Emmy Awards Fug or Fab: Lena Dunham

This dress was divisive over here at GFY HQ. We worked out our differences the usual way — a thumb war, building Diet Coke cocoons around ourselves until one of us made a wrong move and was buried underneath a pile of cans, punching — and now that we’re concussed and in couples therapy, it’s time to turn it over to you guys.

Jessica liked this more than I did; she said she finds it charming in a ’60s way, she likes that it’s not super-crazy sexpot, and on the whole, she appreciates that it fits Lena Dunham’s persona. I agree with all of those statements, AND we both like her hair, and yet I can’t sign off on this as a whole. Something about it isn’t working for me, and it’s this: Much like with Zoe Saldana, this is making her head look disproportionately tiny in a way that it is not. And from there, the whole thing starts to seem too dominating, and therefore maybe not that flattering, and suddenly the whole enterprise is on a downward spiral and I’m cruising through it like I’m on a coiled water slide trying to get away from the weird dude in the Speedo who was in line after me. So while this could be a home run somewhere, I wish it was doing Lena’s head more favors, because her head deserves them.

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[Photo: Getty]

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Comments (106):

  1. Allie

    She’s beautiful and I get where the dress is going, but the side view was 100% “Is she pregnant?” Which is NOT what you want to look like next to Giuliana Rancic.

  2. Fug de los Muertos

    I guess I wish she was wearing a belt or something? Or maybe no sleeves. I don’t know. A solid effort, though.

  3. maria

    It did not do her bust any favors! But I love the hair!

  4. Meghan

    The waist is sitting too high. If it was a bit lower and she was wearing a belt, I’d be all over this. The hair is adorable, though.

    • Beth

      My thoughts exactly!!

      • witjunkie

        Seriously. Shortening the waist does NO ONE any favors!! I’ve been saying this and cursing in dressing rooms for the last year at least.

    • Beth C.

      Yes. It’s riding the “Third month-ish maternity dress” waistline. If it were two inches lower and belted the overall heaviness of the dress would have been balanced out, methinks.

      • Bonnie Klein

        Agreed, it looks like she is pregnant AND her torso is 14 inches long and her legs are 70 inches long. The lower waist and the belt are a must, and i would also take out a little of the fullness of the skirt. That is heavy material with no drape so it needs to be less poofy.

        • pidget

          Exactly. This, with tea-length or perhaps just at the knee hemming, add some killer shoes, and cuteness! (Perhaps she was trying to avoid Zooey Deschanel-ness?)

          Right now she looks like an angry linebacker. “Just THROW the damn bouquet, will ya?”

  5. maryse

    i like this a lot. maybe a belt might have been good. but i think it’s really cute.

  6. jenny

    She looks great. Dress does not. Somehow the proportions are all wrong. A bit too low for an empire wait but the fullness of the skirt starts much to high. Her hips look like they start at her elbows. Makes her look huge, which is so not the case.

  7. TonyG

    Love the color, love the pattern….it’s just seems like the dress is filled with air somehow. Also, the placement of the waist is a bit high and makes it looks as if she might be on stilts.

  8. CD

    Her hair and face and skin look beautiful, but this dress is wearing her. Great colors on her, but it’s too big? Not a good match for her posture? The fabric too thick? It isn’t a home run.

  9. Josephine

    This is definitely a good try, and if the sleeves were just a bit shorter/more cap-like, I think it would be a home run. The retro oomph of it is great, and I love a good boat neckline. Yeah, all this needs is some very minor proportion adjustment.

  10. CMJ

    I just wish it was more fitted around the hips…it seems to have extra fabric in the worst place.

  11. LG

    I just want it to be A. Size. Like the size that fits her waist, preferably. I think some good tailoring at the waist and maybe a belt and this would be a full-on fab.

