Rule: all white is tricky

In Actors, Celebrities, Famous people, Fashion shows, FIlms, Weddings on June 23, 2011 at 9:52 am

The white dress is a big fashion trend right now. In particular the white lace dress, which made the Dolce and Gabbana runway for this fashion season look like a cross between a convention of oversized girls taking their First Communion and a granma underwear parade.

But I can see the appeal. It’s a fresh idea and a welcome and witty change from the Little Black Dress to the Little White Dress and lady slebs have embraced it keenly (left to right: Kate Bosworth, Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively, Diane Kruger, LeAnn Rimes).

But there are very good reasons the LBD has become one of the all-time fashion classics. It suits everyone, is very forgiving, doesn’t show where you’ve accidentally dripped your dinner down the front and is generally hard to get wrong.

The only way you can really stuff up an LBD is to overaccessorise it. Or drop a lot of yogurty dip down the front.

But a white dress, which is the equivalent of carrying around a bill board saying ‘Hey! Look at me!’, takes a lot of chutzpah to carry off. Also a lot of dry cleaning. And a lot of control underwear, because any kind of white fabric is completely relentless about showcasing the tiniest boofle of flab. As you’ll know if you’ve ever spent time on a treadmill behind someone working out in white gym leggings.

The other risk with the white dress is of looking like you’ve lost your way on the way to the wedding reception. You may be surprised to hear that Elizabeth Olsen (sister of the more famous twins…), seen above, is not leaving the ceremony after just marrying the dude in the sand shoes.

He’s Sean Durkin, the director of her new film ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ and this is the two of them at its Cannes showing. (The film, a thriller about a girl getting out of a religious cult, sounds interesting and he won Best Director for it at Sundance.)

This bridal appearance becomes a risk when, as Ms Olsen shows here, you opt for a demure, full-length floaty version of the white lace dress. All that’s lacking from this picture is the lily of the valley bouquet. She’s even got veily things going on in her hair.

The other way to wear the white lace dress, to shift it from Here Comes The Bride, to The Girl Can’t Help It, is showcased here by Uma Thurman, also at Cannes, with fellow jury members, Jude Law and Robert de Niro.

Ms Thurman’s Versace frock is crisp Broderie Anglaise, rather than Olsen’s much more bridal soft lace and its fierce cut is worthy of Mad Men’s Joan Holloway.

Look at how she’s standing – caramba! – but it would be impossible not to sashay in a dress like that. It would also be impossible for most normal human beings to pull it off.

So that’s the challenge of the white lace dress. If you want to make sure you don’t look like a 21st century Miss Havisham, or a prissy 1960s bride (Rachel McAdams below, left), you’ll have to be up to looking like Uma Thurman.

I think even Uma looks a bit bridal in her all-white Chanel couture and Versace red carpet numbers, also at Cannes, below.

And I’ve put these pics in just because I love the body language between Uma and Robert de Niro. They so obviously had the best time judging together.

  1. The last time I wore a white lace dress, not counting the wedding, was now let me see – 41 years ago. As a fresh faced 16 year old living it up towards the end of the swinging 60’s – I can still remember it – a micro micro mini at my new boyfriends year 12 dance? prom? whatever it was. Sigh.

    • Good point – I can remember the white lace mini being a thing back in the day. A young woman I idolised had white lace BOOTS! I was in so much awe…

  2. Love uma in all three options, agree it carries the risk of looking bridal but I think that’s why us girls r loving it so much, to get that bride-to-be glow of freshness and innocence! Haha x

  3. I see you are a fan of Barbara Trapido…

    • Hurrah! One of my favourite books…. although it was already a ‘well known phrase or saying’ before that, but yes, that was more reference xxx

      • Hurrah indeed. I wondered whether the title was a ‘well known phrase or saying’ but haven’t found the original. One of the things I loved about it was all the references – makes one feel dead cultured to recognise them! Ditto with her other books

  4. Thanks Maggie I really look forward to your posts I have been a fan for years keep them coming !

  5. I wore a white Lanvin dress the other night and spent the whole time worrying about a possible accident. You cant relax.

