Where’d You Go, Carrie Bradshaw?

·4 min read

Apart from cats and dogs, the Internet loves to hate things. Each time we start to enjoy something, a Twitter gatekeeper will remind us that the joke’s at the expense of someone else, some poor unfortunate soul. Everything is a problem.

Something I used to enjoy unproblematically was Carrie Bradshaw’s bananas wardrobe. Every Thursday, that sweet, sweet double bill of Sex and the City would showcase more bonkers looks from Manhattan’s favorite sex columnist. Carrie sort of pre-dated man-repelling, especially in those early seasons; she was hyper-fem and fleshy, always slightly overreaching. We were transfixed not only by her seemingly unlimited clothing allowance, but also her oddness: mooching round Paris dressed as a slice of watermelon, and the wedding-day bird on the head(!?).

Yes, at times it veered into costume—pigtails and gingham upstate, and the Jackie O. energy when she dated the peeing politician—but who among us has never slightly overdone a theme? Love it or hate it, Carrie dressed with intent. And at the time we all talked about Carrie’s looks, there was always something to be said, out loud, for her style. Carrie irritated people, but she always dressed with reams of personality. However your feelings about have evolved on Sex and the City, there's no denying what Carrie (well, Patricia Field) did for clothes.

So, truth be told, I don’t want to be part of this pile-on of disliking stuff. I want to be the kind of guy who sees the breaking pics from the set of the Sex and the City reboot and doesn’t feel short-changed. But as more of these images appear, as we get a better sense of Carrie’s wardrobe at 50, I can't help but wonder: Where is Carrie Bradshaw?

The problem is there’s no Carrie in Carrie’s looks. There’s lots of well-meaning, inoffensive ensembles, form-flattering moments, vaguely interesting shapes. There are pieces from Carrie’s original wardrobe—the baguette, the belt, the second proposal Manolos—but there’s none of the oddness, none of the archness. We can see the clothes but we can’t hear Carrie’s commentary, Carrie’s voice. I just see hanging fabric with no flavor; it feels like a light pencil drawing of an original Carrie print. That’s part of the reason these new looks are irksome. It’s like someone watched a handful of old eps, decided the whole show was about dresses and drinks and dick, and couldn’t see the myriad expressions of womanhood, the decisive voices that the clothes amplified. 

It’s going to sound corny to say, but we still all want to dress like Carrie. Not in Carrie’s clothes exactly, not in serif name tag necklaces, but as like ourselves as she dressed like herself. We want signature looks that stand out in our codified tribe, we want nods to trend (in a cool way, not a sheep way). We want daft moments that we look back on as of the time (my trilby era will never make a comeback). We all want to be remembered for presenting ourselves in a way that typifies who we are, that is as much for us as about us. And that’s what I remember about Carrie, not the specificity of each garment (okay, I do remember that phenomenal ruffled green satin miniskirt), but how each look was inarguably correct for her character.  

Not to lean on hyperbole, nor overstate her importance, but Sarah Jessica Parker is a god. She dances across the line of fashion victim and fashion victor. Regardless of the theme, her Met Gala looks crush all competition. Sarah Jessica Parker knows how to dress, what works, what doesn’t. I don’t want to get trapped in ageist expectations for Carrie’s wardrobe, the expected minimalism for women who aren’t 21. I don’t want Comme Carrie. I don’t want Carrie in The Row. May I say to the Twitter gatekeepers that I know style is subjective, that a woman can wear whatever she wants. But if anyone would look fabulous at 50, breaking old rules and pushing new boundaries, it would be Carrie bird-in-her-hair Bradshaw.

Originally Appeared on Vogue