  12. Heidi

    The problem isn’t the dress, I think it’s sort of cute, the problem is that it doesn’t flatter her proportions. She’s lighter on the upper half of her body, and carries more weight around the hips and belly. Not to say that that’s a bad thing, it’s just that the dress accentuates that…

  13. youknowwho

    Maybe tailoring would help, maybe a lower waist, maybe no sleeves… but honestly I’m just not sold. I applaud the effort to go in a different direction than sexpot. I still think, however, that there are other ways to do it, yes? I can’t look at this, especially taking into account her facial expression, without thinking “passed-over milkmaid on Little House on the Prairie”.

    I think the awesome hair and VERY heavy eyeliner belong on a different ensemble entirely.

  14. aeb


    also, i think this would be cute tea-length. cannot sign off on the full length, and i really want to do so. it’s wearing her.

    • Ashley

      Oh, tea-length is a good idea! Fix that waist issue and it would have some moxie in a tea-length.

      • TaraMisu


        • Jeanette

          Tea length would be lovely. Also a v neck or a scoop neck would lighten the heaviness of the fabric. And a smile please.

        • victoria

          YES! The NECKLINE is the problem, along with the heaviness, bunchiness, high waist, everything that everyone else has already commented on. But Lena Dunham woman (like me) has a short neck. She MUST NEVER EVER wear anything with a high round neckline because it makes neck disappear. A deep vee neck is really the only way to go. Trust me, Lena, I’m twice your age, I’ve been struggling with this my whole life, I can tell you what works and what doesn’t.

          But I love her makeup and hair and I think she looks amazing here, and I love Girls. I think it’s brilliant and brave and honest and so much better than SATC in so many ways.

          GO LENA!!

      • Kara

        Co-sign. I’m not a fan of her makeup, though.

      • Ms. Chanandler Bong

        Tea length and maybe not so flowy?

  15. Kristy

    It looks better full length, but her close up interview…I thought it was horrible and that she might be preggers. Not well fitted up top! Maybe a more fitted bodice and it would have worked? We will go with “close” and “better than usual”

  16. Sonya

    It looks like she is about 11 feet tall, but not in a good way. If it didn’t do that to her, I would be on board with it. Her makeup and hair are cute and the dress is demure and flattering otherwise.

  17. Lizzy

    That dress is wearing her, and judging by her expression, she knows it.

  18. Anna

    Unfortunately this dress makes her resemble this: http://www.jeffbots.com/daleks2.jpg

    NOT a good thing, I would say…

  19. Fifie

    I love Anna’s comment!! This dress is one weird optical illusion. Makes her look like a pinhead.

  20. Ms. Pants

    Better than the ill-fitting vintage that Hannah wears on the show. I think I’d like this way way way more if it were cut right above the knee.

    Adore her short hair though!

  21. Art Eclectic

    I agree with others, that waist is just too dang high and too much fabric there. It creates an optical illusion that her upper body is only 12 inches long and her head is scrunched into her shoulders.

  22. AM

    Jessica said she finds it charming in a ’60s way, she likes that it’s not super-crazy sexpot, and on the whole, she appreciates that it fits Lena Dunham’s persona. This. and I like the color

  23. Katharine

    100% horrible. She looks like a brick wall faced in brocade paper. I’m assuming from her arms that she is not “Hollywood skinny” (I know not of Lena Dunham, though I’ve heard vague things about Girls) and my goodness, this is a poor pick if she was hoping for anything resembling flattering. This would bulk up a hundred-pound model.

  24. AnneElle

    Sorry Lena Dunham but this dress is ghastly on you and I did laugh at the link to the Daleks in the comment above.

    Sometimes I think celebrities’ stylists (and/or friends helping them get ready) must secretly hate them. How is it possible to get it so wrong?

  25. Kabrina McLaughlin

    Love the hair and makeup so I couldn’t go full fug but yikes on the dress. Yikes yikes yikes.

  26. Daemonaquila

    Trainwreck! This looks like a 1980s dress that a geeky girl’s mom bought for her at an expensive boutique. It succeeds only in being horribly matronly and adding lots of pounds. It also looks like something cheap I could make with a Simplicity pattern in a few hours.

  27. PB

    I saw another picture of her in that dress and she looked good. I think the bad look in this picture is all about bad posture.

