When it first aired on HBO back in 1998, Sex and the City was a revolutionary show given its content (a whole lot of sex), the way said content was explored (openly, without the use of any beeping) and whom it was explored by (four thirty-something, mostly single women). Like all things revolutionary, it contended with a whole lot of criticism throughout its six year run.

Arguments ranged from oppositions to the supposed glorification of sex, the women’s too-carnal lifestyle and an on-the-surface, skin-deep exploration of fashion. Re-watching all 94 episodes after experiencing the Black Lives Matter movement and cancel culture brings these sorts of issues to light once more, especially given the fact that showrunners have just announced an upcoming reboot of the series, over 15 years after the original run wrapped up. And yet, one of the core aspects of the series seems to resonate more than ever when visualized through the prism of a 2020 defined by sadness, anxiety, panic and an almost complete disregard for our mental health. Although Sex and the City’s devotion to fashion was made fun of while on air—real New Yorkers don’t wear heels to lunch! No writer has enough money to pay for endless pairs of Jimmy Choos! These women don’t even look good!—the show’s disposition and overall attitude towards style is what mostly stands out upon re-watching it years later. Specifically, the characters’ love for fashion is exactly what we have been missing throughout the pandemic and what we now realize we haven’t given enough value to in pre-COVID-19 times.

image via HBO

Put aside your opinions about Carrie’s, Charlotte’s, Samantha’s and Miranda’s style. Instead, focus on the fact that whatever it is that they wore wasn’t haphazardly thrown together but actually thought-out, which is more than we can say about ourselves during a year spent at home virtually alone in our pajamas. In fact, it is an almost universal truth that humans have started completely disregarding the way they look during lockdown because, well, nobody else is looking. Watching Sex and the City in 2021 makes one thing apparent: caring about fashion is a way to care for ourselves.

The idea that our style choices are reflections of who we are, a concept that the fashion industry has banked on for decades now, might be true, but the idea should really run deeper than that. Fashion isn’t solely about selecting clothes that match our personality, but about telling the world that we actually care about the way we look because, well, it makes us feel better to take time to drape our bodies in clothing. It’s not just about the message that specific outfits send out but about what putting time into finding an outfit actually means. We invest in the ideal furniture to decorate our homes, the right foods to store in our fridges… what makes our closets any different?

In its truest form, Sex and the City’s perspective on style makes us realize that we care about the way we look because caring makes us feel better—and a pandemic-fueled year is the proof of that. Just watching the characters talk about fashion feels like a breath of fresh air, in a sense. How often during lockdown have you tried to change your mood by putting on “real clothes” and some makeup? There is clearly something to be said about the way we present ourselves—even as a mere reflection in a mirror.

In the first Sex and the City movie, Carrie and Charlotte go shopping for a new desk as part of the former’s apartment redecoration efforts. “It’s all about the desk,” the character says while browsing. “If I find the desk, the writing will come.”

The idea that a single object—whether a desk, a dress, a bag or shoes—might not bring happiness in and of itself but could become a conduit to a state of being that brings us joy turns out to be the kind of thought process that we were advised to embark on at the start of the pandemic. “Put on something nice and feel good about yourself,” online therapy classes would urge us. The clothes themselves might not bring you happiness, but they will help your overall state of being.

The point of Sex and the City, at least when it comes to fashion, is that the way we dress and, by extension, the accessories we don, can and should affect our moods. And how true to reality does that sound when looked at post-2020? A mere glimpse at the way the fashion industry has dealt with the pandemic makes that obvious. Companies are creating loungewear pieces that people feel comfortable in without feeling (pardon my French) gross in. Although the essence of loungewear has always been comfort, it has now garnered a second scope that encompasses mood-lifting. Sure, we don’t need to wear jeans or a tie while working from home… but who says we can’t look good while being comfortable? Clothing companies have clearly noticed: According to Business Wire, the “sleepwear and loungewear market is poised to grow by $19.5 billion during 2020-2024.” In case you were wondering, that’s a pretty big leap.

Is it wrong to place that much importance on an object? Perhaps. But if there is anything that the pandemic has taught us it’s that we should suck happiness out every single corner of our existences that we could clench our teeth into, because life is too short. If dressing up allows us to go out with a smile—and watching a single episode of Sex and the City will remind you of what that feels like—then more power to dressing up.

image via HBO

Interestingly enough, the news about a reboot came smack-dab in the middle of global lockdown orders. Although the excitement prompted by the announcement clearly has much to do with the millions of fans that the show, considered a pillar of television history for better or worse, has amassed throughout the years, I can’t help but wonder (did you see what I did there?) if part of the joy is about viewers remembering that there was a time in which even wearing sweats was something we put some thought into. That fashion, the way we dress and the clothes and accessories we choose to buy and arrange all over our bodies, are ways to express ourselves to the world but, most importantly, a way to tell ourselves that we matter.

After all, in 2020, we forgot to care about the way we look and, most of the time, caring is the first step towards a betterment of the self. Perhaps, we should consider a Sex and the City marathon to restore faith in ourselves.

image via HBO

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
18 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Justice
Justice
8 months ago

“ Instead, focus on the fact that whatever it is that they wore wasn’t haphazardly thrown together but actually thought-out”
– That’s true of every single show on television. Wardrobe departments and costume designers be like ???

Megs Mahoney Dusil
8 months ago
Reply to  Justice

I mean yes, of course, but to a “normal” show watcher living in just “regular” clothes, the clothing of SATC seemed wild! Even to me it did, and I grew up in South Florida. But I was in school in Ohio, and the outfits were nothing I’d see on anyone there!

Kate
Kate
8 months ago
Reply to  Justice

LOL! I was thinking the same thing.

