Why Are We Suddenly Dressing Like Our Internet Boyfriends?

By | April 25, 2019
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getty | instagram

Something weird happened the other day. Instagram told me I should start following someone named Ilaria Urbinati. Never heard of her. But I was curious, so I tapped, only to be lured into scrolling through dozens of paparazzi and red-carpet shots of…hot guys wearing clothes. Bradley Cooper, Riz Ahmed, ­Donald Glover, Chris Evans, and other go-to phone background options were all over her feed. Great find—thanks, scary-good algorithm! But this wasn’t a stan account. Ilaria is the ­professional stylist behind their unique looks.

Normally, I’m just scoping these guys out for pure eye-candy ­consumption. But this time, I didn’t want to zoom in on Bradley’s baby blues—I wanted to purchase his bow tie.

As women, we’re all conditioned to develop style crushes on female actors, models, and fashion plates. I once stopped everything I was doing to buy Kylie’s latest lip kit and spent hours refreshing my screen for an Ivy Park sale. But lately, my friends and I are more interested in what our internet boyfriends are wearing, maybe because the ­current crop of heartthrobs is starting to have just as much fun with clothes as any Kardashian, Hadid, or Olsen. The more creative they get, the more we want to copy their style. And we’re shelling out money for those #Twinning moments.

“After Armie Hammer had his whole tracksuit bonanza,” says 26-year-old Morgan Baila, a Brooklyn editor, “I bought a tracksuit.” She says her obsession with Armie’s outfits started when he was doing press for 2017’s Call Me by Your Name. “Just the pants,” she clarifies. “I didn’t buy the matching jacket. I feel like that was too much.” Morgan counts Armie, his CMBYN costar Timothée Chalamet, Justin Bieber, and Chris Pine among her real-life workday wardrobe influences. She even bought khaki Carhartt overalls after seeing a photo of Pine rocking them.

“If he’s going to wear them in an airport and sit around in them all day, then I can surely wear mine to run errands and take a photo in and be part of it,” she says. “It makes me feel closer to him, like we have an inside joke.”

But Timmy and Armie definitely weren’t the first male style stars to move product. Lots of girls list ­members of One Direction as their gateway drug. Thirty-year-old Amanda K. says her slippery slope started with Harry Styles’, er, style. “Back in his hipster days, I’d see photos of his beanies, flannels, ripped skinnies, and Converse. So I collected every item, and within a couple of months, I was wearing it all on a pretty regular basis.” Amanda credits Harry with helping her find her own sense of fashion. “I’d never really had a style before.”

The idea that soaking up a male idol’s style can be emotionally fulfilling—rather than just fun OOTD inspo—resonates with women too. If I try to copycat Kaia Gerber’s style, squeezing into low-rise jeans and embracing cropped tees, I might not feel great when I look in the mirror and don’t look like an off-duty model. But if I mimic Bieber’s tie-dye pants and dad sneaks, I’ll be less worried about how my body looks…and will definitely feel more original.

Bianca Engel of Burbank, California, says Kim Namjoon, aka RM of the band BTS, became her fashion guru for similar reasons. As a plus-size woman, she’d been afraid to stand out, but Kim inspired her to embrace herself. “I used to stick with ballet flats because they make feet look smaller and I have large calves I’m self-conscious of. But then I saw RM in some cropped pants and realized I could wear cropped pants too.”

She also adores his giant bags and decided to plunk down serious dough to get a similar one. “I found myself hunting for something more expensive looking and ended up with a bag I never would have normally chosen. I was shopping with Kim in mind.”

Back in the day, we put on lipstick and kissed posters of Brad, Denzel, and Leo. We used to want to make out with them, not wear their jeans. The difference now is that celeb guys are genuinely interested in fashion. And girls our age are genuinely interested in standing out from the Insta-brand crowd. A black tux on the red carpet isn’t going to cut it anymore, and neither is a closet stocked with Kim K.’s jumpsuits and Gigi’s joggers. Thank god—and stylists like Ilaria—for that.

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