But for those who dared to make more unconventional choices, it paid off.
Charlize Theron embodied the stuff of which Hollywood fairy tales are made. Her blush-colored chiffon Dior couture gown, with an oversized bow at the waist and thigh-high slit, was so striking it made one wonder if the French fashion house needs to bother finding a new creative director to replace the fired John Galliano after all, or just keep going with its in-house design team, which did a stellar job in this case. Theron made another inspired choice in her 1920s Cartier hair band, which, along with Michelle Williams' Fred Leighton hair band, is sure to spark a major new trend.
Claire Danes and Kate Winslet picked up on the black-and-white trend that is in fashion at this moment. Danes' graphic J. Mendel gown was a more modern iteration, while Winslet's Jenny Packham gown with a black hammered silk top, white column skirt and jeweled grosgrain belt, was old Hollywood at its best.
Sarah Michelle Gellar's blue-and-white ink splotch Monique Lhuillier ball gown, which she said her 2-year-old had a hand in picking out, was another unconventional choice that paid off. Rooney Mara's racy black Peter Copping for Nina Ricci gown, with lattice-like straps at the bodice, didn't disappoint either. If Lisbeth Salander had to go to the Golden Globes, this is what she would wear.
Like black, red is also a perennial red carpet fashion choice. Reese Witherspoon's fishtail hem Zac Posen gown was a snore, and Dianna Agron's gown covered in swan cutouts — as cool as it was — overwhelmed her. But Emma Stone showed red done right, with her maroon and fuchsia pleated Lanvin gown with jeweled eagle belt buckle. She looked like a fashion superhero. Lanvin had a big night on the red carpet, dressing Natalie Portman too.
Of course, placement of clothing and jewelry on the red carpet is big business for brands. When Uma Thurman wore that glorious lilac chiffon Prada gown to the Oscars in 1995, it put the Italian design house on the international fashion map and ushered in the modern era of celebrity dressing. It was nice to see Prada back on the red carpet at the Globes, dressing Zooey Deschanel in a green silk gown with an open back and pearl embroidered top. It was a quirky dress, but she's a quirky girl.
And speaking of product placement, it was the first time I had ever heard someone plug hair care on the red carpet. Nicole Richie name-dropped Suave Professionals products, along with designer Julien MacDonald, who made her silvery gown, and her own line, House of Harlow, which made her bag. Suave immediately started trending on Twitter. And the untidy ponytail — it was the hairstyle of the night — looked great on her.