How Celebrity Stylists Prep Leading Men for the Red Carpet

With awards season in full swing, we spoke with Micaela Erlanger and Jeff Kim about their male clients' level of involvement, the fitting process and the challenges of dealing with muscle mass. (We're looking at you, Michael B. Jordan.)
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John Boyega. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images; Michael B. Jordan. Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images; Jared Leto. Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

John Boyega. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images; Michael B. Jordan. Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images; Jared Leto. Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images


It's easy to make the assumption that female celebrities are more interested in red carpet dressing than their male counterparts, and perhaps that preconceived notion is the first thing to get out of the way when speaking about the differences and challenges of dressing male celebrities for big events. "I do think that traditionally people expect guys to be less involved, and I have to say, I think that's not the case," says stylist Micaela Erlanger, whose clients include Lupita Nyong'o, Jared Leto and John Boyega. "I have some female clients that are more involved than others; I have some male clients that are more involved than others,” adds Erlanger, who describes the process to be a very collaborative one.

Likewise, Michael B. Jordan's stylist Jeff Kim — whose female clients include Coco Rocha and "Sports Illustrated" model Hannah Davis — is quick to point out that it's hard to make such broad generalizations. "In the beginning, [Michael B. Jordan] didn't really appreciate fashion, but only because he didn't know what went into it," says Kim, who's styled the "Creed" actor in a slew of bold, but tasteful suits over the past year. "I think once you appreciate it more, you love the process more and you want to be more involved. We always love to say that I've created a 'fashion monster,' if you will, with Michael at least. He really appreciates the art form now." 

Michael B. Jordan. Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images; Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images; Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Michael B. Jordan. Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images; Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images; Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Regardless of whether they're dressing a male or female celebrity, both Erlanger and Kim strive to create a look that's very much tailored to the individual. "My method is always based on who is the client, where are they going, what's the appropriate attire and what do they like," notes Erlanger. "We're working with the designer collection and we're translating that to an individual expression for the red carpet.” Needless to say, it's also important to maintain a carefully edited vision at all times during the fitting process. "We don’t like to over-pull — the goal is, you don't want to overwhelm your clients," she explains. "That's a surefire way to exhaust them."

The length of a fitting is dependent on the event and the number of press engagements a client has, but generally speaking, it takes longer for men to get dressed. "There's many different levels and details involved in menswear," says Erlanger. While red carpet looks for women typically revolve around a dress and matching accessories, men's options involve stylistic decisions on numerous things, including bow ties, pocket squares, cufflinks, lapels, shirts, pants and jackets. "You have to go piece by piece," explains Kim, who even follows a specific order by which he pins and tailors each individual menswear item. 

Jared Leto. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez; Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Photo: Gary Gershoff/WireImage

Jared Leto. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez; Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Photo: Gary Gershoff/WireImage

Though men might take longer, that doesn't necessarily mean that the process is more difficult. "Styling men or women comes with its own set of challenges. They come with their own rules of creativity," Erlanger says. For men, that could mean pairing "wacky socks" with dress loafers (see above), having fun with lapel pins on blazers or even adding some sparkle, as Leto did with an embroidered, palm tree-printed Saint Laurent tuxedo in the fall. "You have more flexibility to mix and match more. You're not always doing full-blown looks," she says. 

One unique challenge is presented when it comes to dressing a male celebrity who had to bulk up for a movie role. "[Michael]'s like, 'My stylist is not letting me work out as much just because it's harder to fit a suit,'" says Kim, regarding an interview Jordan did with The L.A. Times. "[His physique in 'Creed'] was impeccable. But especially for menswear... it's all about the tailoring. Literally everything should look like it's made for you." (The latter was easier said than done given the size of Jordan's arms.)

So, do male clients enjoy the process? Again, that depends on the individual. But for Erlanger and Kim, yes, fittings can be a lot of fun. "It's playing dress up,” says Erlanger, who keeps snacks and protein bars around for the guys. "You have all these beautiful designer collections at your fingertips and how grateful are we to have access to all this?" Designer clothing aside, fittings are also a great way to just relax and have fun. "Everyone wants to have a laugh during the day and have time not to think as hard," says Kim. "Some things might be amazing on the hanger and you try them on and it's the worst thing and the funniest thing, and you just have a great laugh." 

John Boyega. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images; Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Photo: Hu Chengwei/Getty Images; Photo: Cchung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

John Boyega. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images; Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Photo: Hu Chengwei/Getty Images; Photo: Cchung Sung-Jun/Getty Images