In western cultures, white is used to symbolize moral purity. This woman wears a dress that's as clean as she is. This is traditional for a bride on her wedding day, debutante at her coming out party, and Virgin Sacrifices
. It might be relevant today because of the characters being religious or bringing back Old-School Chivalry
. If there are moral expectations you can expect some Slut Shaming
by the Moral Guardians
for those who don't remain "pure". In the old times, any unmarried women was expected to remain chaste so she could be identified by the color she was wearing. The Ingenue
might wear white for the virginal symbolism while an Ethical Slut
might do so for the irony or to emphasis the 'ethical' aspect.
A Fairytale Wedding Dress
will be pure white unless it has a little bit of pink or something as girly
on it. The girlyness is done away with for the virgin's dress though because she's so mature all she needs is a dress that's simple, understated and still strikingly beautiful and white.
Technically she's a Woman in White
, but she doesn't necessarily have the importance and style that that character has, as the color is expected of the bride, which takes the mystery out of her.
Examples can range from the saint like, to a sexually inexperienced woman who wanted to "lose it" or an experienced one who "renewed it" or any mention of sexuality while wearing white.
This is the basis of the Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress
Compare Gold and White Are Divine
and True Blue Femininity
- In Breaking Dawn Part 1 of the Twilight Saga, Bella is a virgin on her wedding day only because Edward was too gentlemenly to have sex with her before they're married.
- Snuff: Sybil mentions that a particularly ridiculous tradition (the maids must turn to the wall when being spoken to by a man on pain of being fired) happened so the girls "wouldn't feel ashamed of wearing white on their wedding day". Admittedly the rule wasn't introduced without reason; some of the Ramkins' guests weren't above taking advantage of their help.
- In Gilmore Girls Lane Kim planned on having sex but when she had the opportunity she surprised herself by saying, "Oh, well, I have to wait until I get married," because the morals her Seventh Day Adventist mother taught her had stuck. She was afraid that she might never get married and have sex but she did.
- In The Golden Girls, Blance wore red at her wedding, because "me wearing white? Even I couldn't keep a straight face!".
- Spoofed in The Critic, where Jay's sister, Margo, was forced to attend a debutante ball, and the dressmaker asked if she wanted to wear white, or an off-white he called "Hussy White". Margo said she was wearing plain white... except for the gloves.
- In a Flash Forward episode of The Simpsons where we see Lisa's wedding, she and Marge briefly discuss this as they are a church-going family.
Lisa: Mom, I feel kind of funny wearing white. I mean...Milhouse.
Marge: [dismissive] Oh, Milhouse doesn't count.
- This general idea has carried over to high school graduations in the U.S., now that caps and gowns come in more than basic black. If one of the school colors is white, nine times out of ten the girls will wear white caps and gowns, while the boys wear the other color.
- This Trope isn't always the case in Eastern cultures (including China, Pakistan, Vietnam, and India), where red is considered symbolic of virginity, and brides traditionally wear that color of wedding dress. In modern times, young brides in such countries can and do choose other colors, and some also opt for the Western style.