Can We Finally Admit the Outfits On Sex and the City Were a Big Hot Mess?

by Charles Manning

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Sex and the City and now that we’ve all got a little distance on the show, can we please just admit, to ourselves and each other, that the majority of those outfits were just plain ugly?

I know, I know. People love to go on and on about how amazing the outfits on this show were and are, but come on! No one looks good in a ruched pink mini dress with white pumps and a silk scarf headband. Especially when the whole look is topped off with some ghastly brooch and what looks like an OshKosh B’gosh shopping bag. Not even Ms. Carrie Bradshaw. If you saw a human on the street in this outfit the last thing you wouldn’t think is “chic.” Admit it.

(Sex and the City, HBO)

And this isn’t an issue of things that once looked cool, now looking dated. No. These outfits were just as much of a mess back than as they are today. I mean, honestly, did anyone ever actually think this looked good?

(Sex and the City, HBO)

And this?

(Sex and the City, HBO)

How about this?

(Sex and the City, HBO)

And definitely not this!

(Sex and the City, HBO)

People love to give Carrie a pass for her style on account of how “uniquely her” it is, but, honestly, it’s not that unique, even within the context of the show. So many of the outfits Carrie wears could just as easily have been worn by any of the other three main characters. It’s just that people like her better and want to be like her, so they idolize her and call her stylish while at the same time calling Miranda dowdy, or Charlotte conservative, or Samantha trashy.

(Sex and the City, HBO)

I mean, are you really telling me that Carrie wouldn’t wear this outfit of Samantha’s?

(Sex and the City, HBO)

Or this one?

(Sex and the City, HBO)

She wore this mess, after all.

(Sex and the City, HBO)

This dress looks like it was ripped straight out of Charlotte’s closet.

(Sex and the City, HBO)

And Carrie’s outfit here is really just the over-the-top-look-at-me-look-at-me version of what Miranda’s wearing. Because, as we all know, Carrie always has to be the center of attention.

(Sex and the City, HBO)

I mean, how many think pieces have been written about what a selfish and self-involved person Carrie Bradshaw is? She’s shallow and superficial and only ever wants to talk about herself. And her outfits, with their insistence on being the most extra in any situation, are really just an external manifestation of her extraordinary and toxic narcissism.

(Sex and the City, HBO)

Remember that hideous Dior newspaper-print dress she wore to “apologize” to Natasha after she was caught fleeing her apartment after sleeping with Big?

(Sex and the City, HBO)

Real talk: that dress was the definition of “trashy” — John Galliano, who designed it, famously said the print was inspired by the homeless who wrap themselves in newspaper for warmth. Galliano’s tasteless comment aside, it’s hardly the kind of thing anyone other than Carrie Bradshaw would wear on a mission of contrition. Even Samantha Jones would exhibit more class and self-restraint than that.

And that’s another thing, I’m tired of people giving Samantha Jones a hard time for wearing almost the exact same clothes Carrie does. Sure, some people are Team Samantha all the way, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people complain that Samantha is too old to dress the way she does. These are the same people who fawn over Carrie’s infantile tutu-and-tank-top combo in the show’s opening credits. If Carrie can wear that, why can’t Samantha wear this ugly blue two-piece?

(Sex and the City, HBO)

Sure, it looks like a Paris Hilton hand-me-down from 2002, but Carrie’s outfit in the opening credits looks like she picked it up at JonBenét Ramsey’s estate sale.

(Sex and the City, HBO)

And don’t even get me started on that ridiculous headpiece Carrie wore to Stanford and Anthony’s wedding! Actually, do. That thing was ghastly. It looked like Bavmorda’s crown in Willow.

(Sex and the City, HBO, Willow, Lucasfilm)

And can we talk about how obsessed people are with Carrie wearing Aidan’s underwear that one time. I cannot tell you how often I’ve heard people ooh and ah over that one and, I’m sorry, but I don’t get it. It just looks like a big, saggy diaper to me. And a full one at that! Not sexy. Unless you’re into autonepiophilia, that is.

(Sex and the City, HBO)

And what was with all those big, ugly belts? I’m not just talking about Carrie here. Giant belts were everywhere on that show and most of the time they looked like they had been sourced from the giveaway bin at some Saint Mark’s boutique’s going-out-of-business sale.

