This article contains spoilers for Episode 4 of the second season of “And Just Like That …”
“Women our age are grossly underrepresented in the media,” says Enid Frick (Candice Bergen), a former Vogue editor recently given the boot by Condé Nast, in the latest episode of “And Just Like That …” She’s explaining the need for a new online magazine that’s “focused on women our age.”
For Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), the pitch’s wincing recipient, being demographically lumped in with her onetime editor touches off a minor identity crisis — one that raises interesting questions about aging, maturity, confidence and how we present ourselves to the world. (As Gloria Steinem muses from a staircase: “Maybe the new frontier is aging.”)
Of course, this being the “Sex and the City” cinematic universe, the clothes tell the story. Ahead of Episode 4, members of The New York Times’s Styles desk got together to dissect the fashion on display, and its significance.
Vanessa Friedman I actually thought this was a relatively toned-down episode, as far as fashion statements went, though I still can’t get Lisa Todd Wexley dropping off her children for camp in a Louis Vuitton-branded bomber jacket and scarf out of my mind.
Jeremy Allen LTW does seem to be the fashion house brand ambassador, doesn’t she? Do we think that was PP pink she was wearing on her espresso-martini date night with her husband?
VF I wondered the same thing. Given the Valentino gown she wore to the Met, my guess would be yes.
Callie Holtermann Extremely Barbiecore of her.
VF What did you think of her sequined, floral anniversary-dinner gown? She does dress up for date nights.
JA Dare I say … sublime? It felt decadently disco — which made it all the more deranged for her poorly attended anniversary party, where, again, you had Charlotte sporting yet another take on Barbiecore in petal pink.
VF Charlotte’s blouse game is strong. I have never thought this much about blouses before, which says something about identity through item.And I don’t even really like blouses.
Seema, meanwhile, continues to be the series’s proponent of Zen neutrals. Even if she was wearing giraffe print and Fendi F earrings. Everything is relative.
CH We owe Jeremy a congratulations for correctly predicting during last week’s chat that Seema would wear more animal prints. But Jeremy, in your wildest dreams did you think she would wear a jacket that is simultaneously leopard, zebra and giraffe print?
JA I must say, I felt pretty smug, Callie.
CH And you’re so right, Vanessa — she’s somehow the understated one!
VF It’s the wardrobe palette. We should all have our own wardrobe palette. I am starting to think the confusion of Carrie’s life is represented by the confusion of her wardrobe.
JA Then again, hasn’t her wardrobe always been delightfully “confused” — or, at least, fairly variable from one episode to the next? The lingering question of “what will she wear next?” seemed to keep audiences rapt during the “Sex and the City” days.
VF I think the confusion was part of that point back then. But shouldn’t she … uh … have grown out of some of it? Maybe it’s her trying to figure out who she is without Big. But still.
Can we talk about Gloria Steinem, though?
CH If you were a costume designer and you were told Gloria Steinem would be a guest star, how would you approach it?
VF Gloria has to do Gloria. That’s why the hip-slung belt was so perfect.
Remember when Jane Fonda wore that famous red coat during her Fire Drill Fridays protests for action on climate change? I do wonder if Gloria’s coat was a nod to that.
JA Absolutely. I can’t stop thinking about that more toned-down palette, Vanessa. I was really struck by the scene with Carrie and Seema in the coffee shop, where they’re both sporting neutrals while talking about aging. “Was my life recently hacked by the AARP?” Carrie asks, and, looking like a chic matriarch in an Eileen Fisher-esque caftan and string of pearls, the cheeky answer from the costume department might be: “Yes. And so what?” It’s one of my favorite looks thus far.
VF Well — and then there was the hat.
CH That tricorn, Benjamin Franklin-chic number?
VF That’s the one.
CH It was revolutionary (in the sense of the Revolutionary War).
JA And maybe a tad funereal? The series was slammed in certain corners last year for fast-tracking the ladies to seniorhood, rather than treating them like the 50-somethings they actually were. This episode feels like a smart way to address that — and further the plot.
CH It was an interesting episode, in which Carrie is dealing with aging, but also some of her own internalized ageism. At first she isn’t happy to be grouped in with a couple of older women by her former boss, Enid Frick. She dodges pictures by saying her hair doesn’t look good (a shoddy excuse — it looks perfect).
VF Well, she’s dodging a picture with a woman in a walker so that she doesn’t look old, and making up a bad excuse. One thing they really don’t wrestle with is plastic surgery and fillers, which is a huge thing in middle age. I wish they would address that.
CH There was that face-lift plot point in the previous episode, right? Bitsy von Muffling made the increasingly familiar argument for cosmetic surgery as something that can be empowering — for those who can afford its hefty price tag. But even if true, it’s an individual-level argument that doesn’t address the broader issue, which is that women are expected to look young forever. And can be discarded — societally, professionally — if they do not.
VF One episode does not a satisfying story line make.
CH Fair. My favorite fashion note of the episode was the hot pink bucket hat that LTW’s daughter wore in the scene where she’s heading to summer camp. Not least because it felt like something that a teenager would actually wear today. (For those keeping tally, our bucket hat count for the season has reached four.)
JA I can’t get this question out of my head: What do we want from this show — and its fashion — right now? Is there any world in which “And Just Like That …” brings us a new sartorial experience, or would we be satisfied with it resting on its old laurels — played out as they might be?
VF I want something new, rather than a retread. Once upon a time, back in the “Sex and the City” days, the way the characters treated fashion was as a sort of road map for discovering themselves: what they wanted, who they were, how they wanted to present to the world. The tried on selves, which is what most of us do at that early stage of adulthood.
At this stage, I would hope that these characters would have actually wandered further down that road, to a place where they know who they are, rather than be stuck in a constant game of dress-up. Evolution can be a fashion thing as well.
Vanessa Friedman, Callie Holtermann and Jeremy Allen contributed reporting.