Lupita Nyong’o in Elie Saab at the Palm Springs International Film Festival

Posted on January 06, 2014

We got some flack for not including any Lupita looks on our year-end “Best of the Red Carpet” posts, and for that we did feel just a tiny bit guilty. But we stand by our reasons why we didn’t include her and this ensemble provides a very good illustration of them.

Lupita Nyong’o attends the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala in an Elie Saab couture ensemble paired with Christian Louboutin strappy sandals and Cartier jewelry.

Elie Saab Fall 2013 Couture Collection

She’s stunning. She really is. But the fact that she’s so beautiful, plus the fact that she has a highly talented makeup artist who never lets her leave the house with anything but a flawless face tends to blind one to the faults of the outfits she chooses to wear. And the fact that she’s somewhat adventurous and attention-seeking in her fashion also tends to allow one to overlook certain issues.

The dress is fabulously gorgeous and looks spectacular on her. The coat, however, is almost disastrously bad on her. It’s way too … “First Lady,” if we’re being nice, “Queen of England,” if we want to be a bit bitchier about it. It has an elderly socialite vibe to it that even she can’t overcome. And we have to say it: She has a tendency to pick matchy, yet somehow focus-pulling shoes that aren’t very flattering. She’s well on her way to becoming a style icon just for putting the work in and looking good so consistently, but to our eyes, she’s not quite there yet on the detailing.






[Photo Credit: KM/FAMEFLYNET PICTURES, Andrew Evans/, Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images,]

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  • Sarah

    Yup, get rid of the coat and shoes, and this is a win. With them, she is My Nana: fancy dress.

    • xay

      My first thoughts about the first picture – she is stunning, but why is she wearing my grandma’s Easter dress?

  • Sara Hottman

    She tends to choose gross bridesmaid shoes, but damn is she beautiful.

  • Glam Dixie

    That color looks gorgeous on her, but aside from that, I just really hate this. All of it, and that coat is hideous, on her, or on anyone.

  • ChaCha_70

    Bitch please…girl is divine.

  • Courtenay P

    her makeup game is on point, as always. beautiful shade of lipstick for her.

    • If this were mainly a hair & makeup blog, I think she’d have to be top five at least. But clothes-wise? I tend to agree: some refinement is still needed. She’s talented and gorgeous, so let’s hope the movie industry can find enough for her to do that she has enough time to develop her red-carpet skills into what we all know they could be.

  • @Biting Panda

    Lupita Nyong is The Mother of the Bride.

  • ballerinawithagun

    This is not her color. I see emerald green and peacock blue together. She is stunning!

  • nannypoo

    She’s beautiful but wow is this ever a bad outfit. I love the way she poses for pictures – she looks genuine.

  • Introspective

    gorgeous despite the fact that old lady satin and lace has vomited all over her lovely figure.

    still irrationally luv huh. so there’s that.

    • AnneElliot

      Two new fashion diseases today: the old-lady-satin-and-lace vomit on Lupita and the creeping-pink-breast-fungus on Sandra Bullock. I can’t decide which I’d dread more.

  • Dreadful shoes. Stunning dress, if you are Jacki Kennedy, so maybe pack it off to Shelly O?

  • israel8491

    I winced at the coat, but the dress is stunning. I’m going to disagree with you on the shoes, though. They’re like minimalist ballet shoes and I love them.

  • KinoEye

    No kidding about her makeup artist. Sometimes I wish I knew the names of these people behind the scenes — stylists, hair & makeup, etc. Some of them are artists with a capital A, and most of them aren’t really recognized for it.

    • MilaXX

      Oh wait, I know this. Ted Gibson of What Not to Wear fame maintains her hair and Nick Barose does her makeup most of the time. Ted is coming out with a makeup line and she is often wearing one of the lipsticks or glosses from his new line.

      • KinoEye

        You learn something new every day! Thanks for that. Misters Barose and Gibson are men of intimidating talents.

        • MilaXX

          I think he’s currently the most expensive haircut guy.

      • decormaven

        Filing Nick Barose’s name in the need-to-know file. She looks flawless! Kudos.

