It might have something to do with growing up in a predominately Jewish suburb in New Jersey, but while most people in their early-to-mid teens were watching American Idol or That '70s Show, I was curled up in bed with my mom, watching reruns of The Nanny. The show was, regardless of how over-the-top it may have seemed (the nasal laugh that ended all nasal laughs, those hilarious under-the-breath insults from Niles), undeniably relatable. We laughed at the family antics (particularly Fran Fine's mother's undying quest for her to find a single Jewish doctor), we rooted for Fran and Mr. Sheffield to get together (which, naturally, they did), and, of course, we admired, applauded, and sometimes even lusted for her absolutely ridiculous wardrobe. She wasn't just a "flashy girl from Flushing": she was our hero — a proponent of personal style that championed dressing for oneself and not caring at all what people think.
The funny thing about Fine's style (and approach to it) is that it was, in every way possible, outrageous. She had a ruthless dedication to scouring the best sales, an undying love for Loehmann's (RIP), and a penchant for going all out. Think: overly-stuffed shoulder pads, itsy-bitsy miniskirts, and lots of leopard, fur, sequins, and more — worn mostly together. Her wardrobe encompassed every color of the rainbow, every cut, every silhouette. It was also unapologetically trendy, in the way that would make us pause, consider her complete look, and decide we'd probably never be able to actually wear something like that. But in an industry that practically keeps itself afloat by recycling successful pieces from the past, Fine's look isn't just an example of well-dressed nostalgia: It's something we're actually wearing today.
Late last month, in fact, Racked published a piece titled "Fran Drescher's The Nanny Style Is Having A Moment," in which author Nia Porter wrote: "This flashy girl from Flushing's take on ‘90s glamour transcends time, so much so that her style has remained a constant inspiration well into the 21st century. Her gaudy and sometimes over-the-top choices continue to reverberate throughout some of high-fashion’s most recent runway collections, because let's face it — the '90s are so in right now." There, Fine's pieces were compared to the likes of Louis Vuitton and Ryan Roche, of trends that people can't wait to get their hands on, and pieces that 12 years ago may have been considered to be too over-the-top to be considered good-looking.
True: The '90s are in. They're back in action, even though it's only been a decade and a half since they ended. But in my mind, Fine was never out to begin with. Let's reflect for a moment on her personal style: Her favorite top was the skin-tight turtleneck (especially a black one); an outfit was never complete without a quirky accessory (Who can forget that Moschino heart bag?), and her collection of matching sets could easily give Taylor Swift a run for her money. Her clothing was an enviable mix of high and low: K-Mart with Dolce & Gabbana, Norma Kamali with thrifted goods. It encompasses basically everything we read on the internet today: Know your basics, and don't be afraid to jazz things up.
Of course, it's hard to acknowledge Fine's fashion choices without giving a nod to some of her more obscure pieces. There was a bold, bright-orange fur coat (how very Shrimps), sequined crop tops (à la Ashish), and very-Miu Miu pastel pieces. Sure, it was 15 years ago, and such outlandish clothing might have been deemed crazy back then. Today, we simply call it Anna Dello Russo.