The Red-Carpet Dress Code For Women Needs To Go

Rose Mcgowan

When one thinks of red-carpet dress code, cocktail dresses and evening gowns automatically come to our mind. But how sexist is this code, which makes it compulsory for women to put their femininity and sexuality on display for all? In the name of glamour, what red-carpet dress code does, is create a divide among men and women. Both the genders are put in gender specific boxes via this dress code, which only increases the bias that plagues the film fraternity.

Activist and actor Rose McGowan recently called out this compulsion of wearing a dress for women on red carpet in a Twitter thread. She associated it with Hollywood PTSD, which paints women in the very image they want to rid themselves of post- #MeToo.

McGowan has shed light on an issue which most celebrities skirt away from. After all, it is all about being in the public eye at your glamorous best. But then can we entirely blame them for endorsing this culture of stereotyping on red carpet? Do we carry some part of blame here, for not questioning these red-carpet mandates?

Red carpet couture needs to change for a progressive film industry

Both in Bollywood and Hollywood, the red carpet couture needs to let go of its stereotypical dress code

We understand that cocktail dresses, dinner jackets and gowns are all an attempt to create a formal evening. It is more about restricting celebs from walking in on an ornate evening in crocs, ganjis and ripped jeans. But why does it have to be bound by gendered coding?


  • Almost all red carpet events “suggest” a dress code to attendees these days.
  • Women have to choose between cocktail dress or evening gowns, which present them at their glamorous best. 
  • But how sexist is this code, which makes it compulsory for women to put their femininity and sexuality on display for all?

Is the fashion industry so unimaginative or uncompromising that it cannot come up with dress codes which do not end up objectifying women? Surely there are more creative solutions to formal dress code than dresses with sequinned plunging necklines, slits running on to hip bone and heels so pointed you could carve the dress code in a stone with it. But then do actors themselves want to change the way they dress for the red carpet?

How many male and female actors are actually bothered with this stereotyping? How many are willing to risk a glamorous appearance which will be shared and viewed millions of times on social media and in fashion magazines?

Such photographs create an aura around stars. They raise them above the rest of us and make them special. Clothes definitely play the most important role during red carpet appearances and not many actors, irrespective of gender, may be willing to trade glamour and style for common good. The problem is that female actors are trapped in this dress code.

Which should make us question our role here. All this dressing up is not for cameras, but for our consumption. It is we who spend hours dissecting celeb red carpet looks and never question what kind of message it sends out. So if we want to end stereotyping and sexism in film industry and our society, we need to ask more questions. We need to question how relevant these red carpet dress codes are to our new age evolved sensibilities. Perhaps if the consumer starts raising questions, it will eventually lead to a change on top.

Picture Source: Breitbart

Also Read: Will End Of Section 377 Change The Indian Society

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.