Katie Holmes’s Style Transformation: From ‘Dawson’s Creek’ to the Infamous Cashmere Bra

Katie Holmes first stole our hearts as Dawson’s Creek’s Joey Potter, hanging out on the dock in oversize flannels and loose denim. Then she came swinging back into the spotlight (and onto our outfit inspo boards) during her whirlwind romance with Tom Cruise—but that sartorial moment didn’t end with their divorce. Over the past few years, we’ve found ourselves attempting to copy her style more and more regularly, especially in 2021.

So, we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane to see just how the 42-year-old actress’s sense of style has changed over the years, from her days wrapped in plaid up through the infamous cashmere bra-and-sweater set (you know the one).

7 Photos of Katie Holmes Young & Giving Off All the Joey Potter Vibes

1998 katie holmes at the emmy awards
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1998: A Red-carpet Stunner

Yes, that is Dawson himself, James Van Der Beek, you spy behind Holmes on the Emmys red carpet. While we adore her cap-sleeve white embroidered gown and simple strands of pearls (pins to wedding Pinterest board, immediately), the rosette-covered handbag is a bit much.

1998 katie holmes and james van der beek on the set of dawsons creek
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1998: On The Set Of ‘dawson's Creek’

OK, so this outfit was likely put together by the show’s stylist, but still, we’ve spotted the actress wearing something very similar to this exact combo many, many times in the 22 years since.

1998 katie holmes at the mtv new years eve party
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1999: An Unexpected Leather Jacket

Not even MTV’s New Year’s Eve Party could break Holmes and her beloved jeans apart. (Though we still give her festive points for the subtly sparkly top.)

1999 katie holmes
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1999: A Classic ‘90s Combo

With just a few tweaks, Holmes’s early red-carpet style could pass for a trendy outfit 2021.

2000 katie holmes
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2000: A Dressed Up T-shirt

Maybe it was the influence of Joey Potter’s basic flannels and loose jeans, but Holmes has long been a fan of taking simple, casual wardrobe basics (like a plain white tee) and dressing them up just so.

2002 katie holmes
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2002: The Early Aughts Uniform

We’re pretty sure every young female celeb in the early 2000s wore basically this same outfit—flirty, cap-sleeve top, low-rise bootcut jeans and pointy-toe boots—to multiple red carpet events. What a time to be alive.

2003 katie holmes
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2003: A Mish-mosh Of Trends

The UGGs! The low-rise, distressed jeans! The bucket hat! The Matrix-style sunglasses! Holmes has packed so many trends in one outfit, we barely even noticed the gorgeous mountain views and sunset behind her.

2006 katie holmes walking with victoria beckham
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2006: A Posh Refresh

Does anyone else remember when Victoria Beckham and her husband moved to L.A., where they struck up a long-lasting friendship with the newly married Holmes? Well, it appears Posh Spice’s sensibilities may have rubbed off on the actress.

2007 katie holmes walking with baby suri
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2007: Playing With Proportions

Look, the 2000s were a confusing time in fashion for everyone. While we love a good oversize knit-and-leggings combination, this one doesn’t quite hit the mark. (Though there are number of celebs who’d currently approve of that shaggy bob haircut.)

2011 katie holmes walking with daughter suri and tom cruise
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2011: A Return To The Basics

Queen of Easy Basics, Holmes knows that a strong pair of jeans can make the outfit. But what really stands out is that hot pink bra, perhaps a nod to the beginning of a more experimental fashion phase.

2013 katie holmes walking with daughter suri
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2013: Statement Accessories

Both Holmes’s and Suri’s outfits here are all about the accessories. A wide-brim hat, super-size sunnies, equally oversize tote and slouchy knee-high boots for mom, and coordinating bright pink backpack, sneakers and arm cast for her 7-year-old daughter.

2015 katie holmes taping good morning america
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2015: Luxe Leather Culottes

It appears we’re late to pick up on Holmes’s style renaissance, which appears to have started long before we realized. She rocked this pleated leather and silver knit ‘fit for an appearance on Good Morning America to promote her directorial debut, a short documentary for EPSN on Olympic gymnast Nadia Comăneci.

2016 katie holmes
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2016: A Monochrome Ensemble

Now is when we start to see the actress really honing in on her sartorial sweet spot: turning comfy basics into elevated fashion statements.

2017 katie holmes
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2017: Unexpected Layering

Who would’ve guessed a slouchy denim jumpsuit would look so chic when paired with a tailored gray blazer, black pointy-toe pumps and a swipe of red lipstick?

2018 katie holmes at the zimmermann fashion show
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2018: Mixing Prints

Holmes doesn’t often sport prints, but we can’t get enough of the mismatched stripes and florals she wore to the Zimmermann runway show during Fashion Week.

2019: The Sweater Set Seen Round The World

Turns out, Holmes was way ahead of the loungewear 24/7 curve with this cozy combo by Khaite. Admit it, you’ve considered buying a cashmere bra and cardigan set at least once since seeing this pic in 2019.

2020 katie holmes at the ulla johnson fashion show
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2020: Full-on Fashionista

This is not the simple top and jeans of yesteryear. Holmes attended multiple Fashion Week events (including the Ulla Johnson runway show pictured above), wearing one stunning ensemble after another.

2020 katie holmes on a date in sweatpants

2020: Date-night Sweatpants

While it was certainly a thrill to see Holmes experimenting with bolder, more fashion-forward ensembles pre-quarantine, she’s truly at her best when rocking the basics, and it seems she may feel her best in them as well—why else would someone choose to sport a plain white tee, sweatpants and tall socks for date night with their new beau?

katie holmes leather jacket
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2021: On The Streets Of Nyc

In March 2021, Holmes stepped out in New York City alongside her boyfriend, Emilio Vitolo. The actress wore an all-black outfit, featuring a fur-trimmed leather bomber jacket, black jeans and a pair of leather boots. She completed the look with a houndstooth bag, hoop earrings and a black face mask from Evolvetogether.

You keep on doing you, Katie.



Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...


Senior Editor

Greta Heggeness is a California-based editor at PureWow and has been writing about entertainment since 2015. She covers everything from awards shows to exclusive celebrity...