In "Happy Clothes" Patricia Fields Wants You To Wear Whatever TF You Want
But like for real — wear whatever makes you happy
This piece is part of the Tribeca 2023 coverage here on “I Care About…” //
Fashion and film can often go hand in hand for me. It of course starts (I think) with Clueless. I, like so many other people (have you listened to this episode of?!) wanted Cher’s closet, I wanted the matching sets, the high-knee socks, and even the fuzzy hats. Then came Empire Records and Liv Tyler’s sweater, then Wish Upon A Star which has some of the most slept-on fashion in film that I can currently think of.
Then we pop over to television, Hilary Banks, Kelly Bundy, Nanny Fine, Raven Symone, and then Sex and The City.
Sex and The City has pretty much always been around for me, I watched it probably when I wasn’t supposed to after finding it on HBO when I was watching other shit I wasn’t supposed to be like Taxicab Confessions. I was already obsessed with New York, years of watching movies like Breakfast At Tiffanys and shows like Living Single, Hey Arnold, and Ghostwriter had solidified that for me but none of them combined fashion and film like Sex and The City did.
Years later I found out the woman behind the clothes was Patricia Field. The redhead fashion and NYC queer queen of clothes. She was the one behind all the girlies looks but the ones I loved the most were of course Carrie’s. Mixing prints, eras, and colors in outfits is what I had been doing in some way for years, and in Detroit, let’s just say it wasn’t always accepted. I lived in journals already for my writing but i lived in magazines for clothes. Cutting out clothes and essentially making my own paper dolls with looks I only dreamt of wearing — and they were looks that Patricia was creating and had been for years.
In her film Happy Clothes, which is not a typical documentary about Pat herself (yes I said Pat — we’re friends) but about a moment in her life. We get a peek or two at her past but it is very much in the present. It’s a purposeful decision ‘cos she doesn’t even want her book to be called a memoir, so it makes sense that this documentary isn’t some deep dive into her history. She lives in the moment and throughout the doc she makes sure that everyone knows that — SHE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE AN ARCHIVE!!
There is a scene where she and Molly Rogers (former employee of the 8th Street store, now a dope costume designer) go through a plastic box that has been put away for years and do you know what’s just CASUALLY stuffed in it? EYE WILL TELL YEW:
The original Carrie necklace
The Jimmy Choos from the Staten Island episode (There are only 2 in the world!)
The dress Miranda wore to Stanley’s wedding
and SO MUCH FUCKING MORE!
It does touch on her SATC era but also on a few others including her past as the owner of the LEGENDARY store on 10 East 8th Street for over 30 years.
I moved to New York for college, I always knew that I was gonna move there and that perhaps similar to the way Patricia Field lives, it would only be for a moment. My goal was to immerse myself in fashion, writing, and fun and I did it. The stories of the folks who worked and visited the 8th Street store in the 70s, 80s, and 90s were so cool to me. Amanda Lepore (I’ve read her memoir a few times) in her own world at the makeup counter, Basquiat hanging out and drawing on overalls on the floor, Madonna being told she couldn’t come in, Rupaul loving the fake jewelry ‘cos it’s all he could afford….I loved it and couldn’t wait to work there myself.
I never got to work there (duh lol) but when I was an intern at Missbehave Magazine (A literal glorious fucking time to be on the internet honestly) It felt like a blend of working at Pat’s store and hanging out at Warhol’s factory.
In Happy Clothes, she talks about the times she had at the store, surrounding herself with the young queer community of drag queens, trans folks, and artists who were making the New York party scene thrive. She doesn’t sketch, she doesn’t sew, all she knows is that she likes clothes that make her happy, and because of that she has managed to have a career that’s lasted over five fucking decades.
It’s not your traditional documentary, it hops all over timelines and doesn’t delve deeply into who Patricia Field is but it’s still very worth the watch. For those of us looking for the details of her and her life, her book is where it’s at. But for those who want to see a living legend who still loves her craft and is ready for the next moment, then Happy Clothes is worth the watch. It was a reminder to me to keep being myself as I revamp my wardrobe. Clothes make me so happy and even though I’ve forever loved them that wasn’t always the case. I always want to wear my clothes and not have them wear me and geez this film made me so excited to keep having fun in my closet.
Patricia Field doesn’t like things to be final. She’s still working and making fashion magic for other folks to watch and be influenced by on shows like Emily In Paris, Younger, and Run The World. She is still as magical to me as she’s always been. While I was hopeful that I’d learn so much more about her through this film, I’m glad she told us some of her story in the way she wanted — in beautiful fashion vignettes coated in a red smoky haze.
I wrote about the Sex and The City opening credits a while ago.
Love that Pat is coming back to the SATC reboot EXCLUSIVELY to dress Kim Catrell lolololol
This is one of my favorite pattern combos I’ve ever done and also top 5 favorite looks
How do we feel about a fringe skirt and a tank top? Love it? Yeah me too!
Some more fashion films that have inspired my wardrobe — Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead, House Party, and Death Becomes Her.
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