Girl, That’s Not Your Dress: Sarah Jessica Parker

Posted on September 21, 2012

The title is misleading, but we’ll get to that in a second.

There’s something odd about SJP’s style choices. Sure, she takes a lot of risks and there’s no doubting her deep love of fashion, but it seems to us she’s spent most of her forties dressing either too old or too young for her age.

Guess which one this is:


Sarah Jessica Parker attends the 2012 New York City Ballet Fall Gala at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center in a Valentino Couture gown paired with a VBH bag, Fred Leighton Jewelry and Christian Louboutin shoes.

Valentino Fall 2012 Couture Collection/Model: Lara Mullen (OUI)

Seriously, people. She looks like she’s attending a White House dinner in 1972.  That’s pure, old school society matron right there. The hair is definitely not helping; especially the craft store flower she’s got tacked to her head.

But here’s the thing: This isn’t a case of “Girl, That’s Not Your Dress.” It’s “Girl, That’s Not Your Cape.” Because when she takes it off:


Christian Louboutin ‘Love Me’ Pump

She looks fine. Great, even. In fact, this dress alone, with a better hairstyle, would’ve gotten her a WERQ easily. But the sight of that magical cape that adds 40 years to her age is enough for us to arch an eyebrow, wag our fingers at her, and make disapproving tsking noises.

And nobody wants that, darlings.



[Photo Credit: Getty,,]

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  • I always really like her dramatic eye makeup.  It is dramatic and interesting without being too dark or heavy.  

    • nancylee61

      I have always hated her eye make-up. It makes her eyes look so small!!! How can Anne Hathaway have such a great make-up artist, and SJP have such an awful one?? They both have money, I don’t get it!

      • Spicytomato1

        I’m with you on hating her eye makeup, it is so unflattering, imo. Both she and Kate Middleton, with her ever-present raccoon eyes, send me into eyeliner-induced fits. 

      • Sobaika

        She does have a tendency to go strong on the eyes. I think it worked at a certain point but gets a bit aging. There is a closeup of her lining her eyes with kohl in the S&TC:2 movie (blech) that is positively frightening.

      • MoHub

         She always has a kind of Village of the Damned look. I’d like to see her try a brown eyeliner and maybe go less heavy-handed on the underside of the eye.

      • Wellworn

        She has gorgeous eyes, which I think the makeup detracts when it’s so heavy handed.  But I think they were trying to go for the eye emphasis and pull focus there, because it’s her best feature.  But again, it doesn’t look good, especially from far away, it looks like a blue eyed raccoon.  Weird.

      • Dagney

        Agree!  She has a bit of a baby-face, a pretty baby-face, so when she does that vampy, smoky eye, dramatical make-up style she just looks a bit overdone.

      • bellafigura1

         Totally agree.  Her eyes are disappearing.

      • Her eyes are already kind of small. Whatever she is doing to them with the makeup makes it look like she’s always staring directly into the Sun. She needs to stop lining the bottom lid and probably use a color other than black. I can’t believe that she uses makeup people if she always looks like bad. It looks like she’s doing this to herself. Or maybe she hired a friend to do her makeup and she’s just too nice to fire that friend for making her look awful.

      • Loudoun Family

         NancyLee61, I agree with you 100%.  Dated, blobby, black eyeliner and false eyelashes look messy and dated.  Subtle, earth tones and soft waves are Jessica’s best looks.  Less is more, but she can support a strong lip gloss color.

  • Rand Ortega


  • victoria rodeno

    The cape and the inappropriate jewelry. Come on, SJP, dress your age.

  • Sobaika

    She looks fab sans cape. Why do that to yourself, SJP, why?

    • MoHub

       Without the cape, she looks like a goddess. However, she’s got to do something about the hair. I wonder how she’d look with a fluffed-up pixie cut.

      • kschwarting

        I’d like to see that.  I’d also like to see that ubiquitous black eyeliner go away.