      • Introspective

        OMG i loved Ted on WNTW!! thanks for these tidbits milaxx. Im definitely looking out for his line, product junkie that I am…

  • mmebam

    Should’ve gone for matching the gold instead of the coral. Otherwise, she looks fresh and divine.

    All of this is coat notwithstanding, of course.

  • Imasewsure

    I guess for the next year or so we should agree to show her only from the ankles up to avoid those gawd awful footwear choices… oh and we should agree to ignore this hideous Nana of the Bride coat as well

  • ashtangajunkie

    Spectacular face, but I wore those shoes to my grade nine graduation dance.

  • NYCGlamourpuss

    Okay… you were right, TLo. She truly can rock anything, no matter how “mumsy” it may be.

  • filmcricket

    The pink looks surprisingly good on her, but yeah, this is not her best outfit. The shoes are beyond hiddy. She attended this with her brother, who is as blindingly beautiful as she is. Sigh.

    • KinoEye

      You mean there’s a male Nyong’o, too?! *hurries to google image search* Wow. That family is gifted with the most luscious skin, in addition to everything else.

  • Lilithcat

    Gorgeous dress, but the coat is too much and the shoes are too shiny. Also, cut a couple of inches off that hem, please?

  • RussellH88

    With the coat it’s like a drag queen’s interpretation of Queen Elizabeth.

    • AnneElliot

      I wondered whether Dame Helen could rock this, speaking of QEII.

  • Nika E

    Gawd I hate those shoes. How 90s are those shoes? Ugh… that coat is doing her no favors either but the shoes are the WORST.They are making her feet look swollen. I cant handle it.

  • kimmeister

    So . . . is the top half of that dress sheer and unlined? I think she needs to stay away from pastel shoes, she always picks them and they always look weird on her.

  • rhymeswithorange

    Can’t wait to see what she wears for the Oscars!!

  • MilaXX

    I don’t mind the coat. The dress looks better without it, but I don’t hate it. However, I do agree with you on her shoe choices. They are often distracting.

  • marlie

    I love the dress. LOVE. I even like the coat – on the runway. maybe it’s a little overwhelming on Miss Lupita. But those SHOES. Straight up, dyed-to-match bridesmaid crap.

  • decormaven

    I’m going to pretend I never saw the shot with the matchy-matchy coat. Her MUA is top-notch for sure.

  • Danielle

    BRB starting a petition to get her to wear this lip color 24/7

  • A Shiny O’Connor

    I can hear the Duchess screaming MOB.

  • Trickytrisha

    So much that is lovely about this young woman, but damn… she needs a shoe intervention in the worst way. They are by far the weakest part of her fashion choices.

  • crash1212

    That coat & dress is strictly MOB. Those shoes are spectacularly ugly and don’t flatter her feet in the slightest way. She is stunningly gorgeous, but she can do WAY better than this.

  • bitchybitchybitchy

    The coat is definitely matronly; without it the dress is fine. Our Ms. N’yongo will have other chances to make a more impressive mark on the RC.

  • SugarSnap108

    I liked the dress for a couple seconds, but I realized it was only because I was so relieved the coat was gone. Shoes are awful. But good lord, her face is flawless.

  • Josefina Madariaga Suárez

    Actually, all I can think when I see her is “God, she’s beautiful”, so I can’t even recall any of her dresses because she outshines every outfit she wears.

  • Tracy_Flick

    The coat takes it straight to grandma on Easter at church. The shoes are about as unflattering as I’ve seen (the pedi matching the lining makes her toes disappear). The dress and her face are stunning.

  • rondele

    On the model the coat is just about the same length as the dress, and it fits the model better. On Lupita it just hangs there, almost as an afterthought. When I first saw it I wondered if it went with another dress. But I do like the color on her. The shoes are a weird color. Makeup and face are perfect.

  • Veronica1022

    She should pack that dress up and send it to Diahann Carroll, since its too aging on her.

  • I’m going to have to review her R/C efforts, but in my head this is her first real clunker.

  • lunchcoma

    I can sign on with that. The coat is terrible, and she’s flubbed some details before. But I think we’ll see improvement from her – there’s some real talent behind her choices.

