The Stunning Style Transformation Of Nicola Coughlan

From "Derry Girls" to "Bridgerton," Irish actor Nicola Coughlan has had some memorable roles on Netflix shows, and she's had plenty of memorable fashion moments, too. From flirty and delicate pastel dresses reminiscent of her "Bridgerton" character's outfits to daring black dresses and leather looks, Coughlan knows how to turn heads with her style choices. She not only knows how to wear flattering looks, but she also has a knack for rocking the royally fun Regencycore fashion trend while still expressing her personal style. "The part I enjoy about fashion is that it's just a different form of storytelling, so I get a lot of joy from it. The more Aimée and I plan looks together, the more I love it," Coughlan told Harper's Bazaar in 2024.

"Nicola is brilliant. She brings film references and iconic moments in pop culture and film, then I pair it with fashion moments, so we have a beautiful synergy between the two," added her stylist, Aimée Croysdill. "Both of us will come with ideas for different events and we will just roll with it, it's such a great relationship." Undoubtedly, their collaboration has played a big role in developing Coughlan's style and establishing her as the current reigning queen of Regencycore — and the queen of every red carpet she sets foot on.

2018: Nicola strikes a balance that's both classic and cool in black leather

By the time that Nicola Coughlan had graduated from acting school, the media had already dubbed her one to watch.  And by 2018, Coughlan had experience working both on stages and on sets. However, she was just starting to garner wider attention for her role as Clare Devlin on the Netflix show "Derry Girls." Naturally, this is when many started taking note of her amazing style as well. In a post from her Instagram, she can be seen out in London wearing an ultra-low-cut black dress, paired with a black leather jacket and a black clutch. Her trendy mid-length hair was curled and she rocked a perfect '90s wine-red lip and red nails.

Altogether, her look was totally feminine while maintaining a subtle edginess that made it really stand out, and it was abundantly clear that Coughlan already had a well-defined personal sense of fashion. Both girly elegance and playful edginess are attributes that would continue to be hallmarks of Coughlan's ever-evolving and eye-catching style. All-black outfits also proved to be a reliable staple for the actor throughout the years, as she adapted the details to current trends. Even though Coughlan's style development was in its early stages in 2018, it's obvious that she had great taste — and great instincts about how to style herself.

January-June 2019: Showing off some funky, laid-back street style

In 2019, Nicola Coughlan was all about showing off her fun and casual street style, which had a completely different feel than some of her more polished red carpet looks. Standing outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza and holding an iced coffee, she looked relaxed in her baggy, wide-leg pants and retro coat with fur cuffs and a fur collar. She accessorized the 'fit with a mustard-colored hat with a pom pom on top and a black backpack. Her baggy tee and loose hair gave the style a laid-back vibe. Altogether, her look was eclectic, funky, and cute, while still having a sense of everyday utility (and also showing that winter fashion doesn't have to be stuffy or boring). Coughlan's ability to blend kitschy charm with class was also on display at a "Derry Girls" photo call in 2019. By pairing a white graphic tee with a girly, pink pantsuit, she proved that cute and sophisticated go hand in hand.

What's really notable from the first half of this year, though, was the fitted pink dress that Coughlan wore to the BAFTA Awards. Despite the look being both delightful and refined, a reporter from the Daily Mail described it as "not the most flattering" (via the BBC). Fellow actors Bronagh Waugh and Sally Ann Matthews came to her defense online and called into question the way women's outfits are discussed in the media, and Coughlan had a perfect response to the rude comment: "I look smokin', sorry 'bout it." We couldn't have said it better ourselves. 

July-December 2019: Nicola's red carpet looks are all about charming retro glizour

By the time she attended the official London premiere of "RuPaul's Drag Race UK" Season 1 in 2019 — she'd later go on to be a guest judge during Season 2 — Nicola Coughlan was pumping up the gliz in a major way. Her glitzy, bright Barbie-pink puff-sleeved mini dress was not only a show-stealer but was also accessorized to perfection. With some simple white strapped heels, a light pink clutch, and huge gold door-knocker earrings, her look took on a retro '80s feel without being too over the top. Her bold red lip and soft side-parted curls were also a great way to complete the look and pulled all of the different elements together. 

