Gen Z Can’t Get Enough of ’90s Beauty and These Two It Girls


Gen Z Says is a bimonthly column chronicling the latest trends in the fashion and beauty space through the lens of Who What Wear’s own Gen Z editors. Expect a download on the upcoming class of tastemakers, emerging designers, and shopping and style choices straight from the generation setting the trends.

In case you haven’t been paying attention to Netflix’s additions for the month of April, there’s one not-so-new show that’s been making headlines. Sex and the City has finally made a reappearance on the streaming platform after landing itself on HBO’s app for the past couple of years. The steamy, fashion-filled series set in the late ’90s through the early 2000s captured my attention during the latter years of my college career, sparking a newfound appreciation for vintage Manolo Blahniks, a Manhattan zip code, and quirky nicknames to love interests. Now, a new generation of viewers are identifying themselves as a Charlotte York, Miranda Hobbes, Samantha Jones, or Carrie Bradshaw and falling head over heels for ’90s style.

I’m a proud Charlotte—a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, eternal optimist, and lover of timeless style. As much as I love incorporating bits of Charlotte’s look into my minimalistic beauty and fashion choices, there are only so many reference shots to borrow from. After all, she’s a fictional character created by the brilliant show writers. I’m taking it one step further and looking to two of the era’s very real ’90s beauty icons to shake things up: Nigerian British soul singer Sade Adu and the late It girl Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy.

Dawn Tan Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy Flatlay

While Sex and the City has been having its renaissance everywhere from TikTok to Pinterest, aesthetics associated with Sade and Bessette-Kennedy’s signature styles have been making their rounds. Lifestyle-centered videos captioned with #sadegirl set against Sade’s “Like a Tattoo” or “Kiss of Life” and CBK-inspired accessory hauls from C.O. Bigelow—her go-to pharmacy and beauty brand—have sparked a resurgence of throwback looks. In fact, over the past year, I’ve witnessed a major departure from the aesthetics of clean girl beauty in favor of something sultry, minimal, and effortlessly cool.