The blazer-wearing, no-bullshit hero we all deserve
From the Golden Girls to the Spice Girls, iconic cliques often have the effect of inspiring fans to play the ‘Which one are you?’ game. Comparing, contrasting, and trying on famous and fictional personas is something akin to completing a Buzzfeed personality test that tells you what kind of vegetable you are. No one wants to admit to taking it too seriously, but it’s nevertheless a lens through which we understand who we are and how people perceive us. This is especially true during adolescence and early adulthood, when your own idea of who you are is malleable, and someone informing you that you’re definitely the Marnie of the group can have very real psychological consequences. Perhaps no famous foursome has lent itself to this game more perfectly – for 20 years and counting, no less – than the ladies of Sex and the City.
This may be because, barring a few exceptions, the four friends fit very nicely into their respective boxes. Charlotte is the goodie-two-shoes former sorority girl, Samantha is the man-eater, Carrie is the overly-emotional, self-absorbed fashionista, and Miranda is the smart, practical one, with her no-nonsense short haircut and her serious job. For a long time, dubbing someone ‘the Miranda’ of the group was unequivocally understood as a diss. It meant you were frumpy, definitely unlucky in love, and possibly the owner of an unflattering pair of overalls. But recently, all that’s changed. Maybe it’s our post-normcore approach to fashion, our new, more advanced understanding of what it actually means to be a feminist, or just the widespread realisation that Carrie Bradshaw actually kind of sucks as a person, but all of a sudden, Miranda is cool.
“I think that culturally we are finally taking the stigma away from strong independent and intelligent women,” says the unnamed visionary behind the popular Instagram account @mirandamondays, which posts screenshots from the show that tend to emphasise how funny, relatable, and intelligent Miranda is. “We are seeing girls being celebrated for their opinions and voices. Before, I think that the pool of people who would celebrate these women was much smaller and they would be alienated, but now it’s like we are here, hear us roar.”
Indeed, as with so many current trends, the sudden embrace of Miranda Hobbes (played by Cynthia Nixon) as an aspirational figure seems to have crystallised on Instagram. @mirandamondays has a following of over 15k, while comedian Caroline Goldfarb is selling notebooks collaged with Miranda’s face for $21 on her website and via her equally well-followed Instagram account, @porkchop.biz. Instagram is many things to many people, but to the mostly young, mostly femme users who follow these kinds of accounts, it’s a place to post self-deprecating memes, enjoy ironic pop cultural throwbacks, and keep up on the latest fashion trends. Thus, it’s understandable why Miranda, with her no-bullshit, unapologetically feminist zingers and her prophetic embrace of style statements like the bucket hat and the puffer jacket would become an unlikely hero in this environment.
The renewed interest in Sex and the City in general can be at least partially credited to Lauren Garroni and Chelsea Fairless, proprietors of the account @everyoutfitonSATC, which has 439k followers and has been previously featured on Dazed. Their most recognisable meme is Woke Charlotte, which reminagines prim and proper Charlotte as a kind of social justice warrior, calling out her peers for the casually racist, classist, sexist, and transphobic views that occasionally rear their ugly heads to make rewatching the show today feel slightly cringey. But the account is, first and foremost, a look back at the show’s iconic fashion, much of which, thanks to legendary costume designer Patricia Field, still feels both relevant and revolutionary today.
When it comes to fashion, Miranda (or, more accurately, Field) had incredible prescience with regards to late-2010s fashion trends. While she enjoyed a glossier, more traditionally feminine makeover in the subsequent films, while the show was on HBO, her work-friendly, comfort-first and – let’s be real – power suit lesbian looks often stood in stark contrast to the overtly sexy ensembles worn by Carrie and Samantha and the classic, Upper East Side attire preferred by Charlotte. (We only wish she’d had an actual girlfriend rather than a fake one to match her wardrobe, but you can’t have everything).
“Miranda was the designated career woman on the show, even though Samantha and Charlotte also worked in an office. But I think that Miranda was always supposed to be a bit different from the other girls. Like they originally wanted Sandra Bernhard for that role, which would have been amazing. But I would love to know the specifics of the brief that Patricia Field got for that character,” Fairless says.
While some of Miranda’s looks still don’t translate, that’s true for all four of the women, perhaps most obviously Samantha, whose penchant for bright colours, plunging necklines, and over-the-top statement jewellery has arguably aged the least well. Carrie will forever be a fashion icon, but it’s hard to imagine anything more 2018 than the outfit Miranda wears to the beloved season two episode “Take Me Out to The Ballgame,” which consists of a turtleneck, a zip-up jacket covered with Fendi monograms, and those Kurt Cobain-inspired clout-goggles the kids (not to mention all the famous rappers) are rocking these days. Carrie’s devil-may-care, fur-coat-at-the-ballgame look is definitely good, but Miranda’s is great, and only made greater by the fact that it was overlooked for so many years.
“Patricia Field is a fucking genius. She created a style that was so iconic to Miranda that we can look back and stand in awe of some of her most famous looks” – @mirandamondays
“Patricia Field is a fucking genius. She created a style that was so iconic to Miranda that we can look back and stand in awe of some of her most famous looks,” says @mirandamondays, who actually disagrees with the notion that Miranda’s style was all that different from that of her pals. “I’ve rewatched the series so many times and you start to see she is always channeling another character, whether it’s her power suits with Carrie, or bright color patterns/prints to coordinate with Samantha, it’s almost like Pat Field was saying ‘look girls, you don’t want to be a Samantha, but (if you) want the look, let’s make you a Miranda.’”
Garroni also posits that the 2016 election may have played a part in the sudden uptick in Miranda fandom. Indeed, in a collective effort to understand how Hillary Clinton, possibly the most qualified presidential candidate of all time, lost the election to Donald Trump, many of us have sought to examine the fates of the fictional characters that Clinton bears a likeness to, including Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope and Election’s Tracy Flick. Amy Poehler, who portrays Knope, even wrote an open letter to the country about her love for Clinton from the perspective of the character following Trump’s victory. Strangely, for a candidate many griped was “unlikeable”, Clinton’s crushing loss seems to have made her – and women like her – more sympathetic.
“Hillary Clinton is very Miranda-esque: they both went to Ivy League schools, practiced law, they’re mothers, they love pantsuits, they’re a bit awkward,” Garroni points out. “After she lost the race, despite being the more qualified person for the job, I think people started to realise that as a culture we need to value women like Hillary and Miranda more. And we’ve definitely used the account to try to express that sentiment. That’s where our #ImWithMiranda and #WeShouldAllBeMirandas hashtags stemmed from.”
Perhaps liking Miranda, or more to the point, self-identifying as the Miranda of a given group, also feels cool right now because it’s both familiar and uncharted. Thanks to the unbridled clusterfuck that is politics at the moment, many of us are finding that after about 20 minutes of reading the news, we suddenly need to just chill out with a beloved TV show that we know every word to. It’s a popular coping mechanism. And the most satisfying shows to rewatch are those from which you take away something new every time. While many of us have been watching Sex and the City for literal decades, up until recently, we’ve been reticent to embrace our inner Mirandas. We’ve aspired to be as sexually liberated as Samantha, as sweet and classically beautiful as Charlotte, or as inexplicably charismatic as Carrie, without realising that it would be a whole lot more satisfying (not to mention easier) to be complicated, cynical, undeniably authentic Miranda. After all these years, we are so lucky to have her.