The CW’s Jan. 14 premiere of The Carrie Diaries revives Sex and the City‘s singular broadcast of a highly curated sartorial perspective. The original series embodied fashion trends as much as it introduced them, both micro (nameplate necklaces a la the Carrie) and macro (haute couture for even the most cash-strapped of the masses). The show that streamed the latest from New York’s sidewalks-cum-runways to anyone with a cable box and penchant for Cosmos from 1998-2004 started as a phenomenon and ended as a deep-running fold in turn-of-the-century culture.
By the time the series ended, it was not only a statement about personal style, it was a commentary on the trials and travails in the loveless city of New York. At its core, the series celebrated personal style. Each character’s outfits were immediate personality indicators. Quirky Carrie wore kooky mishmoshes of vintage and high fashion; no-nonsense lawyer Miranda donned minimalist power suits; uptown prep Charlotte favored prim tailored dresses; downtown libertine Samantha chose anything she darn well pleased in bright colored and fitted shapes. Their archetypes did as much for self-identity through clothing as it did for girlfriend-centered TV shows (Lena Dunham’s Girls are also instantly recognizable from their wardrobes—thrift shop/Urban Outfitters Hannah, sophisticated Marnie, free-spirited Jessa, uptight Shoshanna—a character who is, naturally, Sex and the City-obsessed.)
Much of this influence is the legacy of legendary Sex and the City costumier Patricia Field, who made a name for herself by nailing down each character down to the last stud earring. Field imbued her urban sensibility (she is known to have invented the modern women’s leggings) into each character’s aesthetic. In digging through thrift stores and courting design houses for loaner items, she gave the world that famous pink tutu and dictated full-scale style waves that reverberate today. Here’s a look at four ways the series forever changed fashion.
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