See Kelsea Ballerini's Jaw-Dropping Dress Change in the Middle of Her MTV VMAs Performance

If you go down a rabbit hole to try to figure out how Kelsea Ballerini completed that wardrobe change during her 2023 MTV Video Music Awards performance of "Penthouse," we’re goin' down too.

By Elyse Dupre Sep 13, 2023 2:35 PMTags

Half of my hometown—or least many on the internet—want to know how Kelsea Ballerini pulled off that wardrobe change at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards.

In case you missed it, the singer took the stage at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Sept. 12 for a moving performance of her hit "Penthouse." And while Kelsea started off the number in a white gown, there was then a puff of smoke and flash of bright light in the middle of the performance that, once cleared, revealed she had switched into a black mini dress (watch the jaw-dropping moment below).

And fans couldn't get enough of the mesmerizing move.

"I need someone to explain this Kelsea Ballerini sorcery to me #MTVVMAs," one social media user posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. Added another, "THAT OUTFIT CHANGE." Agreed a third, "THE WAY I SCREAMED WHEN I SAW THIS." 

2023 MTV VMAs: Riskiest Red Carpet Fashion

As for how exactly Kelsea pulled off the fashion feat? Photos from the performance suggest she ripped off the white gown and tossed it behind her to display the black dress she was sporting underneath. She later showed on TikTok exactly how she stripped off her gown with a snap on one side under her arm.

Bryan Bedder/Variety via Getty Images, Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

These weren't Kelsea's only looks of the night, either. While walking the red carpet with boyfriend Chase Stokes, the "Legends" artist rocked a red, backless dress that revealed her new hummingbird tattoo. As for the Outer Banks star, he matched his girlfriend by donning a red suit jacket over his black shirt and white pants.

@kelseaballerini telling my future children i was once houdini #penthouse #vmas ? original sound - Kelsea Ballerini

It was certainly a big night for Kelsea. In addition to giving her first VMAs performance, the country music superstar celebrated her 30th birthday at the ceremony.

"About to perform on the freaking @vmas on my freaking 30th birthday," she wrote on Instagram ahead of the event, "pinch me and tune in."

To see photos of more stars the 2023 MTV VMAs, keep reading.

Nicki Minaj

In Dolce & Gabbana.

Taylor Swift

In Versace dress and Ariel Saidian, Anita Ko, and Maria Tash jewelry.

Cardi B

In Dilara Findikoglu.

Shakira with sons Milan & Sasha

In Versace.

Demi Lovato

Olivia Rodrigo

In Ludovic de Saint Sernin.

Doja Cat

In Oscar De La Renta.

Chase Stokes and Kelsea Ballerini

Her in Mônot.

Selena Gomez

In Oscar de la Renta dress and Jimmy Choo shoes.

Megan Thee Stallion

In Brandon Blackwood.

Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick & Justin Timberlake of *NSYNC

Emily Ratajkowski

In Jean Paul Gaultier dress and Melissa Kaye jewelry.

Dove Cameron

In Coach dress and Simon G jewelry.

Tiffany Haddish

In Jason Wu.

Charli D'Amelio

In Shushu/Tong.

Lil Nas X

In Palomo Spain with Bible bag by Aylah Gallardo.


Sabrina Carpenter


In Area.

Dixie D'Amelio

In Maticevski.

Sofia Carson

In Alexandre Vauthier.

Bebe Rexha

Madelyn Cline

In Givenchy.


In Schiaparelli dress and Gianvito Rossi shoes.

Coco Jones

In Moschino.

Nelly Furtado

Karol G

In Ashi Studio dress and Jacob & Co. jewelry.


Chlöe Bailey

In Roberto Cavalli.


In David Koma.

View More Photos From MTV VMAs 2023: Red Carpet Fashion
The 2020 VMA airs live on Sunday, August 30 on MTV Canada, Much, E!, and CTV.

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