  28. strah

    The shape of this dress is remarkably similar to the flowergirl dress I wore in a wedding when I was 8 years old. A grown woman with a choice and a shape could do so much better than that.

  29. Lindy

    The waistline kills this thing. It’s too high and makes her look like a barrel. Too much lace = matronly.

    Complete and utter fail.

  30. Maeve

    It is scrolldown fug. From the waist up, she looks cute. The waist is too high and too puffy – it makes her proportions look wonky. I love the hair and makeup though!

  31. Carrie

    That haircut is just the best ever. I wish the dress wasn’t doing what it does to her midsection.

  32. Brooke

    Honey, you are smart and talented, and everyone agrees. You do not have to intentionally make yourself look like crap for people to take you seriously. You can look great AND be respected. Sadly I was trying to use a great example of this, but everyone I came up (Rashida Jones, Mindy Kaling, among others) with was almost equally as flummoxed in the fashion department. What gives?

  33. Stefanie

    I like the idea (Im so happy she covered up her ugly tattoo) but it just didn’t quite work. Her hair and makeup are great though.

    Im so ready to back to hate watching Girls!

  34. Sara

    I’m enjoying the colour and I think the lace is pretty. I just want it to be cocktail-length. Paired with fun shoes. And maybe with shorter sleeves? I don’t know.

    Also, I agree with everyone else – good posture does wonders. As does smiling. My grandmother would be disappointed.

  35. ab

    I think that the waist is a little too high, but I also think the big problem is that a crew neck is not flattering on her. I believe if the dress had a scoop neck or v-neck, it would break the ‘wide’ effect and it would prevent the dress from making her look like she has a little head.

  36. Eli

    I hate this dress like I hate her overrated show.

  37. fritanga

    Ah, the “ironic” Brooklyn Mamie Eisenhower look. Wasn’t Michelle Williams a big proponent of this not too long ago? Yeah. And, ugh.

    At first I thought this was Toni Collette on a really, really bad day. But no, it’s Dunham, the woman who not too long ago tweeted a photo of herself wearing baggy denim short-shorts, which she herself described as looking like adult diapers. Well, at least she’s consistent with her 80-year-old-woman look.

  38. Wendy

    Am I the only one who doesn’t like the hair? I haven’t seen Girls, but I saw her movie Tiny Furniture (I think that’s the title) and found her ridiculously annoying, so that could be influencing my opinion. Also, what has become of smiling?

  39. bex

    i hate her and this. she looks like…weirdly, weirdly, tall.

  40. tigers4us

    The dress, while not horrible, is too “boxy” and matronly. I beg to differ about her hair; it’s not good for the overall look with this dress.

  41. ok

    She does not have the height nor the stature to wear this dress properly. It could be cute, but never, ever on her, no matter how many tweaks.

  42. Karen

    I think I’d like this better if it were short? I don’t know.

  43. cc

    She is blue-steeling so hard you guys.

  44. Lisa

    All I could think of is Veruca Salt blowing up like a blueberry. I’m pretty sure she was not going for that look. I like the fabric but it’s just too bulky and makes her look huge and I’m sure she’s not.

  45. pantsonfire

    I don’t know who this person is, but forevermore, I will probably think of her has 30% larger than she really is and built like an offensive linesman; I will wonder what strange sequence of events led her deep into the Amazon jungle where her head was shrunk.

    I literally laughed and groaned simultaneously when this photo popped up on the wires last night.

  46. Krystle

    All she had to do was hem the dress. To way, way shorter than it is right now. OR give up the short sleeves for a deep V or something. She’s awesome, the dress could be.

  47. Gigi

    Was this the girl in the opening video eating birthday cake in her birthday suit in a bathroom stall? She came off rather petite compared to this amazone!

  48. Cammy

    Eleanor Roosevelt gives it two thumbs up!

    • Aparatchick

      Thank you for the best laugh I’ve had all day.

      Yes, matronly is about the kindest thing I can say about this disaster of a dress.

