Fug or Fab: Cate Blanchett


Looking at Cate Blanchett here, I had this moment where I was all, “this outfit is so summer for December.”

Yeah, she’s in Australia. It’s summer there. I knew that — although it does make me wonder something: In the United States, we always say that you ought not wear white after Labor Day, AKA After Summer Is Over (even if we don’t really buy that or believe it anymore). Is there a corollary to that in the other hemisphere? Are there little old ladies in Sydney clutching their pearls because someone is wearing white after…Valentine’s Day? Please enlighten me, international readers. These are things I want to know!

As far as her specific white goes….it’s tough with Cate, as you know. In many ways, I think she is so Cate Blanchett-y that she can pull off looks that other women can’t. That being said, although there is something about the neckline on this that makes it look a bit like it might be on backwards, I like this on her. I feel like this is the dress you wear when you’re getting married at the courthouse, but it’s the chicest courthouse wedding in the world.

What do you think, Fug Nation?

[Photo: Getty]

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Comments (75):

  1. lesli

    I think it would look great if the sheer stuff was cut away at the neckline so it had the nice v-neck you can see under it.

  2. Lindy

    The neckline shoulder area isn’t quite right; it makes her look too much like a linebacker. Also, the color maybe isn’t that flattering or the right white for her, though I bet it looks better in person. Still, she looks pretty and the dress isn’t horrible.

  3. Ailatan

    I’m in the southern hemisphere and white is pretty much ok all year round. I think it’s a wonderful winter colour and would love to own a nice white winter coat (though it’d be a bitch to keep it pristine)

    • Kit

      I have a cream wool winter coat (duffle coat style, 3/4 length with the most adorable bone toggle buttons) and a cream cashmere winter jacket (blazer style) – and my bank account can attest to the HEFTY drycleaning bills I rack up every winter because of said colours. I swear just standing on the subway platform without touching a thing can make them dirty – it’s like the wind is dirty!

      On the other hand, they’re so chic-looking I just can’t give them up. :)

      • Ailatan

        I also have a dufle coat with bone toggle buttons!! Mine is a nice tan and it’s my favourite and warmest winter coat!

        I think there’s a lot of pollution in the air that makes clothes dirtier -at least where I live-

  4. fernichiwa

    the neckline transports this from potentially boring and mumsy, to interesting and sculptural – rather like cate.

    and yes, it’s considered a bit odd to wear white here during winter.

  5. maxameliana

    I think that the neckline is what makes it a Cate dress vs, say, a Rachel Bilson dress. I’m in awe – so pretty and she managed to meet the illusion of sheer, yet with nary a VPL or bra to be seen.

  6. PeggyO

    Chic, original and just a little quirky. Perfect Cate.

  7. Sam

    It’s a bit fancy sheer raincoat over fanchy sheer lace night gown. The glaringly white shoes don’t help.

  8. janet

    But. Are those her underpants?

    • bessy

      i think that’s a sheer pocket (more noticeable in alternative pics of this event)

  9. Pink Coat

    It’s adorable! Love it completely, no changes. She can even pull off the white shoes which most folks can’t.

  10. Adrianne

    I think this is amazing. Good job!

  11. Amber

    I often don’t feel the love for Cate Blanchett that everyone else seems to. I KNOW, I KNOW. So, while she doesn’t look bad, per se, I don’t think the color is that flattering and I don’t like the white shoes with this dress. The dress itself is interesting, and I will admit that she can get away with a lot of things other people can’t. So, maybe in a different color?

  12. rose

    That rule about when to wear white is an American-only thing, I think? Never heard it uttered in Aus, so I think the little ladies of Sydney are safe :)

    • Julia in Oz

      Yep, I’ve only heard of it on American websites. Not an Aussie thing.

  13. Lynne

    I think it’s lovely all around. The whole thing looks effortless somehow. Love the shoes! Also? I needs to be said. Cate has a good tailor. Whatever she wears, it always fits her. Take note, starlets. Take note.

  14. Kit

    I love it. The neckline would be weird on anyone but her, but she can pull it off, and otherwise, the dress is lovely – and – as you say, perfect for the chicest courthouse wedding in the world.

    Speaking of perfection – her hosiery! Why can’t I find hosiery that is just EXACTLY the colour of my skin with the pefect amount of sheerness and the perfect amount of subtle glow? *shakes fist as hosiery god/esses*

    • Geemee

      I THOUGHT she was wearing hose! But … why? So her legs would have the same subtle glow as her dress? If so, it works. Love the dress, btw. LOVE.

  15. Steph

    I think on anyone else it might have looked too cutesy, but it works for Cate.

