’90s Throwback: Meet the Genius Behind @WhatFranWore

Meet Shanae Brown, the genius chronicling The Nanny’s epic ’90s outfits on @WhatFranWore.

Photo by WhatFranWore

By Randi Bergman

If there were ever a bracket battle of ‘90s style icons (and given the decade’s staying power, that’ll probably happen at some point) we’d venture to guess that those who were unapologetically themselves would come out on top. And who represents unabashed confidence and wild style better than Fran Drescher’s The Nanny character, Fran Fine? For those of you who haven’t yet been blessed with the technicolor genius that is Fran, please direct your attention to @WhatFranWore, the Instagram account dedicated to bringing her outfits back, one post at a time. Drescher’s television alter ego circa 1993-1999 was known for her nasal, campy charm and wearing a flurry of bright, skintight and, frankly, epic outfits by the likes of Moschino, Todd Oldham and Versace. Just know this: she’s the lady in red when everyone else is wearing tan.

We caught up with Shanae Brown, the queen behind the account, on all things Moschino, Todd Oldham and classic ‘90s OTT.

Photo by WhatFranWore

Why do you think Fran is such an icon? And an enduring one at that?
I think Fran is such an icon because she was never afraid to be herself. She was always fearless and embraced her crazy sense of style and her unique laugh. I’ve noticed that a lot of women right now are starting to embrace their brand of uniqueness and look up to Fran who was doing the same thing 24 years ago.

Did you watch the show at the time?
I watched The Nanny in passing when I was growing up; but was too young to appreciate the show truly, it’s only in the last few years that I noticed the show was ahead of its time.

Who could you say is a modern-day Fran? Is there anyone who comes close?
I always say that Mindy Kaling’s character, Mindy Lahiri, on The Mindy Project reminds me a lot of Fran Fine/Fran Drescher. Mindy embraces who she is completely, and she isn’t afraid to wear bold prints and short skirts/dresses.

Photo by WhatFranWore

How do you research the outfits?
As you might imagine I get this question a lot! When I began my research, I had no idea what to search for, but I always tell people to start with a basic Google search. Usually, Google will take you to other places such as blogs, online marketplaces, or vintage magazine archives. Most times I’m not looking for anything specific I just look at EVERYTHING. It’s time-consuming, but it’s fun, and I’ve learned a lot about designers and fashion.

In a way, your account and ones like it (ie. @EveryOutfitonSATC) are bringing Internet style documentation to a time when it didn’t exist…. which approach breeds better style? Knowing everything immediately? Or it being more niche…
I think being more niche breeds better style. The outfits are a rare find, and I think that’s what attracts people to the account. I also believe younger girls love knowing that 20+ years ago their favorite brands existed and they made fabulous clothing and that style is coming back right now.

Does Fran know about the account?
She does! Several people from the show have reached out to me and told me they love the account.

Photo by WhatFranWore

Who are your other ‘90s icons?
Right now, I love the fashion on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. I also love the styles of Peggy and Kelly Bundy, from Married with Children.

What’s your fave Fran outfit of all?
My all-time favorite Fran outfit is her pink and blue Rifat Ozbek skirt suit that she wears in the episode “Strange Bedfellows.”

What’s next for you?
Right now, I don’t have any plans. I’ll keep posting until I’ve identified every outfit!

Follow @WhatFranWore for your daily dose of epic ’90s fashion.