last laugh!
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