︎︎︎episode 58

We couldn’t help but wonder....what trends came out of Sex in the City? 

Oct 12th, 2021

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Amanda: Let’s set the stage here…

It’s New York City.  It’s a sunny day.  A woman walks down the street...she has wild, wavy hair.  She’s wearing a nice coral lipstick.  Her outfit...well, it’s timeless in my opinion.  Oh wait...did I mention that this scene is happening in the late 90s? Anyway, this woman, she’s tiny, very petite. 

She’s wearing a pink tank top tucked into a white tutu skirt.  She’s wearing some sort of fabulous shoes and carrying a clutch. 

She’s on the top of the world…

Just then a bus rolls by, and splashes her with gross New York City puddle water.  And the irony of the whole thing?  This woman’s face is literally on the bus that just splashed her.  And her name is Carrie Bradshaw.  According to the ad on the bus, she knows good sex and isn’t afraid to ask. 

Yes, my friends we are talking about Sex and The City and the tons of fashion and social trends it launched.

Here are a few quick facts about Sex and The City:
  • It is an adaptation of Candace Bushnell's 1997 book of the same name.
  • It aired on HBO from 1998 to 2004, 94 episodes over 6 seasons.
  • There were two feature films (of mixed quality...the second one is a nightmare)
  • It starred four best friends:  Sarah Jessica Parker (as Carrie Bradshaw),Kim Cattrall (as Samantha Jones), Kristin Davis (as Charlotte York), and Cynthia Nixon (as Miranda Hobbes).  Kim: who did you identify with most as a character?
  • All of the incredible styling and outfitting was courtesy of the legendary Patricia Field.  Until 2016 she had her own unique and amazing boutique in Greenwich Village, just a few blocks from Washington Square Park.

What else can we say?
  • This show has not aged well in terms of its whiteness, its blind privilege, and there were a ton of times it was transphobic and really just olde timey about sexuality, consent, and gender.
  • Word on the street is that everyone in the cast hates Kim Cattrell.
  • I cannot emphasize enough how terrible the second film was.
  • Carrie was a horrible friend, kind of a ding dong about life in general, and she seemed to be “that friend” who is always hung up on some dude.

Regardless of all of this, you cannot overstate the shows impact on fashion and social trends!  Those of us working fashion and buying watched every episode, hoping to find the next hot fashion trend.  And even just the slightest cameo in an episode would put a business or an item on the map!

Let’s start with all of the fashion trends (thanks to Patricia Field):
  • Big flowers

  • Nameplate necklaces:  Remember how sad it was when Carrie lost her nameplate necklace in Paris?  And it was extra sad because while it cost very little (to Carrie, who likes to buy $500 shoes), it represented a day she was out in New York City, having a great day with her friends?   Here’s the story of the necklace as Patricia Field told In Style in 2015:
    • “"I have a shop in New York City, and a lot of the kids in the neighborhood wore them. "I thought, 'Maybe I’ll show it to Sarah Jessica and she’ll like the idea.' She did, and she made it happen. It became a universal, long-lasting thing."
    • "After it became what it became, I understood the draw," she adds. "I think there’s a trend now toward smaller pieces, and the name necklace fits within that genre. Names are timeless. Every woman has one: young, old, short, or tall."
    • With the reboot of the series just a few months away, the entire jewelry industry is wondering what the new nameplate necklace will be!!!  According to The New York Times:
      • “One front-runner for the next Carrie necklace could be a $595 turquoise and malachite rope “because the necklace is really visible” around Ms. Parker’s neck in the official publicity still for the new series, said Allison Fry, the necklace’s maker, who founded the Fry Powers brand in 2018.
      • By mid August the necklace had already sold out
  • Carrie’s ballerina skirts
  • Miranda’s short hair
  • Charlotte’s penchant for pink clothing
  • Samantha’s amazing pant suits
  • Carrie’s vintage fur coats (and in general, the mainstreamification of vintage clothing!
  • The Fendi Baguette: “ In that moment, we were literally creating outfits around the Fendi bag," the show's stylist Rebecca Weinberg told InStyle in 2010.

Tasti D-lite

This was Charlotte’s go-to for a treat and when she was shown eating Tasti D-lite in season 6 (2004), hoards of women rushed to try it!  This was a major boon for the company!

Brazilian Bikini Waxes

When the characters on the show talked frankly about these, a “less is more” trend when it comes to body hair really took off

Manolo Blahniks

Carrie’s shoe of choice! And apparently her entire savings account was her shoe wardrobe?  Manolos were already the shoe of choice for Bianca Jagger, Grace Coddington, and Princess Diana...but no woman did more for Blahnik’s business than Carrie Bradshaw.  By the year 2000, 30,000 Manolos were being sold a year at Neiman Marcus.  That’s just one store!!!

