Sex and the city and the wardrobe

Sex, the city and showing one’s bra straps: how one show changed fashion forever

In many ways, it seems as if a time before Sex and the City has never existed. References to the hit HBO series pepper conversations with men and women; telling a friend how like Charlotte she is can often be the ultimate insult (although no one wants to be like free'n'easy Samantha, prudish Charlotte is a step too far in the other direction).

But it was only 15 years ago that the series made its debut, with a distinctly un-glossy Sarah Jessica Parker in the leading role, speaking directly to the camera about the trials and tribulations of looking for love in New York City. It was for the sex of its title that the series was most discussed. It broke down so many walls around what was and wasn't acceptable conversation, and the varied sex lives of the various characters made great compare-and-contrast material.

However, it wasn’t all sex (and the infamous city); one of the most lasting legacies of Bradshaw et al is an aesthetic one. Although Carrie’s love life was not one we necessarily wanted to emulate, her wardrobe was one we thoroughly coveted.

It was, above all else, unexpected. We had been conditioned to believe that there were rules in fashion – certain things are worn with certain other things; white jeans are for Liz Hurley; bras are mandatory – but Carrie's dress code eliminated our reservations.


She used a bra like an accessory, matching – or mismatching – the colour of her straps to the colour of her dresses. Tulle skirts were paired with jersey T-shirts while hats, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the royal wedding, were worn with cropped printed trousers and shrunken jackets for a visit to her boyfriend’s place of work.

It's true that Sex and the City broke down boundaries and exposed us to a more liberal way of thinking, but the sartorial side of things has been just as important as the sexual side – and, every now and then, just as much fun.

Its influence can still be seen in our shops. Opposite are some lovely items that wouldn’t look out of place in Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe – or in yours.