Octavia Spencer in Tadashi Shoji

Posted on January 11, 2013

This may be a rare instance of Tadashi Shoji steering Miss Octavia in the wrong direction.


Octavia Spencer attends the 2013 Critics’ Choice Awards in a custom Tadashi Shoji dress paired with a Judith Leiber clutch, Irene Neuwirth jewelry, and Dana Davis shoes.

It’s a beautiful color on her, but all that gathering right at the midsection is very unflattering. Very surprising, because he’s a master at designing flattering looks for the above-size-6 crowd. Guess everyone has an off day.

Love her hair and earrings, but her face looks curiously underdone.


[Photo Credit: Andrew Evans, Emiley Schweich/PR Photos]

Please review our Community Guidelines before posting a comment. Thank you!

  • Annabelle Archer

    I can’t with that Homecoming hair.

  • decormaven

    I thought this was her evil twin when I caught a glimpse of this event. I’ve never seen her makeup done so poorly, and this dress is definitely a step in the wrong direction. Trusting this was just an off night, and not the start of a downward trend. You’re finer than this, m’dear.

  • Must’ve looked good in person.

  • ChiliP

    I actually really like this look on her. Her midsection looks fine to me, and I like the treatment on the sleeves. I agree that her makeup could have used some oomph.

    • YAELS

       I agree with everything you wrote. It may be the rare time I disagree with TLo. I think the dress is lovely AND flattering.

    • hyperionic

      Yeah strangely I think that gathering is creating a really appealing shape. It’s pretty much the same as the Oscars WERQ but that was full-length . 

      • Kristin McNamara

        I was going to say this exact thing…. isn’t this bunching very similar to the bunching on that ivory gown she got a werq for?! I think it’s the length and the cut of the skirt (not the gathering) that is more unflattering.

    • J. Preposterice

      I actually think the sleeves (though pretty) might be the problem.  Because something looks off about the dress, and at first I thought it was the ruching, but then I thought it was the neckline-sleeve connection business, which disappears her neck and makes her shoulders look a bit wonky.  Pull the hair back and scoop the neckline a bit so she has a neck again, and suddenly she looks much better.  

      The dress itself is giving good shape, but I think it’s a dress for a more pear-shaped lady than Octavia Spencer.

      • e jerry powell

        I think it’s the way the skirt pulls back towards the knees.  Accentuates the size of her butt even more with the gathering pulling to center.

    •  I think her midsection looks fine, but things go a bit awry below the waist. I think the skirt is clinging unflatteringly. Like there is a bit of static or something. I also think her hair is bringing the look down – instead of the focus being her face, shoulders and delectable bust, the first thing you see is her waist.

    • veronkimo

      I totally agree! That does not look unflattering to me! TLO, y’all continue to be crazy!

    • I feel like really it’s the hair messing up with the dress. If she’d gone with a different hair style, the dress would look better.

  • Miss_Led

    I’m not sure that the color of the dress is flattering. She’s looked much better in brighter colors.

  • Love her but I cannot get behind that bunching in the middle at all.

  • nannypoo

    I love the color on her. Way too much hair.

  • Mary229

    I don’t get it because normally Octavia looks incredible in everything she wears from this designer.  Would this have worked better as a full length gown?  I’m just lost. 

    • MaryMitch

      Even a little more length would help this dress. The skirt doesn’t fall well; it’s like static cling is keeping it against her legs.

      •  Yes! I don’t mind the midsection – it’s the CLING that’s bothering me. If it wasn’t stuck to her legs, I’d love it.

    • poggi

      I think it doesn’t work at this length.  I have seen either this or something very similar online in a full lengthg gown and it seems far more flattering. 

  • teensmom99

    Hooray for Harriet Tub-woman (hoping some of the Bitter Kittens saw 30 rock last night) My problem is less the stomach which can work at times to distract from the real reason the stomach is big. Instead the problem is so much going on in the chest area.  As a fellow overly endowed woman, I could see immediately that there is too much going on there. No need to bulk up those babies.  Of course, TLo are totally right re hair/make up.

    • It was Harriet “Tubgirl”—but don’t Google that!

