Before 'SATC' to Now: Sarah Jessica Parker's Style Evolution
| LAST UPDATE 10/28/2021
Fashion as we knew it changed when Carrie Bradshaw hit our screens in Sex and the City. And the actress who played her soon became a total fashion icon, too. Here's a look at Sarah Jessica Parker's style evolution.
1980s: Never Afraid of a Bold Accessory
Picture this: it's the early 1980s and Sarah Jessica Parker is breaking into the Hollywood scene. The young starlet had her first big television break as the lead actress on Square Pegs from 1982 to 1983.
Sometime during that period, SJP strutted out in this oversized gray dress and a wide-brimmed hat - proving even as a teen star, she was not afraid of a bold accessory. This marked the beginning of Parker's fashion evolution, and she was off to a strong start.
1987: The '80s Vibe
Fast forward a few years and SJP stepped out in this gem of an outfit for the Young Artists United's One-Year Anniversary Celebration in April of 1987. By then, the talented gal had appeared in multiple movies, including Footloose and Firstborn. But she really made a splash as the lead in a 1985 film.
Sarah starred in Girls Just Want to Have Fun and she took the movie's vibe out of the studio and onto the red carpet. The oversized tuxedo jacket, cat-eye sunglasses (in the nighttime), and the pile of curly locks scream star on the rise. And her other iconic looks from 1987 did not disappoint.
1987: A Bra & Blazer Combo
Oversized blazers were a staple of SJP's 1987 wardrobe. The shot below captured the then-22-year-old at the Slamdance premiere party at The Palace in Hollywood, California. Clearly never afraid to show a little skin, Sarah complimented the jacket with a bra and high-waisted pants.
"People should dress the way they want," Parker declared years later once she was a renowned fashion icon. "Any rules for age or shape are silly. If you walk out the door feeling good about yourself, that's what counts." It's safe to say SJP always had an eye for style.
1988: More Hats, Please
Fast forward a year and SJP wasn't over oversized blazers. And we can't blame her - she knows how to pull it off like no other. Sarah put together this fit for a September 1988 event by Amnesty International called Human Rights Now! The pins on her blazer were perfect for the evening.
Parker wore oversized, striped overalls under the blazer and a gorgeous hat we could stare at for days. Carrie Bradshaw loves her shoes, and it looks like SJP loved her head accessories. As SJP grew older, her style started getting a bit more glam...
1991: Sequinned Gal
By 1991, Sarah traded in the oversized look for a cropped jacket with sequins galore. But some things never change: she matched the little piece with a gold bra and high-waisted velvet pants. Add to that her messy-chic curls and we're absolutely swooning.
SJP rocked this iconic look for the 1991 premiere of For the Boys in Los Angeles. "I always sort of considered myself sort of odd-looking," Parker said in an interview that year. "I'd never sort of looked [like women in Hollywood] and I've come to accept it."
1995: A Dainty Moment
By 1995, Hollywood was head-over-heels for Sarah Jessica Parker, and we hadn't even seen her as Carrie Bradshaw yet. The photo below shows the starlet at the 49th Annual Tony Awards on June 4, 1995, in New York City. By then, SJP's filmography was an extensive one.
The actress had starred in L.A. Story, Honeymoon in Vegas, Striking Distance, Hocus Pocus, and Ed Wood. And just like her acting career was developing, so was SJP's style. Fans and fashion-lovers began to notice the starlet's versatility when it came to her personal taste, and would soon see more of it.
1997: A Snakeskin Moment
By 1997, SJP made clear she can do it all: edgy, dainty, or sexy, the actress had it covered. And Parker had quite the steamy moment on the red carpet for the unveiling of a Cartier store in the Big Apple: she wore a skin-tight snakeskin dress with a strap going across her chest.