  49. kathleen

    It looks like she’s either a paper doll or standing behind one of those things you put your head through to have your head on another body for cheesy pictures. It also looks like a terrible photoshop job. Surely there’s another picture out there where she’s not so stiff/slouchy? I bet it looks at least somewhat better from another angle…

  50. Sarie

    This is horrible. It looks about 6 sizes too big and she looks like she’s going to punch me.
    I appreciate not doing the same thing everyone is doing. I love that it’s not overly sexed up. But this does not work.

  51. Lynsey

    The fabrication makes it look heavy which combined with the fullness and length of the skirt just doesn’t quite seem to work. If the skirt were near knee length, it could be okay. It could also be assisted by lowering the waist a bit. The whole thing just seems like it’s not quite right. Or maybe a bit dated?

  52. vandalfan

    Why is the angry girl wearing a sofa?

    Not sofa fabric, but the actual, entire sofa?

  53. g.b.

    It’s such a pretty color – I love the blue(s) on her! They’re very flattering for her skintone and hair. But the overall shape doesn’t do her any favors.

  54. g.b.

    …and yes, my first thought was “upholstery.” She’s way too young to be upholstered.

  55. Beth

    It makes her look like a linebacker in a maternity dress. But I’ve never seen her show, maybe that’s what she was going for?

  56. Inky

    The waist is much too high. If it were a drop waist, it may have been better on her figure.

  57. luxsword

    Fug fug fug. It’s so UNflattering, it’s a disaster.

  58. Kerina Pharr

    This is the biggest downer of a dress I’ve ever seen. It’s like someone swapped Charlotte Bronte’s anti-depressants with plain old ‘depressants’.

  59. Linda

    My first thought when I saw her interviewed on the red carpet was, “I wonder what the Fug Girls will have to say about this!” It looked so unflattering with that waistline combined with her poor posture. Sometimes I just want to scream at the tv “Stand up straight!”

  60. CJ

    I think this would have been better if:

    1. She had a very thin belt on with it
    2. The sleeves were more cap sleeve and less short sleeve.
    3. The neckline were more of a scoop neck, and not so high. I feel like that would make things seem less stumpy.

  61. Peg

    Looks to me like she reached into her grandmother’s linen closet & pulled out a tablecloth. The one Grandma uses for the holidays. Ugh. Bad all the way around.

  62. mepe

    This is terrible!! And it’s not that it’s a bad dress but it’s just not the right dress for her body. As a fellow girl with hips who wishes she could pull off dresses with full gathered skirts I really do feel for her. And that heavy lace overlay is just making it worse. With her cute new hair cut I hope she can find some better – more fun and flattering – options for future events.

  63. jules

    I gasped when I saw it on the red carpet – and not in a good way. The hair is pretty good but her makeup is so harsh that it makes her look extra scowly. As for the dress, deep sigh, it’is like a 8th graders first dance dress made by Gunne Sax. I tried to maker her over/under but I think this look DOES. NOT. WORK.. All of it. The fit, sleeves, high neckline, overly full skirt, and scale of the lace are at odds. Someone needs to tell her that she’s is in the business of making VISUAL ART and she needs to stop dressing like fashion doesn’t matter. It does. Obviously.

  64. Clementine

    I find it hard to believe there’s any question. That is the definition of fugly. She looks like she borrowed an extra frumpy 80 year old woman’s dress.

  65. Trixie

    Hair: fab
    Makeup: fab
    Top of dress: fab
    Rest of dress: OH GOSH NO.

  66. kim

    OMIGOD. why is she so angry at me? I DIDN’T DO IT.

    • Sara

      My thoughts exactly. This would look 10 times better if she wasn’t glaring at the camera.

  67. Lee

    What we’re really voting on is whether it makes her look skinny. The answer is no, because she’s not skinny. So instead of putting herself in a dehydrator and then shoehorning herself into spanx she just chose a pretty, vintage-y frock that suits her personality, like one of us normal people would in the same situation. Fashion is about rocking your personal style, not flaunting your emaciated collarbones and whatever the ‘in’ colour and silhouette is this season. She gets frock of the day from me!

