“SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE” comic actress Leslie Jones made headlines in June 2016 when she tweeted she was having a hard time finding a designer to make a dress for her “Ghostbusters” premiere. Christian Siriano, who came to the attention of most of us by winning “Project Runway” in 2008 and then launched his own fashion company, stepped up to the plate and created a lipstick-red off-the-shoulder couture gown that caressed Jones’s curves.
The duo again collaborated for the 2017 Emmy Awards, when Jones wore a custom-designed Siriano black glittery gown. The previous week, the comedy star was front row at Siriano’s runway show during New York Fashion Week. Because Jones, who recently celebrated her 50th birthday, is clearly loving her clothes, we took the opportunity to look at her new event-ready wardrobe and see what lessons we might learn.
JANET: Sequins are on trend this season, and Jones sparkled at the Emmys for her first nomination in this curve-hugging Siriano gown. The dress’s combination of beading and sheer overlay alternately hide and reveal Jones’s décolletage, arms and legs. The thigh-high slit lets her show off one of her toned legs.
KATHY: Full disclosure: I am one of Leslie Jones’s biggest fans. It cracks me up when, in a split second, she bounces from “raging black woman” to flirty vixen while sitting next to Colin Jost during Weekend Update. I just wish SNL would find more room for her. Now, about the black gown. It’s smashing. It plays up those long, strong legs, and since I’m not a fan of baring too much, I’m on board with the sheer fabric that holds it together. It’s sexy. She’s sexy.
NANCY: It’s a sweep—I think this look is dynamite. It has lessons for those of us who have only a few assets we wish to share with others; the peekaboo sleeves can camouflage so many of the upper-arm realities we learn to live with as we age. And the shaping of the bodice gives much-needed structure (one glance at the green dress below will demonstrate that) that allows the rest of the dress to drip romantically. And yes, Kathy, sexily.
JANET: In an above-the-knee black-lace and sheer-paneled keyhole dress by Tadashi Shoji for his Resort 2017 Collection, Jones followed the formula for the Time 100 Gala she had favored for the Emmys. Note the flattering three-quarter sleeve that stands slightly away from the body. The diamond hoop earrings and coordinating bracelet are all the jewelry she needs. I might have swapped out those ankle-wrap stiletto sandals, though, for a pump. The sandal strap interrupts the long line of the leg.
KATHY: I see what Janet means about the stiletto strap, but a pump just doesn’t feel like Leslie to me. Plus a pump would have hidden those blue toenails. The woman just seems to like to put it all out there. I’m with Janet, however, on everything else. This is a lovely look for a statuesque woman. Sophisticated, yet girlish at the same time. Plus it shows off her waist.
NANCY: Tadashi Shoji is the go-to design house for the more robustly figured celebs (and non-celebs: Every Junoesque woman I’ve buttonholed at the White House Correspondents’ dinner over the years has been wearing a Tadashi Shoji confection). It’s not that the Japanese-born Shoji specializes in large or tall sizes; it’s just that, like Christian Siriano, he seems eager to embrace all body types. Take a look at his shopping site; you can select not just by size but by silhouette (full bust, apple, hourglass, etc.) and neckline and sleeve length. That said, I’m not sure exactly why, but this dress just doesn’t do it for me. Being short, it winds up looking (to my eye) more horizontal, something most of us do NOT need. Then again, if it were long, Jones would risk being swaddled in too much fabric and would look enormous. I’ll just sit this one out. (But I love it when she spikes her hair out like that.)
JANET: As host of the BET Awards, Jones wore a long green gown with plunging neckline and a thigh-high slit. I suppose she wanted a daring look for one of the music industry’s biggest nights, but too much exposure is, well, too much exposure. She would have been better off with just the leg slit. A halter top is challenging for even the most flat-chested among us. Add pleating and it just looks like a wardrobe malfunction.
KATHY: This is my least favorite of her choices. Admittedly she wears the color well, but it isn’t a color in my rainbow. Leslie, we know you have boobs, but we don’t need to see them. This is a complaint I have with so many red-carpet gowns: They bare far too much.
NANCY: Amen. I want to tell all those red-carpet celebs to put “the girls” back inside the dress; that’s why God invented clothing. Beyond that, a halter is a tricky thing: It can emphasize swanlike necks and emergent collarbones, but it can also make the more robust, as I’ve taken to calling it, look like members of the college wrestling team. With her thousand-watt smile, Jones can make anything work, but no amount of double-sided tape could make one of these bust-baring halters work for the rest of us.
JANET: Bold jewel tones suit Jones as in this monochromatic (read: slimming) orange pantsuit, one of the outfits she wore for her BET hosting stint. I like how the white shirt worn underneath her blazer makes the color pop. Should that shapely jacket be left unbuttoned? I prefer that.
KATHY: Yes, Janet. It should. I would prefer that too so when she moves the jacket doesn’t get all cinched up. She looks fabulous in orange, a color too often overlooked, in my opinion. Bright, hot colors really suit her.
NANCY: I don’t have much to add. Great color, great fit, and yes, unbutton the jacket if you’re going to be flailing around like that. The monochromatic message is one many of us should heed.
JANET: At Siriano’s New York Fashion Week show earlier this month, Jones glowed in a shocking-pink cape and black leggings. This is my hands-down favorite look for the 6-foot-tall Jones, who thoroughly enjoyed her front-row status and whooped and clapped at the fashions as the models sashayed down the runway.
KATHY: She looks so ladylike in this cape. It’s one of my favorite looks for her as well. She was smart to choose a necklace that mimicked the neckline of her blouse. A nice touch of understated sparkle. It’s a swell daytime look for an important event.
NANCY: Agreed, agreed! So fluid. And perhaps more ladylike than Jones sometimes wants to be. But it’s a classic look that would arguably work for anyone. I could see Grace Kelly in this outfit, also any recent First Lady; hell, Queen Elizabeth II! But remember what I was saying about boobs a while ago? The woman seated next to Jones in the red dress is just as eye-catching as Jones but for the wrong reasons. Really? Marching the girls out in the middle of the afternoon? Leslie Jones wouldn’t do that!