New York City inspired the fashions seen on TV shows ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Gossip Girl’

Published by adviser, Author: Katie Ellis - Campus Life Editor, Date: February 19, 2015

There’s nothing quite like the combination of a fabulous group of friends and fashions from the world’s top designers when they come together against the backdrop of New York City to make history in the fashion world and on the silver screen. 

“Sex and the City” (SATC) and “Gossip Girl” have become cult favorite television shows not just because of the dramatic plot lines and the dashing men vying for the attention of the show’s main characters, but also because of how the wardrobe on these programs helped establish the identities of the women wearing the designer labels.

Both shows were loosely based off of book series of the same name and each ran for six seasons earning critical and fan praise that still endures today despite the fact that “SATC” and “Gossip Girl” went off the air 11 and three years ago, respectively. The actresses that were a part of these iconic shows were catapulted into the limelight and remain well-known for the characters they played, and will likely always be known for their roles on these fashion obsessed shows.

Every fan of “SATC” has likely had the conversation with their friends about whether they’re a Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte or Samantha, and fantasizes about drinking Cosmopolitans at one of NYC’s hottest restaurants. No matter what character someone identifies with most, there’s no denying that Carrie Bradshaw was the show’s ultimate fashionista.

Credit for the looks that Carrie and her friends wore goes to famed stylist, Patricia Field, who styled the characters throughout the series’ run and for both of its big screen adaptations. Mixing high and low fashions that showcased the glamour and street style that New York City is known for was one of Field’s greatest inspirations while she was creating the looks for the characters on the show. Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis and Kim Cattrall each brought their own flair to the women they played on TV, helping to establish their characters’ identities and how their lives in the fashion capital impacted their wardrobe.

There wasn’t a time when Carrie’s clothes didn’t make waves as she was pounding the pavement in her iconic Manolo Blahniks, accessorizing her tanks with large flowers or going for over-the-top glamour in pink Oscar de la Renta while dining at McDonald’s. Her most recognizable fashion statement from the series is the pink tank top and white tulle skirt worn in the show’s opening credits that even made a reappearance in the first “SATC” movie.

Even with a closet full of designs from Chanel and Prada, there was one item that stayed with her for all six seasons of the show, her gold nameplate necklace. Her “Carrie” necklace was a symbol of the street style that New York is so famous for, and after finding it in her purse while in Paris at the end of the series, it reminded her that her heart truly belonged in the Big Apple.

The Upper East Side never looked better than when Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf, played by Blake Lively and Leighton Meester, respectively, were turning the hallways of Constance Billard and the streets of Manhattan into their own personal runway. “Gossip Girl” became the “Sex and the City” for a younger generation thanks to the expertise of Field’s former assistant, Eric Daman.

New York was the playground for these privileged teenagers who upgraded their prep school uniforms with designer accessories like Tory Burch flats and Dior handbags and ate lunch on the steps of the Met. Throughout its six seasons, Serena and Blair’s every move was chronicled by an anonymous blogger who managed to capture their most dramatic moments and greatest fashion triumphs.

Daman’s inspiration for Serena’s wardrobe was taken from Kate Moss’s most memorable looks and had an effortless, bohemian quality to them, while Blair’s style was influenced by her love for Audrey Hepburn and the calculated, ‘matchy-matchy’ looks worn by Anna Wintour. As the girls grew up in NYC and left high school behind, their wardrobe became more mature and slightly edgy.

There wasn’t a bandage dress, thigh-high pair of boots or shawl cardigan that Serena didn’t like, making her the more edgy of the duo. Lively’s long blonde locks also became an important part of Serena’s character throughout the series.

New York’s real Queen B was famous for her seemingly endless supply of headbands, knack for mixing prints and fantastical designer dresses fit for a princess. When she wasn’t scheming with Chuck Bass or trying to make her way into the city’s social scene, Blair’s style choices were getting her attention from Gossip Girl and her loyal minions.

Both “SATC” and “Gossip Girl” showcased the best fashion and social spots in NYC for six years, and are still making an impact on the fashion industry today. There wasn’t a designer that didn’t want their creations featured on these fashion conscious shows, which made checking out the latest trends just as entertaining as watching the juicy plot lines unfold.

Each of these shows was its own love letter of sorts to city that inspired many of the trends worn by the show’s stars during their time on air. Aside from the never ending debate of whether someone is a “Carrie” or a “Blair,” one sentiment that will always ring true is that the combination of great television and even better fashion will never go out of style.


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