    • Girl in Sydney

      Spot on!

    • Wendy

      I disagree. No one says she has to look (or be) skinny, but a dress that flatters her actual figure would be nice. Also, I think most people would like this better if she didn’t look so miserable and/or angry. I know I would.

  68. Dani

    I passionately hate this. So unflattering and overwrought and I don’t think the heavy eye makeup helps either. I could handle the fabric perhaps for a fitted, tea length dress, but it doesn’t look very seasonally appropriate.

  69. Miss Tee

    This reminds me of a horrible dress that I had to wear in my college ladies’ choir. They were awful, forest green taffeta, and cut exactly the same as this dress…except they were tea length. Basically it flattered NO ONE. Not the thin girls, not the tall girls, not the short girls, not the chubby girls. NO ONE. I’m all for showing off your flair for fashion and personal style, but it should still be flattering and not make you look like a weird pinheaded torso on a pair of stilts.

  70. Louisa

    Not for anyone over the age of 12. The raised waist just makes her look wide.

  71. Nancy

    This is overwhelming and horrid and makes her look like a blue Frankenstein-type move monster one step away from attacking me in a robotic way. And the eyeliner makes it that much worse. She should have done better – a shame. tea length? flouncy? a SMILE? Anything would’ve improved this.

  72. Emma

    Divisive? Wha…? This is a MONSTROSITY. She looks like a truck. The waist is way too high, the fabric is way to heavy for a full, gathered skirt, and the whole thing adds about 12 inches on either side of the smallest part of her figure. Like one of those puffy hip-bustle things Marie Antoinette used to wear. HIDEOUS!

  73. jean

    Great hair, but that dress is swallowing her up. For once I would argue to go down a size and shorten it. But I love her hair and make-up (but a smile would have helped–she’s got a nice smile). She’s not a typical beauty, but I like her face a lot and she’s obviously got talent and brains behind those sharp eyes. I always think writers like her and Tina Fey are taking notes constantly at these things.

  74. Hannah

    No sleeves, lower waist, V neck (as someone with a short neck, I empathize with the longing for boatnecks, but it just ain’t happening). Boom, fixed. But let’s focus on the positives! She looks lovely in blue, and her hair is spectacular.

  75. Talley Lach

    I think it looks like she’s wearing a sofa.

  76. Tessa

    This dress just looks horribly boxy on her; everything is so out of proportion. Also, that material looks itchy. Not good.

  77. Helen

    Another one on the “proportions are all wrong” train. Enough so that I voted it Fug. This should have been re-cut entirely.

    But I do love the fabric, and it is SO NICE to see a lace overlay (if people must keep wearing them, and I think they will for a while yet) with a coordinating under-layer.

  78. Patricia Haase


  79. MayL.

    It looks terrible, head to toe.

  80. missy

    This looks like one of those cardboard cutouts that people stand behind and stick their heads in the cutout.

  81. Alicia

    I don’t see how anyone could think this is a good look. She looks like a giant doll of a nine year old child.

  82. MelissaW

    I looks like Lena – have you seen her Instagram? There’s no way I would expect her in a normal red carpet gown. It’d be like mutton dressed as lamb. The overall look fits her ethos (and I love her hair now – previous, it just looked blah).

    All that said, I think this would be smashing without the sleeves (more of a “tank” look) and dropping the waist just a tad.

  83. Gretchen

    Knee length and a smile would have been a lot less severe.

  84. Tiffany

    I think this is a great dress for her because it elongates her body. She has a fairly small chest compared to her hips, so I think if they would have done more with the neckline/sleeves, it would have exaggerated her proportion issues. As for her looking prego from the side…she does have a belly. It isn’t as if there is a dress that is going to suddenly make that go away.

  85. kickassmomnyc

    Horrid. She looks like an angry pinhead.

  86. Trish

    Totally agree! If it had been knee length or slightly above it would have been adorable. As it stands, she looks short and stumpy (which she kind of is, but usually she embrasses that and doesn’t deny her figure). I do love her hair though