(Sex and the City, HBO)

Now, if you think all of this means that I was never a fan of the show, you’re dead wrong. I loved Sex and the City when it was on the air and although I find Carrie (and Charlotte, for that matter) deeply problematic these days for a whole host of reasons I won’t get into right now (Could they be any more superficial and heteronormative!), I’ve probably seen every episode at least three times, so don’t get it twisted. You can be a fan of the show while still acknowledging that the clothes in it were utterly ridiculous. And don’t feed me that line about fashion being a form of self-expression and therefore beyond reproach. That is a facile argument and you know it! Disagree with me if you like, but don’t try to tell me you’ve never looked at someone’s else’s outfit and found it lacking. Especially when that someone is named Carrie Bradshaw.

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22 comments

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A June 14, 2018 - 6:58 PM

Such a HATER!

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Lorie December 3, 2018 - 4:21 PM

Why?

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Allison Holly October 7, 2019 - 12:13 AM

I think you’re thinking too hard about it. It just shows the times that the show was filmed in and represents each girls’ personality. I love it all. Life is too short to care about what people are wearing on tv.

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Lorie December 3, 2018 - 4:20 PM

I agree! I’m watching The Sex in the City movie right now (again) and I thought someone has to agree with me about these outfit being a little bit over-the-top, and I found this lovely website. Loved the show but those outfits… (GET Real😋)

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livvy January 20, 2019 - 12:45 AM

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

NEVER!!!!!!!!!

SATC still remains one of the best ever shows for fashion! especially charlotte and carrie!!!

and samantha and miranda had quite a few great ones, especially as the years went on.

……. buttttt, okay, okay, i’ll give you a *liiiiiiittle* bit of a free pass, bc i’ll admit there were at least a handful of WTF and/or just straight up ugly IMO haha. like the one that always comes to mind first for me that i can’t believe you didn’t mention here! when she was at like a thrift store i think with miranda or samantha or idk maybe it was even charlotte? but she was wearing i believe a button down oxford-style polo blouse, but somehow tied up so the majority of her entire torso was exposed. and i think she paired it with like a maxi skirt or something? but just wait… i haven’t even gotten to the CRAZIEST part yet. she was wearing a belt RIGHT THROUGH THE MIDDLE. and yes, by that, i do mean SHE WAS WEARING A BELT AROUND HER COMPLETELY BARE TUMMY, ONLY SKIN-TO-BELT CONTACT. not even tucked into or hooked onto the clothes at all whatsoever. from the first time i saw it and too this day i’ve always just seen that and been like WTH THAT IS SO FREAKING STRANGE lol. and it was one of those ribbon-type belts with the metal D rings that you’d pull it through…. which for some reason made it even weirder in my mind? lol

so yeah…. there were some definiteeeee weird ones. i’d agree with the weird bandeau top ensemble she wore to that hamptons hoedown party that you put… and pretty much any time she wore too much suede. especially if it was like crazy colorblocked bright colors of suede lol. or anytime she just didn’t match her top to her bottom or the outfit to the accessories or whatever.

but the 80-90%+ of the outfits that were STELLAR and PHENOMENAL more than make up for it!!! she had SO many great ones! including the rose dress from the first movie, and i can’t BELIEVE you didn’t love the theme song look!! that one’s ICONIC!!!

And I personally loved the John Galliano newspaper dress so much that I even searched on eBay to try to get myself one! But I guess I could see a little bit how old that one might be a little more polarizing since it is kind of flashy and I know some people find that God h and I personally loved the John Galliano newspaper dress so much that I even searched on eBay to try to get myself one! But I guess I could see a little bit how old that one might be a little more polarizing since it is kind of flashy and I know some people find that gaudy.

but long story short, bottom line, The fashion on that show was absolutely amazing!!!! I believe it now more than ever 20 years later… And I’ll continue to fight you to the grave until I convince you lolol

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Lindsay B July 8, 2020 - 8:42 PM

Yesss!!! Everything you just said! With fashion there are risks. Some don’t pan out but the ones that do make up for it.

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Franny June 24, 2021 - 6:19 PM

I love her outfits some were ugly but the Newspaper Dress I ❤️

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TWard February 18, 2019 - 8:07 PM

This made me laugh out loud on my couch a number of times (with the ‘Alden and Big fight in the mud’ episode in the background). That blue- bandana-cropped-tiedye-pants-chanel-disaster was by far the worst in my eyes. Though this page has made me aware of the pink thing at the top… Which I can’t place, and I must’ve seen every episode 50 times. This made me laugh enough to leave a comment. Ha! Xx

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TWard February 18, 2019 - 8:11 PM

That is sooooo weird, pink dress came on the next episode!

