2012 Oscar Red Carpet: Belle's Worst Dressed

Feb 27, 2012

Sometimes, I watch the Oscar Red Carpet and think to myself, “Does she not own a mirror? Did she think that looked good?  No.One.Stopped.Her?!?!?”

The biggest comedy of the year was Bridesmaids.  This step forward for female comedians and actresses was nearly ruined last night when two of the movies stars decided to show up on the red carpet in rejected bridesmaid’s dresses from the Goodwill.

Wendi McLendon Covey in I Could Not Care Less

This photo actually makes this dress look okay, which is the amazing power of photography.  On TV, this dress looked like a frilly, pink, sequined prom dress.  

This dress and hairstyle combination would be suitable for a Midwestern bat mitzvah, but is far too young for a woman over the age of 40.

Melissa McCarthy in Marina Rinaldi

It pains me to put Melissa McCarthy on this list, but this dress was truly awful.  The color washed her out.  The style was not the least big flattering, mostly because the neckline is so awful.  And McCarthy could have worn a paper bag and her fabulous Brian Atwood pumps and looked better.

Kristin Wiig in J. Mendel

While we’re criticizing the cast of Bridesmaids, let’s finish out the trifecta with Kristin Wiig in flesh-toned dress number 1,287.  Seriously, there are other colors on the color wheel, Kristin, and any one of them would look better on you than this dried urine shade you seem so fond of wearing.

Also, if I could climb up on my soapbox for a moment, I loathe when vegetarian and vegan celebrities wear dresses by J. Mendel.  They won’t eat meat because it’s wrong, but they’re happy to enrich a man who makes his living killing and skinning animals for their fur?  Yeah, that makes sense.

Stacy Keibler in Marchesa

Is it just me or are Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig just phoning it in lately?  I can’t remember the last time that I saw a Marchesa dress that I loved, or even liked.  And this metallic lame monstrosity, complete with hip rosette continues that less than auspicious tradition.

Plus, Keibler’s look evokes my biggest formal attire pet peeve, when the dress, skin and hair are all the same color value.  It looks bad on everyone.

Just two more award seasons until Keibler’s contract with Clooney is up and we get a new day player.  Hopefully, one with a sense of style.

Viola Davis in Vera Wang

I love me some Viola Davis, but this dress was a schizophrenic silk stew of wrong.  

The breasts were too prominent, and the sequin bodice is nothing but a distraction.  Also, the skirt is having an identity crisis.  Is it pleated?  Is it ruffled?  Is it a mermaid?  Can it be all three?  Only if it stops taking it’s lithium.

Also, I love Viola’s fabulous short wig, so why she abandoned that to show off an oddly hued “natural” do is beyond me.  She was going for a cultural “statement,” which I applaud, but not in that particular shade of rust.  Hair doesn’t come in rust, and the dye makes her look like she lost her eyebrows in a tragic accident.

Editrix Note: I’m catching hell in the comments for saying Davis’ hair is a statement.  But Davis herself is the one who said “natural” hair is a “statement.”  I was just paraphrasing her own comments.  Natural was in quotes because I could think of a better adjective, so I quoted Davis.

Also, I criticized the color, not the style.  Criticizing an unnatural rust shade on an African American actress is really no different than criticizing Kelly Osbourne’s purple hair or Cameron Diaz’s overly bleached tresses.

Lastly, to the commenter who said that this is Viola’s natural color, I don’t think it is.  Click on the link above and you’ll see that the hair is much darker looking.  But there is always a chance it’s bad lighting/camera trickery.

Jennifer Lopez in Zuhair Murad

If this dress didn’t have sleeves, it would be massively improved, but the sheer stripes, the unflattering shape and the high fashion-blogger bun are all terrible.  And worst of all, on TV, the sheer mesh covering the arm openings (?) made it look like Lopez had a terminal case of arm cellulite.

It’s been awhile since Jenny from the Block has had a red carpet hit, and frankly, the 10-year-old in the background of this photo looks better in stripes than she does.  But this look, even with all it’s jaw dropping awfulness, is still not the worst look to walk down the red carpet last night…

Nancy O’Dell in Chagoury Couture

This dress should come with a barf bag.  Or sunglasses.  Or both.  Definitely both.

I don’t even know what to say about the dress itself except that the highlighter yellow and black sequin palette is disgusting.  The fit of the bodice was nice, but the dress made O’Dell’s rear end look huge.  And the dress is about six inches too long.  Why tailor your gown when you can let it puddle like brocade curtains?