      • teensmom99

        Whoops. What was I thinking.

        • With 30 Rock’s prior usage of “Lemon party” and now “Tubgirl,” I’m expecting they’ll somehow fit in “Goatse” in the last three episodes.

          • Wow, I haven’t heard that one referenced in a while.  Oh the early days of the net…

    • MoHub

       Also, the radiating pleats make her hips look broader.

  • schadenfreudelicious

    while i love that color, it might not be the best choice for Octavia.. the heavy embellishments only serve to make her look top heavy, while the one at her midsection is less than flattering…i love her but this is a misstep for sure…oh and the hair is awful….

  • Sobaika

    I do not think the hair is very flattering, biggest misstep of the entire outfit.

    • SewingSiren

      Me too. Too wiggy.

    • In_Stitches

      The bangs aren’t her friend.

      • kimmeister

        Nor is the cocker spaniel look.

  • Ceur

    I don’t mind the dress at all, but I hate the hair.

  • Funny enough, I like the gathering around the midsection area. It doesn’t look off. And it hides her tummy well. It’s the top portion of the dress that I’m not a fan of. Actually, the top portion of this whole look (hair and makeup included).

    • J. Preposterice

      Right? It’s like, fabulous from the boobs down, but the neckline and shoulders and hair are just all kinds of cray.

  • Beardslee

    for me it’s the way the skirt falls.  I think the midsection would look okay if the skirt wasn’t clinging to her legs like that.

    •  Yes, this. It’s clinging to her thighs and no one wants that. It probably would have looked better as a full length gown. And I find the colour a bit dreary.

  • neofashionista

    she looks old and tired and so does her dress

  • ellabob

    She needs some lip color….

  • StellaZafella

    On the contrary, I feel that the hair is the problem. If the ‘do’ was up and there was some neck and face above the dress, it wouldn’t look like a column with no definition. In the 3/4 shot you can really see that the dress celebrates her curves but the hair and bangs hide her gorgeous face – instead of showcasing it.

  • Judy_S

    I like the dress on her–I find it flattering. I don’t like her hair though–I think it would be better up.

  • pattyw

    I think the hair is the biggest misstep. Picture it pulled back off her face. And the scowl isn’t doing her any favors either. Look at that last pix and the dress suddenly becomes more attractive.

  • OrigamiRose

    I was just perusing your 2012 Golden Globe gallery and came upon Octavia there.  Her dress had similar mid-section gathering, but it was a gown, a much lighter fabric, a more flattering shape and a lovely shade of lavender (though you weren’t crazy about it).  Anyways, you wisely noted in that instance that her smile was “of a lady who knows she looks good.”

    I feel like here, her lack of a smile is indicative of exactly the opposite, and it’s sad.  She’s so pretty but this look just does her in (the hair does not help either).

  • Pants_are_a_must

    THOSE EARRINGS. GIVE ME THEM. I am OBSESSED with labradorite.

    But yeah, this dress is not the best, though the color is gorgeous, on her and in general.

    • dress_up_doll

      I know, right! I’m OBSESSED with labradorite as well! Have been so for years. Love. It. And yes, the color on her is nice, but the dress is not at all flattering of her womanly curves.

  • I still like it – love the color, love the hair. I like a big bang….

  • Maybe with an updo?  With all the sequined lace and hair and whatnot in the ear-to-clavicle region, it’s a bit busy.

  • Pennymac

    Octavia, why are you so depressed? There’s no sparkle at all in her eyes; is that a result of the makeup, the heavy “booms”, or perhaps jet lag?  At any rate, this look? Not so good.

  • (But ZOMG she is so cute.  Look at the smile in the last picture!!)

  • Judy_J

    I kind of get the feeling from some of the photos that she wasn’t feeling the love for this dress, either.


    I can’t believe you are giving those booms and cocker spaniel hair a pass…  and since when is a peep-toe a sandal?  Why can’t stlyists just say SHOE

  • Janet B

    Beautiful earrings.

    This just isn’t her dress (or hair).

  • bertkeeter


  • I think the hair’s the problem. Much too young; she’s someone who looks much better when the hair is severe. She was also hilarious as an “oscar-winning actress” on 30Rock this week!

