Red Carpet Micro-Trends: The White Dress

Posted on October 09, 2012

We’ve been arguing for some time that stylists and the ladystars they dress can be awfully lemming-like in their choices. You turn around one day and suddenly everyone’s sporting pointy-toed pumps, or red clutches, or men’s watches. We get why these folks want to give the impression that they’re up on the very latest, but sometimes it makes them all look like middle-schoolers who all have to have the same backpack or pair of sneakers, lest they get ostracized in the schoolyard or at awkward dances taking place under basketball hoops. So we figured we’d pick a micro-trend and see how everyone did. Lately, the white dresses have been making major appearances. This might seem odd given the time of year, but “never wear white after Labor Day” is a silly little archaic rule that needs to go the route of “a lady never leaves the house without her gloves and hat.”

Ladies in white? Please step forward for judging.

And yes, obsessive types, some of these looks are closer to off-white than white, but that’s being nit-picky.


Ashley Greene in Antonio Berardi
Ashley Greene at the Third Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic.

Let’s face it. This gal would have to work awfully hard to look bad. If this dress was black – or any color, really – we’d probably find the panels too distracting, but it all works pretty well. We like the yellow shoes paired with it, but wish she’d worn one colorful piece of jewelry to set off some contrast.


Gwyneth Paltrow in Wes Gordon and Misha Nonoo
Gwyneth Paltrow at The Tracy Anderson Method Pregnancy Project.

Gwynnie has done a masterful job of accessorizing here. The blue purse provides a nice contrast, the orange pumps give her that pop, and the jewelry on her arm dresses the look up a but. We like the skirt, but the top looks a little raggedy.

Yes, these are separates. Stop being so pedantic. Stop it now.


Kristin Chenoweth in Roberto Cavalli
Kristin Chenoweth at The American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards.

It’s just okay. It’s really borderline bridal. Love the gold cuff.


Sienna Miller in Alessandra Rich
Sienna Miller at the Chairman’s Reception Honoring Richard Gere, Ann Roth & James Schamus.

This is straight-up fabulous. She never really deserved the fashionista label that was slapped onto her by Anna Wintour, but this is chic as hell; possibly a Personal Best. We like the gold cuff, but we hate seeing her sporting them on both wrists, Wonder Woman-style.


Taylor Swift in Alice + Olivia
Taylor Swift at The Radio 1’s Teen Awards.

And finally, the girl who’d wear a white dress every day of her life if she could get away with it. The little cutouts on the lower back take it away from looking too virginal. We like the ring and the earrings. We detest the shoes. Wearing white shoes with a white dress should be reserved for brides and little Catholic girls making their First Holy Communion.

[Photo Credit: Getty]

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  • call_me_schmeg

    if kristin is looking bridal, then taylor is a bridesmaid. (flower girl…?)

    • YousmelllikeAnnaWintour

      Junior bridesmaid.

  • newleaf1

    Love, love, love the way Sienna Miller looks in that dress….but oh, the tragic hair…

    eta: I know, it’s about the dress, not the hair…that just happened to be my first thought when I saw her in that fabulous dress.

    • mjude

      i thought the same thing too!

    • Sobaika

      She always looks like she could use a deep condition. I love her in that dress though, so chic.

      • Introspective

        agreed. a deep condition, and a color and cut really. homegirl’s looking a bit washed out. her dress is sickening though. loving the cape effect.

    • bitchybitchybitchy

      The dress is stunning-now if Sienna had only taken a few minutes to get the damn raggedy hair done properly. Is that asking too much?

      • Judih1

        Yes Sienna always has tragic hair and I get so distracted by her hair, I can’t notice her outfit

    • YousmelllikeAnnaWintour

      Her hair is so distracting.   This would have been a WERQ if she had used a hairbrush before leaving the house.  Also, didn’t Gwinnie wear something like this to the Oscars?

      • ballerinawithagun

        I was also wondering if that was the same dress.

      • PastryGoddess

        Gwynnie wore Tom Ford and it was a floor length cape.  But yeah I think we can throw around the word derivative here.

      • AllisonSees

        It’s a little too similar to the Tom Ford dress Gwyneth wore to the Oscars, yes.  But whereas the Tom Ford suited Gwyneth perfectly, Sienna looks like she’s in someone else’s dress.  I think it IS the hair that’s keeping her from pulling it off (and possibly the Wonder Woman bracelets).

