That Famous $5 Tutu from ‘Sex and the City’ Could Fetch $12,000 at Auction

Carrie Bradshaw's thrift-store skirt hits the block alongside outfits worn by Princess Diana and Grace Kelly.

Catalog cover for Julien's Auction's "Unstoppable: Signature Styles of Iconic Women in Fashion" sale. Photo courtesy of Julien's Auctions.

It’s a skirt that comes with its own legend. It’s been written up in books, celebrated in the fashion press, and displayed in museums. And now, the tutu worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in the title sequence of the long-running hit series Sex and the City is heading to auction. 

The three-tier skirt, with a matching satin waistband, will headline the January 11 sale, “Unstoppable: Signature Styles of Iconic Women in Fashion,” at Julien’s Auctions. It is tagged with an estimate of $8,000–$12,000.  

The piece was part of a now-iconic ensemble worn by Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw, as she navigated some curbside spray on a New York street in the show’s opening credits. The series ran from 1997 to 2004 on HBO, and its spin-off, And Just Like That…, is ongoing. 

The three-tiered tutu worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in the Sex in the City opening credits, styled by Patricia Field. Photo courtesy of Julien’s Auctions.

Parker’s outfit—a pink tank coupled with the oyster-white tulle skirt—was styled by the show’s costume designer Patricia Field, who famously spotted and snapped up the skirt for $5 at a thrift store in New York’s garment district. It was enough of a moment for Field to record it in some detail in her 2023 book, Pat in the City. 

“I imagined pairing the short, tiered tulle skirt with a small tee or tank for a look that was both contemporary and cool,” she wrote, about her encounter with the garment. “I also thought Sarah Jessica would be able to relate to this crazy skirt because of her background as a ballet dancer. Just as important, though, the tutu-style skirt was whimsical, adventurous, and unexpected.” 

The series’s creator Darren Star was initially skeptical about the skirt, filming an alternate intro featuring Parker in a blue sheath dress. But Field carried the day, insisting on an “original” look that wouldn’t be dated by next season. “In the end, it was the tutu,” she wrote. “It was always the tutu.” 

Besides leaving its mark in television history, the ensemble was included in the Museum of the City of New York’s monumental exhibition, “This Is New York: 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture,” in June. The tutu hit the auction block for the first time in 2021, donated by Field herself to benefit Housing Works.  

Black silk velvet cocktail dress by Catherine Walker, worn by Princess Diana. Photo courtesy of Julien’s Auctions.

The rest of the lots at auction have less humble roots. There is a black-and-white cocktail dress designed by Catherine Walker and once worn by Princess Diana (estimate: $100,000–$200,000); an empire-cut matelassé ecru gown by Yves Saint Laurent that was owned by Audrey Hepburn (estimate: $10,000-$20,000); and the vividly green Givenchy ensemble Grace Kelly wore to visit the White House in 1961 (estimate: $60,000-$80,000). 

Said Martin Nolan, Julien’s co-founder and executive director, in a statement: “This collection of rare and highly collectible garments have been worn by the likes of Hollywood legends to royals to contemporary style icons [who] have served as muses to the most legendary fashion designers who created their signature looks that inspired millions and countless trends.” 

 

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