  6. Now, Maggie, were you not able to find women of a certain age and not svelte thin looking good in a white dress? I can’t even wear a white blouse because I feel like I resemble a football player. I’m also messy.
    I do recall owning a vintage white cotton skirt,to the ankles and lovely lace around the bottom. My friend and I counted 38 tiny tiny pleats on one side only. It was lovely and I had a 22 inch waist. Those were the days!
    Now, in white … I think of beached whales. I also tend to sit on city benches and park benches. In white? I think not! We have lots of pigeons and gulls and you know …..

    • Quite agree. I look HIDEOUS in a white shirt. Queen Frump. I very occasionally wear a white T under a v neck sweater, but apart from that the only thing I like white, is white jeans which suit me because I am that weird inverted triangle shape with a skinny little ugly flat ASS xxx

  7. Every time I buy a white cotton summery dress, I have this image in my mind of how I will look in it – all Estee Lauder White Linen ad campaign, you know, backlit by the setting sun in a meadow of wildflowers with a picnic basket and my long blonde hair flowing…… unsurprisingly, it never quite looks that way when I get it home, hence I have a wardrobe full of the damn things. Now I know why – I do not look like Uma, never have, never will. Sigh.

  8. Don’t mention spilt yoghurt! I treated myself to a new handbag from the Jigsaw sale yesterday, and accidentally tipped half a Pret yoghurt on to it today. I could have cried! I think it’ll be all right, but I’d have liked to enjoy that new handbag moment a while longer. I’m never going to eat healthy food again!
    I have the same White Dress fantasy, only with me it’s linen kaftans. I think I’ll look all leggy and elegant, with leggings and ballet pumps. Instead, I look like Square Bob Sponge Pants as styled by The White Company

  9. Dear Anne at Home,
    I hear you. I have recently didcovered the joy of dark charcoal grays …. and am hoping the style of dark gray pinstipe suits and skirts and trousers will come back in style. White is so very unforgiving. Sigh is right

  10. Every time I put on white – Ugghhh! and I DO so want to wear a crisp white shirt – the best I can do is have a white collar or cami or scarf peeping around my face, or like you Maggie white jeans/capris. And the only white accessories are slips of white summer slides, and my joggers. BTW I love your Style Notes, please keep them coming. X

  11. You are bang on trend again Maggie…I also loved your piece on scarves! I LOVE scarves for all the same reasons!!! To go off on a tangent here…how do I set up my own blogroll rather than just like on FB or subscibe??? Many thanks xxxxx

    • Hmmm I have no idea. What is a blogroll? Sorry I can’t help. Do you know any 12 year old boys who could advise you?! x

      • Thanks for replying Maggie…a blogroll is like a bloglist…I will go on the hunt amongst my friends for a 12 year old son!! Xx

  12. I do love a good white t-shirt! Really just posting this comment because I can’t figure out how to get everyone’s comments delivered to my email address without leaving a post first????

  13. I’ve just never been into the white dress thing. Didn’t even want a shade of pale for my wedding dress (but gave into pressure in the end).

    I used to love a crisp white shirt with sharp black pants. My fave accessories were a cravat, or beautiful beads and a scarf tied around my waist.

    And then came the babies. White doesn’t do favours for big boobs, leaky boobs and grubby mummy-loving fingers (the kids, not the husband).

    The only time I have worn white pants, I managed to sit on a blueberry which had escaped from the fruitsalad.

    So the LWD won’t be featuring in my wardrobe…

  14. Haven’t worn all white since 1989 – when I was 20! Maggie, I am excited to find another inverted triangle – – – I had a personal stylist consult on Tuesday and have been told I am the same! Now if only I could be as stylish as you!

    Love your work – I look forward to reading your posts and getting the emails telling me they are ready to view!

    • Thanks so much. As I keep saying to people, please please please tell anyone you think might enjoy it. It’s hard to get the message out and word of mouth is everything x

  15. White lace up patent leather boots – late seventies, late teens – my best and probably only white moment…. being a left handed, inadvertently grubby kinda gal !

  16. A Blueberry! Brilliant.

    Every time I buy a white shirt, tee, or worse, a tunic and try it on again at home, it only looks good if I take my arms out, cross the sleeves in front of my and tie them at the back. Hmm.

  17. OMG how good does Uma look ?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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