"I consider it a luxury to be free, not to be afraid of looks, and to believe in yourself," SJP told L'Offficiel. "But I think that a crisis of confidence from time to time is not so bad. It feels good to be challenged, nervous, and to lack confidence sometimes. Confidence and insecurity can be a useful combination."
1998: SATC Royalty
SJP was already a Hollywood big name by the time Sex and the City premiered, but as we know, the hit series shot her to unimaginable fame. And from the very beginning, Sarah looked like the perfect actress to play Carrie Bradshaw on screen. And the show's first screening event was no exception.
Parker repped her on-screen gal well with a unique outfit: the actress wore a blush-colored corset-inspired top with a baroque-printed skirt. The regal yet sultry look turned heads at the Loews Theatre red carpet in New York City, where Sex and the City had its first screening.
2000: Carrie Bradshaw
By 2000, there was no thinking of Sarah Jessica Parker without her iconic on-screen counterpart coming to mind. Carrie Bradshaw and the actress who played her almost became one and the same in some people's eyes. So it's hardly surprising that we started to see some of Carrie's taste make its way offset.
SJP wore a stunning dress and a ribbon-like belt with a large flower for the Season Three premiere of Sex and the City on June 1, 2000, at the DGA Theatre in Los Angeles. As she often did, Sarah completed the look with her iconic curly locks and subtle makeup.
2000: A Pink Emmy's Look
SJP wore many glam and Carrie-inspired dresses in 2000, and her look for the 52nd Annual Emmy Awards was no exception. The starlet, who was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series, wore an all-pink gown that screamed Sex And the City.
The spaghetti-strapped dress included a plume skirt, which was inspired by ballerinas, and an arm accessory like no other: a cloth flower with a dramatic trail falling off of Sarah's arm. The actress completed the Oscar de la Renta look with her famous smile.
2001: She Loves a Good Crop Top
The early 2000s queen slayed the red carpet at the 7th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, where she took home the trophy for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series. SJP wore a sequinned black crop top with a navy blue skirt.
And while fans couldn't help but get Carrie Bradshaw vibes, the actress later said something surprising. "My on-screen characters haven't influenced my style," Parker said. "If they have, it's in ways that I'm not aware of." Keep scrolling for more iconic looks from SJP's style evolution.
2003: A Date Night Look
By 2003, Parker sometimes traded in her gorgeous curls for a sleeker look. The fashion icon rocked a high ponytail at the 60th Golden Globe Awards. The updo gave her sexy outfit its time to shine: SJP wore a black corset with matching satin pants and delicately strapped heels.
She complimented the all-black look with plenty of shiny jewelry pieces and some arm candy: her husband Matthew Broderick. The couple walked the red carpet hand-in-hand. "Matthew has a nice eye [for fashion]. He's the last person I know who still wears a tie," SJP joked years later.
2005: Stunning at Broadway
2005 brought more iconic moments as SJP attended the Odd Couple Broadway opener in October. "When I go to a premiere I like to borrow lovely clothes and shoes from designers. It's like the library: if you return them in good condition, you get to borrow more. I'm very lucky," she shared.
The satin number photographed above was a Peter Soronen gown. Parker added a touch of funk with the dazzling collar necklace she paired the dress with and a beautiful updo. The paparazzi couldn't get enough of her stunning look as SJP walked into the Brooks Atkinson Theater.
2006: Two Fashion Icons
Matching with a legendary designer? Mama, she made it. All eyes turned towards this dynamic duo as they entered the 2006 Met Gala. Sarah walked the red carpet with none other than Alexander McQueen and the pair totally killed that year's Costume Institute theme.
The friends wore matching tartan looks designed by McQueen for the "Anglomania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion" theme. Making up the other half of SJP's crisscross patterned dress was a light blush pink dress that had a Carrie-esque tulle skirt.
2008: Stunning at the London Premiere
2008 marked roughly four years since the final episode of Sex and the City aired. Fortunately, fans were blessed with more of the timeless content as the series' first movie came out. Sarah wore an Alexander McQueen dress with an elaborate headpiece to the film's London premiere.