  16. Donna

    Love the dress on her, even the neck panel bit. However, I think the bright white, and the closed toe, of the shoes are just way too harsh for the soft, creamy, etherealness of the dress. Maybe some ‘almost invisible’ strappy things? But that might be too predictable for Cate.

    And yep, I’m Australian and the first time I heard the expression ‘white after labor day’ was in John Waters’ ‘Serial Mom’ and I was very confused… Definitely not a thing for us!

  17. Nicole McIlroy Steeves

    It certainly requires Cate Blanchett. Picture this on, say, Michelle Williams – you would hate it.

  18. AmandaD

    I’m just relieved the black thing on the shelf behind isn’t actually a giant bow on her head like I originally thought, so I’m inclined to give her a pass just because of that.

  19. Trubie

    To clarify the U.S. custom, the “no white after Labor Day” rule refers to wearing *white shoes, and also generally white pants* but not white in general. So, for example, a fabulous white cashmere coat or sweater dress would be encouraged in the winter, but wearing white leather pumps with said coat or dress would not. There are all kinds of exceptions to this rule (yes, it’s okay to wear white winter boots, or off-white wool pants with just the right top – really, this rule is about both the color and texture of the fabric), but white on the bottom half of the body in fall/winter in the U.S. is often a no-no.

  20. melanie

    It’s really cute!

  21. Fi

    No silly rules for colour in South Africa either – that wouldn’t be politically correct in our rainbow nation. Or for what you wear in each season – our men are so manly they wear shorts in winter (and when it gets VERY cold they wear shorts with a jacket)…. and on days when its 40°C (104 °F) you will find at least six people walking around with a wooly beanie on… .

  22. blah

    See, you have it wrong. It must be raining outside, because she is wearing a fancy, pleated, plastic bag over her dress so it doesn’t get wet.

  23. Gigi

    Yeah, that sheer overlay looks like the fancy version of those plastic raincoats all the Niagara Falls boat tours give out to passengers.

    The shoes look like those generic white bridesmaids shoes before they get dyed whatever hideous color your bride friend has chosen for you and her friends to wear on her wedding day. She needs a really fierce strappy sandal instead.

  24. Kim

    love this dress! It’s different and really pretty. btw, you should put out questions to the world more often – it’s fun to hear what people from other countries say – not that they don’t comment normally, I’m sure, but we never state what countries we’re from.

  25. malie

    She looks great, full stop.

  26. Bella

    Take away the overlay from the neckline and it’s a winner. Very pretty.

  27. augogo

    She’s wearing cream and she looks fabulous. Perfect. Totally.

    Absolutely no rules about “white shoes etc after whatever” here in Australia. No rules full stop. And yep, first time I ever heard it was in ‘Serial Mom’.

  28. augogo

    She’s wearing cream and she looks fabulous. Perfect. Totally.

    Absolutely no rules about “white shoes etc after whatever” here in Australia. No rules, full stop. And yep, first time I ever heard it was in ‘Serial Mom’.

  29. Martha

    The neckline does look weird, but this is SO MUCH BETTER than many other things she’s worn. And by that I mean, this is something that would probably look good on other people too, not just on Cate Blanchett, who can wear anything and make it look fab.

  30. Sandra

    She and Mirren and Streep and Swinton–pardon me, SWINTON– need to get together and offer a masterclass in fabulosity.

  31. Tiffany

    Confer with all Aussies on the white whenever.
    Cate can pull off most things, although I think this dress would have looked nicer without the shear “raincoat” on top. It hides her great figure.

  32. Lina

    I like the under-dress. I don’t care for any of the tulle mess overlaying it.

  33. Molly

    I want her legs, and for that tulle exoskeleton to go away. And it could use sleeves.
    The shoes remind me of new veneers, but strangely, I don’t hate them.

  34. Libby

    It looks good on Kate, but it almost looks like it’s inside out – like the designer forgot to put the lining on the underside.

  35. vandalfan

    Tulle exoskeleton, exactly. If it was properly fitted from the waist up, I could learn to love it, although I have a little trouble with daisy patterned laces that look just like those Rubbermaid bathtub flowers intended to prevent slipping.

  36. Natty G

    She can do no wrong. I didn’t even wear a winter coat this year, so down here the cruise collection works all year.

  37. SaraK

    Fi, South Africa’s men sound just like Southern California’s. My Malibu-raised husband will wear shorts in February. He’s even worn them skiing, but in his defense it was spring skiing and the air was a bit warm even though the ground obviously wasn’t.

    I like Cate’s dress, but only on her. I think the only other person who could maybe pull it off would be SWINTON and I don’t see her picking this particular frock.

    Also, I want those shoes, but in another color. Sky-high but not clunky is so hard to find now.

  38. Jess

    I’ve only ever heard of the no white after Labor Day rule in American movies or TV shows, which we get a lot of here in Aus.