  • OneRing

    Looks like an oil spill on her shoulders. And something about the gathering of the skirt creates the illusion that I’m seeing her granny panties.  I sort of like the hair although the bang might be a bit heavy; it does close up her face…

  • All these Shoji dresses are starting to look alike to me. How frustrating it must be for Spencer & other fat actresses. Part of her job is to market herself, and one of the best ways an actress can do that is to generate buzz by bringing it on the red carpet. I get a little sad every time I see her in yet another fine-not-fabulous dress. But maybe I am projecting. Maybe she has a wealth of options & just really likes this guy’s boring dresses. 

  • Funny that something that might have gotten kudos for another ladystar gets a “meh” for Octavia. That’s what happens when a ladystar generally hits the ball out of the park every time she steps out the door. This isn’t terrible, but far from the best thing she’s worn.

    I also find it weirdly distracting with all of the signs for “Skinny Girl Cocktails” that are right behind her. 

  • Kimbolina

    I’m just not a fan of these navel vortex dresses.

  • Imasewsure

    Hate the dress, HATE the hair and makeup

  • Tatiana Luján

    I don’t find the gathering at the waist unflattering. What I don’t like is the Zooey Deschanel hair paired with the high neckline. It makes her head look too busy and hides her neck.

  • jw_ny

    Octavia’s Oscar 2012 dress gathered at the midsection…and that was a werq.  Granted that was a long white gown, but the idea of gathering at her midsection has worked well on her before. This one tho, I agree doesn’t work well on her.   I think one of the big problems is the sparkly embellishment right at her tummy…just the spot she probably doesn’t want the eye to go.  Looks like she has major static cling on the underskirt too.  Her hair is way overdone, and those shoes look too sensible.

    • MilaXX

       I think it worked because it was long. I ALSO think this gathering is a tiny bit higher and fighting the elements on the top of the dress.

  • Jacqueline Wessel

    The sleeves are weird. I don’t like the way the are higher close to the body and longer on the outside. Love the earrings.

  • HATE the hair.  Too precious.

  • Brian2234

     Before a man can wake up and find himself famous he has to wake up and find himself.

  • I didn’t think that I’d love the Zooey hair, but I really do.

  • jennsilentcrow

    she looks exhausted.

  • MilaXX

    I think that gathering in the middle was a bit unecessary. I like the dress from the chest up, perhaps if the rest of the dress flowed out into a sort of A-line fit and flare it would have been better. I also wish her hair was pulled back or even up & she needs a stronger lip. She could have done one of those dark winter lip colors if her hair wasn’t all over her face.

  • girliecue

    The dress needs a lower neckline or a longer length. Especially with that hairdo, which I kinda like, there is just too much going on in the neck and shoulder region. Which makes her bared legs too much of a contrast and the overall look is off-proportioned. Wish Miss Octavia wasn’t so adverse to lip color, although it does look like she tried a little lip gloss.

  • I really like the dress. The makeup is underwhelming and I agree about the prom/homecoming hair but the gathering at the midsection doesn’t bother me at all.

  • Qitkat

    This dress is appalling.
    Poor Octavia. She knows it.

  • The dress isn’t the most flattering, but it doesn’t bother me.  The hair, on the other hand.  If she was gonna wear that hair, she should be sporting white go-go boots, a sapphire blue space dress, and spider lashes.  Only then could I get behind that hair.

  • julnyes

    I dislike everything single thing going on in this picture – the hair, the earrings, the dress and those godawful shoes.

    She and Tadashi Shoji can do so much better than this.

  • oatmealpie

    She was hilarious on last night’s 30 Rock! She out-crayed Tracy.

  • Calinda_L

    Love her hair! The last picture of her is fantastic — her makeup needs to be more dramatic, but this is one of the best face/smiles she’s ever given.

  • Those earrings!!

  • Kenisha Hill Phillips

    I’d like to have a day highlighting designers who make pieces for plus size fashion, if possible. There’s probably not enough footage.

    Anyway, I’m willing to count this as an off day. She’s so lovely.

  • She looks like she just woke up and stumbled in from an afternoon nap. Weird.