"The most arresting and compelling person is the person that is themselves," the starlet later shared about style and life in general. "That's what we're drawn to in an individual, somebody who has a point of view that's interesting and different, totally their own."
2009: Throwback Dior
Fans begged for more as soon as the first Sex and the City film came out, and the producers soon delivered. By 2009, our favorite gal pals were back filming on the streets of Manhattan - bringing us this unforgettable look worn by SJP as Carrie Bradshaw.
Parker stunned in this Christian Dior Fall 2000 newspaper print dress. And dedicated fans quickly realized it wasn't the first time we saw the actress strutting in the unique piece. Carrie Bradshaw first wore the modern item in the show's Season 3. Years later, it looked just as gorgeous.
2009: A Little Pink Dress
2009 saw SJP bringing the heat from the streets of New York City to the red carpet of London. The actress wore a little pink dress to the U.K. premiere of Did You Hear About the Morgans? The skin-tight look was complete with a lavish necklace and a sexy wavy hair look.
And while by then Sarah had long been a fashion icon, it happened almost accidentally. "I never intended to give fashion or style advice," SJP admitted. "I look around for inspiration. I think the important thing is to feel good about yourself, to be authentic, without being afraid of being unique."
2010: Chanel Couture
Parker radiated class at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards in 2010. The award-winning actress wore a soft yellow Chanel dress for the Hollywood event and looked like an absolute goddess. The satiny material draped gracefully down to her feet and the neck strap provided an unexpected twist.
When interviewers asked SJP why she chose the Chanel gown for the event, the actress explained how she was drawn to it. "I think it's because I've never worn a dress like this before and I love the silhouette," Sarah said. "I love the color and I love the back."
2010: Another Statement Headpiece
Another Sex and the City red carpet, another breathtaking headpiece. Parker brought all the drama to the sequel's premiere at Odeon Leicester Square in London. She wore an Alexander McQueen design in honor of her late friend and renowned designer and looked breathtaking in the couture gown.
Sarah said that they were hoping to "take our audience to a place that's wonderfully far away and decadent and glamorous" in Sex and the City 2, and that's exactly the kind of vibe she brought to the movie's red carpet. We can't imagine a more glamorous look.
2011: Trading in the Gowns
SJP traded in her usual gowns and sleek dresses for a more business attire vibe in 2011. The starlet wore a color-blocked outfit by Prabal Gurung for an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. The bold red top featured sheer sleeves and complemented the hot pink pants perfectly.
Parker completed the outfit with white pointed heels, some wavy locks, and sultry eye makeup. By then, the actress had landed roles in New Year's Eve and I Don't Know How She Does It, proving that just because Sex and the City was over (for now) she was not slowing down.
2012: Southern Charm
In 2012, SJP strutted the Met Gala with a look that deviated from her usual shoulder-baring gowns. That year's theme was "Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations," and Parker showed up in a head-to-toe floral-printed dress. The beauty was a Valentino design.
The gown had a high neckline, long sleeves, and reached down to the red carpet. But when SJP lifted the beautiful skirt, we got a glimpse at the pointed heels that had the same girly pattern as the dress. She completed the look with a golden cuff on each wrist.
2013: Punk Couture
Another year, another Met Gala, and another breathtaking look from the fashionista. That year's Costume Institute theme was "PUNK: Chaos to Couture," and we have to say, SJP totally nailed it. The Sex and the City icon wore a Giles Deacon gown with a tall slit up to her left thigh.
The slit revealed punk-inspired Christian Louboutin plaid, thigh-high boots. But hands-down our favorite accessory of the night? Parker's Philip Treacy-designed headpiece. The golden mohawk perfectly encapsulated the nights' Chaos to Couture inspiration.
