Sometimes a fug or a fab is all in the context — like, for instance, the way Keri Hilson going all-out for The Late Show with David Letterman seems a little off, or how Thomas Jane going barefoot to major awards-season afterparties made me wonder if he was making absinthe in his bathtub (although in fairness, if he went barefoot to Letterman, I’d also have concerns — heck, if he went barefoot to his neighbor’s house, it still might be strange, unless they are besties and he is positive that person’s driveway doesn’t have anything sharp on it).
So here, I think Leighton’s outfit struck me cute partly because, yes, I like it — there’s something pleasingly retro about the pattern and material — but also because it’s sort of sweetly occasion-apt. She’s at an ice rink in Los Angeles doing a charity shoot for Herbal Essences, so a) her outfit kind of works perfectly for the mild-chill-adjacent weather you’d encounter at an outdoor skating rink on a sunny Santa Monica day in January, and b) her hair manages to stand out and look really great, which I imagine the Herbal Essences people very much appreciate, as the last thing you want when you make hair products is for your charity spokesperson to show up looking like she hasn’t brushed it in three weeks and is perhaps accepting rent from a small family of ravens. Even the heavy booties grew on me, because hey, she’s going ice skating. They’re like practicing for when she straps on the actual blades (which, as you’ll see, also kind of look cute with the dress). And nary a tube top nor a transparent panel in sight. Do we think this is the influence of La Paltrow? Is Leighton riding a Country Strong wave of wholesome All-American-ness? Or is she just saving up all the crazy for the Golden Globes? Weirdly, I hope both.