Kelsea Ballerini Stuns Fans With Mid-Performance Dress Change at MTV VMAs: Here's How She Did It

The singer left fans confused after pulling off an incredible dress swap while performing at the 2023 VMAs.

Kelsea Ballerini's performance at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards has fans talking for multiple reasons. While singing her hit, "Penthouse," the 30-year-old showed off her killer vocals and brought plenty of emotion to the performance. But fans seem to be more impressed by her outfit — or rather, outfits.

Ballerini hit the stage rocking a sleek white strapless dress with a thigh-high slit. A little over two minutes into the song, she belted out, "And it stings rolling up the welcome mat/Knowing you got half." After pausing for dramatic effect, the singer was covered in smoke for a few seconds.

When the smoke faded, Ballerini was rocking an entirely different ensemble: a black mini-dress with a cutout at the bust. The stylish stunt left viewers in awe of her seemingly impossible wardrobe change.


Steven Ferdman/Getty Images
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Viewers were left scratching their heads over the quick change and struggled to understand how the singer pulled it off on live TV in a split second. "I need someone to explain this Kelsea Ballerini sorcery to me," one wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Fans were quick to share their theories, with one suggesting that she might've filmed the performance two times. "It was pre-filmed the night before. She sang the song twice, once in the black dress, once in the white. It was edited together for the 'showing' last night at the VMAs," one wrote.

However, many agreed that it was more likely a tearaway dress -- and they were right. ET has learned Kelsea’s dress was connected by velcro and magnet. As seen in the pic below, Ballerini quickly ripped off her white dress, threw it to the side, and revealed her new black dress once the smoke cleared. 

Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Ballerini also took to TikTok to show fans how she did it.

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

Earlier in the night, Ballerini and Chase Stokes stunned as they matched in fiery red ensembles, making their VMAs debut at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. 

Ballerini wore a custom Monot sleeveless, backless, flowing silk crimson gown as she kept her arm wrapped about Stokes. Meanwhile, the handsome actor rocked a matching cherry red suit jacket over a black button-down that showed off his chest, and some off-white slacks.

The couple spoke with ET's Rachel Smith, and the country songstress said she felt like "the salsa dancer emoji" -- i.e. red hot and classy.

John Nacion/WireImage

Ballerini and Stokes' date night was extra special, as the singer was celebrating her 30th birthday. As if that milestone wasn't enough, the "Blindsided" singer made her debut on the VMAs stage.

"I've just been spending the last few weeks with him and with my friends and with my mom -- she's here tonight -- and I've just been really in my real life," Ballerini shared of how she's spending her birthday. "And this feels like I'm a little floaty tonight, but it's a good shock to the system."

Stokes confirmed that the pair had been official for "about nine months now," and revealed that he'd actually given himself a pep talk before their first date, which mainly consisted of him telling himself, "Don't screw this up! Don't screw this up.' Because I kind of knew before then, I was like, 'Uh oh, I really like this girl.'"

The 2023 MTV Video Music Awards aired live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on MTV. Check out's full coverage from the show, including the winners list.