      • Anathema_Device

         I think this length looked good on her:

        • MoHub

           Oh, yes! Makes her face look fuller and less horsey.

        • I so agree. The side-parted bob was much more flattering but she went back to long hair pretty quickly and she’s hung on to it, same with the harsh eye makeup. Her face is way too narrow to have her hair piled up on top like that. I don’t understand her choices.

    • She seems to do that a lot: pair a spectacularly horrible coat with a great dress, and thereby ruin the look.  It’s really a shame.

  • Bridget212323

    She’s turning into a parody of an UES socialite. 

  • It’s nobody’s dress. Oh Mr Valentino, what’s up with you??

    • Kayceed

      He retired several years ago, sadly.

      • Lisa_Cop

        Valentino did the ballet costumes himself and attended the NYCB gala. Since SJP was important in making all that happen (she is on the NYCB board), I’m assuming she did not want to offend Valentino by wearing the dress completely sans cape.

  • Anathema_Device

    The necklace is 1970s costume jewelry., to complete the theme. The dress is stunning. Too bad she didn’t ditch the rest of the look, including that tired old eye makeup she insists on wearing. It is so harsh on her.

  • Tatiana Luján

    I don’t think the belt goes with the shoes.

  • Patricia Gillett

    WTH is going on with the jewelry? She looks like a dowager wearing half the family vault to make sure everyone notices her and remembers who she is.

  • She has it with the coats and capes.  I thought immediately it would look better if she would take off the cape, and viola! It does!  

  • All those necklaces piled up (esp. under & over that sheer bodice) –
    the entirety of that head shot, really – just looks “crazy old rich lady” to me.
    Love the shoes.

    Edited to say something nice.

    • kimmeister

      Seriously, who wears jewelry UNDER their dresses?  That’s just weird.  (Piercings notwithstanding.)

  • Kayceed

    The combined color story here makes me twitch – silvery blue on a cool beige background, paired with yellow gold belt and goldish necklace, eww; topped with golden print on warm cream background, ick. And a knee-length topper on a full-length gown will never look wrong to me.

  • Apocalipstick Now Redux

    Lauren Bacall could make that cape work.  Of course, Lauren is in love with the dowager ladypants.

    • MoHub

       But I think a dark, solid-color pants ensemble under that cape would be very effective.

      • Anathema_Device

         Oooh, like that green outfit Emma Stone wore the other day. Yes, you are right.

    • funkypeanut

      This looks more like SJP just came from Carol Channing’s garage sale.

  • teensmom99

    For once someone is wearing great shoes with a gown.  I guess that’s not too surprising with SJP but still a relief!

  • granddelusion

    I don’t understand why she has such a reputation for being fashionable. Apart from the fact that she wears designer clothes, and was in that assault to fashion eyes, Sex and the City. She always looks like crap. Maybe she should just stop resting on her “reputation” and get a real stylist.

    • aeg66

      Thank God…I thought I was the only one whom questions her fashionable title.

  • SewingSiren

    I’m going against the grain. I like it. Cape and all.

    • DCSheehan

      I’m with you. Love it. Especially that cape.

      • AllisonSees

        I’m not alone!  That cape is amazing.  It’s not even that I like the cape specifically with this dress, I just love the cape and want it to be worn by somebody somewhere because it deserves all the best.

  • mjude

    was it so chilly out that she needed the cape?  LOL

    • Lisa_Cop

      No. It was quite mild Thursday night-mid 70’s.

  • ojosazules

    Does the cape even match the dress? It takes it into playing dress up territory even if you were 105.

  • marilyn

    The jewelry does not go with the dress, but it completes the 1972 look with the cape.  That looks like gaudy ugly old costume jewelry anyway.  I assume it is expensive and full of genuine stones.  Too bad the look is so horrid.

    Why is the belt in copper?  What does that have to do with anything?

