That’s because over the show’s six seasons, Carrie went through even more outfits than she did men. And with Carrie’s style evolution came fashion-icon status for the actress who plays her. Only Sarah Jessica Parker, after all, would dare wear this hat.
“Her looks are outrageous,” says stylist Mary Alice Stephenson, “but in a girl next door sort of way. We love her for being ballsy enough to wear outrageous things. She’s having fun with it, so we have fun watching it. If she took it all so seriously, it would be too over the top.”
On and off the red carpet, Sarah Jessica Parker (who’s won a coveted Council of Fashion Designers of America award for her iconic style choices) has risen above the fashion fray as that girl who can pull off, well, anything.
From the grass-and-butterfly Philip Treacy topper at this week’s London premiere of the film to a gold lamé bra in 1991 (that she brazenly paired with velvet genie pants), Parker’s choices have made her the poster girl for go-for-it style.
And while the show taught us that “he’s just not that into you” and the singular appeal of the Rabbit, it also taught us a lot about how to dress – and even more often, how not to.
The show’s would-be everywoman, Carrie favored over-the-top styles that were alienating more often than they were envy-inducing: Think Bjork, not Grace Kelly.
For every fairy tale couture gown that made us wish we had a spare $50,000 to spend on a pretty dress, Carrie would send our minds reeling with a feather-bottomed skirt or a pair of hot pants worn with an overcoat and tube top.
Despite these consistently inexplicable choices, Carrie’s look evolved over the show’s six seasons. Before “Sex and the City” became a phenomenon, Carrie’s look was a late-’90s mishmash – think blue feather boas, chunky mules and awkward below-the-knee skirts. And as the show surged in popularity, stylist Patricia Field sought to up the ante, and Carrie’s looks became increasingly outré. Her outfits were just another ratings juggernaut – the sartorial equivalent of “Who shot J.R.?”
TAKE IT FROM CARRIE: ROTATE YOUR ACCESSORIES
If there’s one single lesson to be gleaned from Carrie Bradshaw’s sometimes inexplicable fashion choices, it’s that the little things make all the difference. Carrie’s embellishments are what really caught on with viewers. “Her lasting legacy was definitely the accessories,” says style expert Jenn Falik, citing “the nameplate necklace, the big flower, the oversized sunglasses years before Nicole Richie was doing it,” and, of course, the Manolo Blahnik heels every viewer craved
TAKE IT FROM MIRANDA: FOCUS ON THE CUT
Probably the most dramatic and most unquestionably positive style transformation on “Sex and the City” was Miranda’s (Cynthia Nixon), and nowhere was her evolution more visible than in her hair. Over the show’s six seasons, Miranda’s coif morphed from a severely cropped burgundy ‘do to a soft, flattering – yet still low-maintenance – strawberry blond bob.
Her fashion followed suit as Miranda realized that she didn’t need to look like a man to be taken seriously. “It was a top-down transformation,” says Falik of Miranda’s shift from androgynous, dark suits to vivid, A-line dresses.
So if you’re feeling like you’re in a fashion rut, start at the top. “Good hair can take a so-so style and make it sparkle. People notice hair. A good blowout can give new life to a lame outfit,” says Falik.
TAKE IT FROM SAMANTHA: BE BOLD WITH COLOR
Man-eater Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) favored bold looks that matched her brassy personality and unapologetic sexuality. “Her style was always very monochromatic. She did put a feminine twist on the power suit, wearing them in bright colors like yellow and hot pink,” says Falik. Follow Samantha’s lead and pick a core signature style that reflects who you are. “When it comes to your style, if it matches your personality and your disposition, it’s that much more impactful. So invest in pieces that you feel capture you perfectly,” suggests Falik.
But be flexible. As Falik advises, “Leave room to adapt it as you and your situation in life change,” whether that means motherhood, weight gain or just mellowing with age.
TAKE IT FROM CHARLOTTE: IGNORE LABELS
Despite the ups and downs of her personal life, uptown princess Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) remained remarkably consistent in her fashion sense, evolving ever-so-slightly from classic and ladylike to … slightly less classic but still ladylike. There were lots of pearls, Chanel suits and Burberry coats, and bows on just about everything. But between Charlotte’s two weddings, there is a shift in her style, one that corresponds to her maturing taste in men.
“Her wedding dress the first time was Vera Wang, which is exactly what you’d think she would wear,” says Falik. Her second wedding dress, a romantic and vintage-y number by Badgley Mischka, reflected her more worldly outlook. “It was more sophisticated, less about what you’re supposed to wear, and more personal,” claims Falik. So even if you’re a traditionalist like Charlotte, you can still be an individual by forsaking – or at least ignoring – labels and going for a look that’s not so straight off the rack. Don’t let self-perception get in the way of what you really want to wear.
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