Broad City helped me embrace truly hideous fashion

We can pretend that we’ve all dressed like gods since the day we were born, but—unless you are me (JK)—that isn’t true.

As we grew up, our parents’ taste dictated our own until we reached the age where it began to matter if we were wearing Northern Getaway, Gap, or whatever-was-marked-down-at-Bootlegger. Then, after that, we spent roughly 10 to 15 years cultivating a look that was equal points on-trend, equal parts inoffensive, and also something Julia Roberts in Stepmom would be proud of. (She dressed really well, you guys.) Which meant that by the time we were grown-ass women, we had our personal style on lock.

Until Broad City came along.

If you’re a fan of the show, you understand. (And if you’re not, what’s wrong with you?) For two seasons—and a third on the way (it premieres tonight on Much at 10 p.m.)—Abbi and Ilana have mastered approaches to fashion that epitomize who their characters are as people. Abbi’s hair, makeup, and clothes are trendy, but relatively subdued; her bottoms are fitted, her tops are relaxed, and (despite her tendency to worry) she looks comfortable—even when wearing her signature bandage dress. Arguably, Abbi is all of us. She wears what works, what looks good.

But Ilana? Girlfriend is who we want to be. And/or also who we’re a little afraid of.

I want to say that seeing Ilana’s affinity for crop tops, denim shorts paired with combat shorts, and her infamous “white power suit” made me laugh. I want to say that when she took off her jacket at Abbi’s fancy birthday to reveal a studded two-piece dress I shook my head. I want to say that when I saw the promo for the series’ third season, I was appalled to see she was wearing a sweatshirt made for actual dogs. I want to say she didn’t make me want to wear a football jersey with short-shorts and black lipstick. I want to tell you that I haven’t been seriously considering a fanny pack (or printed leggings) since last winter. I want to tell you all these things, but I can’t even.

Broad City made me embrace, justify, and run with “hideous” fashion.

I mean, we all know that “bad” fashion is a myth, mainly because personal taste is one’s own, and nobody here wants to dictate norms for anybody. But I will say that we all tend to abide by comfort zones. So while we may think Ilana looks great, we likely wouldn’t pick up her knack for cropped tank tops at the office. We probably wouldn’t wear leggings as pants. We say we’re too old, or too uncomfortable, or too scared, blaming a slew of extenuating circumstances as an excuse not to wear a bandana tube top to a yacht party.

But here’s the thing: Ilana looks awesome. She’s confident, she’s abiding by no one’s rules by her own, and while she may not be channeling Julia Roberts in Stepmom, she’s living the Julia Roberts-as-Erin-Brockovich truth: “I think I look nice . . . and I’ll wear what I like, if that’s alright with you.” Abbi still looks fantastic and powerful, but with every “how?!” piece Ilana puts on, she challenges the safeness we all tend to abide by. And then, by looking killer in almost everything, tells us that we can do the same thing; that we probably buy that ridiculous fanny pack or just wear the crop top already, and look totally fine.

She reminds us that it’s not what you wear, it’s how you’re wearing it. And while we may gasp upon seeing a few of her choices, we’re never truly offended, because why would we be. Instead, we buy black lipstick because if Ilana can do it, why can’t we do the same? And if our neon jackets look better accompanied by stolen office supplies, then why not go for it? (Kidding, I’m kidding.) (Or am I?)

Ultimately, thanks to Broad City, I learned that the style rules I set for myself are fine (see: Abbi, having obviously found her aesthetic comfort zone, and killing effectively), but that risks are only as scary as we think they are. So I wear the lipstick. I buy the loud prints. And the other day, I bought an actual crop top. If Ilana can do it, why can’t I? Especially since high tops are so much easier to shop in, anyway.

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