Seriously, if your TV show is willing to procure any gown you can find, why would you choose this one?  I hope she got paid a lot to wear it.

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  1. Belle says:

    Elle: As I already explained it's in quotes because that's how she, InStyle, E! and about 1,000 other news outlets described it. It's a quote. I didn't know how to describe it myself, so I used the same word everyone else used and put it in quotes. https://www.google.com/search?q=viola+davis+oscar+hair&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

    And yes, I do love that short wig of hers, it looks damn good on her. This hairstyle looked good on her too, before she dyed it an unnatural rust color, hence the use of the phrase “oddly hued.” The color didn't work, and it caused the whole look to be thrown off. Without the color, the hair would have been fine and the dress still would have been a mess.

  2. Elyse A. says:

    That “rust color” could be her natural hair color. There is pretty large range of natural hair color among African Americans (for example, in the Help, Constantine's daughter was born blonde and passed as white). I don't find this particular “rust” color to look unnatural. Red heads look good in green so the hair color makes sense given the dress. Though, it does look like she does not have eyebrows which is a problem.

    Note: I'm not sure if this is her natural hair color since I've read at least one story where it said she dyed her hair. But, it could be her natural hair color.

  3. LB says:

    SO glad we are in agreement over J. Lo's dress. I was flabbergasted to discover her on almost every best dressed list today! I thought the dress made her look wider than she really is. And I don't care what her stylist says, I definitely spied a hint of a nip slip during her red carpet interview! Not like that's scandalous for J. Lo or anything, but nonetheless.

  4. amy b.s. says:

    i have to totally agree with you on this. i give melissa mccarthy a bit of a pass because she is so fabulous, but definitely think the dress could have been helped at least some if it had been a bolder color.

  5. Meg says:

    Oh, Belle. I wish you would have stayed away from Viola Davis' hair. That is her natural color. And reducing her choice to a “cultural statement” is also unfortunate.

  6. May says:

    Belle, I have to echo Meg, your statement on Viola Davis' hair is really off this time. Why did you put natural in quotation marks? That is what her hair looks like. Why is it a 'cultural statement' to wear your hair the way it comes out of your head?

    I'm now curious if you have an issue with natural hair in professional situations.

  7. EAC says:

    Belle, I'll have to chime in w/ May and Meg. Caucasian women should never, ever criticize an African American woman for choosing to wear their hair in it's naturally curly, kinky or coily state. And our natural hair; the way it grows out of our heads, is not some sort of “cultural statement”.

    @ May, I really don't care what Belle's issues are with natural hair in professional situations. And hopefully Belle will have the good sense to not even go there.

  8. GoGoGO says:

    Previous two commenters—I'd cut Belle some slack. Her hair is pretty red/orange looking there, I'd be real surprised if that's the color it grows in left to its own devices. (If you guys heard otherwise in an interview, let me know of course.) I'll let Belle answer for herself about the workplace, but I doubt that's the direction she was going. In general, I think it should be fair game to be critical of someone's style in spite of the statement it makes, without getting it being an attack on the statement itself.

    That said–OK, I also totally wanted to jump in and defend Davis's look!

    I'm with you Belle on the dress being cut pretty weird, but her look was one of my favorites all night in spite of that. I liked the green, I loved the earrings, and I did love the hair. I think she looks ten years younger, and I appreciated her whole look on a couple levels.

    One, I liked it for the same reason that neither of us loved Rooney Mara. Davis has been nominated for two Oscars, both times for playing dignified, long-suffering characters in with stiff 1960s looks. Stepping away from that on the Red Carpet, she looked relaxed and positively liberated. When actors make an effort to dress against type, it can look forced (Jon Hamm with his weird hair gel,) or it can give you a real appreciation for the chameleon-skills involved in their craft. She was the latter for me.

    Two–again without getting too much into the politics of black women's hair, I like that she's kept mixing it up this year. She looked great in a bunch of different styles, including this one, and I think that sends a nice message in itself. It seems to me like fashion is full of so much variety right now, and everyone should get to play. (It reminds me of the new Sesame Street song “I Love My Hair” that came out and circulated this year. Worth looking up on YouTube if you haven't!)

  9. Belle says:


    First off, Viola Davis is the one who said her hairdo was a statement, so I'm not the originator of the phrase she is. https://news.instyle.com/2012/02/24/viola-davis-hair-natural-wig/

    Secondly, natural is in quotes because that is how everyone is describing it, but I didn't really think it looked right. https://www.google.com/search?q=viola+davis+natural+hair&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

    Lastly, my objection is not with the style of the hair, it is with the color. The rust colored hair dye and matching eyebrow color looked bad. It's no different than criticizing Kelly Osbourne's purple hair or Elli Kemper's Dr. Pepper colored hair.

