When we heard Jackée Harry would be revisiting our T.V. screens this month in the new gospel flick Brother White it instantly brought back memories of the 80s hit sitcom 227. Who could forget her role as style icon Sandra Clark – the purveyor of bodycon dresses and bold shoulder looks? We asked Harry all about it when she stopped by the ESSENCE.com office. Here’s what she had to say about Sandra’s sassy style.
ESSENCE.com: How did Sandra’s personality influence her character’s style?
JACKEE HARRY: She’s man hungry, so she had to be sexually visible – curvy. They always altered my clothing, it was never off the rack, but I liked having my skirt pegged, everything – my dresses. And they would always sew them down so they were shapely. Everybody can’t wear that look. I wasn’t even thinking about being a style icon or even being sexy, I was just trying to be funny. Of course I knew I was sexy, but that’s not what I was looking at first in terms of style, I was looking at being attractive so that when she was coming she looked good and walking away too.
ESSENCE.com: She wore a lot of red, what other specific colors was she drawn to?
HARRY: Red, electric blue, the only color I don’t wear is green, which I still don’t wear. I wear certain color greens, but I have such yellow skin so I always like to wear bold colors. But Jackée, me the person – I don’t like wearing red. I don’t know why, I look good in it.
ESSENCE.com: What undergarments did you wear on 227 to keep your body together?
HARRY: Nell Carter had a young lady, her name is Janice Gordon – I still know her. And she was her dresser, she came to dress me later. She used to cut two dresses and make Nell a dress. And she also did that with custom made undergarments. And it cost about $4,000. I used to wear it for everything and it looked fabulous, nothing moved. But it’s a sacrifice, it’s like putting on a suit of armor. So that’s what was underneath and it doesn’t move, it doesn’t curl up, but it feels like a tank.
ESSENCE.com: Were there elements of your own personal style in Sandra’s style?
HARRY: No, I don’t dress like that at all, I wouldn’t wear heels that high.
ESSENCE.com: What is Jackée’s personal style?
HARRY: Casual sexy, I like a good tailored shirt, I like Anne Fontaine shirts – I like a beautiful shirt, well made. I’ll use men’s shirts, I love men’s shirts, but you have to get them altered because they’re shaped differently and I like them to be fitting. I like well-fitting skirts, I like to look sexy but comfortable when I’m being casual. When I’m dressed up I just like being fierce. I like a nice sequin belt with a nice white shirt, maybe some pearls, black long Carmen Marc Valvo skirt that I have. I have a fierce Valentino skirt. I like beautiful clothing. I love Bergdorfs.
ESSENCE.com: Who are your favorite designers?
HARRY: I love DKNY, I love her sweaters because I can take them and just wear nothing underneath and just wrap them. And she’s got all colors, and I have all of them. I love Beautiful Jeans, and I like these jeans from Ashley Stewart, even though I’m not an Ashley Stewart type girl, they’re making them for girls that don’t have quite big butts. You put a nice black belt with rhinestones on it, have your nice white shirt and of course some fierce heels!
ESSENCE.com: Who makes the best heels?
HARRY: I love Gucci! Manolo Blahnik, he makes a nice mid-size heel and they still look sexy. But if you’re going high, you gotta go Gucci. I don’t do Jimmy Choo, child you’d have to hang me from a rope. But my latest pair of Badgley Mischka’s are fierce! They’re gold – fierce, fierce, fierce! I wanted to wear them here but I was scared, I said ‘I might fall and people would be laughing at me.’
ESSENCE.com: Any fashion secrets you can share with curvy girls?
HARRY: A lot of women wear spanks or a form fitted something. So be sure you can feel your clothing. If you have on a skirt that is a little light weight, like summer’s coming, pin it underneath – take a safety pin and pin it. Because sometimes you go out and you can’t feel it. I’ve seen women with everything exposed. So take care and make sure you attach it with just a little pin. It really is a good technique and you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the night.
ESSENCE.com: Sandra was a style icon to many in the 80s, who are your personal style icons?
HARRY: Diahanne Carroll, of course is an icon. But it’s like now people are not so concerned with clothing anymore, only in Europe. It’s not like it used to be where you just step out and look sharp. Diane Keaton is fierce. She’s got fierce taste. Old Hollywood, they all dressed their butt off – Joan Crawford, Bettie Davis, they were fierce!