“The Vampire Diaries” took home the Cast of the Year trophy at last week’s Young Hollywood Awards and actress Sara Canning, who plays Jenna Sommers on The CW series, chatted excitedly with StyleList as she prepped for the big night. The Canadian actress filled us in on how she gets red carpet ready, which of her stylish cast mates makes the ideal shopping wing woman and why posture really makes an outfit.
Plus, wanna steal her modern twist on Old Hollywood style? Sara’s personal glam squad for the evening reveals their tips for recreating the look.
StyleList: What’s your process for finding an outfit and accessories for a red carpet event?
Sara Canning: I’m just starting to develop a process for red carpet events. We’re in Atlanta (shooting “The Vampire Diaries”) all of the time and it’s nice to be on our little hiatus and actually able to go to some events. Most importantly I always lean towards a dress that’s really interesting but comfortable. It’s so important to me to have a sense of ease in everything I wear, whether it’s my everyday life or red carpet. And I just love fun accessories.
SL: For this event you worked with a pro stylist, was there anything that you learned about dressing for a red carpet that you didn’t think about before?
SC: I tend to lean towards a lot of blacks and navy blues. She really encouraged me to experiment with color. I’m really happy I did because I got to try on some really cool stuff that I would maybe skip over when I’m shopping on my own. I would go to the more neutral tones. I’m really happy with what we came up with and it’s something bolder, which is a nice change.
SL: Let’s talk about this dress!
SC: It’s really lovely. It’s a BCBG dress. It’s a very interesting color because it almost looks green at first but then it has a gold undertone to it as well. It has some nice detailing on the bodice and it’s really comfortable, super cute and really young. It’s young but it’s still sophisticated.
SL: After seeing photos of yourself on the red carpet, have you learned anything about what works on you and what doesn’t?
SC: I like to wear things that have a bit of a cinched waist. Honestly, I know the dress is important, but I think I just look better when I look like I’m having fun. I can tell in photographs where I look like I’m having such a great time in that moment and I’ve learned that good posture is important. I’ve seen photos where I think, “I don’t know why I’m not standing up straight there but I definitely look better in photos where I am.”
SL: There’s such an art to posing on the red carpet.
SC: I’ve read magazine articles where it tells you step-by-step for posing properly. It’s really funny that it’s such a science.
SL: What’s your beauty must-have for a big event?
SC: Oh, the one thing that I can’t leave home without or else I’m a little bit neurotic and have to go buy it is lip balm, no matter whether it’s a red carpet or everyday life. I really like Burt’s Bees or Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. Those are two of my favorites.
SL: What’s the best pro hair or makeup tip that you’ve learned?
SC: I got this tip from someone on “The Vampire Diaries” that Crest toothpaste works really great on a zit if you have one the night before something big. It really works. Apparently models do it all the time but I was so skeptical. And then I tried it and it really worked.
SL: What’s a favorite pro fashion tip that you’ve picked up?
SC: Right away I was thinking about our head costume designer on “The Vampire Diaries” and that it’s really all about posture. She’ll photograph us in everything that we try on — all of our different wardrobe options. I’ve learned from her that no matter what you’re wearing, there are certain stances that make you look good — whether it’s a flowy dress or something tighter. With her photographing us in everything you find that some things look much different than you would ever have expected.
SL: Your show is nabbing Cast of the Year, but which young star should take home the award for best style?
SC: I think Camilla Belle has a really cool personal style. She has a young but still really classy look and it’s really unique.
SL: Which of your castmates makes the best shopping partner?
SC: Definitely Candice (Accola)! She’s a great shopper and she comes up with really interesting outfits. She’s great with vintage stuff, too. She’s got such a girly side but still a lot of edge so she’s really fun to shop with.
SL: Whose opinion means the most to you when you’re choosing an outfit for a big event?
SC: Nina (Dobrev) is always really encouraging but really honest about everything. We were roommates for four months so I had a lot of opportunities to ask her opinions on outfits.
SL: What makes the “Vampire Diaries” cast so special?
SC: I think we’re so lucky in the sense that everyone in our cast is really lovely, interesting and genuine. Everyone has the same attitude towards the show in the sense that we’re really excited to work and really adamant to make the show everything it can be and then some. We bonded really easily but everyone has made an effort to sort of keep that relationship. They’re really my family. As cliché as it sounds, I trust them 100 percent. I’m really grateful for them. They’ve made the whole experience even more fantastic than just being on a hit show.
GET HER LOOK: MAKEUP
Sarah Uslan, makeup artist and co-founder of Luxe Beauty Team, explains how she gave Canning a young, fresh spin on Old Hollywood glamour.
Lips: “Rather than that classic red lip, we put a modern twist to it and did a fuchsia Stila Long Wear Lip Color in Intriguing,” says Uslan. To get a defined lip when using such a bold color, she offers, “No matter what kind of applicator the color comes in, always use a brush. A brush is going to give you that fine tip to really outline your lip and make it perfect. Then, the key is to go around the shape, right at that edge, with an oil-free foundation so that it doesn’t blend with the lip color and gently powder over that foundation with a nice translucent powder. To make the bow of the lip really pop, use a highlight to accent the little dip in the bow of the lip.”
Cheeks: “You never want to distract from that bold lip by alternating the cheek color so we did a soft pink on the apple of the cheek.”
Eyes: “We took a Bobbi Brown Sparkle Eye Shadow in Sunlight and I matted it into her eyelid with my finger to give a beautiful gold sheen. Then we did a black, defined eye line. Whenever you’re wearing a strong eyeliner you want to make sure that it’s not going to move around at all, so I used a Laura Geller primer. Choose an eyeliner that has enough intensity to give it that drama. I love the Stila Smudge Pot in Black. Use a fine tipped short brush, so that it’s not flimsy when you apply it. Start at the lash line, using the lashes as a lid to rest the brush on, and really keep it tight to the lash. Right at the edge you want to follow the last lash by imagining it extending up. That’s how you create that cat eye by following that line. If you make any little mistakes, use another fine brush to gently blend a charcoal shadow where the gel liner meets the eye shadow. We did individual lashes on the outside corner of her lashes just to give it that lift and that Hollywood glamour feel.”
GET HER LOOK: HAIR
“We wanted to keep the look young so we barely used any product, just a little bit of something to finish,” says hairstylist Benjamin Mohapi. “We didn’t want to do a big hair sprayed thing. It was a bit reminiscent of Jessica Rabbit.”
To begin, Mohapi mists the hair with Bumble and Bumble Prep. “It softens the hair and makes it easier to work with. It makes the hair silky without feeling slimy. Then I dried it through just to smooth it all out before I started.”
Mohapi insists the style is easy to achieve by using a curling iron and a few clips. “You have to work out where your parting is but it’s better to have a deep, side part,” he says. “Drag the hair over to the other side of the head before you put it around the curling iron. As you bring it around the curling iron, you keep hold of it so that it kind of creates a twist in your sections, keeping your sections quite large. The whole top of the head from the part out will be two sections and then that bit around the temples will be one section on each side and then four big sections at the back. I clipped it on the one side and put a bit of hairspray on it. If you leave that clip in for as long as you can it will hold the hair out of your eyes. Your hair will start sitting there naturally.” He finished off the look with Kiehl’s Creme with Silk Groom to add shine.