  • This gives her a very Venus de Willendorf look. Not good.

  • I can see her underwear

  • i think it may be more an undergarment issue.

  • Warmheartedgirl Seattle

    Hate the hair!  Makeup is good, though.  This dress – color is beautiful and I do like the gathering, which draws in her waist.  If the skirt were more of an a-line or even fuller than that, I think it would definitely be better proportion-wise.  The way it pulls in at her knees just draws attention to her hips, which I assume was not the idea they were going for.  (It is Friday – I can’t construct a decent sentence to save my life!)

  • Louise Bryan

    I’m not as impressed with the color; I think it makes her look drab.  She needed a little more color in the face, and the shape of that dress, which looks similar to her WERQ dress by TS, just makes her look very hippy.  Maybe it’s the shorter hem, or the chiffon fluffiness.

  • Lisa M. (ReVoir) Kramp

     The underdress is caught in her thighs, and there is no return when that happens. Louise is right; the color does nothing for her eyes or skin. I’m an 80’s girl and very glad big earrings are back but with the hair and all the appliques, there’s too much going on around her face and it makes her look faded and tired.

  • thecitysleeps

    Hate the shoes.  And the gathering on the stomach is every girls like us’ nightmare.

  • demidaemon

    To me, the problem isn’t the midsection, which I actually think is flattering, but instead is that strange applique on the bust. It looks like she has jewel-hands cupping her. Weird. Also, she looks strangely uncomfortable here, like she has an inkling that something is not right.

  • LittleKarnak

    Really? I think the hair is the big problem…..

  • quiltrx

    I have a feeling…maybe this would’ve looked better if it didn’t come in so tightly at the knees?

    And as a very-white lady who works with a lot of style-conscious African American women in the South–I have to say I love her hair.  Sometimes going wiggy/weave-y is okay when it looks so pretty.  It’s a nice style on her!

  • bitchybitchybitchy

    Shoji and Octavia have done better than this, so yes, let’s chalk it up to an off day.

  • ccm800

    LOATHE the hair…esp with the dress. I am not  particularly sold on that gorgeous color ON HER – brings out the yellow tones or something too much. Love her though!  

  • guest2visits

    I think it’s great color and would have worked so much better as a full length gown; it appears too top heavy and unbalanced here.

  • R. L.

    I take it back.  Tadashi Shoji doesn’t ALWAYS know how to dress the full-figured gal.

  • RocknRollmom

    I think it needs to be gathered up a little higher and then drape from there.  I think she also may need a little more foundation garment.  The color is stunning.  Makeup and hair are not good.  I adore her and Tadashi so it is a one off as far as I am concerned.

  • Love the color – but wonder if maybe this would have worked better with a v-neck – seems like lot of fabric above her chest along with the cut of the sleeves just isn’t working quite right for me.  Also a brighter lip color would have brightened the face.

    But not a bad effort, just not one of her best.

  • barbarienne

    What’s underdone about her face in most of these shots is a smile. That last pic she looks a zillion times better–her smile even improves the way the dress fits her. (Okay, not literally. But everyone looks better when they look happy. I don’t expect stars to be smiley all the time, but on a red carpet I consider it part of their job to at least pretend that they want to be there.)

  • Northern_Light_27

    Don’t like the hair, agree with someone else’s comment that the dress’s length makes for an unfortunate clinging-to-thighs, but what I really can’t with are the sleeves. That particular kind of cap sleeve is, IMO, hard for a big woman to wear. If you’ve got hamhock arms (and I have ’em too), they practically point a neon flashing arrow to them. 

  • lilazander

    I  think she looks awesome! I like the fact she is showing some fine piece of leg; well, calf, there.

  • shelley514

    Not a good look for Octavia at all.  First off, pretty much any color will work on her luminescent brown skin tone.  But major colors (oranges, reds, vibrant hues of green or blue) or white work best. Second, her eyes are her best feature.  They are huge, saucer like, deep and dark.  Why hide them behind ridiculously silly bangs.  Major faux paux.  Major.  She’s clearly uncomfortable in this look and I see why.

  • libraangel

    If only the front had been at the back, if you know what I mean!