  39. lilimarlen

    I don’t think that rule applies in Latin America, that I know of. Perhaps some of the individual countries do have some color restrictions for the cold season. Although, aren’t this colors amazing for any kind of weather?

  40. megan

    australia has no rules. Expect to see thongs (flip flops) in winter or even while its raining outside & it doesnt matter how cold it is at night you will almost only see bare legs with short skirts :) at least in sydney. We try to pretend seasons dont exsist so we look good all year round!
    We can also wear white all year round, maybe because our winters are generally sunny yet cold!

  41. Nettie

    This dress would look great if she’d just remove the tissue paper that it was wrapped in when she got it.

  42. mary lou bethune

    IT’s called WINTER WHITE , I Keep telling you all that in the south (ages ago , now, who cares) you could wear WINTER WHITE in the winter and not be chastised —

    also- Cate always looks fabulous…

  43. rose

    The dress, even with the somewhat odd and scratchy looking neck detail i can accept, but I’m struggling with the ultra-conservative white court shoes and sheer stockings combination.

    And as for winter whites, it’s Sydney – we like to pretend winter doesn’t exist and it’s summer all the time!

  44. Michele

    I’m not understanding that neckline at all. I’m also not a fan of white shoes unless they are worn with a wedding dress. Her face looks pretty. What gorgeous skin!

  45. deliane

    .. it’s got a whimsical “look, I’m an inside-out dress” quality: the sheer dress over the lacy lining- i.e. instead of the other way ’round.

    uh, is that fashion humor ?

    the gossamer outer-should-be-inner layer even has
    a. what hints at a sailor collar.. b. cap sleeves c. pleats! (love that see through, un-starchy touch) d. and what might be a pocket..

    ‘chice’ is a nice word for this.

    it’s crisp and clever and quicksilver-y chic, somehow escaping “cute”.. like Cate!

  46. Sarah

    In Australia, and as far as I know in the rest of the Southern Hemisphere, there’s no rule or tradition about wearing certain colours (white) after a certain date (idk what date that would be). At all. Honestly I really don’t understand the US Labor Day white clothes thing.
    However this does look a little bit like it’s on backwards, sorry Cate.

  47. Lynne

    To clarify, pretty much every fashion guru in North America agrees that the “white after Labour Day” rule is outdated and irrelevant.

    Now, avoiding white shoes after Labour Day in Canada is just plain practical. White plus inclement weather equals disaster.

  48. Ca

    Well, I live in Argentina and white shoes are worn during summer exclusively. You can see some clueless women wearing white boots (which I LOATH) in the middle of the winter months, however. But generally speaking, white is a summer colour for footwear and also dresses.

  49. Pearl

    Ohh you Americans and your Cultural Imperialism, I live in the tropics and its is always summer. I am shocked to see people in the tropics wear black polyester in the build up and monsoon, I don’t grip my pearls but I certainly want to suggest natural fibres and light colours to the naive new comers.

  50. ClaireO

    Not so sure about the pearl clutchers of Sydney, but the grand old dames of Melbourne, Australia have a saying of “no white shoes after labour day” as our labour day is in the second week of March and thus just into our post-summer season of autumn

  51. ChaChaHeels

    The days which mark the “cut off” of the white season’s beginning and end are Victoria Day and Labour day, respectively. And the “No White” pertains to foot wear and white pants and skirts made from lightweight fabrics. The rule, as far as I know, applies anywhere there are four distinct seasons–Canada and the UK, the US, pretty much all of Europe (I know my mother used to laugh and laugh at people who wore white shoes in the snow, and she was Italian and a fashion designer by trade). “Winter white” does not mean you wear white clothes in the winter–it means you wear white clothing like coats and dresses and pants made from traditionally warm weather materials, like wool. And it does not mean you wear white shoes or boots to go with.

    So, I know that things are reversed in the southern hemisphere–but it makes sense to me that if you’re shovelling out your driveway because of another blizzard, you probably won’t be doing that work in white jeans or linen pants and a shapely white pump, right? Take your whites out on Labour day (or the first week of September) and pack them away on Victoria Day (or the equivalent final weekend in May). But if the seasons are samey all year round, it doesn’t matter so much.

    That said, Cate is wearing Sarah Jessica Parker’s ubiquitous off-season white pumps. I’m hoping we won’t see these coming and going in that slave-like devotion that’s paid to beige platform peep-toe pumps celebrities have been paid to obey, just to make a damned point about white shoes and the weather.

    • vandalfan

      Well said. Very well said.

    • Andrea

      True, if Australia had blizzards and the like around the place we probably wouldn’t want to be shoveling snow in white. Thing is even in our coldest populated spots snow is something of a rarity. This of course disqualifies the snowfields which aren’t really considered ‘home’ by many people.