  • kolokOlchik

    Incredible!  Without that cape this is TOTALLY her dress!  Wow, what a difference an ugly cape makes!

  • VeryClaire

    Is it a cape if it has shoulders? Because what’s distracting me here is the fact that she appears to be wearing an armless coat, rather than a cape. And yes, way too much upholstery fabric coat with that dress.

  • That cape is … just wrong. Would it look good on anyone, on any outfit? Its bizarre.

  • I’m really in love with those shoes.

  • Spicytomato1

    I don’t hate both pieces on the model at all. In fact I think the model looks kinda edgy. 

    I think the hair was the biggest mistake on SJP’s part. As matronly as the cape is, I still think there’s something intriguing and unique about it.

    • roadtrip1000

      I also liked this look on the model but not on SJP. Maybe the cape is just not meant for a petite woman. Also the length of the dress seems to overpower her. And of course the jewelry and belt puts  her in Golden Girls territory. Now Tilda Swinton would look fabulous in both the cape and the dress.

      • Adriana_Paula

        I think that because the model is probably about sixteen, the matronliness suggests edgy contrast, like Kelly Osbourne with gray hair.  But if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of the ballpark of the age for this outfit, the cape/dress will look dowager-y.

  • kalisa

    She looks like she’s attending a White House dinner in 1972 HAHAHAHAHAHA

  • That awful cape looked like it was eating her alive.  SO much better without it.

  • nannypoo

    Queen Elizabeth.

    • aeg66

      Queen Mother actually. 😉

  • schadenfreudelicious

    i love me a cape, but sadly that looks like she has thrown my mother’s circa 1976 bedspread over her shoulders….

  • claudemtl777

    I though of Truman Capote’s Black&White ball when I saw with the cape. SJP had a Katherine Graham feel…

  • AnneElliot

    I’m just thankful her dress is lined, unlike the runway model.  Why must we see the model’s underwear?  Seriously?

    • alyce1213

      It’s better than not seeing underwear, if you know what I mean.

  • Judy_S

    Hate the train or trailing curtains or whatever that is on the dress. Ann Hathaway’s dress had a similar droopy hem but she is tall enough to make it look elegant. To my mind the problem is not so much the cape (though it implies the wearer is physically incapable of raising her arms, so it will sit safely there  as she edges her walker forward) as the puddles of nylon sheer in the lower half (and the rose necklace, which is ugly and spoils the look). 

  • MilaXX

    The ten thousand necklaces and the makeup only add to the missteps in this look.  Lose the cape, fix the hair and makeup and I can see it getting a WERQ. Otherwise she looks like Jo Anne Worley from Laugh In.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    WAAAAAAY too much accessorizing as well. The belt is sort of okay, but from the neck up she’s dripping in so many diamonds, she’s like her own mine.

    • PinkLemon

       Is wearing a necklace under your sheer dress a thing now? K-Stew did the same thing a bit ago.

      • ojosazules

        Kristen is wearing that necklace with everything. It means something to her beyond fashion.

      • MoHub

         Yes, indeed. I felt I was watching a battle between the jewelry and the neckline of the dress.

      • Pants_are_a_must

        If it is, it’s a stupid trend. No one should let Kristen Stewart dictate trends EVER.

  • Ugh, her make up is horrible!  Poor SJP, she really is ugly.

  • Wellworn

    That cape/dress combo looks bad on the runway too.  This is why you don’t blindly follow fashion without having a mind of your own. 

  • I think it might be Queen Elizabeth’s cape. Or Gaga’s. But not SJP, no.

  • Kyle Crawford

    A question , I am sure you boys know : When stars borrow a look from some one as important as Mr. Valentino – ( AND you are his date for the evening , which I think she was ) do you really get a choice in editing the outfit ? or do you sort of need to go with the whole look?  The cape and dress are just too busy – the dress alone is beautiful – but who are we, mere unborn fawns, to question Mr . Valentino

    • This is America, dammit.  We question everybody!  Viva la peanut gallery!

