Costume in Sex and the City : Outfitting Ideas of Femininity


Rosalba Curiel

Document Type


Publication Date



Sex and the City chronicles the lives of four contemporary women and is often touted as a groundbreaking television series for its representation of independent and successful women who defy traditional conventions concerning female sexuality. However, certain elements within the show come into conflict with this celebrated female liberation and instead imply retrogression into more archaic, constrictive notions of female sexuality. In particular, an examination of the role of costume reveals that it functions to undermine the notion that the protagonists are wholly liberated from the confines of patriarchal ideologies and that it instead works as a visual apparatus that undercuts and moves against the program?s ostensible feminist tendencies. By applying Laura Mulvey?s theory of visual pleasure to the function of costume in Sex and the City, clothing may be viewed as a potent factor in constructing or forming the presentation of the female body and consequently the notion of femininity in general. Under such an analysis, costume works on a dual level to both establish the female body as a display and to create it as an exhibit it for the visual delectation of the male gaze. Thus, the often-striking image of the women holds the potential to overpower or eclipse the ostensibly progressive features of the show and instead restores these women to the confines of a patriarchal society by establishing them as figures that participate in or adhere to its established structure.


W. Montag and M. Ronk




Ford Foundation Research Fellowship

This document is currently not available here.