Gabrielle Union’s Adventurous Red Carpet Style Knows No Bounds

Gabrielle Union may have begun her Hollywood career with a girl-next-door fashion sense in the late Nighties and early aughts, when she broke onto the scene in sitcoms like Moesha and Sister, Sister before taking her star turn in the cheerleading comedy Bring It On, but since then, she’s grown into a full-fledged style chameleon—willing to try out new colors, shapes, materials, and textures at every red carpet event. Although Union has historically taken a liking to white and black column gowns, she can also work a bright pink, rhinestoned mini dress (like the one she wore to the 2005 BET Awards,) or a sultry black beaded gown with matching cape by Zuhair Murad at the 2017 Emmys. In honor of Union’s birthday, we’re taking a look back at her most impactful and boundary-pushing looks—many of which were unveiled with her husband Dwyane Wade at her side.

2021: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening Gala
Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

The fashion power couple of the year made their presence known in Los Angeles on September 25. Wearing an Alexandre Vauthier cape dress and a plunging bodysuit, Union demonstrated her ability to create a beauty and accessories look that truly accentuates the outfit she’s chosen to wear.

2021: The Met Gala
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The Iris Van Herpen gown Gabrielle Union wore to this year’s Met Gala took over 1,400 hours to make—and W magazine was there to capture her getting ready process.

2020: Vanity Fair Oscars Party
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Union is ethereal in Giambattista Valli Couture—matching her husband Dwyane Wade, who wore a lace blazer for the evening.

2020: Paris Fashion Week
Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

For the Ralph & Russo haute couture spring 2020 show, Dwyane Wade wore a pink velvet suit with matching shirt and belt, and Union donned a pearl headband, a white fluffy jacket with rhinestone embroideries, a mandarin collar and bell sleeves. Pure royalty.

2020: Paris Fashion Week
Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Voluminous orange eveningwear (by Christopher John Rogers, no less) has never looked better.

2019: L.A.’s Finest Photocall in Madrid
Photo by Pablo Cuadra/WireImage

Gabrielle Union needs to wear more headbands, period.

2019: Arriving at Rockefeller Center
Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images

The actress’ color story on this pink, gold, and feathered dress is eye-catching and fabulous.

2019: The Premiere of L.A.’s Finest
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Statement shoulders is an understatement in this Cong Tri dress.

2018: Screening Of Netflix’s Nappily Ever After
Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage

Union’s Elie Saab gown would fit right in with the fall 2021 knitwear trend. Note the Judith Leiber clutch, bearing a tassel and the image of a crescent moon.

2018: Met Gala
Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Union wore a highlighter yellow Prabal Gurung dress with dramatic train and matching sandals to the “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & the Catholic Imagination” Met Gala.

2018: Vanity Fair Oscars Party
Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

In a Prada column gown, Union doesn’t just look like a shimmering Oscar statuette, she is a shimmering Oscar statuette.

2017: Good Morning America
Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images

A power ponytail brings this slacks-and-turtleneck look to new heights.

2017: Emmy Awards
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

Union’s love for a LBD gets a chic upgrade in this glittering Zuhair Murad gown.

2017: Balmain Spring 2018 Show
Photo by Edward Berthelot /Getty Images

The Union-Wades are a fixture at Paris Fashion Week; here, they’re appropriately blinged-out for the Balmain menswear show in 2017.

2017: Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

Super-sexy in Jean Paul Gaultier Couture.

2016: Toronto Film Festival
Photo by J. Countess/WireImage

Here, we see Union’s daring fashion side peeking out: while attending the Toronto Film Festival, she wore a Sophie Theallet dress with matching cape, and a super smoky eye.

2016: AmfAR Gala
Photo by Bobby Metelus/Getty Images

While getting ready for the 2016 AmfAR Gala, Union and Wade were photographed at their hotel. For the event, the actress wore floor-length Prada.

2016: The Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Union matched her to-die-for Georgine dress with David Yurman jewels and a femme fatale shaggy lob at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscars party.

2015: Samsung S6 Launch Party
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Showing off her abs, Union wears a pair of perfectly tailored slacks and a long-sleeve crop top.

2015: BET Awards
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Gabrielle Union never shies away from a little sparkle—here, she’s wearing a glimmering Halston Heritage dress.

2015: The InStyle and Warner Bros. Golden Globe Awards Post-Party
Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for InStyle

The actress knows her angles, with a deep-V gown bearing a high slit.

2014: The Met Gala
Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage

At the Charles James: Beyond Fashion Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Union tapped into her more daring fashion side in this feathered black and silver Prada set.

2013: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Gala
Photo by Charles Norfleet/FilmMagic

Lest we forget, Gabrielle Union is still America’s sweetheart—as shown by this classic strapless gown.

2012: The Pre-Grammy Gala
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Union has always considered her beauty, accessories, and outfit as an entire, holistic entity. The proportions of her fishtail braid combined with the cutouts of her white dress and structural clutch play off of each other.

2012: BET Honors with Michelle Obama
Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images

Elegance, photographed.

2011: Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

In this 1950s tea dress silhouette and peek-a-boo toe pump, Union looks every bit the classic lady.

2010: BET Honors
Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images

Union’s pompadour gives this floor-length, shimmering gown even more length.

2008: Meet Dave Premiere
Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Despite Union’s proclivity for wearing black and white, she looks stunning in gem tones, too—as evidenced by this magenta gown and necklace with a green pendant.

2005: BET Awards
Photo by SGranitz/WireImage

Union’s sweet pink minidress is elevated by fun paillettes and a mini bag.

2004: NAACP Image Awards
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The actress was in her eveningwear bag early on in her career, wearing this silver, slinky gown with a shimmering rhinestone purse to match.

2001: Billboard Music Awards
Photo by SGranitz/WireImage

For a visit to Las Vegas for the Billboard Music Awards, Union wore a look that mixed work and play.

2001: NAACP Awards
Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage

We’re loving the shimmer of Union’s halter-neck dress and her flat-ironed, shoulder-length hair.

2000: Bring It On Premiere
Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage

Union fully embraced the styles of the early aughts at the premiere for her first big gig—and the film she’s still known for, to this day—Bring It On.