The Two Words Nina Dobrev Uses To Describe Her Red Carpet Style

After years on the award-show circuit, Nina Dobrev has the whole red carpet thing down. Be it the Emmys, the after parties, or even the Met Gala, the actress one-ups herself with every passing appearance. But how would she characterize her step-and-repeat approach? For that, we went straight to the source.

“Reliant…on my stylist,” Dobrev told Refinery29 last weekend, at Reebok’s Classics Crib during Coachella Weekend 2. She was half joking, and half describing, in a somewhat refreshing way, the behind-the-scenes work that goes into crafting a “Best Dressed” look. The actress has been working with Ilaria Urbinati since the 2011 Emmys. Although the stylist has been predominantly recognized for her male clients (which include Riz Ahmed, Rami Malek, Armie Hammer, Tom Hiddleston, and many more of your Internet boyfriends), she’s been Dobrev’s right-hand woman for all things style for almost six years, from red carpets to Coachella. “If you look at earlier photos — pre-Ilaria to post-Ilaria, there’s a big difference,” she said.

We caught up with the former Vampire Diaries and Degrassi star to talk fashion, fitness, and the ever-growing intersection of the two. While odds are you might spot the actress repping the athleisure trend more often than not, Dobrev has cultivated a pretty impressive red carpet record, with credits from Hollywood go-to’s like Zuhair Murad and Elie Saab to industry favorites like Dior and Zac Posen. “It’s constantly evolving,” she noted of her approach to style. “‘Chameleon’ would probably be the way I would describe it. It depends on what event I’m going to and how I’m feeling that week. It changes.”

So, “reliant” and “chameleon” are her two favorite descriptors for her style — but Dobrev teased that she’s working on building that list even more. “I’m switching gears: I’m going to try to be a little edgier and fashion-forward from now on,” she said. “I’ll try — we’ll see if I succeed.” Luckily, the Met Gala is right around the corner, and this year’s theme certainly invites ambitious dressing. In the meantime, let’s look back at some of Dobrev’s (and Urbinati’s) greatest fashion hits from over the years in the slideshow, ahead.

Disclosure: Travel and expenses for the author were provided by Reebok for the purpose of writing this story.

For daytime at Reebok’s Classics Crib during Coachella, Dobrev did athleisure like the best of them: mixing high-low with T by Alexander Wang and Reebok Classics. Once the sun sets, though, the actress and her stylist pivot in a totally different direction — hence the “chameleon” effect.

Photo: Courtesy of Reebok.

Who doesn’t love a good power suit? Especially when it’s pastel-pink Armani.

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images.

Dobrev serves some Angelina Leg in some star-studded Elie Saab, a favorite designer of hers.

Photo: JB Lacroix/WireImage.

Saab strikes again!

Photo: Carlos Tischler/REX/Shutterstock.

What do Bella Hadid and Dobrev have in common? A soft spot for Dior tulle, apparently.

Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic.

Dress down a buttoned-up Elie Saab blazer with a La Perla slip à la Dobrev.

Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock.

No one does old-school glamour like Zac Posen — and this straight-neck, scarlet-red gown pretty much epitomizes that.

Photo: Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic.

Could powder blue be the new millennial pink? This David Koma mini is giving us ideas…

Photo: Allen Berezovsky/WireImage.

Not all style heroes wear capes on their gowns — some wear structured Zuhair Murad blazers over the shoulders, in a classic fashion-person move.

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.

Every so often, Dobrev strays from the monochromatic trend in favor of a more animated print — and, sometimes, she just goes all-in on some clashing-pattern Versace.

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.

Strolling past your haters, like: ” Byeee, it’s Pucci!”

Photo: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage.

We’re getting seriously Blair Waldorf vibes from this Michael Kors get-up — that CW love runs deep.

Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock.

Where most actresses will go for sweet, princess-y Zuhair Murad, Dobrev picked out an embellished, corseted two-piece short suit — so, we think she’s pretty well-equipped for the adventurous style belt she’s about to embark on.

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.

This Reem Acra number is proof than even the smallest cutouts can have the biggest impact.

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage.

“Oh, this old thing? It’s Chanel.”

Photo: Unimedia Images/REX/Shutterstock.

Monique Lhuillier may not be synonymous with punk, but Dobrev had us convinced at the “Chaos to Couture” Met Gala from 2013.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.

When at Cannes, do as the exceptionally fancy do — and dip into your collection of Elie Saab, duh.

Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

When you can’t decide if you want all-over sparkle or an LBD, and remember that Jenny Packham can do both.

Photo: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage.

As we’ve already established, everyone should own at least one good ’90s power trouser. Let @nina show you the way.


This was the first look Urbinati ever worked on with Dobrev — and she still calls it “one of my favorite Emmys dresses I ever styled on anyone.” (It’s Donna Karan Atelier.) Seconded!

Photo: Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic.

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.


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