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The Best White Dresses To Wear Now That Spring Is Really Here

With Gabrielle Penfold

Anna Saunders

If, like me, you spent winter gazing longingly at the social media feeds of friends and influencers tripping across European beaches, then you will know the powerful allure of the little white dress.

Fresh, chic, and often romantic, a little white dress (or indeed a long white dress) evokes the best bits of any summer holiday. It works for the beach or the poolside bar or as the ideal outfit for lazing away the afternoon at a long lunch. No wonder it’s the look of choice for every second fashion influencer holidaying on the Isle of Capri.

But the power of a little white dress transcends the beach. Wearing white at work can be crisp, chic and subtly powerful (there’s a reason Michelle Obama and Melania Trump both own a wardrobe of white). On the weekend, it offers a fresh summery vibe. 

To prove the versatility of the white dress, we asked artist Gabrielle Penfold to model three very different versions.

Gabrielle, whose first solo exhibition opens in Sydney next week, is known for her messy landscapes and love of colour. “I don’t really wear black,” she admits. “I definitely prefer white dresses.”

A multi-disciplinary creative, who studied design at university, Gabrielle divides her time between painting, and other projects such as photographic diaries and ceramics for clients like Lucy Folk. Her artistic inspiration springs from the “simple pleasures” of life – travel, “special moments like going out to dinner, spending time with beautiful people” and “nature”. All situations ripe for a white dress.

Modern Bohemian 

Meet your perfect Little Long Dress (LLD). This one is by SIR, but Love Shack Fancy and Witchery also offer excellent versions. Lightweight and feminine with broderie anglais, this dress is chic but loose enough to accommodate even the longest lunch. “I love this – I would wear it,” says Gabrielle, who loves spending time at the beach, especially Sydney’s Bronte, which often features in her work.

Worn here with basket bag (similar here) and Ancient Greek Sandals (available here soon)

Witchery dress


Summer Shirt Dress

Perhaps you wouldn’t wear this to work, but this Zara number will take you from brunch to the beach. Keep it chic with flat sandals, and gold and silver jewellery. Camilla & Marc, Jac and Jack also do excellent dressier (longer!) options. 

Worn with ZARA shoes and Brie Leon bag.

Minimalist Night Time 

“I love this,” says Gabrielle. “It references beautiful vintage clothes and it feels like something you’d see in a James Bond film. It has a sense of Hollywood glamour, while also being really contemporary.”

Matin dress (available in white soon) with ZARA kitten heels (in store now), Reliquia jewellery and an Oroton Margot bag. (Wearing your bag as a hat? Optional.)

Photographer: Tane Coffin

Stylist: Tara Morris

Makeup: Jasmin Lo

Hair: Keiren Street

To see Gabrielle’s work or find out about her upcoming exhibition at Sydney’s Clare Gallery, visit her website.


BY Anna Saunders

Anna is the co-founder of PRIMER. She is looking forward to wearing less black and more white this summer

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