The secret behind the eye-popping outfits in the \Sex and the City\ re

Can you imagine Carrie or Charlotte digging through piles of used clothes at a thrift store? Well, I have news for you. Many of their outfits in the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That, were secondhand.

Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago, who have been costume designers for Sex and the City since the franchise began, made a concerted effort to thrift a large portion of the characters’ outfits in the reboot, in an effort to show how fashion has evolved. They also partnered with ThredUp, the largest online thrift store, to curate hundreds of looks inspired by Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda for fans to buy. All of this was designed to destigmatize thrifting and reframe it as a sustainable and creative approach to dressing.

[Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max]

The first episode of And Just Like That featured thrifted clothing and accessories for all the characters’ wardrobes. The designers picked pieces that felt like an extension of each character’s personality and lifestyle. Miranda, for instance, has left her career in corporate law and is attending law classes at Columbia University. In almost every scene, she’s wearing thrifted outfits, including lots of boho dresses, maxi dresses, and cropped jackets. “She’s from Brooklyn,” Rogers says. “There’s probably a great consignment shop in her neighborhood she loves.”

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[Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max]

Charlotte, who’s a stay-at-home mom on the Upper East Side, is more likely to shop for new clothes from designers’ latest collections. In the first episode, for instance, she buys new Oscar de la Renta outfits for her daughters. But Santiago says they even picked out chic vintage pieces for her that she intersperses with her off-the-runway looks. In the very first scene of And Just Like That, Charlotte wears a silk blouse for a lunch date that the designers bought secondhand.

As for Carrie, the fashionista of the group, they dress her in lots of sleek designer outfits, but mix these looks with thrifted pieces that add an element of surprise and individuality. While she’s known for her extensive designer handbag collection, Carrie opts to carry a black tote bag from the NPR station WNYC in one scene. She also re-wears many iconic pieces from earlier seasons of Sex and the City, including a large blue flower broach and the blue Manolo Blahniks that she wore to her wedding.

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[Photo: ThredUp]

The costume designers say they shopped for these items in a variety of thrift stores. They have a few favorite consignment stores in Florida and New York, but Santiago explains how it was sometimes hard to visit these stores during the pandemic. So they ended up relying heavily on online thrift stores like ThredUp and TheRealReal, where they could search through a lot of inventory from the comfort of their couches.

Both Santiago and Rogers played a role in designing outfits for characters in the original Sex and the City. Even then, they’d find unusual pieces for Carrie to wear, like vintage fascinators or hats, often paired with more traditional designer dresses. This time around, they thrifted much more extensively, favoring secondhand clothing over looks that were trending during the last fashion week.

They say this mirrors a distinct shift seen in the fashion industry’s values over the past decades. “There’s an awareness of how much waste the consumption of clothing creates,” Santiago says. “But there’s also more access to sustainable alternatives. If  you’re thrifting, there is so much more choice on the market, and people now realize they can find things they love as much as if they bought them new.”

I was in my late teens when I first got into SATC, and I aspired to one day embody the characters’ glamorous lifestyles, buying Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo heels to cheer myself up, and picking up a Dolce & Gabbana dress for a particularly fabulous brunch.

But now that I’m in my late 30s—the age of the characters when the show began—mindless overconsumption is no longer considered cool, and is instead associated with polluting the planet and accelerating global warming. Meanwhile, the stigma associated with thrifting is quickly evaporating, particularly among younger consumers, who see buying secondhand as a signal of being environmentally conscious.

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[Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max]

But among older generations—including the 50somethings represented on the show—thrifting is only just catching on. According to ThredUp, a third of those in their 40s and 50s shop secondhand now, double the number from four years ago. Santiago and Rogers are eager to accelerate this trend. “If you’re thrifting, you now have bragging rights,” says Rogers. “It shows that you’re a conscious person, who cares about protecting the future of this planet. Even if you’re mixing together secondhand pieces with new pieces, you’re shrinking your environmental footprint.”

Starting today, fans of the show can buy hundreds of thrifted pieces from ThredUp, curated and styled by Santiago and Rogers themselves. They’ve created three distinct styles: The Statement Maker, inspired by Carrie; The Polished Romantic, inspired by Charlotte; and The Laid-Back Power Dresser, inspired by Miranda. Some of the pieces are designer items, like Manolo Blahnik shoes and Prada handbags that look like they were swiped directly from the characters’ closets. There are also more affordable brands like J.Crew. But even the high-end items are priced reasonably. A Christian Dior jacket costs $148.99 instead of $990, and Celine wedges cost $144.99, instead of $590. “I like that thrifting makes fashion more inclusive and accessible,” says Santiago. “It’s not just good for the planet, it means that many more people can afford these looks.”

All proceeds from this collection will go to the Willie Garson Fund, named for the actor who played Carrie’s best friend, Stanford Blatch, on the show. He passed away during the filming of And Just Like That from pancreatic cancer at the age of 57.