Why Pippa’s Dress (Almost) Stole the Show

Ah, sister rivalry, the hallmark of any good wedding. Here, a local psychology professor fills us in on what it's all about

Once upon a royal wedding, ” … Kate Middleton should have gone Bridezilla upside her sister’s head over that bridesmaid dress,” wrote Daily News columnist Jenice Armstrong.

And yes, Pippa Middleton’s somewhat-slinky, white, cowl-neck number did cause quite the royal stir. I’ll admit it: I let out a little gasp when I saw it. But it wasn’t the so-called sexiness of the dress (I mean, I didn’t think it was really that overly sexy, to be honest) that piqued my interest; it was that the dress was white. Isn’t that the cardinal rule of weddings? That only the bride gets to wear white?

Anyway, what all this fuss over Pippa’s wedding wear really makes me wonder about is why that was the thing on which so many of us fixated (well, other than those abominations some were calling hats). The undertone of most of the news stories, columns and photo slideshows about Pippa’s sexy dress is the same: Was she trying to upstage her now-royal sister? Gasp. Could she be … jealous?

Of course, no one will ever know what went on with respect to Pippa’s dress decision. But boy do people love speculating about it.

That’s where Dr. Linda Knauss, a professor at the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology at Widener University, comes in. Whether or not a rivalry does exist between the Middleton ladies (er, the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister Pippa), Knauss explains why it is that siblings develop rivalries, and thus, why it is that people are so eager to talk about a possible one between Pippa and Kate.

“Usually, it starts out as competition, most generally for parents’ love,” Knauss explains. “So the rivalry develops in an effort to be the best and the parents’ favorite child. Those relationships continue long after they’ve forgotten why they’re doing it—people often continue to behave in ways that served a purpose at one time in their life, and patterns are maintained long after they have any relevance whatsoever.”

Knauss says we’ve all jumped on the provocative-Pippa-dress bandwagon because we want to fill the “gap in information” that exists.

“They use a process of association to fill in those gaps,” Knauss explains. “But sometimes that can lead people to erroneous conclusions.”

Like I said, I didn’t find Pippa’s dress to be overly provocative in nature, but the wearing of white by the sister of the bride did give me pause—however erroneous the conclusion that any woman who wears white to a wedding that’s not her own is trying to steal the show may be. And for that, there’s a part of me that agrees with Jenice Armstrong’s sentiment.