When not on the red carpet, Coughlan was still rocking some very feminine looks. At a screening of "This Way Up," she wore a simple pink dress with a circle skirt adorned with small red hearts. Later that year, she wore a moodier-toned floral print burgundy dress to a fashion event, and despite being a darker hue, the dress was still flowy and feminine. On her Instagram, she also gave us a look at her eclectic street style. Wearing an orange, yellow, and brown flower print dress with a leather jacket, Coughlan was once again finding new ways to combine softness and edge. A mustard-colored beret and a small pink purse tied the look together and created something we'll never forget.

2020: Simple black looks give off a slightly moody vibe

During 2020, many of Nicola Coughlan's outfits had a darker, moodier vibe, which makes sense since it was an isolating year for many. Her Instagram posts from that period feature lots of black. In one picture she posted, she wore a flowy, black print peasant dress with sparkly accenting. By pairing it with gold earrings, soft but smokey eye makeup, and loose, flowing hair, she cultivated a look that was sultry and soft while maintaining a dark edge.

One of her more formal looks from that year also had a dramatic air. At the Oscar Wilde Awards, she wore a short black dress with a high collar and puff sleeves with ruffles at the wrist. It wasn't just the dress that created an air of drama, though — what really gave the ensemble a gothic Victorian feel was the small mustard-colored velvet purse she carried. Her natural-looking center-parted hair and light makeup created an interesting contrast that softened the overall look. With both of these 'fits, Coughlan proved that even when she's wearing all black, she knows how to bring her ethereal brand of feminine flair to the look. 

2021: Frills and florals look fun and fabulous on Nicola Coughlan

Throughout 2021, Nicola Coughlan was rocking her fair share of frilly frocks. At a Gala for drag queen Alyssa Edwards' West End show "Alyssa: Memoirs of a Queen," she wore a bright-blue, high-necked dress with a frilled collar, full sleeves, and a tiered skirt. She paired it with some pearl earrings, bright pink pumps and a minty green purse, showing off her ability to play with color while still looking incredibly refined.

Later that year at the British Vogue and Tiffany & Co. Fashion and Film Party, she was wearing another high-necked dress that had a lot of delicate, feminine charm. The light pink Simone Rocha dress truly made her glow, and its full, sheer sleeves gave the dress an ethereal feel. The accessories she chose also helped elevate the look in a major way. Her statement-making pearlescent purse and large tear-drop pearl earrings complemented the pastel tone of her dress and coordinated well with her shiny, strappy heels. Her light makeup and rosy, feminine coquette cheeks were absolutely on-trend. 

That wasn't the only time Coughlan donned a Simone Rocha look, either. For London Fashion Week she wore another pearly look by the designer — a creamy white coat dress with pearl detailing at the pockets and collar, which Coughlan paired with some enormous pearl chandelier earrings. Altogether, these charming styles are the epitome of modern Regenceycore, the focal point of many of the actor's looks. 

January-May 2022: Nicola stuns in feminine pinks and intriguing silhouettes

Nicola Coughlan and her fashion were making major waves in 2022. At the BAFTA Awards that year, Coughlan was turning heads in a voluminous fuschia Valentino gown. It featured a full skirt with a ruffled hem and huge bows around the neckline. While it may have been hard to notice anything besides her knock-out dress, Coughlan's styling was on-point, as well. Her long dark nails, glitzy statement ring, and pink eyeshadow truly pulled the whole look together. It's clear that she knew exactly how to make smokey eyes work for spring and summer.

While Coughlan was getting attention for her style choices on the red carpet, this was also a time when she was super open about what she didn't want to be garnering attention for. In a talk with Tatler, she was frank about not wanting to hear any more opinions on her body, saying, "I know the world is very body-image-obsessed but I always hope that people will focus more on my acting than that. I also think your relationship to your body is so personal. If I decide to suddenly become a bodybuilder and [apply] fake tan and be covered in muscle, I can do that — because it's my body and it's for nobody else to own or decide what to do with ... It's always my wish that I will not become known as a body positivity influencer and I'll just be known as an actor."

June-December 2022: Nicola takes black beyond basic and stuns at the Met Gala

Wearing an all-black look isn't new fashion territory for Nicola Coughlan, but by the second half of 2022, she was truly branching out with the types of black looks she wore. At a Tiffany & Co. Exhibition, Coughlan took her basic black blazer to a new level by draping a super long, silky gold scarf over her shoulder. The rest of the outfit — which consisted of a bandeau under her blazer, black stockings, and black heels — gave off a sophisticated business vibe, which was an interesting departure from her typical frilly and whimsical looks. Her nude and black manicure added a lot of intrigue and was a stark departure from the Regency-inspired "Bridgerton" manicures that matched her typical aesthetic.

