Trendsetting Style

UPDATED 06/01/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/01/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT

NO ONE WILL EVER STAND IN this closet and sigh, "I've got nothing to wear"—at least not while Patricia Field and Rebecca Weinberg oversee TV's hippest wardrobe department. "It's like we bring in the colors and sit here and paint," explains Field, 59. Located across the 59th Street Bridge from Manhattan, the cavernous room is stocked floor to ceiling with Carrie's mile-high Manolo Blahniks, Samantha's sequined date wear, Miranda's no-nonsense business suits and Charlotte's dainty uptown frocks. "The girls," says Weinberg, 32, "are our canvases."

The resulting masterpieces have given rise to a number of recent trends: among them, brightly colored fabric flowers, nameplate necklaces and earrings, and sexy shoes worn without hosiery. The show has also helped create a demand for Roberto Cavalli's boisterous patterns, Jimmy Choo stilettos, the Fendi baguette and the purse of the moment, Christian Dior's saddle bag. Making this kind of fashion impact "is a huge deal to me," Parker told New Jersey's Record last year. "It's a very unique world that we're trying to portray, and if details are wrong, it makes a big difference."

Setting styles is nothing new for the flame-haired Field, who still owns the Greenwich Village boutique she opened in 1966 (and another newer one in SoHo), where she sells some of the clothes seen on the show. The Houston-raised Weinberg was working as a performance artist and stylist when she met Field in 1990 and became her assistant and, later, her romantic partner. (The pair have since split up but remain a team professionally, sharing an 11-person staff.) Their clothing credo? Any fad that already has momentum is nixed. (By the time the show airs, it would be old news, Field reasons.) And " 'dowdy' doesn't even belong in our vocabulary," says Weinberg, who scours designer showrooms, retail stores and secondhand shops for finds like the expensive Leonard of Paris prints Samantha lately loves and Carrie's vintage separates and accessories.

"I hear all the time that before the show, women weren't really ready to take that extra little step—sexy without being cheap or cheesy," says Field. But it is impossible for everyday women to live up to the standards the show sets each week, Weinberg admits. "Not to mean that our girls aren't real," she says, "but we're pushing it. When you go out of the house, you don't look fabulous every single time. Our girls do."

clotheshorse carrie

Creativity is evident in both her writing and her wardrobe

In Roberto Cavalli's silk dress, Carrie got mugged for her Manolo Blahniks. "I call them 'limousine shoes,' " says Weinberg. "I would never attempt walking, but Sarah Jessica Parker wears them in real life."

On a date with Mr. Big, Carrie fell into a Central Park pond wearing silk chiffon by Richard Tyler. "It needed to get wet, look sexy and be daytime," says Rebecca Weinberg. "There was no question this was the one. She wanted to wow Big, and she did."

After Parker suggested including fabric flowers in Carrie's wardrobe last season, "we were totally shocked" by the resulting trend, says Patricia Field.

Her top was in artful tatters, but Carrie's ego got a boost when she ran into an old flame in a Roberto Cavalli ensemble accessorized with a Dior saddle bag and shoes by Christian Louboutin. "In real life," notes Weinberg, "you run into your ex looking rotten."

Carrie visited a comic book store in a Chanel top worn backward and cropped tie-dyed pants. "We wanted to make her look like Wonder Woman," explains Field.

Carrie's gold-plated butterfly necklace is a decades-old design from Kenneth Jay Lane, found in the designer's showroom. "It's gotten a lot of mileage," says Weinberg.

Field—who sells this plastic horse purse in her Greenwich Village store—predicts that Sex's new season will spawn a new fad: white pumps like these Manolo Blahniks. The look, she says, is "fresh—we haven't seen it for a while."

This first date getup—a Givenchy crinoline beneath a sheer Chloé dress and Pierrot sweater—was "funky but also classic," says Weinberg.

A strappy tank set off Carrie's oft-seen name-plate necklace. The look "never died in the boroughs," reports Field, who sees it "constantly" on her customers.

sweet charlotte

She's sugar and spice and everything nice—and she dresses accordingly

"Thierry Mugler is a good designer for Kristin Davis—his cuts accentuate her small waist," says Patricia Field, who chose this halter dress for "its '50s shape. It's Americana and classic."

For a weekend away, a Shoshanna sundress was paired with a "classic 'I'm wealthy' Louis Vuitton bag," Rebecca Weinberg says.

Charlotte's $18,000 beaded tulle wedding gown by Vera Wang "fits gorgeously," says Weinberg. "She's dreamed about this for three seasons. It's total storybook."

With Richard Tyler's leather coat and sedate gray trousers, says Field, "we were trying to move to a more sophisticated look."

Weinberg lauds Tahari's girly ruffles as totally Charlotte: "The empire waist is perfect on her. The cut and color are feminine."

sassy samantha

She may be a working woman, but her most memorable outfits say, 'I'm here to have fun'

The Wayne Rogers sweater set was Kim Cattrall's, says Rebecca Weinberg. "She said, 'I thought it'd be great for my character.' We put it with the skirt."

Michael Kors's coat and matching sheath are "a bit more self-conscious" for Samantha, says Field. Adds Weinberg: "She's a wolf in lady's clothing."

Going country means Roberto Cavalli jeans and vintage Versace shoes "from God-knows-what season in the '80s," says Weinberg. "A mule with a jean is always a carefree look."

This revealing rhinestone-studded Matteo Sorbellini frock was a Cattrall favorite, says Weinberg. "She looks like a knockout. This is a woman who knows herself."

Samantha's jacket (with fake-fur trim) "defines her Dynasty look," says Field. "To me, she is the modern Joan Collins."

The Celine jacket and Theory leather pants are "a little more sporty and casual for her," says Field. "But put-together casual."

Samantha's "a hot, saucy girl, so we like to put her in hot colors," says Patricia Field of this tank top. "She's more outspoken in her fashions."

practical miranda

Whether she's in court or being courted, this lawyer judiciously avoids flashy fashions

Miranda owns several Diane Von Furstenberg halter dresses, says Weinberg, citing their "great necklines, good fit and great colors."

The corporate Miranda complements her cell phone and vintage Hermès clutch with a pencil skirt and a blouse that's "tailored but with a little color," says Rebecca Weinberg. Adds Patricia Field: "We got many comments from the crew. They loved that outfit."

With her light skin and red hair, Cynthia Nixon—in a Tahari top—"is one of the few actresses who look fantastic in green," says Weinberg.

Overalls and a puffy parka were fitting when Miranda "had just broken up with her boyfriend and was feeling rejected and sexless," explains Field. "She felt like crawling into a corner."

"Being covered up but showing skin is nice on her," says Weinberg of this dress, found at a resale shop and worn to a wedding at the Plaza hotel.

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