There is no shortage of New York City style inspiration in the pop culture cannon. There’s Carrie Bradshaw, in her John Galliano newspaper dress and Manolo Blahniks. Audrey Hepburn, in her little black dress and pearls in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Ali McGraw’s oh-so-seventies trench coats in A Love Story. But, I’d like to humbly suggestion one more: Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building.
We first meet Gomez’s character, Mabel, as she walks down the street on the Upper West Side. She’s wearing a canary sweater layered under a faux fur mustard coat, round sunglasses, plaid trousers, and a pair of lace up boots. On her head? A yellow beanie and a pair of cherry red Beats headphones. (A key accessory, every New Yorker woman knows, for tuning out everything from construction noise to catcallers.)
As the show progresses, Mabel starts a true crime podcast about her neighbor's murder along with fellow residents Steve Martin and Martin Short. All the while, she wears a remarkable array of autumnal pieces. There she is, chasing down a suspect in a green faux fur by Proenza Schouler, or visiting an art gallery in a sheer trench Dries Van Noten coat. Around her apartment building, the Arconia, she wears an array of chic knits ranging from the classic black turtleneck to an Anglo-grandma argyle.
Then there’s the boots: flat, black, and usually ankle, from Guiseppe Zanotti or Re/Done. (In season one, a footwear highlight was a muted yellow chelsea from Stella McCartney.)
Dana Covarrubias, costume designer for Only Murders in the Building, describes Mabel’s style as if Nancy Drew met Cher from Clueless, with a little dash of Corey Mason from Empire Records. “It’s a combination of cozy and kick-ass,” she says. “I always try to style outfits with things that might be considered stereotypically feminine or masculine and mixing them—bringing harder elements and some softer elements.”
Another major influence on Mabel’s style? The realities of New York City.
Her penchant for duster length or teddy bear coats, sure, are a fun aesthetic nod to the detective style of film noir. But also? “Logistically, it’s freezing in New York—they fit the character and keep her warm.” Her sturdy boots with chunky souls are emblematic of the tough exterior of Gomez’s character. Yet—“It’s something that has a lot gives her a little bit of height and treaded on the bottom so that she can run,” she explains. Her Beats headphones make her seem closed off to the world, and are true to form for an NYC denizen.
Covarraubias, who lives in New York herself, thought a lot about her own habits when deciding Mabel’s wardrobe. For example, if Mabel probably got to her location via subway, her outfit would be laid back and conservative. “The reality is you wanna look cute, you want cool, but like you don't want to draw attention necessarily,” she says. But if Mabel was heading for a night out on the town via a taxi, Covarrubias would put her in higher heels and lower necklines.
Which is probably what makes Mabel’s style so enviable. Sure, Carrie Bradshaw strutting around in a sky high heels and bare-belted stomach were fun to watch. But anyone who lived in a city knew they weren’t facing realistic things like public transportation, crowded streets, wildly changing weather, and any of the other gritty circumstances urban living throws at you daily. Gomez’s Mabel, however, is aspirational in its actualities: that Oscar de la Renta wool trench or her Ganni boucle coat look absolutely fabulous and actually insulating, those Rag and Bone booties sleek and yet walkable. Her signature gold hoops, meanwhile, make a statement but aren’t overly flashy.
As the temperatures drop and our desire to embrace our fall classics rises, perhaps the central style staples of Selena Gomez's closet in Only Murders in the Building are worth our aesthetic appreciation. Think: a duster coat over a cozy knit, gold jewelry, and most importantly, a pair of boots that won’t give you a massive blister after walking 10 blocks in them.