  • OwnsHairlessCats

    I don’t even like the cape on the model. Ick.

  • Way too much of everything.  Too much cape, dress length, jewelry swallowing her throat, too much hair.  Too much.

  • See looks, um, scary. Like a character from “Grimm.” Mommy, make the scary lady go away.

  • Monday1900

    It doesn’t help that they didn’t adjust the cape length to SJP’s height–it’s knee length on the model and practically to SJP’s ankles.  But I’m another one who really doesn’t get SJP’s continuing celebrity.  And that hair is hideous. 

  • TomBord

     CAPES ARE MEANT FOR DRAG QUEENS…and Ann Romney – which, well –  is one the same.   PERIOD. 

  • janetjb

    The dress and shoes are very pretty, her hair and makeup are better than usual.

    The cape is just too long for her.  If it were shorter and worn with a simple white dress I’d probably like it.
    The necklaces are just silly.

    • I mentally converted the cape into cropped jacket and suddenly the world felt right again.

  • Dagney

    Well, being of the vintage clothing persuasion, I LOVE this look WITH the cape and without.  

  • CurbGirl

    The Eisenhower era cape is too long.  The hair is too high. The accessories are too playing dress up. But the dress, ah, is just right.

  • tereliz

    Gorgeous dress! Why you’d hide it with that cape is beyond me. Plus the hair is so blech, and I cannot get behind the shoes. In any situation. Ever.

  • Magatha

    If the cape had been longer, it would have been almost Bea Arthur-esque. Now, I love Bea Arthur, but OMG, sui generis.

    SJP’s dress, though, is lovely, and I thank her for wearing it lined. But her hair is working against her, as it is often made to do. Her looks are so unusual, so her hair ought to show some evidence of the concept of team work. Her face is long, angular, dramatic, and striking. Her hair is okay long, but a style like this – angular, dramatic, striking, and *elongating* – just clashes.

    As for her make-up: I could never wear it in a million years, but SJP rocks it.

  • CQAussie

    It’s amazing what a difference a cape makes!  Definitely so much better without!
    Love the Loubs =) 

  • I gasped at the cape-less photo.  She’s gorgeous!  How in the world do you look at her in that dress and think, hm, what this woman really needs is 20 pounds of upholstery?

    I still don’t understand why she’s tucking her necklace into her bra, though.

  • My nana had a couch with that upholstery. 

  • susan6

    “NO CAPES!!!”  –Edna Mode
    The only red carpet/celebrity cape I’ve seen that has worked is Paltrow’s white one at the Oscars.  

  • thecitysleeps

    Holy shit that dress and those shoes are both gorgeous.  SJP you are a fashion icon we get it,  just leave the other shit behind.

    • Lilak

      I know!  The choice of shoe is the ONLY good choice she made for that dress. I’m just bewildered by the hair (dear God), the jewelry, and even the belt.  As you say, “Settle down, girl … You’ve got this thing!”

  • With the cape – it looks like she was going to a cornation.  Definitely love the dress – She has such pretty hair = and it should be down for that dress — Ann Hathaway could wear this dress also

  • You know who would look nice in that? Debbie Reynolds. That’s who first came to mind when I saw her. 

  • I hate both of the necklaces with this-too much & too heavy.  It ruins the look.  She should’ve just gone w/ the earrings.

  • Maybe someone more statuesque could carry off both the cape and dress?  She’s too small for both, I think.  They swallow her up.  Of, the cape with a pantsuit, as others have suggested.  She looks darling in the dress by itself, though.

  • Beardslee

    You are so right!  70s Washington socialite!  Unlike Hathaway, that cape is too much fabric for her.
    What was the name of the wife who made phone calls all the time…Martha something.  Not Agnew’s wife.  Who was it? Famous for it during the 70s.

