A guide to this summer's fashion must have - a non-bridal white dress

Blackpink's Jennie Kim wears a white Chanel dress at the Met Gala
Blackpink's Jennie Kim wears a white Chanel dress at the Met Gala Copyright Copyright Getty Images
Copyright Copyright Getty Images
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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Following Blackpink's Jennie Kim's hugely popular outfit choice at the Met Gala, Euronews Culture takes a look at some of the best white dresses of all time


Following the glitzy Met Gala earlier this month, you might just see little white dresses popping up everywhere as we get into the summer fashion season.

That’s thanks in part to Blackpink’s Jennie Kim who attended the glamorous New York event, which paid tribute to the late designer Karl Lagerfeld, wearing a Chanel-made reinterpretation of a look from Lagerfeld’s autumn/winter 1990 collection for the fashion house.

Despite the little white dress’ relative simplicity, a new report has shown that her Met Gala look caused Google searches for ‘white minidress’ to explode by a staggering 564 per cent after the K-pop star donned the gown.

Research done by British fashion brand Karen Millen saw online in white minidresses soaring by six times the average thanks to Jennie Kim’s sartorial selection.

White dresses have been a staple for years and while typically associated with purity and weddings, they’ve become a mainstay of every fashionista's spring and summer wardrobe. If you too have been inspired by Kim’s look - or any of the other white dresses paraded on the Met Gala staircase - but don’t know where to start in choosing the best look for you, Euronews Culture is here to provide more inspiration via some of the best white dresses ever worn. 

Copyright AP1954
Grace Kelly with Cary Grant in 'To Catch a Thief'Copyright AP1954

The 'goddess' gown

Definitely at the fancier end of the white dress spectrum are Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1950s, filming 'To Catch a Thief' and 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' respectively. Both women took inspiration from the 'goddess' look often associated with white dresses and both look elegant and exceptionally polished - perfect reference points if you're attending a smart event this summer, but definitely avoid this style if you're a wedding guest! A quick note on 'To Catch a Thief' - every outfit worn by Grace Kelly is timeless and the film is well worth a watch for more ideas for perfect summer outfits, as well as the plot.

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Elizabeth Taylor filming 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof' in 1958Copyright Archive Photos/Getty Images

A Marilyn moment

Perhaps the most iconic white dress of all time is Marilyn Monroe's William Travilla-designed dress, worn by the late actress in 1955's 'The Seven Year Itch'. While filming the movie the previous year, Monroe famously posed above a windy subway grating and the resulting image has been described as one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century. A word of warning - do try to put your own spin on the look if you try to recreate this outfit to avoid looking too costumey. 

Copyright 1954 The AP
Marilyn Monroe filming 'The Seven Year Itch'Copyright 1954 The AP

Not quite bridal

Brigitte Bardot was famous for her numerous weddings - both on and off screen - but this dress from 1967's 'A Coeur de Joie (Two Weeks in September)' could be worn for any occasion, marriage-related or otherwise. Many brides spend a vast amount on a wedding dress but, if you take inspiration from his Pierre Cardin maxi dress, it would be possible to wear the expensive garment over and over. The gown is a highlight of the Serge Bourguignon-directed film, which was almost universally panned by critics, and stood out in one of the most stylish movie wardrobes in history.

Copyright Sygma via Getty Images
Brigitte Bardot wearing white in Scotland while filming 'A Coeur de Joie (Two Weeks in September)'Copyright Sygma via Getty Images

1970s glamour never goes out of style

Actress Farrah Fawcett - pictured here with Britain's newly-crowned King Charles, when he was a mere prince in 1977 - is the ultimate source of inspiration for a 1970s white dress moment. A dress inspired by a plunging white halter gown with gold accessories is perfect to make a statement at any soiree worth attending this summer. 

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Farrah Fawcett flanked by Lee Majors and the then Prince Charles in 1977Copyright Fotos International/Getty Images
Copyright Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
Princess Diana wearing Versace in 1995Copyright Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

If in doubt, take inspiration from Versace

For some of the most iconic white dresses in fashion history, look no further than Italian designer Versace. Worn to great effect by Princess Diana and Elizabeth Hurley in the 1990s, the fashion house provides endless inspiration when it comes to this summer's staple. Whether you want a simpler look - like the late Diana's choice for a concert in Italy in aid of Bosnian children - or the heavily embellished gown worn by actress Hurley at the 1995 Oscars - Versace is a good place to start for your style reference scrapbook.

Copyright Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Elizabeth Hurley in Versace at the 1995 OscarsCopyright Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Proving that Versace can still make a perfect white dress 30 years on is Anne Hathaway, wearing white - like Jennie Kim - to last week's Met Gala in New York. Inspired by Karl Lagerfeld's designs for Chanel - with its tweed fabric and pearl and gold accents - Hathaway's dress shows that a white dress can still look edgy and stand out from simpler pieces, without sacrificing any elegance. This was the best look at the Met Gala in Euronews Culture's opinion; expect to see copies on the high street very soon. 

Copyright Invision/AP
Anne Hathaway resplendent in Versace at the Met GalaCopyright Invision/AP

Making a whimsical choice? Look to Bjork

No list of white dresses would be complete without Bjork's iconic swan dress, worn by the Icelandic singer to the 2001 Oscars. While it features on 'worst outfit' rankings on a regular basis and certainly stands out for the wrong reasons, it's famous for a reason - and you could do worse than taking a pinch of inspiration from the Marjan Pejoski-designed piece if you're keen to inject a little whimsy into your white dress look.

Copyright AP2001
Bjork in her iconic swan dress at the Oscars in 2001Copyright AP2001

The endless possibilities of the white dress

While black dresses are always heralded for their countless iterations and ways to wear them, white dresses are equally as versatile. Taking inspiration from Hollywood stars of yore, these three outfits prove white evening wear can look good in any form. 

Copyright AP2009
Michelle Pfeiffer at a screening of 'Cheri' in 2009Copyright AP2009

Michelle Pfeiffer, seen here at a screening of her film ‘Cherie’ in 2009, wears a simple white cocktail dress with slightly undone hair which gives the appearance of effortless glamour.

Rather less effortless but equally as glamorous was Michelle Obama at the 2009 inauguration ball after her husband Barack became U.S. president for the first time. Wearing a gown designed by Jason Wu and featuring organza flowers, the former first lady looked elegant and perfectly turned out for the historical occasion.

Copyright AP2009
Michelle Obama at the 2009 Inaugural BallCopyright AP2009

If you really want to make a statement with your white dress, you could do a lot worse than to take inspiration from Lupita Nyong'o. She wore the Calvin Klein gown, adorned with 6,000 pearls, to the 2015 Oscars and was easily the best dressed that year. Sadly, the dress - estimated to be worth $150,000 (approximately €137,000) - was stolen from Nyong’o’s hotel room after the Academy Awards and it's still unclear if the later-returned version was the original, but it will live on in fashion history as a perfect white dress. 

Copyright Invision/AP
Draped in pearls - Lupita Nyong'o at the Oscars in 2015Copyright Invision/AP

A 'cottage-core' staple

Even if you have no events to go to this summer, there’s still a white dress for you. If your plans involve nothing more than picking flowers in the garden, cottage-core - one of Euronews’ top ‘cores’ and one of the few that look just as good offline - shows you just need a simple, flowy white dress to play into bucolic fantasies. Accessorise with a headscarf and a wicker basket and you have the perfect, easy, breezy summer look.

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