The Fran Fine Formula

by Marie Lodi

We asked The Nanny’s costume designer to show us how to work this iconic look for fall

Whenever Fran Fine walked into a room on The Nanny, all eyes were on her outfit, whether it was a colorful Todd Oldham ensemble, a Versace two-piece set, or a simple black turtleneck and pencil skirt. It’s no wonder TikTok fashion mavens still look to Fran Drescher’s flashy girl from Flushing for ensemble enlightenment, even as the show celebrates its 30th anniversary this November. Despite the designer wares, Fran’s look has always felt somewhat easy to attain, or at least interpret for one’s own. Her accessibility lies in that last outfit, a formulaic take on layering, which is, dare we say, perfect for autumn dressing.

Costume designer Brenda Cooper didn’t have a big budget when she began curating what would become Fran’s signature look, so she devised a way to maximize the outfits. “I thought a great way to do that was to create a silhouette,” Cooper tells me as she brings out a rolling rack stuffed with clothing. “The silhouette became a black pencil skirt, turtleneck, black pantyhose, and suede heels.” Using these central pieces, Cooper was able to add accouterments—different colored jackets, vests, that famous Moschino heart-shaped bag—meaning Cooper didn’t have to “go and buy a completely new outfit” for each episode.

This system of dressing was the impetus for what would become her book, The Silhouette Solution: Using What You Have to Get the Look You Want. Using a few basic staples, such as a black tank top, black pants, and a few shoes, you can create the foundation for a versatile wardrobe that can be customized to fit your sartorial personality, or “style ID.” Cooper herself is “a pants girl,” so her silhouette is usually a turtleneck or tank top and straight-legged pants. “I put that on every day and throw dusters, cardigans, vests, and sweatshirts over it…you can take that look through so many iterations, which is what I did on The Nanny.” Think of it as classic fall layering, but with a little Nanny-infused magic thrown in.

When it comes to the perfect addition for your silhouette for fall, Cooper’s all about a good puffer: “I’m always looking for the ultimate of everything, and I found the ultimate puffer jacket,” she says while zipping up a yellow quilted Guess coat. “Of course, I have seven of them.” When Cooper finds something she likes, she makes sure to invest in it. A lot of the clothing on the rack are pieces she’s had for decades that are now trending again.

But for Cooper, fashion means so much more than following trends. “I always say it’s the last thing we think about, but it’s always the first thing we see,” she says. “It’s a multibillion-dollar business, but many people still don’t understand that dressing is a form of self-care, and self-expression. You’re telling the world who you are, and how you feel. I would love people to understand the impact of our clothing, subconsciously. It’s a beautiful confidence builder.”

Check out all of Fran’s looks for more inspiration at What Fran Wore.


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