    • MoHub

       Martha Mitchell. Wife of Attorney General John Mitchell. (And Mitt Romney’s mom used to do similar hijinks even though she was supposed to be an abstemious Mormon.)

      • Beardslee

        Thank you!  

  • EEKstl

    That cape just screams: Joan Crawford circa “Strait-Jacket,” doesn’t it?  Take it off and I do agree the look is much better, although those two necklaces and the hair are putting her into Crazy Lady territory.

  • Lilithcat

    Oh, dear.  I immediately thought of Weegee’s famous photo of opening night at the Met.

    • janierainie

      You nailed it!

    • mayavaly

       Brilliant. Genuine LOL moment. Thanks for that.

  • When I saw that first picture, I wondered if I had entered a time warp, moved twenty (or thirty) years into the future, and SJP would haul out the grandkids to pose with her.  That cape makes her look ancient!  So much better without it!

  • janierainie

    In the first picture, it looks like her outfit weighs more than she!

  • hughman

    I don’t know, if I were given the opportunity to wear a fancy couture cape (no matter how uncertain I was about it) I might just jump at the chance. It’s not like she could have sashayed around ‘Work of Art’ in this and looked sane.

  • neofashionista

    LOVE the dress; 86 the cape!

  • Monabel

    Her eyes always look unnaturally tiny to me. Is it solely the make up?

  • There’s a nude lip, and then there’s the fresh-from-the-morgue nude lip.  Combined with the way too matte skin, and the heavy eye makeup which makes her eyes look absurdly small, and she looks like a bad wax mannequin. 

  • Judy_J

    What a difference a cape makes!  The dress is gorgeous without that cape.  Now, if we could only do something similar with her makeup…..

    • meowing

      Amen.  Was surprised TLo didn’t mention it, unless they’ve just given up on giving her makeup advice.  The hair and eye makeup are both atrocious.  Tiny eyes look even tinier with a metric tonne of goop on them.

  • Call me Bee

    Thank God she wore a slip…
    Anyway–Magice Cape aside, the dress is fab and could have been so much youthful looking had it not been for the 1972 updoharsh makeup.  I know that black eye liner is her “thing”, but it’s about time she lets it go.  Once it was edgy, now it’s aging. 

    Absolutely dig the shoes, though. 

  • I guess I’m the only one, but I like the cape.  I agree about the raccoon make-up though.   It’s way to much and way too dark.

  • I really wish she would lay off the heavy liner under her eyes. 

  • EverybodysStarling

    That cape is like an anti-superhero cape. Once she puts it on, she becomes Sophia from the Golden Girls. 

  • She REALLY needs an intervention with that eye makeup. I can’t look past it. 

  • The makeup is really bad. Too heavy-handed, and it’s time to retire the black eyeliner.

  • rainwood1

    Girl, that’s not your anything. 

  • another_laura

    That’s a lotta look.  

    But I like the shoes with it!

  • Scarlet39

    I don’t mind this on her.  She always strikes me as someone who really looks at events as something special so I get why she would choose something like this for a ballet gala.  Having said that, it’s time to rethink the makeup and go with less severe hair.  She’s looking a little scary in some of these pics. 

  • Woman, those are not your shoes!

  • Beautiful dress, but that cape looks hideous even on the model.  She should have ditched the cape.

  • All OK except those RACOON eyes!

  • Zippypie

    If you have small, close-set eyes, the worst thing you can do is have a zorro mask painted on.  And then pull your hair severely back from your face.

    The dress is okay.  The cape is HIDEOUS and needs to be burned along with the shoes, which are furthering the whole 70s matron right along.

  • ThaliaMenninger

    You hit the nail on the head on this one. Avec cape, c’est tragique. Sans cape, magique! Well, except for the hairdo. That’s tragic with or without the cape.

  • luluransom

    Oh god, it’s so pretty w/o the cape. 

