Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Style for Style

Aside from the witty writing and smart story lines, “Sex and the City” was a show that broke boundaries, broke hearts, broke bankbooks and never apologized. If New York City is the fifth character in “Sex and the City”, than the clothes are certainly the sixth. With the new movie hitting theaters in May, I have a hunch that we all can not wait to get “Carrie-d away” all over again…

Aside from sipping on the occasional cosmopolitan, or hoping that one day, I too, will be proposed to with a shoe, one can not help but be blown away by the incredible impact “Sex and the City” has had on the lives of all women who watch it (and subsequently the wallets of all the suckers out there.) The Sex and the City Effect, as it is so often referred to, stakes its claim from the large shift in behavior of certain groups of women after the show’s cultural rise to greatness. Foregoing the obvious effects: the desire to sip cocktails all day, flaunt your sexuality on any occasion, and float through life unsure of where you’ll end up (but positive that you’ll be okay), the greatest effect the show has had can be found in our closets.

As each of the four main characters grew in to themselves and began to develop their own distinct style, it can be assumed that each and every viewer out there fundamentally attributed themselves to one of the four women.

There’s the “Samantha”. Everything about her exudes sex and confidence – particularly her wardrobe. Bright bold colours, curve hugging dresses, the oversized Hermes Birkin bag, and huge gold statement jewelry. If you’re a Samantha kind of girl, you aren’t afraid to stand out.

If you view yourself as a “Charlotte”, then you are a woman who lives by a schedule and a plan. With the upstate New York combination of preppy, feminine and romantic, her look is proper, sophisticated and always put together. Grocery shopping with a dress that doesn’t go with your shoes? No thank you.

The strong and determined “Miranda” character dresses not to attract men, but to attract the positive attention she feels she deserves in the work place. With incredible power suits by day and oversized t-shirts by night, the rare times that Miranda shows a little skin, it is with purpose.

With the tendency to favour shoes over rent, many women (myself included), can strongly identify as being a “Carrie”. It is her continued nuance of hope and naiveté about all things love and finance related that make her so relatable, and also somehow admirable. She taught us the importance of mixing designer pieces with funky finds from thrift stores, and how the transgression of mixing colour pallets and styles is never safe, but always surprising.

With all four characters built upon such strong female archetypes, there is the strong possibility that one may have a bit of Samantha, Charlotte, Miranda and Carrie in all of us. But what we all possess since the show first passed through our televisions, into our living rooms, and straight to our hearts, is the willingness to forgo all common sense and follow any trend that one of the four girls busts out.

The contribution the show made to fashion is immense. They turned Manolo Blahnik into a household name, revived the fanny pack, raised eyebrows by turning lingerie into every day clothing, and exposed midriffs without disposing class. The girls made it justifiable to throw down thousands on a handbag, and made you argue that fur is not murder, fur is fashion.

Costume designers Pat Field and Rebecca Weinberg undoubtedly had no idea the kind of impact the show’s wardrobe would have or it’s influence of modern day fashion. The pair produced more than fifty outfits per episode, and approximately three hundred for the first movie installment. During the six season run they spawned a revving engine of economic, cultural, and social trends that continue to be relevant today.

“In terms of the series, fashion didn’t just reflect the zeitgeist, it actually influenced it as well,” says Valerie Steele, fashion historian and director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “It really validated people’s love of fashion. Even people who weren’t going to spend $500 on a pair of shoes suddenly became very aware of Manolo and Choo and the whole concept of luxury.”

The first film paid homage to many of the series common fashion statements: status shoes and bags, menswear inspired pieces, and oversized flowers. With exposed bra straps, nameplate necklace, and a Prad(o) purse in tow, SATC addicts are more than ready to see what the new film will introduce into our wardrobes.

When the second “Sex and the City” film hits theaters this May, there will undoubtedly be as much discussion about the hemlines as there are about the plotlines.

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