In season 6, "A Woman's Right to Shoes," Carrie’s Manolos are stolen at a baby shower, the host is a condescending jerk about it, and Carrie ends up sending them a wedding invitation--she is marrying herself--and she is registered at Manolo Blahnik.  Micro trend here:  marrying yourself.  That turned into a thing, too!

He’s Just Not That Into You

This 2004 best selling “self help”book about well, that guy just not being that into you, was a PHENOMENON, featured on Oprah, and finding itself on The New York Times bestseller list for a very long time.  The premise:  if a guy you’re interested in isn’t making an effort to pursue you...well, he’s just not that into you! In 2009, it was made into a movie with an all-star cast including Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Connolly, Jennifer Connelly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, and Justin Long.  It was produced by Flower Films (Drew Barrymore’s company) and despite  kinda meh reviews, it grossed more than $180 million worldwide. 

How does this relate to Sex and the City?

The book authors, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, were writers on the show. And it was inspired by an episode called “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little.” Miranda asks Carrie’s current dude, Jack Berger, to give her his opinion on a guy she’s dating. Specifically about how the guy turned down her invitation to come back to her apartment because he had an early meeting.  Berger says "He's just not that into you", adding, "When a guy's really into you, he's coming upstairs, meeting or no meeting."

The Cosmopolitan

When you imagine our four heroines out for drinks, you always envision the cosmo, right?  But it actually didn’t appear until the second episode of season two (in 1999), titled “The Awful Truth”. And in that episode--only Samantha and Stanford are drinking them!  Carrie is drinking a vodka on the rocks, which is...intense.

I’m going to read directly from a Vice article called “ How Sex and The City Ruined  the Cosmo,” which we will obviously be linking to in the show notes because you need to read this:

“The Cosmopolitan is effectively just a very simple vodka sour,” veteran bartender and bar owner Toby Cecchini tells me over the phone, “But it has this tony name and it’s served in a tony glass.” Though cocktail origins are always tricky to pinpoint, many recognize Cecchini as the man behind the drink.

One day at work, Cecchini caught wind of a drink that was popular in San Francisco leather bars. Dubbed the Cosmopolitan, it was a pretty-vile-sounding mix of rail vodka, Rose’s grenadine, and lime cordial in a V-shaped glass. Cecchini revamped the cocktail using Citron, Cointreau, fresh lime, and Ocean Spray cranberry juice cocktail. What emerged was refreshingly tart, beautifully blush, and dressed with a lemon-peel garnish.

The Cosmo picked up major momentum after its appearance on SATC.  It became THE drink for a girls’ night out.  And it is widely considered THE cocktail that personifies the aughts. But as the craft cocktail movement grew (thanks ye oldes) and SATC waned, the Cosmo soon became a sort of embarrassing thing to drink .  And as we know, SATC hasn’t exactly aged well, and people over time saw it as more a parody of rich, clueless white ladies.  The Cosmo is SO linked to SATC, that despite several attempts at a comeback, it just hasn’t regained popularity.  Or as a friend of the Vice writer says in the article, “The Cosmopolitan is what you used to drink to get wasted, with no calories, when you had a UTI.” 

In the first SATC movie, “Sex and the City,” Miranda sips a Cosmo and asks, “Why did we ever stop drinking these?” Carrie replies, “ ’Because everyone else started.”

Magnolia Bakery (and maybe cupcakes as a whole)?

In a 2014 episode of Broad City, Magnolia Bakery is described as “the last place tourists go before leaving New York City.”

In season 3, Carrie and Miranda grab cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker in the West Village--at that time a relatively unknown place--and Carrie confesses her crush on Aidan. 

And this tiny cameo set a huge cupcake movement in motion! For one, business blew up so much for Magnolia, that they were able to open locations all over the world.  Secondly, cupcakes as A THING began to happen. Cupcakes were THE dessert treat of the aughts:  cute, compact, appealing in social media posts. Competitors popped up every where!

The go-to SATC super fan/tourist move is this:

Buy the exact cupcake that Carrie eats in that episode (vanilla cake with pink vanilla buttercream frosting); stroll over to the brownstone on Prince Street where the exterior shots of her apartment were taken.  Now snap a photo for IG with your cupcake as an accessory.

For “Sex and the City” fans who can’t afford a pair of Manolo Blahniks, “the Magnolia bakery cupcake [is] that affordable experience that Miranda and Carrie had,”  according to company Chief Baking Officer Bobbie Lloyd.

The success of Magnolia Bakery’s West Village location also elevated the entire neighborhood, as big designers like Marc Jacobs moved in there.

Also: cigarettes and MacBooks!