It’s hard to believe that last week marked twenty years of Sex and the City. I forget I have been an adult for over twenty years and yet I know I was well into my twenties when SATC started; not quite old enough to fully get the low points of the thirty something friends but old enough to appreciate the high ones. I can’t help but wonder what I’ve done with myself in the years since it ended, I certainly haven’t watched anything on television with such relish – Mad Men had the style but it didn’t resonate. Sex and the City always resonated in some way, whether with my own life or one of my friend’s: an ex who gets engaged to someone else way too quickly? Tick. A date who never calls after what seemed the perfect evening? Tick. Unable to get over the One Who Got Away? Tick. Repeatedly going for the commitment-phobe? Tick. Spending money you don’t have on too many pairs of shoes? Tick tick tick.
Those were the days when you had to wait a week for your half hour dose, when (as my friend Sarah has just reminded me) you stopped your gossiping in the communal hallway to run back into your flat upon hearing the familiar HBO signal and when you knew you could call a friend to comment on the storyline/outfits without fear of spoiling it because you knew she’d be at the same bit. You knew in your heart which character you were most like and you were either pro ‘Big’ or pro ‘Aiden’, there was nothing in between. Back then dating in London was far simpler (it wasn’t even called dating) so the antics of these four New Yorkers – in a pre-online dating age – seemed outrageous and thankfully unfamiliar. We should have known that it would end up over here too.
Carrie Bradshaw appealed to me, I instantly liked her and I loved her dress sense. Where others found her selfish and her wardrobe ridiculous, I thought it refreshing to see a character who dressed according to her mood, the day and just because, well, why not? One minute she would look chic and pulled together, the next utterly bizarre. It was as fascinating as it was entertaining. You may not have liked what Sarah Jessica Parker and costume designer Patricia Field did with Carrie Bradshaw, you may think of yourself as more of a Charlotte York, but you have to admit they made an indelible mark. There are trends we are influenced by to this day, even if you don’t realise it. I’m here to remind you of the Carrie Bradshaw lurking in your closet…
OK, so Carrie’s corsages may have grown bigger than her head by the last series but the idea was a good one. Why should we save flowers for weddings and funerals and Remembrance Day? Admit it, you do flowers, like them even.
Right from the opening credits it was there. I’d always wanted an excuse to dress like a five year old and this was it. The tulle was another theme of the show, by the time we followed Carrie and her Russian to Paris in the last series, the Carrie necklace was back and so was the tulle, huge froths of it. I bought an enormous tulle skirt to wear to my sister in law’s 40th last year and it was much admired. Is it just me? I don’t think it is.
Sex and the City made it acceptable to have more shoes than qualifications and what Carrie didn’t know about shoes you could fit on the tip of one of her skinny stilettos. She wore her heels anywhere and everywhere and while Lily Allen was in London coupling her trainers with her prom dress, Carrie Bradshaw was accessorising her Jimmy Choos with her running shorts. You wear brightly coloured shoes with dark outfits now don’t you, we all do. Even my mum has a pair of red ankle boots she wears with swishy skirts. It’s a thing and Carrie Bradshaw started it.
The White Dress
After the billboard campaign introducing the four main protagonists of SATC in Little Black Dresses, you rarely saw Carrie in an LBD again. However, watch closely and the white dress is a recurring theme which reappears whenever Carrie has a seminal moment with either Big or Aiden. We never saw her marry (that didn’t happen until the feature film) but the romantic white dresses were there adding to the exquisite agony. Sarah Jessica Parker can pull off pretty much anything it’s true but this summer I bet you’re tempted by all the white dresses aren’t you?
Dressing the Part
My favourite Carrie outfits were those where she dressed like a child would – a Heidi outfit complete with basket for a picnic in the park, a nurse’s costume to tend to a convalescing Mr Big. We’ve all done it in some small way; who hasn’t agonised over what to wear to meet the ‘in-laws’ for the first time and ended up in something a million miles from the norm? When Carrie did it she hadn’t even been invited which only added to the school ma’amy dress. I can only say that when she wore pin striped Vivienne Westwood to her meeting at Vogue Carrie looked fabulous. When I wore white nylon high street for my meeting at Vogue, I did not.
That concludes my case. Except to say that since recently returning from a long weekend in New York I have dusted off the SATC DVD box set I borrowed to watch it all over again. Not much has dated, interestingly the clothes least of all, and I’m loving it even more than the (ahem) third time. But then this stuff inspired not just two films and SJP’s shoe collection, it inspired me to be a bit braver, to put my love of clothes out there and turn it into my profession and then finally to write my own book.
I ♥ SATC.