2014: Honoring Oscar de la Renta
In 2014, Sarah honored her late friend Oscar de la Renta. She wore a gown by the designer for the Met Gala's "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" event. "It was an enormous privilege to be dressed by Mr. de la Renta for so many occasions over the last 15 years," the actress said.
She continued, "And especially meaningful to collaborate with him for this year's Met Gala. I will always be grateful that he allowed me to honor him by embroidering his name in Scarlett on the hem of his glorious dress. He was an inspiration and a man like no other."
2015: A Fiery Piece
SJP's style has certainly evolved throughout the decades, but one thing has remained a constant so far: her love for headdresses. Sarah turned heads with this fiery piece at the 2015 Met Gala, "China Through the Looking Glass." Even Parker's date Andy Cohen couldn't stop admiring her.
"I love the opportunity to wear something really special and go to a wonderful event at some great cultural institution," the starlet once commented on her enjoyment of dressing up for special occasions. If we had her style and closet, we would certainly love it, too.
2016: A Beaded Beauty
Parker toned down the glam with this delicate piece for the Accessories Council ACE Awards. The event honoree made a mark in the beaded Needle & Thread dress pictured below with blue heels from her brand, SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker. The line was roughly 2 years old by 2016.
And while the brand was certainly inspired by her SATC role, the actress claimed her on-screen counterpart obsesses over shoes much more than she. "I should say [my love for shoes] is distinguished from Carrie Bradshaw's," Sarah shared. "She was much more reckless and she was a far better consumer than I was or am."
2017: Bold in Bronze
Sarah's proved time after time that she's not afraid to make a statement. The A-lister showed up at the 2017 People's Choice Awards in this bronze beauty designed by J. Mendel. SJP looked like a trophy herself as she went on stage to collect her Premeum Series Actress award.
The strapless piece included a long and layered pleated skirt and matching arm pieces. Parker chose to go totally jewelry-less for this event. The actress left her jewels at home and gave the spotlight completely to the bold dress, just as the piece deserved.
2018: Dazzling in Blue
The next piece might just be one of our top favorites - though with SJP's closet, it's pretty much impossible to choose. She hit the red carpet for a screening of Here and Now at the 44th Deauville US Film Festival in France. Parker glowed in the blue sequined piece with slits up the sides.
"Style is what the individual brings. More often than not, we are drawn to people because they have personal style," Sarah said of her take on fashion for a Harper's Bazaar interview in 2018. "Fashion is what is offered to the consumer. Style is what you make of it."
2019: A Hot Pink Queen
Parker made her way to another socialite event with friend Andy Cohen in 2019, serving yet another flawless look. The pair attended the New York City Ballet Fall Fashion Gala at the Lincoln Center and SJP made jaw drops with her hot pink Zac Posen gown.
Sarah later discussed how growing older has made fashion more fun. "I make choices that make me feel comfortable and try not to worry too much about what other people think," she shared. "I care less about other people's opinions. I wear clothes that make me feel like myself."
2020: Comfy Chic
In October 2020, amidst the pandemic, Sarah opened a flagship store in NYC for her shoe line. The television icon attended the opening in the gorgeous knitted robe-style dress pictured below. It doesn't get anymore sophisticated than this comfy-chic purple piece.
But when asked what she missed most about NYC during the lockdown, it wasn't the fashion. "I love walking in the city," SJP dished. "I put my headphones on and I'm in Koreatown, I'm in Chelsea. I missed walking into the pizza place, waiting in line with the construction workers. I missed the Mister Softee trucks."
2021: And Just Like That...
And just when we thought SJP couldn't possibly get anymore fabulous, she did. 2021 brought the miracle that is And Just Like That..., the next chapter of Sex and the City, which means Sarah hit the streets of Manhattan as Carrie Bradshaw in all her glory.
The shot above captured the starlet on set in July of 2021. We adore the feminine-rock combo SJP wore here: a preppy and collared pink dress matched with a studded belt. It's the fall inspo we didn't know we needed. Then again, this whole article is.