Unfug It Up: Hayley Atwell


I kind of don’t understand why Hayley Atwell hasn’t turned up as someone’s gorgeous cousin on Downton Abbey, except for how Downton isn’t like Harry Potter (AKA, the unofficial employer of all British actors) and they don’t really HAVE that many guest stars, beyond Woman Who Witnessed Suicidal Pie-Making, Man With Burned Off Face (poor Edith), or Shirley MacLaine. I just feel like she looks as though she might be related to Lady Mary:

That being said: I have notes. And the big note from me is, GIRLFRIEND YOU NEED A DIFFERENT BELT. My personal experience is that a skinny little belt is hard to pull off with a dress like this — it’s half-hearted and incapable of actual cinching when actual cinching is needed. I love the pattern on this dress, but I am really dying to race up to her and give her a better, bigger, beltier belt. What say you?

[Photo: Getty]

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Comments (41):

  1. Fawn

    I really do like this dress, but you’re right. It definitely needs a beltier belt.

  2. Art Eclectic

    I’m thinking a really cool “art” belt that complemented the pattern on the dress would rock. Love the material, though.

  3. daniel

    I am sorry but there is nothing to salvage here. When hippie neo chic meets Indonesian batik sarong there is only one thing to do: hit the piña colada stand and light up a joint.

  4. Orange Clouds

    See, my problem is not the belt but THE WHOLE OUTFIT! This dress looks like something that was given birth to in “Alien”, the pattern freaks me out.

    • jerkygirl

      I know!!! “Burnt alien underbelly” is a strange choice for a dress pattern, although I could see it being worn at an awards ceremony for the SyFy channel (where it would be really cool, actually).

      • Bottle Ginger

        It doesn’t look alien to me, just BURNT.

        The fabric looks like it was inspired by the smoking remains of a parquet factory, which is not a good look for anyone but Lady Gaga.

  5. Maria L.

    I would like to give her a different dress. She looks like she is wearing a forest fire.

    • Anita

      That’s it! A long t-shirt, tie-dyed by Smokey the Bear, accessorized with the wimpiest belt known to man. There is nothing to salvage here.

  6. Rachel

    I like the dress and am even on board with a skinny belt. She just needs something to create more of an hourglass illusion. I would maybe shorten the sleeves to not sleeveless, but a tiny cap sleeve. That might help create a diagonal line down to her waist. And move the belt a little higher. But I love the print!

  7. Bella

    The dress already looks like it had a close encounter with fire. Finish it off. (But please make sure she’s not in it.)

  8. Bailey

    I don’t like the symmetry of the top half–if it looked a bit more like the skirt I’d actually be on board, skinny belt and all.

  9. Sally

    I’m on board with the forest fire and ashes metaphor.

  10. Lion

    She needs different shoes. This belt she can keep.

  11. anne p.

    Ordinarily I’d be inclined to straight up reject that dress, but I betcha it would work if a little wit & imagination were applied to the accessories (starting with the belt, but including the shoes and clutch).
    Emma Stone’s and Emily Blunt’s people would know what to do, as would (obviously) Coco Rocha.

  12. Jax

    “Woman Who Witnessed Suicidal Pie-Making” might be the greatest thing I’ve read all day. Thank you for that.

    • Helena

      I think this is going to be one of those days when I regret giving up coffee, because I’m having a complete blank moment and have no idea what that’s referring to!

  13. RubySue

    I’m not crazy about the print, but she could pull this off with a shorter hemline and more fabulous belt, bag and shoes.

  14. shnaggi

    Ain’t no belt gonna save this dress – burn it with every pair of nude/silly putty franken bootie/stripper heels you can find.

  15. malie

    I love it as is, belt included. I would totes wear this in a knee-length version (more suitable to my non-fancy-events-going lifestyle).

  16. TonyG

    That swath of dark blue blowing in the wind at the bottom is making the dress look lop-sided to me. I know all orange can be difficult, but I think I would like it better without the added blue.

  17. Jessie

    I think Doctor Who is also the unofficial employer of British actors. Lord Grantham has even been on it! As a pirate, of course.

  18. Anne B

    Lose the belt. Lose the sleeves.

    Then cut the dress: a bias cut, or some shirring up the side. Drapey action at the neck. Boom, you’re done.