  • pookiesmom

    I don’t know. I mean, this dress is clearly not her best effort. But come on, Jennifer Lawrence (while beautiful) is hardly a style icon and she was featured multiple times. Still love you guys, but I definitely think Lupita deserved to be on the best dressed list. Also, since when was makeup not a significant factor in who made it to the list? Just because Lupita’s face is consistently flawless doesn’t mean it shouldn’t count towards her overall style-points. Lupita gave me more life in her red carpet appearances than most other women combined. In any case, I look forward to seeing her style evolution in 2014. I do so hope she gets more film work so we have lots more excuses to ogle her on the RC.

    Wow, didn’t realize I felt so passionately about this! 🙂

    • prettyinmink

      I’ve lurked on this site for years and never created an account. But I registered and created my first post just to say I agree with you 100%! No matter what she wears, Lupita elevates it to a new level. And more importantly, she is NEVER boring!

    • You’re missing the point, apparently. Her makeup wasn’t a factor for or against her appearance on the list so much as it was something that we realized was blinding us to the flaws in her dressing. The outfit above is very typical for her. I would not put it or anything else she wore in the past year on a “Best” list. Too many quibbles. She’s not there yet. J Law, when she’s on her game, is a red carpet princess.

      • pookiesmom

        Fair enough. I mean, it’s all subjective anyway, right? I thought that her yellow J Mendel was flawless but I’m not sure what I would’ve booted to include it. I don’t make a living nitpicking fashion choices, so I’m going off of general impact more than you guys. Based on general impact, she’s best dressed of the year for me, hands down…and probably wore the only looks of the year that I will actually remember in the months to come (aside *maybe* from J Law’s Oscar dress). Whether that’s because she wears high-impact clothes (what I refer to as “the Mui Mui unicorn dress” will forever live in my memory, bad shoes or no) or because she’s just unspeakably gorgeous, I don’t know.

  • lillyvonschtupp

    The coat would look great if it was cropped. It would give off kind of a JackieO vibe.

  • guest2visits

    She’s stunningly beautiful; I would not be so bothered by the coat but those shoes are way too older lady Sunday sandals. Brings the look down, down.

  • Miranda

    The coat and shoes hurt my feelings. The dress looks great on her though.

  • Sunraya

    On her worst day, though, she looks better than most actresses on the red carpet. Yes, she has a few things to quibble about, but when I think of how many people put Jessica Chastain’s bronze-y gown that disappeared on her body on the best of the year, I wept.

  • formerlyAnon

    The coat is dowdy on the model. Ergo . . .

  • Candice Booth

    It is seriously her blinding beauty. I am stunned by it.

  • macwell

    Before reading T&M’s words, I thought Lupita was going for that ‘granny’ trend; but I also thought that having a head to (literal) toe granny look would make anyone look like a granny. If her coat and shoe game were more on point, this would be a total win. Her face is just stunning.

  • demidaemon

    With the coat, this look is eye-searingly hideous. Without it, it becomes spectacular. especially with her near flawless skin. If she had only left the coat at home…

  • “And the fact that she’s somewhat adventurous and attention-seeking in
    her fashion also tends to allow one to overlook certain issues.”

    I don’t know, that one argument almost makes it sound like you’re hoilding her risk-taking against her, which seems very unlike you guys…

    I’d also argue that red carpet appearances are all about over-all impact, and this girl made one hell of an impact last year.

    Anyway, I agree that the coat is a little dowdy, and the shoes here aren’t all that, either.

  • SewingSiren

    Loves the dress. Okay with the coat. Dislikes the shoes. Also on board with young fresh stars wearing ” oldish” fashion when they elevate it to cool. Which I think she does.

  • MoHub

    The whole thing needs to be about 3 inches shorter.

  • RuthGo

    I’m just disappointed you didn’t include a shot of her with her absolutely adorable brother.

  • Lilyana_F

    Seriously, her make-up person is a master. I mean not that she needs all that much make-up, she’s stunning, but it accentuates that in the best possible way.

  • murt

    Love the dress, don’t mind the coat, hate the shoes.

  • Lisa Dugan

    I have always loved her makeup but it is at it’s best here. Her face is ethereal, and sweet, and really just gorgeous.

  • Ten Ten

    Chocolate. That’s all I see. So beautiful.