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Trends & Subcultures

02 March 2017

Style lessons: Sex and the City Outfits

There are many style lessons from Sex and the City to be learned, and its dialogue with fashion is undeniably a key to the show's enduring success. Sex and the City outfits were as varied as its main cast of characters, and although the last episode may have aired in 2004, the show still has plenty to teach us, whether you're more of a Carrie or a Charlotte – or something in between.

carrie bradshaw fashion

So, what are the main Sex and the City fashion lessons to be learned from the show's lead characters?


Carefree Carrie


The lesson: Nothing is more important than shoes.


If anyone taught us about a woman’s right to shoes, it’s Carrie. From the moment she realises she’s tens of thousands of dollars in debt due to her penchant for strappy sandals, it's clear that one of the main style lessons from Sex and the City is that shoes are the only accessories that really matter.


Footwear occasionally wreaks havoc in Carrie’s life: she proposes to herself and registers at Manolo Blahnik to recover a pair of silver heeled-sandals lost at a baby shower; Miranda’s waters break all over Carrie's pink Louboutins purchased for her final date with Mr Big; at one point she’s even mugged for her shoes.


Shoes play an equally key role in her love life – Aiden’s dog, Pete, chews her electric blue vintage Manolos to death and she dumps him, whereas Big proposes with an eerily similar pair of cobalt blue Manolos at the end of the first Sex and the City movie. Proving that the right man will always love your shoes (almost) as much as you do.


The lesson: throw out the fashion rulebook.


Carrie’s eclectic and sometimes random style has the underlying aesthetic of a child pulling all their most beloved possessions out of a dressing-up box. It’s just that Carrie’s happens to be filled with vintage Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana. For her Sex and the City outfits, she mixes colours, prints and patterns with reckless abandon, thinking nothing of throwing on a rainbow striped skirt with a pink jumper and bright red jacket.


She also wears what she likes whenever she likes. Slipping into a flamenco skirt for a casual dinner in your own apartment? Sure. Falling asleep in a Versace tulle gown alone in a hotel room? Definitely. Wearing an Oscar de la Renta pink formal dress to McDonald’s? Why not?


Carrie also holds onto those precious items she loves and isn’t afraid to recycle them. One of the most important Sex and the City style lessons is surely that unlike relationships, which come and go, a Roberto Cavalli sweater can hang in your closet forever (even if you only actually wear it twice).


Conventional Charlotte 


The lesson: Rules are there for a reason.


Always polished and appropriate, if there’s anyone who’s definitely not going to be caught wearing white after Labor Day, it’s Charlotte York. Charlotte exudes a Park Avenue princess-aura that's made possible through her commitment to brands such as Ralph Lauren and Burberry. To a ceilidh she wears a custom-made tartan dress; to a dog show she opts for a feminine skirt and preppy jumper. But the most important of Charlotte’s Sex and the City style lessons? She taught us all the power of a really good blow-dry.


Mindful Miranda


The lesson: Borrow from the boys, and don’t apologise for it.


Not only did Miranda have a pixie haircut long before it was on-trend, she also championed the androgynous look from the very beginning of the show. Her input to the Sex and the City clothes hall of fame is a plethora of fitted suits in various monochromatic shades.


The lesson: Know how to dress down.


Miranda’s androgynous style extended to her relaxation time, where she regularly sported activewear before it ever graced the couture catwalks. A woman before her time, it seems Balenciaga borrowed from her Sex and the City style ideas for its autumn/winter 2016 show, which featured oversized blue parkas reminiscent of the one Miranda somewhat infamously wore with dungarees and a cap in season two of SATC.


Sexy Samantha


The lesson: as in life, so in clothes.


Samantha's life philosophy was to do exactly as she wanted, and to try almost anything once. Her clothes reflected her unabashed personality and zest for adventure, whether she was giving cancer the finger in a bubble gum pink wig at a movie premier, or heading out with the girls in a skintight black House of Field catsuit emblazoned with bright pink graffiti.


A subscriber to the ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’ philosophy, Samantha was unafraid to wear skimpy clothes even at the office. Alongside baring whatever she pleased, Samantha’s Sex and the City clothes were also always full of colour. Rather than clashing like Carrie, Samantha demonstrated the power of a really good colour-block, accentuated effectively with oversized accessories and jewellery.


Over a decade on from the show’s finale, Sex and the City style ideas and advice remain wholly relevant – teaching us that individuality is the real key when it comes to style. And remember, a Prada handbag should always be worn with an investment banker…

carrie outfits
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