Image by Obidi Nzeribe.
For centuries, the color white in relation to a formal gown has been synonymous with the occasion some consider to be the most special, most sacred day of a woman’s life; their wedding day. Whether traditional, classic, bohemian, or modern in style and aesthetic, a white dress holds great implications in the eye of public perception thanks to the tradition they hold in the grand eye of fashion history and tradition.
But many women are choosing to ditch the superstitions of centuries passed when it comes to saving white for their wedding days and instead wearing their best white gowns for other special days in their life. This decision seems to be perfectly aligned with the recent years of female liberation in society and the fashion world. Gone are the days that women are waiting to be chosen and dictating their greatest style moments in reliance of marital status or their pursuit in finding love, they are now opting to celebrate their lives and style themselves boldly NOW; spouse or no spouse.
To commemorate this magnificent change in tide, we have rounded up our favorite white dress moments from our favorite starlets who weren’t celebrating their weddings and instead other equally important moments in their life and careers. Check out our top picks below!
Tracee Ellis Ross at the 2016 Emmy’s
Known famously as a forward-thinking feminist who is constantly advocating for the advancement of women’s rights and voices, Queen TER turned heads when she walked onto the 2016 Emmy’s red carpet for the first time in this stunning, pleated white Ralph Lauren one-shoulder gown. Regarding the moment, she told Oprah in 2020 that although she didn’t win her nomination that year, that the style moment signified her “moment to be married to my own life and to actually walk in what I had created and built”. And boy did she do all that and more.
Image by Getty Images.
Lizzo at the 2020 Grammy Awards
Lizzo shook the table, carpet, and planet when she donned the coveted Grammy’s red carpet in this custom white Versace gown complete with a corseted bodice, dramatic sweet heart neckline and luxurious white fur shawl wrapped around her to add the extra touch of lavishness we didn’t even know we needed. This night marked Lizzo’s historic Grammy’s debut as she was the most nominated artist of the evening with eight nominations for the year to her credit and she served as a beacon of hope and possibility for countless women everywhere to aspire to.
Image by Amy Sussman of Getty Images.
Issa Rae at the 2021 NAACP Image Awards
Actress and multi-hyphenate powerhouse Issa Rae stole the show when she appeared on our screens in this decadently ornate yet simplistic white Prada gown. Nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy, Issa achieved her first NAACP win also breaking fellow comedy sister Tracee Ellis Ross’ year’s long streak of winning in the category and famously thanked Tracee for losing to which Tracee was immediately seen laughing at Rae’s undeniable humor, later congratulating her further on her Instagram for her historic victory. Issa didn’t just make award history but also marked a poignant moment for her in her fashion and style journey with this gloriously powerful style moment.
Image by Getty Images.
Rihanna at the 2019 Fenty Launch Party
When news initially broke of Rihanna launching her own luxury fashion brand in partnership with luxury brand powerhouse LVMH, making her the first Black woman to be in power of an LVMH brand, fans and haters alike went into a frenzy. And when she arrived at her launch event in this white blazer dress from her first collection, we were all blown away. With its immaculate fit, cinched waist, and sublime details, this fashion moment instantly became one of the style icon’s most memorable and legendary.
Image by Julien Hekimian for Getty Images.
Venus Williams at the 2022 Oscar’s
Tennis superstar, sports icon, and one half of the Williams’ sister dynasty, Venus Williams absolutely stunned in this Elie Saab, plunging neckline white gown complete with a dramatically teased high pony a la Priscilla Presley immaculately styled by fashion stylist to the stars Law Roach. Powerful enough to perfectly summarize Venus and her family’s important Oscar’s night that consisted of numerous nominations and performances in honor of the winning film about them and their father’s life and success King Richard, this dress made us all feel like the Cinderella-like story that is Venus Williams was alive for us to revel in through the undeniable power of fashion.
Image by Obidi Nzeribe.
Michelle Obama at the 2009 Inauguration
In her first Inagural Ball as First Lady of the United States, former FLOTUS Michelle Obama blew us away when she came out in this stunningly flow-y and elegant one-shoulder gown designed by [then] underrated Jason Wu, introduced to Mrs. Obama by the iconic Andre Leon Talley. Complete with diamond bangles, a glamorously gaudy ring and dangling diamond earrings, the accompaniment of every major and minor piece of this overall look was integral to its instant timelessness in culture and fashion history and marked the beginning of certainly one of the most stylish eras in First Lady Fashion History.
Image by Saul Loeb of Getty Images.
Written by contributing fashion writer, Kennedi LéShea.