        • Totally agree. One should not get points for ripping off Tom Ford so directly.

        • Call me Bee

          Yes–Gwyneth wore it better.  You have to be 11 feet tall for that look, and Sienna ain’t.  Plus–it’s too long. 

    • B_C_J

       I completely agree!! The dress is so architectural.  It’s absolutely wonderful!  However, the hair completely ruins the overall look.

    • Aurumgirl

       Didn’t Gwynnie wear this exact outfit a few months ago, prompting the Fug Girls to say she wore her cape “Like A Boss”?

  • 3boysful

    Surprisingly, none of these is really bad.  Gwyneth needs some facial color.  Sienna in another decade is going to look like SJP.

  • tereliz

    Do Taylor’s shoes have cat faces? Weird. 

    • kimmeister

      I was wondering that myself!  They definitely have little ears, or horns, or something.

      • Aurumgirl


    • mbelchic

      I thought the same thing-

    • they have. One of many Charlotte Olympia’s, I suppose.

  • Lisa Dugan

    Ashley Greene always looks fabulous and Sienna Miller’s dress is really interesting.  In a good way.

  • Sienna Miller, please! What a sublimely simple, perfectly fitted garment. It reminds me of Givenchy, in his heyday.

    • bitchybitchybitchy

      That gown is one of the best arguments for beautifully cut, simple garments-it’s just perfection.

  • lalahartma

    Yes Sienna is rocking it, but the rest, meh.

  • Nelliebelle1197

    Chenoweth’s fabric looks cheap. So cheap. Sad.

  • ojosazules

    Ashley’s dress is a little orthopedic for my taste. Gwyn is cute. Sienna chic. And yes, I think those are cat faces on Taylor’s shoes. If not, then her shoes are fanged.

  • Ashely’s dress reminds me of a skeleton.  Not sure why.  Also, Taylors white pumps are cats.  

    • kimmeister

      My immediate reaction to Ashley’s dress was “chic X-ray.”

  • In_Stitches

    When I see Ashley’s, I assume that the panels are sheer and the images have her nipples blurred out.  Maybe in person, it’s fine, but on a computer screen, my gut instinct was, well, that’s vulgar.  

    • bitchybitchybitchy

      I go back and forth about that style with the panels-in the wrong fabric and on the wrong woman it comes very close to being vulgar.

  • MilaXX

    I don’t mind white and I especially prefer the off white if it will keep folks away from the fake tanner. However I do have minor quibble with these looks.
    Ashley Greene – Even in this pale color I find the panels a bit distracting. I’m almost willing to overlook it  because  I find her pretty, but mind eye goes straight to those panels.
    Gwyneth Paltrow – I really like this look and the accessorizing.
    Kristin Chenowith – I barely like this see dress stuff and hers is too long.
    Sienna Miller – Looks great a& I agree about the cuff, but I hate her hair & isn’t this a repeat of the look Gwynnie wore during last years award season?
    Taylor Swift – Irrational hate list, but I have to give her credit for being the only person to make those cat shoes work.

    • kschwarting

      Sienna’s look is similar to the Gwynnie look from last year, but I believe Gwynnie’s was Tom Ford.

  • wisenhar

    Am I the only one who noticed Gwynie’s accessories are the same color scheme as the “everymothercounts” logo on the backdrop?

  • Pants_are_a_must

    So basically, apart from Greene, this micro-trend is limited to only tiny-skinny blondes. And all the dresses are so-so. It can stay a micro-trend, then.

  • That Taylor Swift dress is actually sold out in the First Holy Communion shop here in Kerry.

  • My god, are those cat ears on Taylor Swifts’s shoes??? Twee overload!

  • I think Sienna looks bridal. 

  • YousmelllikeAnnaWintour

    I wish I had not seen Ashley Greene’s picture.  Now I’m having champagne cravings.

  • YousmelllikeAnnaWintour

    In general, I think they all look washed out.

  • charlotte

    I don’t really like white dresses. To me they always look either bridal or meh-evoking (or both). It takes some poise to pull them off, and I don’t think these women are bringing it.

  • AnaRoW

    Ashley Greene’s the only one I care for but maybe because she’s the only non-washed out looking blonde.

    I suspect Gwyneth’s outfit would look better on her daughter.

    I still can’t figure out why Sienna Miller’s famous.  I know she’s supposed to be an actress but she doesn’t seem to do much beyond appearances on the red carpet.