  • The hair and makeup are AMAZING (that’s the only thing I liked about this look however). What on earth are you standards for face and hair styling??????? Her face is beautiful.

  • aeg66

    The belt, all the ricidulous jewelry, the hair & don’t get me started on the Michaels crap craft flower takes away from an enchanting dress. Why does SJP always seem to not let the couture shine??? Is she that freaking insecure???

  • The difference the cape makes is staggering – unfortunately in the wrong direction.

  • holdmewhileimnaked

    blender cover. the cape’s terrible all around, on her & on the model. i like the rest of it though–except for the thing in her hair. even that, i like the color. then again, it’s more or less the same color as the dress worn by jessica chastain elsewhere upon this site & i liked that too. so maybe i’m having a lavender sort of day. to that you can also add the shoes. so there. i think.

    edited to add:
    maybe it’s dracula’s blender cover. pointy fangs up top.

  • Martha Mitchel rises from the dead!

    • I know!  That’s immediately what I thought!

    • DeTrop


  • Oh, SJP – wha’ happened?  This is so not good!  SO not good!  Jacket on, jacket off – it’s just all bad!

  • Trisha26

    I don’t get her.

  • RocknRollmom

    ‘I will not even go near the cape—wow that is hideous (I couldn’t help myself).  I don’t think she is tall enough for this gown.  I think it is a beautiful gown but just not here.  And what happened to that basic rule, before you leave the house, take one thing off!  So many to chose from–the awful flower (WTH), the too heavy necklaces (all of them should go).  And the weird dated hair.  But I will give her the shoes.  Those are awesome shoes.  I can’t remember I saw her in anything that looked really good, certainly not in the past couple of years.

  • snich11

    She looks more like a drag queen all the time…

  • guest2visits

    So much better without the cape.  And I like the fabric of the cape; it just needs to be worked into a dress or some kind of
    formal coat, = bad cape.  Not happy with the make-up, overall. Too strident.

  • In the first photo, I thought: ugh, dingy grey tulle but once she took off the cape, WOW. Love it, perfect shoes, even love the necklaces piled on. Wish the hair hadn’t been piled up that way but I can see the look she was going for. Makeup is still v bad though.

    God, I can’t get over that dress; it is  drop-dead GORGEOUS.

  • I like the dress and the cape, just not together.

  • BeeBeauNYC

    That necklace is absolutely wonderful.

  • Looks better without the cape, but it is still too long and big and looks like it is eating her. It looks like she is trying on Mommy’s dress.

  • Not surprising, because the cape looks ridiculous on the model, too.  But it’s such a pretty dress without the cape.  Those are some killer shoes, too.

    However, the hair flower must go.  She’s has a flower on her necklace…that should be enough.

  • I love these shoes with the dress–great choice.

  • sk8tfan

    Great dress.Awesome shoes.  Bad hair, makeup, jewelry and cape. When did the pod people take possession of her, and where are they hiding the style maven we know and love?

  • she looks more and more like Bette Midler post liposuction! OLD.

  • IN IN IN IN !!!  I love everything SJP did here.  Hair, jewelry, makeup and the dress.  Yes!  😀

  • For the record, I love the cape!!  Get with it guys.  This is GORGEOUS. 

  • bitterk

    You nailed it boys.  That cape had Pat Nixon written all over it.  

  • bitchybitchybitchy

    SJP removes that tragic cape and it’s a real transformation from society matron to chic!

  • aristida_girl

    wow! what a difference a cape can make…I will be sure to remember that one forever…

  • I think she’s channeling Queen Victoria with those ropes of jewels around her neck.  With the stunning detailing on the dress, she didn’t need ONE necklace, let alone three.  Just those killer earbobs would have been plenty of impact.  And the shoes—just wonderful!  Yeah, send that cape back to Lady Bird Johnson and liberate the dress!

  • librarygrrl64

    Agreed. The gown is heavenly, but the cape, jewelry, and hair make the outfit look matronly.