She Got That Glow: Octavia Spencer Proves That Ingenues Don’t Corner the Market on Hollywood Glamour

Octavia Spencer at the Oscars on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, Calif.
Octavia Spencer at the Oscars on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, Calif.
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer (Getty Images)

The 90th annual Academy Awards were full of glamorous surprises, but perhaps one of the most pleasant ones was how beautifully turned out perennial fave Octavia Spencer was Sunday night. Appearing for her third supporting actress nod for eventual best picture winner The Shape of Water, the actress and children’s-book author was styled by sister team Wendi and Nicole in an ethereal green gown that evoked the flowing depths of the sea.

Octavia Spencer on the Oscars red carpet in Brandon Maxwell
Octavia Spencer on the Oscars red carpet in Brandon Maxwell
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

As we’ve learned from several female celebs who don’t fit the typical Hollywood starlet mold—including being over 40 and not a sample size—it can sometimes be a struggle to find red-carpet-worthy gowns. Christian Siriano and Tadashi Shoji have both become reliable industry sources for all-inclusive glamour, but Spencer nailed her look Sunday night courtesy of one of our fashion faves, Brandon Maxwell (who also dressed best actress winner Alison Janney and our hilarious homegirl Tiffany Haddish for the Vanity Fair after-party Sunday night). In a lovely Instagram post, Maxwell wrote:

I am very proud, with my team, to have dressed Best Supporting Actress nominee @octaviaspencer in a custom emerald green satin faced organza gown for Tonight’s 90th Annual Academy Awards. Octavia makes history tonight with her third nomination, and we are beyond honored to be a part of her special moment.


What we loved about this dress is how well the belted silhouette and full, flowing skirt highlighted Spencer’s curvy figure, as well as the deep emerald green, which played to perfection against her brown skin—which we were thrilled to see more of on display. But our favorite aspect by far was the off-the-shoulder neckline, which framed her beautiful face and shoulders, which were grazed by a wavy bob, styled by celebrity hairstylist and groomer David Stanwell.

Stanwell began working with Spencer five years ago while at the Cannes Film Festival to promote Fruitvale Station. He says he hit it off with the acclaimed actress the moment they met, telling The Glow Up: “She has a great sense of humor, and we always have a fun time together. She is professional, and all those elements make for a good work environment.”

This awards season, Spencer’s hair—which Stanwell tells us is naturally curly and pressed out—has consistently looked stunning, with the actress frequently rocking loose waves to accent her array of red-carpet looks. Stanwell tells us:

Octavia loves curls in the hair—big, medium, and sometimes smaller! We always opt for curls going away from [the] face, and we alternate the tightness depending upon the size of the curling iron. The only time we don’t curl is if we do a slicked-back look with a bun or ponytail.

As most award shows are long, we like to stick to simple and practical looks, yet still with a glamorous edge without being too fussy. Our influence always comes from classic and elegant so we always end up in that wheelhouse.

Octavia Spencer at the British Academy Film Awards in London on Feb. 18, 2018
Octavia Spencer at the British Academy Film Awards in London on Feb. 18, 2018
Photo: Tristan Fewings (Getty Images)

While Stanwell is always willing to gently push his star client to try something new and different, he’s also very respectful of her comfort zone and happiness on the red carpet. But when Stanwell saw a sketch of Spencer’s 2018 Oscar gown, he was inspired to take her look shorter to keep the shoulders bare, telling us:

Octavia had sent me the sketch of her dress [last] week, which helped spark my inspiration for [Sunday night’s] look. Instantly, I knew I wanted to do a side part, so that one side was off the shoulder to compliment her dress and jewelry. Octavia liked the idea of a curl, but not too brushed out.


Stanwell says his secret to keeping Spencer’s hair looking glamorous and healthy is simpler—and far less expensive—than one might think. For Spencer, he’s been relying on a variety of Dove hair products, which, in his words, “[have] helped with that shine and healthy glow that we all want for our hair.”

We were curious, so he graciously gave The Glow Up a how-to on Spencer’s wavy Oscars bob:

  1. “I started prepping the hair by mixing Dove Style + Care Smooth & Shine Heat Protection Spray and a dollop of Dove Absolute Curls Supreme Crème Serum together to moisturize her hair before applying any heat.
  2. “Using a large, round brush, I blow-dried her hair to create the desired face-framing shape. We decided on taking the hair shorter [for the night], so after I blow-dried it, I made a deep side part to add more definition to the look.
  3. “After I finished blow-drying the hair, I went through it with a 1-inch curling iron to create glamorous, defined waves by twisting the hair toward her face.
  4. “While the hair was cooling, I sprayed Dove Style + Care Compressed Micro Mist Flexible Hold Hairspray to give it that extra hold before running my hands through to break up the curls. [Pro tip: Waiting until the hair is cool enough to run one’s fingers through it gives it a fabulous curl that will last all night long.]
  5. “After shaping the hair and dressing it around her face, I tucked the curls on the right side of her face behind her ear to give it a romantic feel and show off her jewelry. To finish, I sprayed Dove Style + Care Compressed Micro Mist Flexible Hold Hairspray again throughout the hair to give it a boost of shine.”

We have to give credit to Stanwell and Spencer’s entire glam squad for giving one of our screen queens the Cinderella moment she so richly deserved. It’s always exciting to see a star’s style evolve, and while Spencer isn’t known for glamorous roles, we’re hoping to see these gorgeous, age-appropriate (and subtly sexy!) red-carpet moments continue for her. Like the awards she’s frequently nominated for, she deserves them.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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Rooo sez BISH PLZ

Mr. Maxwell had a full roster, with his fabulous drapes & pleats in those unanticipated colors. I don’t think there was anyone else out there on the “main stage”, as it were, with that beautiful evergreen. Ms. Octavia’s makeup always looks so glamorous and yet so natural too. I always wonder what fix they use to keep looking like that for literally hours. I am also always jealous of ladies with that “natural Oprah” hair. Humidity never bothers them. One of my besties has that hair and can do anything with it.