Why I Love the Realistic Fashion on GIRLS

Jessica Schiffer

The world's supply of Girls-related grievances is seemingly endless. If we needed anti-Lena Dunham vitriol to survive, we'd essentially live forever. But there's a lot of praise amidst the mudslinging too, and I think her HBO television show is especially worthy of such accolades. 

I don't mean to imply that Girls encompasses THE (capitalization crucial) experience of twentysomethings everywhere, or that all twentysomethings live in Brooklyn (although, I happen to be one who does). I firmly believe that such a show—a show that speaks to and about and for everyone—is impossible, and that Dunham is tackling one pocket of the twentysomething experience in a fresh way. Notions of class and race aside, the show treads in a lot of universal spaces: heartbreak, mental illness, the disillusionment that comes with adulthood, to name a few. The girls of Girls are trying to find themselves, and though their paths may be cushier or more “superficial” than those of the majority, many of us can relate to the soul-searching (and sucking) that comes with wondering: who am I? 

And the all-consuming confusion of that process is reflected nowhere better than in the characters' imperfect wardrobes. The clothes they wear aren't so loud that they take away from what's actually playing out in each episode—they're not another character in their own right, as they were on Sex and the City or Gossip Girl. Instead, the clothes work like mood rings, telegraphing the kind of woman each character is trying to be that day. 

In Marnie’s regular clothing we see a woman playing it safe and attempting to fulfill a cookie cutter definition of female success. But we also see how influenced she can be by the thoughts of men, like when she opts for an artsy, plastic dress to impress one guy, or a folksy maxi dress to impress the next. 

In Shoshanna’s off-kilter attempts at the trends, which she always pairs with bedazzled barrettes or headbands, we see her naiveté in full force as she aspires to be the “cool girl” that has always eluded her. Her looks tend to stand out, though not for the reasons she’d hoped. 

In Hannah’s seemingly intentional mishmash of prints and her disregard for what society deems flattering for her figure, we see a young woman trying desperately to convince herself that she’s different—that such concerns are beneath her. 

And in Jessa’s adoption of bohemian standbys like lace pants and fringed jackets, we see how that laissez-faire lifestyle contradicts with her reality, despite her efforts to convince the world otherwise. 

But the girls’ lack of sartorial savvy makes me appreciate the show more, not less. It’s more in tune with the trajectory of my own life (fashion job and all) and those of my friends. Who hasn’t worn something for the sake of a guy and then regretted it the minute they stepped outside? Who hasn’t had a period of bucking conventional dress in an attempt to prove something deeper about themselves? Who hasn’t tried to dress for a part that they’re not quite ready to play? The point is we’ve all had our wardrobe slip-ups, especially during times when we’ve felt unmoored or insecure. Girls has an authenticity to it that other shows are lacking because it allows itself to go there, rather than rendering all disasters “beautiful” with a Louboutin heel or Chanel dress.

Scroll down to see some of our favorite snaps of the Girls characters.

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