The Secret to Chloë Sevigny’s Red Carpet Style

Though not listed in the official job description for Man Repeller’s fashion editor, one of my self-appointed responsibilities is “checking in” on a handful of celebrities roughly once a week (and by “checking in” I mean doing a quick sweep on Instagram, Google search and Getty Images).

The members of said handful have been carefully selected by yours truly on the basis of whether or not they consistently make me rethink what I want to wear and why. Chloë Sevigny is one of them.

I can think of a million reasons why her style is deserving of frequent stalking, from the way she turns denim cutoffs into an art piece to her single-handed ability to actually make me excited about wearing black tights, but her most impressive accomplishment by far is a consistent knack for producing red carpet looks that are actually cool.

It’s no easy feat. I’ve written at length about why, but here’s the short version: Red-carpet style rarely crusades for trends — present or future — because its primary purpose is to flatter; ergo, it does not often move the needle or disrupt and reshape your sense of personal style.

That’s why when someone like Chloë does manage to fit into and break out of the red-carpet style mold simultaneously and with so much success, I am rapt. I take mental notes. I admire. I bookmark. I cradle her like a mesmerizing petri dish under the microscope of my various search engines and observe, observe, observe.

I was never able to pinpoint precisely how she does this, though, and therefore attributed her success rate not to a styling trick but rather to her overall propensity for experimentation and risk-taking.

Then, last week, during a routine “check-in,” the trick hit me like a gooseberry between the eyeballs: her BAGS.

Her bags! They are, in sum, the key-and-wallet-toting equivalent of personality heels — a collection of quirky characters. I can’t believe I’d never noticed how regularly she uses them to differentiate her aesthetic.

She favors a top-handle silhouette, with the occasional drawstring pochette, Monopoly dice (slide 6) or film camera (slide 7) thrown in for good measure. While red carpet accessories typically pay homage to the star of the show (i.e. the dress), these demand a spotlight unto themselves.

That sentiment is, in a sense, the underlying psychology that permeates Chloë’s style, formal or not. Nothing she wears plays second fiddle to another part of the outfit. Every aspect feels special.

It’s an attitude I plan on co-opting next time I get dressed, which is bound to occur at any moment since I get dressed mentally about 425,294 times a day. In the meantime, tell me, do you have specific celebrities you “check in” on? I’m always looking to add to my roster.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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