The Independent Spirit Awards is a challenging event from a celebrity fashion perspective. The dress code calls for “California casual,” which means no Oscar-red-carpet couture is necessary. But ratcheting down the effort to Birkenstocks and a pair of jeans, while technically permissible, probably won’t look very good in photographs. The key is to dress down a tad, but still look effortlessly glamorous.

As various stars walked Saturday’s Spirit Awards purple carpet — yes, it was indeed purple, like the color of grape Kool-Aid — here were five chicly dressed ladies who managed to do just that.

Michelle Williams

(Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images For Jameson Irish Whiskey)

With that pixie ’do and the blazer, Williams looked like a mash-up of ’70s-era Mia Farrow and Diane Keaton, but in the best way possible. Not everyone will agree, but I thought this Louis Vuitton suit was smart, quirky and adorable, all at the same time. I have no idea why the “My Week With Marilyn” star was carrying a copy of “The Catcher in the Rye,” but that detail in combination with this ensemble has inspired a new female archetype: The Literary, Professional Pixie Dream Girl.

Elizabeth Banks


The actress, who will soon be seen in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” wore a classic Spirit look — a soft, floaty dress that transitions nicely from beach to awards ceremony podium.

Zoe Saldana

(Jen Chaney via Instagram)

I took this photo via Instagram so it doesn’t provide quite as much detail as it deserves. But trust me when I say that Saldana’s mini dress — which was beaded and shimmery and appeared to have the texture of a luxurious duvet cover — was gorgeous.

Janet McTeer


At more than 6 feet tall, McTeer is a striking figure no matter what she’s wearing. But this off-the-shoulder navy dress made the “Albert Nobbs” star look perfectly elegant. She also wins points for confessing that she loves “Downton Abbey.” “When they do the remake, in however many years time, I want to play [the] Maggie Smith [part],” she told me on the purple carpet. At the moment, McTeer’s fashion choices don’t quite scream Lady Grantham. Which, much as we love the Dowager Countess, is indeed a compliment.

Rachael Harris

(Joel Ryan/AP)

After playing Ed Helms’s meanie fiance in “The Hangover” and a dowdy Texas housewife in “Natural Selection,” for which she was nominated for a Spirit Award, Harris glammed herself up for her carpet-walking moment. The photo only does partial justice to how crisp and pretty she looked.

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