Tana
Tana
8 months ago

I really couldn’t understand what the craze about fashion in SATC or Gossip Girls. I think they are very overtop and look try so hard sometime like a fashion victims.
Personally I think Gossip Girls dressed 10 years above their ages.

GetOnWithIt1
GetOnWithIt1
8 months ago

Wow. What a rambling article. SATC is what it is, looking back on it through a “2020 prism” is ridiculous to me. Enjoy it or don’t, but stop trying to make it important or socially relevant. It was a tv show from 20+ years ago. BTW, I am a fan and that’s still my take on it.

Jessica
8 months ago

I really want to rewatch this as an adult who has spent most of her “adult” life in NY (I think I moved here when I was 21). I’m sure most of it is actually an unobtainable fantasy but could be fun nonetheless. Would be in it for the bags mostly haha.

But to your point about dressing up and the significance of objects and pieces of clothing, I think it’s only natural that people with an interest in fashion express themselves through their clothing. I think thats why not dressing up has taken such a huge toll. But this phenomenon of peoples mood being effected by clothing sheds light on what its like for a lot of people who aren’t thin. We don’t get access to the same options, and when we do its often at a much higher price point thats not accessible to most. To people who aren’t thin, clothing effecting our mood isn’t new, that feeling is our daily reality and to be honest it can be one of our biggest anxieties. And as someone who has never been and never will be “skinny” its really interesting to see thin people experience the same emotional toll not dressing well has had on us. I hope that this aspect of the pandemic is not overlooked but taken to heart, so that more brands and designers make the effort to include us. That way when the pandemic is “over” more people can count on clothing to help uplift their moods, not just those with thin privilege.

Fran
Fran
8 months ago
Reply to  Jessica

This really resonated with me thank you for posting.

Barbara
Barbara
8 months ago
Reply to  Jessica

I take exception to some of what you expressed. When I was 220 I looked as good as when I was 110 because I worked at it! The clothes are there. If you aren’t able to style yourself, you work with someone who helps. Size is no excuse not to look and feel good. A woman should first and foremost dress for herself and feel good about herself. Size is irrelevant.

Jessica
8 months ago
Reply to  Barbara

I don’t disagree with you that you can look and feel good no matter your size, but when you have less options its much harder to do so. I just hope people realize how indeed clothing does impact your confidence and mood hope that there will be a better effort to make clothing and fashion that is more inclusive and accessible, whether you feel comfortable styling it yourself or not. Especially for those who do not want to shop with fast fashion brands but cant afford to pay $300 for a dress. Its awesome that size exclusion hasn’t effected you in this way, I wish I could say the same for myself. But unfortunately it has impacted a lot of people who do not fit into the size binary. I used to art direct for a plus size vintage shop and unfortunately it is the reality for many and an issue that we were trying to overcome by making plus size clothing more accessible.

ILP
ILP
8 months ago
Reply to  Jessica

Such an interesting perspective. I totally get it. I have gained a brittle weight in the past few years and I don’t dress up as I used to as many clothes just don’t look right and are ideal for slimmer figures. In the first SATC movie, they fat-shamed Samantha over 15 pounds. On another note…when I watch tv I know I will see outrageous clothes for everyday life, apartments that the residents couldn’t possibly afford and very average looking men with average jobs married to thin, beautiful wives.

Jessica
8 months ago
Reply to  ILP

My weight is always fluctuating, ever since I was a teen so shopping for clothing in particular has always been hard. Actually one of the reasons I got into bags is that they generally would fit (I’m a top handle girl myself) no matter my size. That being said I have always loved fashion and I see it as a major form of self expression. So when I would see outfits like those in SATC I considered it so unobtainable, aside from the price point they were never made to fit a body like mine and for a while I wasn’t as confident so my approach to clothing was the bigger the better, and in the end that was even more damaging. Now as an adult I am much better at dressing myself and that has helped my confidence A LOT. But with that being said I wish there were more options out there, especially as I try not to shop fast fashion. There are a lot of brands out there I would LOVE to support and wear but they dont offer clothing that fits. I have skinny friends who complain about not dressing during covid and say stay in sweatpants and pajamas all day has taken a toll on their mental health and all I can say is I GET IT 100%. I hope this moment in time will help turn people who didn’t really care because it didn’t effect them into advocates for accessible and inclusive clothing. 🙂

Claudette
Claudette
8 months ago
Reply to  ILP

Did you mean to write “brittle weight”? I’m unfamiliar with that term.

ILP
ILP
8 months ago
Reply to  Claudette

Jessica is correct. It would say a little weight, not brittle weight. I think I rephrased what I originally wrote (a bit of weight perhaps) and didn’t edit correctly.

ILP
ILP
8 months ago
Reply to  ILP

It should say…

Jessica
8 months ago
Reply to  Claudette

I took it as a typo for little lol

seres
seres
8 months ago

A question on the HADS screening tool for anxiety and depression asks “have lost interest in (your) appearance”. So yes losing interest in dressing up – as opposed to taking as much (or little) care as you ever did – can be a symptom of depression. However, the statement “the way we dress and, by extension, the accessories we don, can and should affect our moods” gets dangerously close to confusing cause and symptom. While the idea that buying luxury lounge wear is taking care yourself might be true, the idea that buying it will make you happy skirts uncomfortably close to the consumerist doctrine.

Kate
Kate
8 months ago

I’m tired of being told to find meaning in every triviality. Sometimes entertainment is just escapism, plain and simple.

psny15
psny15
8 months ago

I think sex and the city was Fun show and I enjoyed watching it when it aired – the fact that these women were not attractive yet had the confident to dress in their funky outfits was appealing! Some were hits and others were misses but it was fun! The first movie was nostalgia but the second movie was just a horror!

Most Discussed This Week

Currently Coveting Cassette...

Join The List.

Keep up with PurseBlog by signing up for our newsletter.