Carey Mulligan first gave us An Education in effortless elegance in 2009, when she was cast as Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig’s leading lady. Since then, she’s illuminated screens worldwide in such movies as Never Let Me Go, Shame, and The Great Gatsby. Oft compared by critics to Audrey Hepburn for her on-screen sophistication, Mulligan similarly echoes the Fair Lady in her red-carpet wardrobe. The 28-year-old favors tea-length dresses, black sheaths, and streamlined silhouettes.
Blonde, bodacious, and bubbly, Blake Lively is the kind of actress beloved by men and women alike. Lately, the self-proclaimed “foodie and cook” has been shirking the spotlight as she settles into newly married life with actor Ryan Reynolds. Still, when the 25-year-old does emerge from their shared Bedford, New York, home, she slips right back into sartorial standbys. Lively, who famously forgoes a formal stylist, regularly appears in statuesque silhouettes, printed pants, and dramatic dresses.
Like so many child actors, Emma Watson felt compelled to rebel in her 20s. That meant tattoos and tabloid coverage for a few of her rudderless peers, but for the Harry Potter alum, it meant chopping of her hair, enrolling at an Ivy League university, and landing a leading role in 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Watson is equally experimental on the red carpet, where she stuns in structured mini-dresses, edgy separates, and elegant gowns.
Jennifer Lawrence could charm audiences while wearing a plastic bag. Fortunately, the 22-year-old has yet to resort to such extremes, instead wearing waist-defining dresses, strapless gowns, and Christian Dior Couture, where she serves as a spokesmodel.
As Marnie Michaels on HBO’s Girls, Allison Williams has committed her fair share of wardrobe wrongs. To wit: she once wore a plastic dress to impress quasi-boyfriend Booth Jonathan. Outside of Lena Dunham’s carefully constructed universe, however, the Yale alum opts for more tasteful garb like pencil skirts and form-fitting frocks from all-American designers like Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and Joseph Altuzarra.
Genetically blessed actress Camilla Belle was raised in Los Angeles and made her professional debut at nine months. She’s been in front of the camera ever since. Fashion is similarly second nature. Belle, whose mother is a Brazilian fashion designer, experiments with high-drama dresses, metallic gowns, and eye-popping accessories.
Olivia Wilde claims that she’s wanted to be an actress since age two. Twenty-seven years later, we’d say she’s successfully realized her once infantile aspiration. Of course, Wilde’s wardrobe has matured as well. Lately, the actress turns heads in geometric prints, leather accents, and decidedly grown-up gowns.
Not every budding actress could hold her own alongside Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, and a slew of male strippers. Luckily for Magic Mike director Steven Soderbergh, Cody Horn was up to the task. Whether she returns for Magic Mike’s much-buzzed-about sequel or not, we’re confident we’ll being seeing much, much more of the 25-year-old—both on-screen and on the red carpet. Here, Horn sparkled in Michael Kors at the 2013 C.F.D.A. awards.
Frieda Pinto joined the likes of Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow, and Naomi Watts when Woody Allen handpicked her for a role in 2011’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. But the Indian-born actress hasn’t charmed Allen alone. Since making her splashy debut alongside Dev Patel in 2008’sSlumdog Millionaire, Pinto has shared screen time with such Hollywood heavyweights as Henry Cavill, James Franco, and Anthony Hopkins. The face of L’Oreal favors jewel-tone gowns, men’s-wear-inspired outfits, and sky-high heels.
With her sisters now fully committed in their fashion careers, Elizabeth Olsen has stepped into the void. The younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley first nabbed small roles in her siblings’ straight-to-video series. But the days of riding their coattails are long gone. Lately, the 24-year-old has impressed critics and audiences alike in Martha Marcy May Marleneand Silent House. As for when the rising star is looking to spruce up her wardrobe? She knows just who to call. In an interview with Grazia, Olsen admitted that most of her clothes come courtesy of her sisters. “If I’m not wearing The Row, then it’s something that I saw in their closet,” she admitted. “They have extensive, beautiful wardrobes.”
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Dressing well should be easy for the on-screen ingénue. After all, she's beautiful, talented, and resolutely wrinkle-free. Still, despite her youthful advantages, today's "It girl" remains sadly susceptible to style slip-ups. Innocent of any and all sartorial sins, however, are a number of notable 20-somethings. With these 10 on the rise, the future suddenly looks bright.