It's said that the fifth star on Sex and the City was New York City itself, but we have another theory to offer: What if it's the fashion? Orchestrated by the show's costume designer Patricia Field, Carrie Bradshaw's outfits mark some of the most influential style moments from the '90s and early '00s and helped make Sarah Jessica Parker a real-life fashion icon, too.
With six seasons, two movies and a reboot (And Just Like That…), it's hard to choose the best of the best. But we took on the hard work in the name of — what else? — fashion. Ahead, we look back at just some of the looks that made Carrie Bradshaw so iconic.
The Theme Song Skirt
New Line/Kobal/Shutterstock Sarah Jessica Parker in Carrie Bradshaw's iconic tulle skirt
If you're anything like us, the SATC theme song probably started playing in your head the moment you saw this tiered tulle skirt. The look, seen at the top of every episode (and in an encore during the first film), is frothy, fun, and oh-so-Carrie Bradshaw.
The Naked Dress
Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage Sarah Jessica Parker in 1997
Carrie's itty-bitty, flesh-toned mini dress memorably catches Mr. Big's attention in season 1, but some may not realize it caught the world's attention first. For a refresher: Per her contract, Parker got to keep everything she wore on the show. So she stepped out in the DKNY mini at the 1997 VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards — before the show even began airing the following year.
The Dior Newsprint Dress
Carrie ruins romantic adversary Natasha's marriage, as well as her lunch, while wearing this iconic newspaper-print dress by John Galliano for Christian Dior, which Parker also took for a spin in real life.
Legs for Days
Only Carrie could pull off a micro-mini for meeting the parents. After telling Aiden she's not ready to meet his family, she surprises them at brunch, looking fabulous in a very short bodycon gray dress, and pairing it with heels (of course) and a Gucci bag.
The Juicy Dress
Nothing says "early 2000s" quite like Juicy Couture terry cloth, so of course, Carrie Bradshaw owned a piece. It turns out her green ruched dress was actually strategic; Parker was pregnant during filming, so the easy silhouette (and gigantic blue Hermès Birkin bag) helped distract from her baby bump.
The Shopping Look
In the world of Carrie Bradshaw, ruffles, fur and snake-print boots all go together perfectly. And don't forget to top it all off with a strand of pearls.
The Versace Ball Gown
HBO/Courtesy: Everett Collection
After arriving in Paris to live with Aleksandr Petrovsky, a jetlagged Carrie dons this grey Atelier Versace design — only to fall asleep in it when he is delayed coming to fetch her. The incredible gown then gets a second moment in the spotlight during And Just Like That…, when our heroine wears it to enjoy a solo snack by the window. According to showlore, it was the most expensive dress Carrie ever wore at an estimated $80,000 — so why not wear it more than once?
Carrie in Paris
Carrie's Parisian style was all about fantasy, and her billowing tulle skirt, blazer and muff worn in the show's finale were the perfect callback to the tulle skirt worn in the opening credits.
The first film had its fair share of incredible fashion, too. Case in point: This layered floral moment, paired with a studded black belt, platform heels and her Eiffel Tower bag — which makes a reappearance during an important moment later on in the SATC universe.
The Wedding Dress
Carrie and Big's wedding may have (spoiler) not exactly gone according to plan, but one thing was certain: The bride was a vision in her elaborate Vivienne Westwood wedding gown, gifted to her by the designer herself after Carrie's bridal Vogue photo shoot.
The famous gown appears to be making a comeback in season 2 of And Just Like That…, as Parker was spotted filming in N.Y.C. while wearing the dress in November 2022.
The Little White Dress
When we first see Carrie link up with Charlotte (Kristin Davis) in Sex and the City 2, she's wearing this breezy LWD from Halston Heritage (Parker was president and chief creative officer of the label at the time) — and a sartorial obsession was born.
"Au Revoir" Couture
Sarah Jessica Parker/Instagram
When And Just Like That … was announced, fashion fans rejoiced at the thought of new outfits from Carrie and co. But the best look from the series may have been saved for the finale; Carrie wore a coral Valentino gown to (spoiler, again) spread her late husband's ashes off of a Parisian bridge. The pièce de résistance? She housed the ashes in the same Eiffel Tower bag from the first SATC film.
"It was the only gown that came into the room," costume designer Molly Rogers told InStyle of the dress. "SJ [Parker] saw it and said, 'look no more.' "