There’s never been a better moment to celebrate a Jewish icon like Fran Drescher — particularly, her style. With COVID-19 taking over the world and keeping all us indoors (please stay home and help us stop the spread!), it’s easy to fall into the habit of not changing out of your pajamas or sweats. For days on end. Which is totally fine. But if you need a little pick-me-up, you’d be surprised at what a change of clothes could do for your mood. With this, I recommend taking a closer look at Fran’s irreplaceable style and bingeing on her iconic series, The Nanny, which you can watch right now on the Roku channel for a healthy and necessary dose of outfit inspo.
For those who haven’t been studying Fran Drescher for all their life, she was born in Queens, New York and had her first (small) part in Saturday Night Fever. Her character, Connie, actually says to John Travolta’s character, Tony, “So tell me, are you as good in bed as you are on that dance floor?” You gotta love how bold Fran was, even in 1977. At age 21, Fran married her high school sweetheart, Peter Jacobsen, who became her collaborative partner. Together, the partners created The Nanny, in which Fran plays Fran Fine, a sassy Jewish saleswoman who winds up becoming the nanny for a Broadway producer’s three children (spoiler alert: She also ends up marrying the producer and joining said family). The highly rated series ran from 1993 to 1999, turning Fran into a star who has been celebrated for her humor, her nasally voice, and of course, her wardrobe.
What made her outfits on the show so iconic? “She had style, she had flair,” as The Nanny theme song goes. With big poofy hair, her flashy looks never failed to match her big personality. In the sitcom, she wore lots of neon and bold hued suits with mini skirts (think lime green, hot pink, and bright red) and colorful sequined dresses by iconic brands like Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana, Escada, and Tom Ford for Gucci. Print wise, snakeskin, zebra, and leopard were key to her wardrobe along with florals and ‘90s plaid, all worn often in the form of matching sets.
But I think what really made her outfits stand out were the accessories, layering techniques, and small details. She often wore colored gloves, a big headband that matched her outfit, and eccentric vests or dresses over contrast tops. Though her style was perfectly outrageous — I mean, she definitely stood out from the preppier, more conservative ‘fits of the Sheffield fam — she still always looked great and put together. In the past few years, many of these styles are ones we’ve been seeing crop up again as people look to the ‘90s for outfit inspiration and also purchase more secondhand clothing.
Along these lines, Fran’s style has (rightfully) received some renewed pop culture interest (though she’s always had a cult following, especially in Jewish circles). For example, @whatfranwore is an Instagram account documenting her many fabulous outfits from the show. In 2018, Shanae Brown, who runs the account, told Who What Wear, “Fashion always has a second life,” explaining that millennials are nostalgic for the looks from that decade, Fran’s in particular, and by taking inspiration from her, they’re paying homage to the decade.
That same year, Brown told The New Yorker’s Rachel Syme that she had noticed celebrities paying homage to Fran’s style, particularly Cardi B with the black-and-white checkerboard blazer the rapper wore on her Invasion of Privacy album cover — Brown told the outlet it was absolutely something Fran Fine would wear. In the piece, Syme dubbed Cardi “the millennial generation’s most obvious Fran Fine heir,” thanks to her “gleeful maximalism and Bronx patter.”
In September 2018, the rapper even captioned an outfit post on Instagram with, “Fran Fine in @dolcegabbana” and while in an interview with People, Fran said the rapper would be a great person to play her daughter. Rumors continued to circulate throughout 2019 but in January 2020, it was announced that The Nanny was being adapted into a Broadway play by Fran and Rachel Bloom, the co-creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and fellow Jewish icon. According to the New York Times, at the time of the announcement, Fran would not be reprising her role while the cast had not yet been decided on. I’m still rooting for a television reboot starring Cardi but will gladly accept a Broadway play for now (you know, whenever we’re allowed to go to Broadway plays again).
At the moment, you can catch Fran starring in a new sitcom called Indebted in which she plays a Jewish grandmother (and mother-in-law) who, along with her husband, moves in with her adult son and his wife because they are deep in debt. While her style in the show is a bit more subdued — she still wears blazers but they’re mostly black, and also now rocks simple, body-hugging dresses on the show and in real life — her role still feels Fran-esque due to her cheeky demeanor and of course, her contagious laugh.
So, while we anxiously await life to return to normal and The Nanny to land on Broadway, let’s all take a moment to celebrate Fran’s fierceness in fashion by taking some cues from her wardrobe (yes, you can wear these looks inside!) and her fierceness in life (did you know she’s a cancer survivor and started a foundation called Cancer Schmancer?). We will forever appreciate Fran’s ability to always stay true to herself, and now isn’t such a bad time to honor some badass women.
Header image design by Grace Yagel.