  52. Mahastee

    I always thought of those American rules as snooty and unnecessary, but even Cate can’t get away with those white shoes. Even if it IS Summer here. The rest of the dress is very… Blanchett-y.

    Do Euro countries have any such rules?

  53. Lizzy

    Cate’s hairstyle and the white shoes make this dress look fugly. The tulle around the neck and shoulders isn’t that great either. White in the Antipodes is to go with your leathery tan and your bleach blonde hair, which you must have at any age…. For some people, that is.

    White looks cheap, and difficult to wear in the harsh glare of the Australian sun. ivory or cream is class.

  54. Thea

    There’s no rule in Australia stating you shouldn’t wear white after a certain date. But it’s not a recommended winter shade, especially in the southern states. People wear dark colours particularly in Melbourne because that way the mud isn’t quite so noticeable.


  55. Cody

    It reminds me of a shower curtain made of rice paper. I detest.

  56. Julia

    Nope, there’s no such rule in Australia. Mostly because the weather is so freaking unpredictable in a lot of places that you can have a boiling hot day in Winter! And white is quite popular in Winter – coats, scarves, etc.

  57. Pippa

    I don’t know, to me it just looks like she forgot to take the garment bag off before putting it on.

  58. Jacq

    I love it. I love her. This woman does little wrong in my eyes.

    And we Antipodeans are a chilled out bunch and don’t tend to get our knickers in a twist about random rules telling us what we can wear, and when. We do what we want!

  59. Niall

    I’m surprised none of the other Aussie’s have mentioned the ultimate cultural reference here – the “white shoe brigade”.
    This used to refer to shonky property developers (of which we have our fair share). Picture the sort of men who’d wear a hawaiian shirt, shorts and white slip-ons – while trying to cover the country’s most beautiful scenery in concrete (all for the sake of a quick buck.) So much more than a fashion crime

    • Mahastee

      A species indigenous to the Coastal Areas of Southern Queensland, though not uncommon in other areas.

      I had forgotten all about them and now wonder if they are responsible for my deep-seated loathing of white footwear.

  60. Lilja

    Another Antipodean here. My mother and older sister sister were always so scathing about white high heels that I kind of assumed there was an unspoken *year-round* ban on them.

    I like Cate’s dress, not a fan of the shoes, but my two cents is that strappy sandals are overrated and overdone anyway. An open-toed pump in a shade just darker than the darkest tones on the dress would have worked, and in suede or some other fabric to avoid looking like the ubiquitous ‘nude’ patent leather platform clodhoppers all the rent-a-starlets and Kings Cross trashbags are wearing at the moment.

    Goodness. I didn’t realise I was this opinionated . . . So, while I’m on a roll: Cate! Gloss tights/pantihose are no one’s friend. (Christine Baranski is nodding sadly in the background. Do you really want her pity? Cocktails and gossip with her, yes, but sartorial pity, hell no.)

  61. Timberlina

    As other Aussie’s have pointed out here, we really wear anything anytime of year (chiefly thanks to pretty great all-year-round weather)
    BUT that doesn’t stop me from screaming (mainly to myself) “No white shoes after Labour Day!!” at girls that look like cheap hookers in white boots or tacky shoes in winter.
    (They’re usually teamed with just tights in winter too – so my mind is also screaming “TIGHTS ARE NOT PANTS OR A SKIRT!!”)
    As you can see it’s pretty busy, in my head, with all that screaming at bad fashion.
    So, moral is, I’d like to bring it in, but there’s not really an appropriate cut-off – so it’s just aimed at bad fashion in general.
    End of story.

  62. mlb

    I catch an echo of Galadriel in this – sheer, pale, delicate-looking. The style somehow doesn’t quite follow through with what the fabric is saying – a bit prim. However, overall I think it’s elegant and flattering. Shoes are the wrong colour – needed to be a creamier shade – but I think the style sets off the dress just fine.

    New Zealand calling here – we laugh in derision at anyone telling us what colour to wear in what season. Last person I heard venture an opinion on that was my grandmother and she was born in the 19th century (and English anyway). But I’m no fan of white shoes on anyone anytime. Always look slightly reminiscent of a bride or a hooker (this would be Bride – hooker favours a trashier style!)

  63. Odette

    What’s Labor Day?

  64. Alexandria_Kelly

    We Aussies don’t have many fashion rules – as you can see from your coverage of the spring racing carnival; except maybe the brighter and/or tighter the better, especially here in Sydney.

    I think it comes from being a dusty, colonial backwater, several months’ ship voyage away from the gasps of high society.

  65. Delyth

    I’m from the UK. There are no rules whatsoever about what colour you should or shouldn’t wear or anything else fashion related for that matter. We really are free to wear whatever we like.

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