    It’s a cool print and it looks like nice fabric. Something like that deserves better than a random fate as a belted sack with sleeves.

    • witjunkie

      Ooo, a bias cut would have taken 50 lbs off this dress, it’s so choppy, blocky, blah.

  19. Helen

    Count me in with those who’d change all the accessories. Wider belt (not TOO big, but more substantial than this), more delicate, non-hoofy shoes, and cut the clutch in half so it’s both smaller, and oblong.

    Then make them all colors, except the belt, I’m on board with black for the belt. Shoes, deep blue, I think, and clutch – ummm, not sure. Maybe red, and/or something sparkly to go with the dangly earrings she should be wearing?

    I love the dress, but with this styling, it’s kinda wearing her. And with a face like that, that’s a shame!

  20. Erin B

    SHE is gorgeous; the dress is not. Delete the sleeves and make it above-knee length with a more substantial black belt, and it’s something liveable but would be a day dress. If her hair were shorter she’d look Victoria Beckhamish (and if both Atwell & Beckham made an appearance on Downton, I *might* be willing to watch it again. Might.).

  21. h² fashion

    I completely agree! I think a bigger, bulkier belt would make it look so much better.


  22. Joemama

    She looks like Victoria Beckham’s sister here, but without the polished clothes. I don’t hate the dress, but it’s a bit billowy.

  23. BrownEyedBetty

    The dress is What the FUG all the way. I am seeing two smokey skeleton profiles talking to each other on her chesticular region.

  24. gin_in_teacups

    No no no. Bad pattern, bad fit. Just bad.

  25. Versase

    That dress looks like a promo for some Hellboy sequel. What’s with the reintroduction of awful 90s screenprints on what looks like polyester fabric? I mean, it’s bad enough when it’s sepia cabbage roses, why wear some 9 year old’s sleeping bag. I think the poor designers are like, oops time for another collection, hmm the 90s are in, how about doing screenprints again, ok put it on the runway! Next we’re going to be seeing gorgeous people running around in cherub-splattered t-shirt dresses again.

  26. Vandalfan

    Dreadful fabric: it’s a close-up of a candlelit lobster carapace at midnight.

  27. Katharine

    I love that crazy dress. I think an Ann Demeulemeester or Zana Bayne harness thing or belt with bits on it would be the perfect mate for it. And different shoes. Still simple, but something that can stand up to the dress, not a bland black platform pump.

  28. Kate

    Hayley Atwell and Michelle Dockery have actually played relatives in another show! They were a mother-daughter combo in a timeshift drama called Restless at the end of last year.

    As for the outfit, I actually love the dress and think a slim belt would work if wasn’t quite so insipid and stringy. Also, as a tall girl, I have REAL trouble finding maxi-dresses that are long enough so I feel like willingly wearing an ankle length dress is a bit odd.

    Also also, those shoes look like hooves.

  29. Sajorina

    Put on a bra, get rid of the belt and wear flat sandals!

  30. jeanette

    Emma Stone wore a great belt with a floaty maroon number to an awards ceremony some time back. (can anyone help me out here with a link?)it had an interesting cool buckle which would make quite a difference… Also cooler shoes and some simple and striking dangly earrings would complete this dress.

  31. Maxi

    What a huge compliment to the Lady Mary actress that these 2 might be related! And anyone who likes this hideous frock must have just drunk some (electric) Kool-Aid.

  32. Esme

    The only way to unfug this thing is to throw it onto a bonfire and watch what interesting coloured flames emerge. The cut, the fabric, the print . . .I could go on and on. It looks like it was vomited on by Mt. Vesuvius.

  33. CJG

    This is not my favorite dress, and I think a better belt would help, but I think the bigger issue is that she needs a better bra. Ms. Atwell is quite endowed. Certainly nothing wrong with that! But if you are not wearing the proper support, it can make a dress fit poorly or just make you look matronly because your breasts are sitting low. Both of these things are happening here. Not only are her breasts sitting low, but they are pulling on the neckline of the dress. Those full coverage minimizers look more like bridges than bras, but they work!!

  34. Squirrel!

    I don’t know who Hayley Atwell is, but I’m fine with the dress and the belt. It’s the shoes I’d want to exchange.

  35. Lily1214

    No girlfriend, you need a different dress.