If you’re lucky, you also got to sneak downstairs just in time for Nick at Nite to play a few episodes of classic 90s sitcoms. Despite them playing absolute bangers like “Friends,” “Full House” and “The George Lopez Show,” my favorite was always “The Nanny.”
If you’re unfamiliar, the talented actress laced with a New York accent Fran Dresser played Fran Fine, who “worked at a bridal shop in Flushing, Queens before her boyfriend kicked her out in one of those crushing scenes.” Also, before you ask, no that’s not a spoiler, it happens to be the first line of the iconic title sequence track that stays constant through the entire series.
Miss Fine becomes a nanny to the children of Max Sheffield, British accent and all. We watch for six seasons as Fran Fine helps the Sheffield kids grow up and Mr. Sheffield fall in love.
One thing that I love about Fran Fine is her unapologetic embrace of style. Her simple silhouettes paired with funky patterns inspired a generation of grungy teens to start dressing up and looking their best for the everyday. Nineties cult classic film “Clueless” had the same effect. It gave teens the impression that designer fashion trends were something that they could actually follow, while still differentiating themselves from the outdated styles they saw their mothers in.
The reason Fran Fine has a style that works just right every time is due to the simplistic structural formula behind each look. Each of Miss Fine’s outfits consist of an undershirt, usually a turtleneck or button up blouse, paired with tights and a miniskirt.
Costume designer Brenda Cooper played a huge part in Fran Fine’s iconic 90s bold, eccentric and skin-tight style. She shopped at discount department stores and thrift stores, similar to the storyline of Fran herself, who throughout the show continually mentioned she got all her pieces on sale at Loehmann’s. As the series went on, Copper was able to dip into a larger wardrobe budget and dress Miss Fine in designer pieces, almost always tailoring, embellishing or shortening the garment before it was perfect for the star’s vibrant character.
I think the reason I resonate so deeply with Fran goes beyond my love for fashion and big hair. Funnily enough, it’s her accent that makes me feel so at home while watching. The thick Queens accent reminds me so much of my family in New Jersey, a state that fools those growing up in it that older women dressed in head to toe animal print is the height of luxury.
In only the best of ways, Fran Fine reminds me of my mom. So chic and effortless as she parades around in a fabulous outfit. Always having her hair sitting just right, talking up the town with her big smile in full view. In some ways this is a love letter to my favorite character, but in more ways than one this is a love letter to my always fabulous style inspiration, my mom.
“The lady in red when everybody else is wearing tan” will forever and always be my favorite character on television, she’s just fabulous!