That said, her best fashion moment from 2022 was undoubtedly her Met Gala look, for which the theme was "In America: An Anthology of Fashion." Her pink and black Richard Quinn gown, which looked like a slightly over-the-top version of a "Bridgerton" dress, not only turned heads but also encapsulated Coughlan's personal style. Featuring a long black velvet train and pink puff sleeves, the silhouette of the dress had plenty of drama all on its own but was heightened even more by the beaded flowers and feather detailing. Swarovski jewels and some smokey, dramatic pink eyeshadow pulled everything together and cultivated a look that was both soft and striking all at once.

January-July 2023: Nicola is all about glitz and sustainability on the red carpet

Without a doubt, playing the role of Diplomat Barbie in "Barbie" was a big deal for Nicola Coughlan. Another thing that was a big deal — the gorgeous dress that she wore to the "Barbie" premiere in London. Along with her stylist Aimée Croysdill, Coughlan was able to come up with a look for the premiere that was both super glizorous and sustainably crafted, too. While these two things may seem like they would be at odds, both concepts are blended effortlessly in her red carpet look. Dripping with crystals, her silver, square-necked dress (which was inspired by Sparkle Eyes Barbie) was made with a sustainable satin fabric and plenty of Swarovski crystals.

"Collaborating with TENCEL and Wiederhoeft on this custom look has been a dream. I love Wiederhoeft's designs, and I'm so thrilled to be wearing a bespoke gown made from sustainable materials and using environmentally conscious practices," Coughlan said of the dress in an official release (via People). "It's really exciting to have the opportunity to spotlight eco-couture at tonight's 'Barbie' premiere." 

"It's so important that brands are aware of their impact," added designer Wiederhoeft. "Fashion is such a resource-intensive industry that is susceptible to creating incredible waste and pollution. It's been amazing to partner with TENCEL and through them Swarovski — who both have incredible initiatives around sustainability."

August-December 2023: Nicola plays around with florals, puff sleeves, and low necklines

While the gown that Nicola Coughlan wore to the London "Barbie" premiere might have been a real show-stopper, it definitely wasn't the only noteworthy thing happening with Coughlan's style that year. In a photo from her Instagram, the actor can be seen looking relaxed, casual, and elegant in a long, swishy floral print dress with a deep V-neck and some puff sleeves that she wore while in Australia.

Accessorized with some black sunglasses, Coughlan proved she's an expert at looking chic, even in the most laid-back of situations. Later that year, Coughlan's street style was snapped again while she was out in London. In a black velvet mini dress with a sheer corseted midsection and platform black heels, Coughlan looked funky, elegant, and a little bit mysterious.

The "Bridgerton" star was also having fun playing with color in 2023, which was totally evident when she attended the Emilia Wickstead show during London Fashion Week and donned a bright olive green coat and skirt with a satiny, pink top. While showing that a casual oversized jacket can work with any spring outfit, Coughlan accessorized with a lemon-yellow Kate Spade purse and gold earrings, which really made her outfit pop. Not only did the oversized coat have an element of sophistication, but all of the bright colors also played off of each other in a way that was completely effervescent, culminating in a beautiful, sensor-filled experience.

2024-Present: Oversized silhouettes are fun and modern

Nicola Coughlan continues to play with modern trends, like the structured blazer dress she wore to the "Bridgerton" Season 3 premiere. Paired with some large, fuzzy red pumps, the look was equal parts bold and playful. Talking to Harper's Bazaar, she discussed her and her stylist's approach: "Aimée and I both keep an eye on what's happening, without following trends too much. We look for overarching themes in fashion and what will work for the story we want to tell," she said. "For example, the 'Bridgerton' press story we're embarking on at the moment ... In previous seasons, I've not been the leading lady; in this one, I am — so we're definitely taking it in that direction this time, so it feels like a really fun way to advance it."

At the New York premiere of "Bridgerton" Season 3, Coughlan kept with the pattern of playing with shapes and structure. Her white gown featured a train and was paired with some elegant opera gloves, and her emerald earrings and bright red lip were eye-catching details, especially against the backdrop of her all-white look. What's really attention-grabbing, though, was the exaggerated fullness around the hips and the three-dimensional way that the fabric in the front of her dress was arranged. Once again, Coughlan shined and showed that she's not afraid to try new things or break the mold — and we know this will continue as her career builds upward and upward.