Zoë Worth is good at improvisation, in every sense of the word: She’s performed with the Groundlings and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in both New York and Los Angeles, and is one of the founders of The Collectin, an L.A.-based group that creates actor-driven and utterly charming movies and plays. In Shut Up And Drive , Zoë Worth also proves she can get red carpet ready on a budget. She can even rig up a makeshift garment rack in a pinch, with no qualms about hanging her dresses from a chandelier so she can get at them with a handheld steamer, even one of those dresses is her outfit for the premiere of her movie at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.
Worth is one of the leading ladies in Shut Up And Drive , which she describes as a “a really small, micro-budget feature” about two women, Laura (played by Worth) and Jane (Sarah Sutherland), who forge an unlikely friendship while on an equally unlikely road trip to New Orleans. She also produced the movie, and was “so beyond excited and thrilled,” to hear the movie was selected, “but surprised to be in such an amazing festival as Tribeca," she tells me before the last screening of the film on Saturday, at her friend's apartment where she stayed during the festival.
The Tribeca Film Festival has become almost as much about fashion as the films themselves. Celebrities like Jennifer Morrison and Zoe Kravitz take to the red carpet in meticulously styled outfits. Even Chanel hosted a Tribeca Film Festival Artists Dinner, drawing a high-powered guest list that included Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls. What’s enchanting about Tribeca is that movies made by established directors and featuring elite casts screen next to independent films with comparatively tiny budgets and unknown actors. It's one thing if you're have a whole team of people to get you ready for your big moment. But who do you turn to for styling help if you’re promoting one of those smaller films? How do you get red carpet ready when you’re on an independent film budget?
To figure out what to wear to her festival debut, Worth took to the Internet for some guidance, but with minimal success. “The pictures that you get when you Google are mostly of movie stars arriving on the red carpet and so they look, not maybe Oscar-worthy, but close to it." And she knew that any attempt to recreate celebrity looks wouldn’t work out well. "The advice that I’ve gotten from filmmaker friends of mine was never go too far overboard in that direction because it’ll make you feel uncomfortable and it sort of blows up the spot in a weird way,” she says. “I sort of figured I would try to find, borrow or buy, pieces that were formal enough to make the statement that I’m proud to be here and this is a big deal, but not too ball gown-y, princess kind vibe.”
Worth's outfit for the movie’s premiere is emblematic of her take on red carpet fashion on a budget. The dress is from Theory, borrowed from her aunt Missy. "I think borrowing is a really good trick. The stars can borrow from their favorite brands, but I can borrow from my aunt.” Worth was on a hunt for shoes until the day she left for New York City, the heels she ended up wearing were a pair she purchased during her freshman year at New York University. She had them, “re-dyed and soled and totally resurrected… which was awesome.”
The premiere was the only time Worth had her hair and makeup done professionally, by friends of the production GLAMSQUAD, a service she describes as "the Uber of hair and makeup." They showed up at the apartment where Worth was staying while she was steaming her dress as it hung from the chandelier. Unfazed, "They were like, 'OK, so what are you really going for?' And I was like, 'I want to feel confident in my dark glamour.'" Worth's premiere look had a distinctly '90s vibe, inspired in part by Winona Ryder and Helena Bonham Carter, which rings true to her personal style. "I’d describe my style as respectful of the '90s. In touch with my generation."
The premiere is far from the only event to attend at Tribeca. “I think all but one night we had stuff to do," Worth says. In addition to four screenings, each followed by a question and answer session with the audience, Worth attended scores of happy hours and filmmaker events. "I wore a dress each of the screening nights where I was on stage for the Q & A and, as I said, tried to be a little more formal," but was more casual at the filmmaker events, "where I could wear pants or whatever."
Most of the these outfits were picked up near her home in Los Angeles. Worth got the white shift dress at a Steven Alan outlet store in Los Feliz, on deep discount, and the navy blue polka dot dress from the Silverlake-based boutique Bucks & Does. "I wore it with a blazer so it looked a little dressed up, but I wore it to our matinee so it wasn't the fanciest thing in the world. I just loved it.”
Although she planned most of her outfits in advance, Worth wasn't prepared for was the unseasonably cold weather. “I didn’t bring enough jacket options, and it’s actually freezing in New York still.” There are other things she would have done differently, too. She "would have brought more comfortable shoes because I was really focused on how things were going to look and all four of these shoes hurt. All four of my favorite shoes that I brought hurt.” She also thinks she should "invest in some dressier pants. Just for variety." Besides, Worth adds, "I’m not a dress everyday person, but I was on this trip."
When I met up with Worth on the last night of Tribeca, and she admitted to stressing out about what to wear and really craving more variety in her clothes since she was at the bottom of the proverbial barrel. "I’ve been through two weeks of my clothes, and two weeks of my suitcase and that matters," she says. "It’s down to the wire in terms of what’s clean and what’s left and all that, and that’s really stressful.” Especially when she has to look as good on the last day as she did on the first.
But Worth's excitement for the movie is what kept her going, and, in fact, she has drawn fashion inspiration from her character in the film. "[Laura] is actually a much more stylish person than I am," Worth admits. "My character is much more funky and out there and free-spirited... and really performs via clothing" in a way that Worth herself has never explored. After working on this movie though, she's wanted to experiment with style and fashion more. "I think that I had never felt comfortable showing any personality in that kind of external way before, and it was really fun for me."
Figuring out how to put together all these outfits on a limited budget is certainly a good way to start. "I recommend borrowing stuff and going to the shoemaker, for sure," advised Worth, who's proof enough that you don't need a massive budget to look good at a film festival.
Images: Author's Own; Getty