Acertain '90s sitcom character seemed to understand the concept of "power dressing" perfectly: Hilary Banks, the elder Banks sister played by Karyn Parsons in the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. She basically invented it — throughout the show's six seasons, virtually everything she wore oozed confidence and strength, and she always stayed true to her ultra-polished, color-coordinated aesthetic.
In today's world, when so many of us are feeling powerless and uncertain, dressing powerfully often has an uncanny ability to make us feel powerful, too. It should come as no surprise, then, that many of the hallmarks of Hilary's personal style — strong, tailored silhouettes, statement accessories, dramatic color paired with more dramatic color — all made frequent appearances on the 2020 runways. Far from being stuffy or prim, Hilary certainly knew how to have fun with fashion, too. Her accessory game was absolutely legendary, and she often chose playful, youthful pieces that balanced the statement-making elements of her style.
Of course, you don't have to literally match your pants, scrunchie, and earrings to channel Hilary's style (although, you definitely should). What makes Hilary a style icon is less about what she wore, and more about how she wore it. Endlessly confident (she once famously described herself as "a beautiful woman trapped in an even more beautiful woman's body"), she never lost touch with what made her style her own, even as she experimented with all of the latest trends.
Whether you're ready to rock a head-to-toe Hilary-inspired outfit, or simply want to channel her style with a few impactful pieces, read on to see our favorite looks from this underrated '90s style muse, below, and how you can shop each one for your very own modern-day ensemble.
Rocking a classic LBD isn't exactly groundbreaking, but time after time, Hilary absolutely nailed the iconic look, proving once again that it will always be chic. She wisely kept the rest of her outfit simple, allowing her sultry velvet dress to do most of the talking. However, her pearl bracelet and matching earrings still have a major impact, providing the perfect contrast to her inky black dress. There's no denying pearl jewelry is especially trendy right now, but classic pearls never truly feel dated.
Get the look: Revolve, Issey Mini Dress, $139, available in sizes XS to L at Revolve; Boohoo, Plus Ruffle Skater Dress, $50, available in sizes 12 to 20 at Boohoo; & Other Stories, Mismatch Pearl Pendant Earrings, $39, available at & Other Stories; A New Day, Faux Pearl Stretch Bracelet, $9.99, available at Target.
All The Hats
It's hard to say which Hilary loved more: a strong silhouette or an impactful accessory. Luckily, she never felt the need to choose between one or the other. Throughout the show's seasons, Hilary rocked an endless array of tailored blazers, suits, and cocktail dresses, along with the perfect accessories to tie the look together. Hats, in particular, were her true specialty; she loved decorating them with flowers, ribbons, and other embellishments, and often made a point to color-coordinate her bowler or beret with the rest of her outfit. It's easy to imagine Hilary loving many of the hats gracing today's runways, but this blue one that Gigi Hadid wore at the Marc Jacobs Spring 2020 runway show has her name written all over it.
Get the look: PrettyLittleThing, Red Longline Blazer, $72, available in sizes 12-22 at PrettyLittleThing; BAACAL, Black Turner Bias Skirt, $298, available in sizes 10-22 at Coedition; ASOS Design, Wide Fit Ellen Chunky Lace Up Boots, $64, available in sizes 5 to 12 at ASOS; Dolls Kill, Midnight Daze Off Knit Bucket Hat, $18, available at Dolls Kill; Coup De Coeur, Spike Choker Necklace, $112, available at Farfetch.
An Unexpected Animal Print
While so many animal prints — leopard, cheetah, snake, and even zebra — have recently enjoyed a moment in the fashion limelight, some of the lesser-known members of the animal print kingdom, like cow and giraffe, are finally getting the acknowledgement they deserve. Cow prints were all over the Fall 2020 runways, and a giraffe print that's virtually indistinguishable from Hilary's was prominently featured in Valentino's Resort 2020 collection. Never one to be shy, Hilary went all-out with this monochromatic printed dress. But, if you're looking for a subtler touch, try this giraffe-printed version of her signature accessory.
Get the look: Missguided, Cow Print Belted Bandeau Mini Dress, $33, available in sizes 0 to 14 at Missguided; Carbon38, Cropped Stretch Blazer, $258, available in sizes XS to L at Carbon38; Bleecker & Bond, Lyla Boot, $59.98, available in sizes 6 to 11 at DSW.
Corsetry & Voluminous Sleeves
So many of today's boldest trends are thrown together in this look — corsetry, pearls, voluminous statement sleeves — but Hilary still manages to make it look timeless and sophisticated. Even before she was actually a career woman, her everyday outfits were polished enough for any boardroom. (Ironically, when Hilary finally did land her first job as a weather reporter, she got hired on the spot because she looked the part.) This unique outfit feels totally current as is, but each part can also be styled so many more ways: wear the corset on its own, or layered under a blazer; juxtapose the sleek pencil skirt with a funky vintage tee; or throw on the puff-sleeve blouse with a faded pair of jeans.
Get the look: Vero Moda, Linen Shirt with Balloon Sleeves, $43.00, available in sizes XS-XL at ASOS; NBD, Hailee Bustier Top, $158, available in sizes XXS to XL at Revolve; Commando, Faux Leather Midi Skirt, available in sizes XS-XL at Neiman Marcus; Monki, Over The Knee Boots, $95, available in sizes 46-41 at ASOS; BaubleBar, Lacey Pearl Statement Necklace, $48, available at BaubleBar.
Power Suit & A Chunky Chain
Another favorite of Hilary's style that would look equally at home on the runways today? Power suits, which were almost always completed with an equally bold accessory. Here, even her necklace feels totally on-trend; chunky chains were all over the Spring 2020 runways, including Brandon Maxwell, Bottega Veneta, and Chanel. Hilary let her statement necklace shine by pairing it with a collarless blazer with a '90s-chic square neckline. She'd surely approve of Veronica Beard's version in baby pink, but if that's out of your price range, you can still channel her look with this glam blazer dress.Get the look: Veronica Beard,Ria Woven Jacket, available in sizes 0 to 16, $650, and Ward Pant, available in sizes 0 to 10, $395, both available at Net-A-Porter; Jules Smith, In Chains Necklace, $70, available at Shopbop.
Bold Color, From Head To Toe
Color is arguably what makes Hilary's style come alive. Almost everything she wore was impeccably tailored, but many of her most memorable outfits simply wouldn't have the same impact without her enthusiastic penchant for striking head-to-toe color. While she was especially partial to red, this of-the-moment cobalt blue look proves she can rock just about any bold, beautiful hue.
And, since all three of the classic primary colors are trending for Fall 2020, incorporating them into your wardrobe now will help you stay ahead of the curve.
Get the look: Eimen, Long Sleeve Turtleneck in Royal Blue, $15, available in sizes XS to XXXL on Amazon; Eloquii, Neoprene Pencil Skirt in Deep Cobalt, $59.95, available in sizes 14 to 28 at Eloquii; Eloquii, Wide Waist Belt with Chain Detail, $49.95, available in sizes 14 to 28 at Eloquii, Mejuri, Bold Link Chain Necklace, $90, available at Mejuri.
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