    I have to laugh regarding the No-white-after-Labor-Day
    rule.  This woman wrote in to complain
    to an advice columnist, (Dear Abby, I think), earlier this year that her
    daughter was getting married in the fall and planned to wear a white wedding
    dress. She was appalled because you’re not supposed to wear white after Labor
    Day and wanted help talking sense into her. Abby talked her down but I just
    found it amazing, not only that the rule continues to be repeated, but that
    there’s people out there who thinks it’s so important that takes precedence over everything else.

    • Laylalola

      Gwyneth’s did strike me as strangely age-inappropriate. I don’t know if it’s that she’s just too old to pull off something about the look or if it’s like you say and the whole look is more suited toward someone not even a preteen yet. 

  • jw_ny

    I’m not a fan of white dresses, in general.  Winter white or a creamier color just has more life than the starkness of white…Sienna Miller’s looks as if it has a tinge of color to it…very pretty.  I am ok with white when it has texture, such as on Miss Swifts dress, and as on Goop’s sweater (as much as it pains me to ever pay any kind of compliment towards either of them ;))   Hate Ms. Chenoweth’s gown…looks like she’s some kind of a nut job that is desperate to be a bride. 

  • Anathema_Device

    I like white dresses, especially when they’re not too bridal or Easter Sunday looking. Brunettes tend to look great in white. Blondes have to be careful because they can looked washed out (see Paltrow above). A little bit stronger makeup goes a long way to fixing that, though, as Swift’s red lipstick shows.

  • Lilithcat

    “a lady never leaves the house without her gloves and hat.”

    I wish that rule would come back.  At least the part about the gloves.  I have such a stash!  

    • kimmeister

      I’ve been wishing the hat part would come back!  I love hats and have zillions of them, but I inevitably get a lot of people looking at me because so few women wear them.

      I have lots of gloves too, but just the winter kind.  Except for the fuchsia opera gloves I’ve never found an excuse to wear yet . . .

    • formerlyAnon

      Perhaps it will among we baby boomers, as our hands get ropier and crinklier.

    • Dagney

      Oh me too.  I have all my grandmother’s gloves.  swoon!

  • Am I the only tired of Gwyneth Paltrow’s nr. 3 spaghetti hair? 

  • TaurusKW

    Gotta say, I am not a fan of beige/yellow/orange shoes with the white dresses; pretty much anything that is a variant of skin tones paired with white just feels off to me.

  • kimmeister

    I love wearing white and/or cream (but not those two together!).  The only person here who looks washed out to me is Gwyneth.  Sienna Miller’s dress is as chic as all get out.  I just wish she hadn’t paired it with the juvenile lips purse.

  • The Sienna Miller dress reminds me a lot to that Tom Ford that Gwineth wore at the oscars.

    • lbl

      That’s all I see when I look at it. It’s like a more dingy version to me.

  • formerlyAnon

    These all work for me. Bad luck that they  mostly stand before white backdrops – that alone will limit the white dress trend, I’m betting.

    Minutiae: Sienna Miller’s hair lends a sort of witchy zombie priestess vibe she’d be better off without. Princess Paltrow and Ms. Chenowith both look far better than one would suppose they would. Ms. Swift’s earrings & makeup save her from looking too unfinished & jejuene. It’s really an object lesson.

  • rab01

    I can’t believe that’s Sienna Miller’s personal best.  The dress paired with her make-up makes her face look gray, as if she’s a two-pack a day smoker.  Also, it’s such a … column … of a dress.

  • Trisha26

    I don’t care for any of these – and those sleeves on Sienna’s dress – yuck! Is it a dress, coat, cloak – a droak?

  • yybb

    For the past 2 years we have been drinking Veuve Clicquot Brut for New Year. It is absolutely delicious. Dry enough, not sweet enough, not bitter enough. Just perfect Brut in my mind.

    And … I liked Gwyneth the best out of them.

  • glennethph

    The dress and cape Sienna Miller is wearing reminds me of Gwyneth at the Oscars, I think.  Is it the same designer?

  • mrssage

    Um, we all wore black patent leather mary janes for first communion. I can’t imagine our mothers would have approved white shoes.

    • Um, well I’ve probably been to 20 First Holy Communions in the past 40 years and in every one, the girls wore white patent leather shoes.

  • PrunellaV

    I was really surprised that the caption under Taylor Swift wasn’t “Of course.”

