BEAUTY Things Carrie Bradshaw Wore That I Tried to Wear Too - Heather Taylor

Describing my personal style right now is tricky. Currently, I’d say it’s at the best it’s ever been. I try to look simple in timeless pieces and signature red lipstick, which I don’t think will ever go out of style. If my style must be lumped in a box, I’d say its European-inspired street style meets Mad Men retro chic meets bright eyed innocence. Which must look like a cartoon character with big eyes running around in a scarf, pencil skirt, heels and sloppy bun in your mind’s eye but that’s… well actually that’s pretty accurate.

Getting ‘here’ has been a long, strange trip. It is no exaggeration to say that throughout my life I’ve run the gamut of craziness in exploring all areas of fashion. I went through a phase where I wore nothing but pink, a semi-Goth phase, that time I needed to own nothing but designer handbags, a New Wave/Victorian phase with nods to dandyisms (that one I actually liked) and finally rounded them all out with a young professional lady look that also tries to look effortless, like she just rolled out of bed looking swell.

Throughout all of the ups and downs in my journey to figuring out just what my style is, one of my biggest inspirations was Carrie Bradshaw, the fictional fashionista for all seasons on the syndicated HBO series Sex and the City. At 16, she reminded me in some ways of myself- single, a writer and someone who took fashion risks. Seven years later and she still reminds me of myself – still single, still a writer but as far as fashion risks go, I’d say I’m much more calculated in what I wear now. The economy is still calling for me to play it safe which is a blessing in collecting cigarette pants and trench coats and a curse when I want a frivolous Kate Spade dress that will only be worn like, once a year tops. But when I was still on my high school/college journey to style, there were a couple of times when I took SJP’s couture cues and tried to make them my own. Was it successful?

There’s a good reason why my version of imitation wasn’t so flattering.

Flower pins: the bigger the better

The Flower Pin

Carrie B’s big white flower pin was quite the fixture on her throughout the early couple of seasons on SaTC. I bought myself a big white flower pin as well and pinned it on one of my best blue blouses, did my hair nicely, spritzed on some perfume and headed out into the cool spring breeze.

My biggest admirers for the ensemble? Bumblebees. Carrie was smart to work the flower power in the cool of the evening. After ducking from their attempts to advance on me, I retired the pin to an Oriental handbag of mine. It actually looks much better there than on my clothes and has since stayed put, bee-free since the flower is partially hidden underneath my arm when I carry it.

Love it.

Millions of Pearl Necklaces

Feeling instantly pretty or flapper chic is easily done with strands of faux pearls wrapped around your neck. Carrie did this look multiple times throughout the series. I most clearly remember the necklaces in that episode when she is engaged to Aiden and is wearing her engagement ring on a necklace, hidden deep in the pearl pile. I bought myself one very long pearl necklace in high school and wound it up around my neck to increase the strand count and thus look more WASPy (do not even ask what kind of fashion I was going for anymore at this point). The thing about wrapping a necklace like that around your neck is that after some time, one strand will tighten around your neck and you’ll have to discretely pull it free without looking like you’re being strangled in front of your friends. It’s harder than it sounds. This always happened to me. Still single, you guys, still single.

Again, I cannot stress enough, it was the best part of the second movie for me.

The Newspaper Dress (Top)

What a gutsy dress. It was covered to look like a newspaper but in a fashionable, flared way. As a journalism major in college, this dress was right up my alley. When it made its triumphant return in the second movie, for me it was easily the best part of the entire two and a half hours! I always like to see Carrie repeat clothing and even catching the sight of a familiar dress in her closet gave me a thrill – some of her clothing pieces are like old friends to me and all of the shoes were much appreciated to see.

I did not own a newspaper dress. Rather in high school, I owned a newspaper printed top I bought from a clothing store called Rave out of a fit of frustration that I did not own enough quirky cool clothes like the other girls in my grade. Granted, I went to a Catholic high school where we wore uniforms and therefore did not get to see outside clothing often, but sometimes there would be dress down days and on those days, I felt woefully under-dressed, as opposed to other girls I knew with funky heel designs, handbags they sewed themselves (themselves!) and fun t-shirts.

The shirt was only worn out in public a few times. After one round in the washing machine, it became too tight to wear. Plus, I bought it from Rave. RAVE. If you haven’t been there before, it’s like what happens when Forever 21 meets Wet Seal meets Love Culture and has neon pink and blue vomit all over it. I think I’ve said enough. This shirt would not be making a comeback in the later years of my life, that’s for sure.

Note the return of the flower pin!

Tulle Skirts

Do you know how long I clung to my tulle skirts? How many days in my life I wanted to look like Alice in Wonderland? Even when I ripped one once, I still kept wearing it. These skirts did not flatter my figure at all but I loved them. Before I went off to college, my parents sternly told me to leave those skirts behind and that I better not pack one of them in my suitcase. Defiantly, I rolled one up in a tight ball and tucked it into an obscure corner pocket. Of course, I didn’t know that they were trying to save me from looking like I escaped out of some Gothic Lolita fantasy manga. Or maybe I did know but refused to listen. That sounds more like me back in the day.

Carrie’s tulle skirts are the first thing on her we see – the opening titles with her pink ballerina skirt are iconic in both the jaunty opening theme music included and the fact that Bradshaw stops to admire herself on the side of the bus long enough to get a puddle splashed on her. Tulle skirts will appear multiple times throughout the series and even in promotional advertisements for the show. And because Carrie wore it, everyone say it with me altogether now, I thought I could too! And so I did. I looked… I’m not sure how I looked actually. I’ll just go with the way my friends described me at the time: very ‘80s. Like a sister to Cyndi Lauper. The year was 2006. Go. Me.

