Why you should never stop experimenting

00:31, Jan 20 2014
Meryl Streep
MERYL STREEP: Casual but classy on the carpet.

This picture shows Meryl Streep on the red carpet at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, en route to receive the event's ''Icon'' award, in recognition of her contribution to the movie arts, which is nice, but doesn't seem enough of a gong for an actress of such sustained high calibre.

Streep has been nominated for no fewer than 17 Oscars (I know that's not the real name for them, but it's much more fun) and has won three. If she were British, she'd be a dame by now - in fact, I think they should make her one, anyway.

I'd love to be a dame. There's no honour I'd prefer. I'd much rather be a dame than a duchess, because you have to earn it for yourself - you can't just marry it - and the most thrilling mixture of women get given the title. I would also relish having There's Nothing Like a Dame played at my funeral, but I digress.

My own particular favourite Meryl Streep moment is the scene in The Devil Wears Prada when she explains, in one uncut monologue, the entire fashion system to that ungrateful little snot of an assistant played by Anne Hathaway, through the theme of how the nasty petrol blue jumper she's wearing ever came to exist. It's a master class in one speech.

All this is quite ironic because while she plays a fashion godhead in that movie, in real life Ms Streep has never been one of Hollywood's show ponies. It's much more about the craft for her, than the off-screen dress-ups.

(Although I did adore that gold dress she was wearing when she won her best actress Oscar for The Iron Lady in 2012. She looked like the statue as she held it, which was very witty.)


Which is why I like this picture so much. The same red carpet - it's not televised, but is increasingly seen as the first event of the ''awards season'', so it's only a matter of time - featured a wide range of dress codes, from smart day through cocktail to full-on ceremony gowns.

The standout for me was Sandra she-can-do-no-wrong Bullock, looking ravishing in a bright orange and pink afternoon occasion dress by none other than Sydney designer Alex Perry.

But Meryl made me stop and look again, because she'd taken such a radical approach - and is wearing my favourite garment of the moment: a glamour sweatshirt.

Better still, it's by Michael Kors, who has so come into his own since leaving Celine in 2002. He's such a clever designer for making clothes women really want to wear - and for then creating a new line priced so that far more of them can actually buy them. He also seems to be really fun. Next to being made a dame, having cocktails with him is high on my traffic-light daydreaming list.

So, there's Dame Meryl working her Michael Kors Resort sweatshirt with a classic pant and pump combination and looking very at ease in her skin, which fits nicely with what she said in her acceptance speech.

''I don't feel like an icon,'' she said. ''Most of the days I feel like 'I can't'. But I do feel like I'm an example now in my dotage of the fact that you just can't put those old gals out to pasture. We've got a lot of stuff still to say.''

Of course, she's not in her dotage - she's 64, although, considering the industry she's in, that probably makes her equivalent to 97 in any other profession.

So good on her - if Dame Meryl wants to play it down on the red carpet, she has more than earned the right.

With one proviso: her whole outfit would have been propelled into another dimension with better glasses. As you get older, heavier, bolder frames are much more flattering than the lightweight variety, which look wishy-washy and frumpy.

If you're reading this in an actual paper, please pick up your crossword pen and draw some on. Think Elvis Costello, or Buddy Holly. Now, see what I mean?

Sydney Morning Herald