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J February 28, 2019 - 2:18 PM

I’m so glad someone else is finally being honest for once!! Every single outfit Carrie wore on the show was just hideous. It reminds me of what schizophrenic homeless people would wear in the streets of new york. Honestly, if anyone saw anyone else walking in the street in 95% of her outfits they’d certainly whisper to their friends, “WTF is she wearing?” I am still at awe at people who find her “fashion” so “inspiring.” I guess not everyone can have good taste.

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Lisa May 4, 2019 - 12:01 AM

The clothes are absolutely horrendous. Every time I hear someone praise SJp or Patricia Fields on their “creativity”, I cringe. That insane “hat” she wore for Stanford’s wedding? The Dior dress makes an appearance in the 2nd movie when they revisit 1997. I can’t even begin to comment on the insane wardrobe of SATC 2. Dear lord!!!

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Knah June 9, 2019 - 1:55 AM

The author of this article totally missed the part about this being a SHOW, theatrical.The outfits are supposed to be over the top and outrageous to convey drama, playfullness and personality while showcasing each character’s disposition. Exuberance is what fashion is all about; not the mundane, the perfect, the banal.

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Mary McKenzie July 14, 2019 - 1:35 AM

Watching now for the umpteenth time, yes, totally over the top, but that’s a huge reason we ALL watched & LOVED💕😜💃🕶🎩👛🧥👗🌉🗽🌃

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Natalia July 16, 2019 - 8:09 PM

Harsh!

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KMK February 19, 2020 - 10:56 AM

Wait.. did Miranda write this??!?

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disagrees with article. May 27, 2020 - 6:46 PM

couldn’t disagree anymore. you must not be fashion forward or know true style. fashion wise, those women were ALWAYS ahead of the game & killing it. huge trend setters. their fashion, even these shown here, AMAZING. loved it. so unique, very 2020.

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kalina June 13, 2020 - 3:56 PM

GIRL, NO.
I was enjoying the article, i was agreeing with some stuff, thinking how i still really like other stuff and wondering if its just me… and then came the part where you call the Jhon Galliano newspaper dress “hideous”. That dress is ICONIC and is absolutely gorgeous and has a hue place in modern fashion. I just stopped reading after that. Please, write your homework better next time, don’t just hate for the sake of it.
And Carrie, with all her flaws, looked amazing in that dress.

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ASK January 18, 2021 - 9:00 PM

This article is a hot mess. These outfits were way ahead of their time with fashion, and they were so unique to the characters. None of those Samantha outfits you showed would’ve suited Carrie, and the print alone on Carrie’s peplum dress would’ve made it too much for Charlotte.

Furthermore, this article is way too judgmental. Shaming women for their fashion choices is a trend that should’ve been left in the 2000’s. I would actually prefer seeing more women dressing like Carrie or Samantha because it’s a huge display of confidence and shows that those women aren’t afraid to be themselves.

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Franco February 16, 2021 - 8:54 AM

What a complete idiot. Clearly you know nothing about fashion. Don’t write anything about fashion ever again.

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this website is my buthole March 6, 2021 - 11:06 PM

shut the fuck up you ignorant slut

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Darlene the writer April 4, 2021 - 12:39 AM

Well…some of your points are valid. However, Carrie had more fabulous than losses. Her menswear looks were slamming. I think had you said Carrie looked artsy but wasn’t artsy according to her would’ve been more accurate. Had we seen her with more artsy type friends and doing more thrift shopping then her whole persona would’ve been more authentic. We watched for the glamour. She changed how women view shoes. Only great Grandmas don’t wear a sexy heel now. We love Carrie and the girls flaws and all. What would Samantha be if she wasn’t a Barbie come to life? Miranda needed big belts to whip corporate ass. Charlotte is all Ralph Lauren meets Burberry meets Chanel perfection. That newspaper dress was everything. In fact I had a shirt. A friend recently wore a skirt with the print. Hate other things but not the clothes.

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Monica May 1, 2021 - 12:32 AM

Please!!!! Her style was/is classic NEW YORK! Have you seen the vintage looks that people put together to be this unique? Not to mention the show was filmed in the 90’s! Hello!

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