  10. Elle says:

    Belle, the texture of her hair is natural. Please stop putting it in quotes.

    Secondly you did criticize her hair style. You said you loved her wig and you didn't know why she decided to make a statement with “natural hair”.

    As a long term reader, I'm disappointed.

  11. EAC says:

    Belle, none of the articles put the term natural in quotation marks. Perhaps you need to go back and read them. I find it sad that you are so busy defending your right to be wrong, that you absolutely refuse to consider that your comments may be construed by many to be culturally/racially insensitive. But hey, it's your blog. Just don't get defensive when people call you out.

  12. R says:

    Critical of color and texture are 2 different things, aren't they? You can change color but not texture (although honestly, as a white woman, I'm not sure if changing Viola's hair color is as easy as my dirty blonde/brown).

  13. Belle says:

    EAC: No, the word natural isn't in quotes in the article. I'm quoting the article.

    If you wrote on your website black nail polish is so dated. On my website it would be “Black nail polish is so dated.”

    I can't believe I'm being criticized for using quotation marks around words quoted from other sources. What other purpose would they serve?

  14. Belle says:

    The funny, ironic part of all of this is that the words ended up in quotes because I didn't know what adjective to use. The hair wasn't really wavy or curly or twisted. So I googled how others were describing it and I saw the article where InStyle described it as “natural” and Viola Davis described it as a “statement.” Thus, the quotes.

    So by trying not to offend anyone, I ended up offending a lot of you.

    Also, I'm not going to directly respond to any more comments on this post. I've said my peace, I have nothing to add to it. If you want to leave your thoughts or continue the discussion amongst yourselves, feel free.

  15. Camille says:

    Clearly Belle wasn't saying that she doesn't like the natural texture of African American women's hair. So tired of her having to walk on eggshells to ensure remaining politically correct and not anger a few sensitive readers. I agree with Belle – just like Cameron Diaz's bleached hair looks bad, so does this weird orange color on Viola Davis, especially on her brows. Regardless of any cultural statement that she may or may not have been trying to make, she looked bad last night.

  16. Asha says:

    Longtime lurker, first time commenter. As a biracial woman, I was upset with Belle until I read her explanation, and her other explanation, and her clarification, and her replies, and her footnote. She was trying to choose her words carefully so she quoted an article. I'm over it.

    P.S. The orange hair was weird.

  17. Sam says:

    Hi there Belle,

    Long-time lurker. Love this blog.

    My $0.02 re. your comments on Viola Davis' hair: I have no issues asside from your quotation marks around the word natural.

    To seperate out that word with a quote reads like you doubt the hairstyle is, indeed, natural… or that you disagree with the use of the word… or that you disapprove of both the style and the word choice to discribe the style.

    You probably don't think any of those things, but a lot of people do, sadly.

    The problem is that there's a lot of class politics and sensitivity around natural African hair, which, for most of the past century, was derided by mainstream culture as “nappy”.

    I think if you'd quoted a full phrase — e.g. Viola said she “wanted to wear natural hair as a statement” — it probably wouldn't have raised red flags.

  18. Belle says:

    Sam: That's fair. Obviously, I don't believe that. But I didn't know what other word to use, so I thought I was being “smart” taking it as a quote. Turns out, I was wrong about that.

  19. TJ says:

    Wow. This is what happens when blogging goes totally wrong.

    I've read this blog for a long time. I've never commented. I am very disappointed that Belle took the time to even TRY to comment, criticize, or critique a Black woman's hair. Why she would think that she could do it in a non-offensive way is beyond me? With or without quotation marks that comment was unwarranted and ignorant. Why would you think she was trying to make a cultural statement or a “cultural statement”-however way you want to quote, underline, italicize….that was downright ignorant.

    You clearly have no idea about the historically different, culturally variances between Black women's hair and women of other ethnic groups. The United States and European countries have graves full of White women who commented on Black women's hair styles, femininity, bodies, and looks. Who knew there were some White women today still thinking self-righteously that they have the cultural competency to do so. If you were trying NOT to offend anyone, you should have kept your limited views and ideas on Black women to yourself. Ignorance shouldn't be an excuse to say what you want.

    Furthermore whatever Black friend you have (because I'm sure you have one) is failing you. You should stick to putting outfit ideas together and answering comments from the privileged class since you are not a beauty/hair blogger.

    That was seriously, grossly pathetic.

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