I really cannot pull all white outfits off. Really and truly.

All White Ensembles

I only did this once and never again after an ex-boyfriend of mine gave me a very helpful critique. When I wear nothing but white, I look too old fashioned, like I stepped off of a prairie somewhere. Spot on. It worked for Carrie when she infamously went to on-again, off-again boyfriend Mr. Big to look for a loan, dressed in head to toe Chanel, but on me, the results were less than stellar. I just do not look good in full on white only. Some girls can pull off the angelic look but with my history of donning morbid apparel and taste for the darker side of life, I did not. My halo was not tilted as much as it fell off somewhere and I didn’t remember to pick it up and put it back on.

My outstanding list of flops aside, Carrie Bradshaw still taught me plenty about fashion. For instance, never take your shoes off at a party if you are wearing cute heels because they will get stolen. You can always find an excuse to keep a Roberto Cavalli top and not throw it out. Oscar de la Renta is always appropriate to dance in a McDonald’s in, and sometimes you just gotta go meet your boyfriend in a ‘naked dress.’

Images via weheartit.com

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  1. Mixing fine quality with budget finds is a surefire way to get that Carrie Bradshaw look.

  2. Often it’s not the style that we can’t “pull off” it’s the cheap quality. A tailored white Chanel suit looks good on nearly every woman. A knock off that cost 50 bucks looks like it cost 50 bucks

  3. Oh god, Rave is TERRIBLE! I used to shop for bras there in 8th grade because they had sequins and fun colors. WHAT.

    Otherwise, I love this post. I have a love/hate relationship with Carrie’s outfit choices. Some of the stuff she wears is brilliant, but a lot of the time she just takes it too far. Ahead of her time, maybe.

  4. Love long pearly necklaces! Most of mine come in about a billion colours and were bought from the local Value Village. After I discovered that unmarked jewellery costs only 99 cents, I really couldn’t help but grab as many awful 80′s plastic beads as possible. I too struggle with looking cool as I try to prevent my jewellery from chocking me. I just try to look cute like I’m fiddling with it, but generally tend to always end up looking ridiculous.

  5. IMHO, SJP makes anything look bad if she wears it.

  6. I have 5 big flower pins. FIVE. One even has feathers involved. They look great pinned to my curtain, which is where they landed after several failed attempts to not look ridiculous wearing them. Also, turns out when wearing multiple strands of pearls you need to have several separate strands to avoid strangling. Also, you need to be Carrie Bradshaw. Darnit.

  7. I always wanted to wear her clothes but was always afraid I couldn’t pull them off, like all white and the big flower pins! also, some of the shoes she wore, though cute, my feet would kill me for trying!

  8. Adorable post!

  9. I started watching SatC sometime around age 21, and the fashion has controlled my life ever since. Pages I have took from Carrie’s fashion book are: Weird colored/textured heels, Statement head pieces, dramatic make up, 1920′s inspired hair style(her short one)/evening wear, Vintage hand bags, and the strut… Can’t claim the street as your own personal runway without a good strut.

  10. I love Carrie’s style, but I don’t think I can pull off most of the things she wears! I’ve worn smaller flower pins and that’s okay. Also, I have a dress that’s pretty similar to the one in that first picture, from when she was in France. I got it at Forever 21 last year and I bought it mostly because it reminded me of Carrie’s dress! Probably looks better on her though, haha.

  11. Ah! That Dior newspaper dress is an absolute favorite of mine! I agree that the comeback of that dress in the second movie was easily the best part!

  12. Oh my gosh, Heather, you’re so adorable. I, myself, have not been an avid watcher of this show, but I am aware that SJP’s character did become one of the “movers-and-shakers” in the fashion world (on and off screen). Your disclosure of your admitted “flops” is quite endearing…. I think, however, if CarrieB came into the real-world, you just might teach her a lesson or two about fashion….. stay true to your own style because you’re the only one who can really put it all together!! Cheers, karen :o)

  13. Can we talk about how she wore men’s tightie whitey’s to write in? ALL the time. Now, I own a few pairs of boxers, but not man panties.
    Also, I don’t think you should feel bad about the all white outfit. That only works if you’re wearing Chanel.

  14. I will never, ever forget this one time, where Carrie is writing late at night and is wearing nothing but a large woolen sweater, which looked FANTASTIC and Ugg boots. She looked so hot and stylish. I’m wondering why my giant Rolling Stones hoodie and salt-stained Uggs don’t have the same appeal…

  15. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  16. RAVE. that is all.

  17. You know what always irked me about Carrie’s style? The bra with backless tops. That is NEVER OK!! Lol. That and clear bra straps. Super no-no’s for me. Other than that I love her style :)

  18. I love this. It’s kinda nice to see some S&TC love out there. For reasons I cannot understand, there is a movement for ladies to distance themselves from what is labeled as a frivilous, girly pursuit. I say be girly – be silly. Cry over Mr. Big and wear ridiculous poofy skirts. It’s the least life should allow you for tolerating all rollercoaster of womanhood.

  19. WE NEED PIX!!!

    Great post.

  20. I, too, did the flower pin. Everyone thought it was a giant bug. WTF :(