Nick at Night, or nick@nite, for those stylistically inclined, exists in my memory as a collection of static-fuzzy images, soft around the edges, exhibiting an era I was born into but missed out on experiencing. Uncle Jesse’s feathered mullet, Fresh Prince’s graffiti’d theme song, and the Keaton’s all-American kitchen were seen through heavy-lidded eyes as I woke up on cue around 3 every morning, like some mysterious ‘90s brainbug was urging my re-consciousness.
One show always broke through the haze of early-a.m. television marathons, and that show was a vehicle for a poodle-haired, Moschino-clad nanny named Fran. For all her hilarity and charm, the best thing about Ms. Fine was her wardrobe, hands-down. She was always decked out in matching sets, color-blocked vests, and velvet minis; The Nanny’s costume designer, Brenda Cooper, has explained that “the style I created was made to transcend the test of time. It wasn’t created to be trendy. It is as wearable today as it is then.”
I think we should double-check, just in case. I am no Fran Fine, but I’m all we’ve got.
The Classic All-Black
Black tights were having a capital-M moment in the ‘90s, and you’re hard-pressed to find a sitcom from that era that didn’t incorporate them into a monochromatic ensemble. Fran, always a woman of her time, was as partial to these all-black outfits as she was to her more adventurous looks. I cherry-picked some of my favorite details from her best ones, finally deciding on a cropped leather jacket, a leopard-trim vest, and a mini skirt, because it’s not an homage to everyone’s favorite nanny without one.
Fran was always sporting a blazer, each one busier than the next. She was a fan of the matching set, oftentimes wearing a correlating blazer/skirt combination. The closest thing in my closet is this short suit that looks like it was stolen from the circus under the cover of night, but I think it invokes a certain Fran-ness. I wrapped some ribbon around my head to emulate her much-loved headbands, and I think we’ve got a winner.
A Midriff Moment
Color blocking was another sign of the times, and who would I be to ignore this beaded floral number handed down from my mom? Let the patterns clash. Anyway, this one goes out to Fran’s midriff, which she was always showing off like a dog at Westminster.
Ode to Design
The Nanny ran during the best era of Moschino’s design. Piano key-patterned skirts, playing card blazers, and heart-shaped bags filled Fran’s closet, making her a veritable poster girl for the Italian luxury brand. I’m just a humble eBay window shopper, but I do have a hand-me-down Moschino turtleneck, and it wouldn’t be a Fran Fine Style Adventure without paying respects to some of the most exciting, iconic styling of the show.
I’m fully not pulling this one off. I know. Fran didn’t layer all too often, but when she did, she favored a tank or a dress over a turtleneck. I liked this skirt, and felt it could fit right in with the rest of her wardrobe, but it doesn’t really go with the dress I layered over the sweater. Not every outfit is a hit, and not every fashion columnist is a flashy girl from Flushing.
In 2012, Brenda Cooper went to find The Nanny’s wardrobe at Sony’s costuming graveyard. The entire collection had just been sold to a thrift store in the Valley, which means Fran’s wardrobe is out there somewhere, scattered in closets across California.
But, really, these clothes deserve to be worn and shown off to the world. Cooper constructed a confident, timeless collection of clothing that is now enjoying a second life three decades past its inception. True artistry never dies.