  • Judih1

    The Babyheads are Kristen are so distracting. She is such a tiny thing, her fake boobs look as if they weigh more than she does.

    Gwinnie looks washed out and tired in that look – maybe if she had worn her hair up.

    I like Sienna Millers outfit, but it looks a tad mature on her and her hair is just awful. Can’t believe she was EVER considered a fashion Icon. Is she Anna Wintour’s secret love child? Cause that is the only justification why Anna would make such a crazy declaration.

  • … those shoes on taylor’s feet … are they … mice?

    • Dagney

      no.   wait…

  • Tracy_Flick

    I hate Gwennie’s outfit. It’s completely unflattering to her figure, and looks like her grandma crocheted it. 

  • Call me Bee

    Didn’t Gwin wear that ensamble that Sienna is wearing here?  And wore it better? 

  • Allison Woods

    HATE ALL IRRATIONALLY. Even the one chic one.

    I think I’m still traumatized from seeing WHITE BABY CLOTHES on Pwojek Wunway.

  • Can we start giving taylor an “of course” as well?

  • Sienna Miller’s hair RUINS the whole look!  How about a nice trim & a root touch-up, ladygirl?

    • Trisha26

      Don’t know if it’s still true, but about a year ago stars weren’t having their roots done to “bond” with the common woman who couldn’t afford to. Ugh.

  • E_bee

    They have Method Pregnancy now?

  • Zippypie

    Sienna’s look is completely ruined by her hair.  Drags it down and out. 

    I love Taylor’s dress.  There.  I said it. Now I need to shower.

  • mrmonkeybottoms

    Why, why does everyone applaud Gwyneth Paltrow as a beautiful, fashionable woman? She’s so washed out and bland and colourless and her hair! Her hair! It’s so limp and stringy and BORING. So so so boring. 

  • Karen Maslowski

    At the risk of being pedantic (and of having to duck from bridal shoes thrown my way), the rule was actually no white SHOES after Labor Day. There has always been “winter white” clothing, and some of the above looks fall into that category. 

  • Violina23

    I love Kristin Chenoweth (She’ll always be Galinda- with a Guh, to me) but that dress is WAY TOO WHITE. I feel like I need sunglasses.

    Ashley’s doesn’t do anything for me, reminds me of the MIla Jovovich character in the movie “The 5th Element”

  • Am I being silly or has La Paltrow done smth to her face? There’s something around the eyes that doesn’t look right…

  • guest2visits

    Agree Taylor should have switched out the white shoes for anything else. But I just can’t with Gwyneth trying to wear a tiny junior
    size outfit that even Taylor would probably consider too young. It does not fit her, it does not suit her.
    Sienna for the win, Ashley a close second.

  • bellafigura1

    Holy mackeral, I would’ve said Sienna was looking a little boho bride of … Johnny Depp as Frankenstein?  She looks shrouded and her hair looks positively gnarly.  Nope.

  • I’m always kind of “avoidy” about white, mostly because I look terrible in it.  But I really love a lot of these looks – I think Ashley and Gwyneth look amazing.  Can’t stand what Chenowith and Taylor Swift have on – so tired!

  • SophieCollier

    Taylor Swift can wear white shoes and STILL look like she has tiny feet.  What freakish alien is she?

  • PeaceBang

    OMG, I just figured out who Sienna Miller looks like: the little doll Edith in the “Lonely Doll” series. Yikes. It’s the hair and the vacant expression. 

  • RzYoung

    Some of the names of these events…! Tracey Anderson Method Pregnancy>?!?? Hero Dog Awards?! ;oD

  • Carlos Abreu

    talking about copycat??? and being a style ICON???? what???
    Sienna Miller in Alessandra Rich  that dress is a poor copy of stephane rolland HC from 2010…

  • Carlos Abreu

    hamptons international film festival??? i wonder what sort of movies they show up there… “anna wintour´s mouth looks like a cats anus – part2 “??? 

  • Carlos Abreu

    Kristin Chenoweth in Roberto Cavalli borderline bridal???i’ve seen brides looking less bride than this… AHAAHAHAH

  • Gwynnie needed some lipstick…and Lana del Rey really was the one who started this trend (for better or worse)…she wore white dresses at all of her performances.

  • Aurumgirl

    Taylor is actually wearing a First Holy Communion outfit, but with a little less back than normal.   That’s why, the white satin shoes.