With Broad City, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson turned their web series into a TV show that further carved out a space for female stoner duos in pop culture, following in the footsteps laid by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams on Laverne & Shirley before them.
After five seasons, Broad City is coming to an end when the beloved series finale airs Thursday night. While the seasons-long sight gags, catchphrases, harebrained schemes, and recurring guest stars (appearances by Whoopi Goldberg, Amy Sedaris, and Kelly Ripa immediately come to mind) will be missed, what we will think of fondly when we think of Broad City is Ilana’s bizarro interpretation of style.
Abbi’s sartorial decisions veer towards the understated; after all, the character was initially meant as the “straight man” of the duo. But that is not to say Abbi did not have her own standout fashion moments: the Judy Garland-esque suit she wore when performing as her alter-ego “Val” in an underground speakeasy in season 2, the garbage bag ensemble that paid homage to Missy Elliot in season 1, and the expensive blue bandage dress she purchased in the first season (which she wears repeatedly throughout the series to hammer home the idea that in real life, most 20-something women don’t buy something they can’t afford only to just wear it once) are all unforgettable.
But it is Ilana’s fearless, sometimes deranged approach to fashion that juts out as worthy of a trip down memory lane. Just as it would be a fool’s errand to try to rank all of the hilarious gags this show unveiled (there are simply too many to count), ranking every wild thing Ilana wore on Broad City would be a daunting task, but there are some exceptional, unconventional style moments that will remain in our memories. Here, a breakdown of some of Ilana’s most eccentric looks, from the first season to the last.
“What A Wonderful World”
When viewers are first introduced to Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler, they are two 20-something stoners looking for a way to score tickets to a Lil Wayne concert. They’re hustlers, so they sign up for a cleaning gig at the house of a creepy man (played by Fred Armisen) who wants them to clean up in their underwear while he dresses as an adult baby. Because babies don’t have money, he refuses to pay them in cash, so Abbi and Ilana take matters into their own hands and pay themselves in expensive fur coats and liquor. It’s the perfect introduction to the duo, and their “ballin’ on a budget” sense of style to be seen throughout the rest of the series.
When Abbi and Ilana are invited to a wedding in the Hamptons, Ilana opts for a black, untailored suit for the occasion instead of a dress. Her subversion of binary gender roles ends up matching with her boyfriend, Lincoln (played by Hannibal Burress). Ilana’s idea of formalwear evolves over the series, but this moment is not the last time our devil-may-care hustler, she of crop tops and dog hoodies, goes for a buttoned up look.
In the cold open of “Apartment Hunters,” Abbi and Ilana arrive at a bank to cash a check for $8,000 so that Abbi can move to a new apartment while Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” plays and the duo is dressed in iconic music video outfits paying homage to both Missy Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” garbage bag getup and Nicki Minaj. Of course, the ability to drip with excess is just all in their heads—Abbi is nowhere near as rich as she thinks she is, and Ilana’s fur coat over a red lace bra and blonde wig are just fantasies. (An entirely separate list could be dedicated to Ilana’s various wigs.)
What comes to mind when you see the phrase “corporate overlord”? For Ilana, it’s the power suit. Ilana’s boss (played by Chris Gethard) at Deals Deals Deals! threatens to fire her, but she ends up putting in work (or her idea of work) and becoming the power suit-clad boss of a group of interns. As a well-meaning New York liberal, she attempts to “diversify” the office by hiring interns of different ethnicities, but her plans backfire when she accidentally refers to her white suit as a “white power suit.” Oops.
In an episode all about wardrobe malfunctions (and trying to find the perfect art gallery outfit at a sample sale), it’s Ilana’s hat that commands the screen. This hat goes through some changes throughout the episode: at first it reads “Perv,” later it reads “Lincoln.” It serves as a reminder of the importance of the sight gag (and self-aware meta-commentary) to Broad City‘s silly ethos.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but if you ask your friend to do an honest impression of you, you might want to be careful what you wish for. When Ilana finds out she has to skip her co-op shift to go to a doctor’s appointment on Long Island, she enlists Abbi to dress like her. This look is like an amalgamation of everything that qualifies as elemental to an “Ilana” outfit: a colorful strappy bralette, a crop top (and a mesh one at that), tight pants, a fanny pack, and hoop earrings.
From her power suit to her strappy bralette worn as a top, Ilana repeatedly pushes the boundaries on what is appropriate to wear to work. And why wear a crop top when you could wear an American Apparel hoodie that was literally made for dogs instead?
Broad City is such a New York show (the city is the third main character of the series), but whenever they leave it does make for great television. Between the windbreakers, the visors, and the oversized sunglasses, nearly every costume worn by both Abbi and Ilana in the season 4 episode where they travel to Florida deserves an award. Sure, their hair might not survive the humidity, but their outfits are on point, and South Florida has never looked like a more scumbro-chic vacation destination.
“Bitcoin & The Missing Girl”
In its fifth and final season, Broad City delivered one final over-the-top, yet still extremely on-brand sartorial punch: Ilana’s Matrix-inspired Bitcoin business ensemble. If you’re starting a wizness (that’s “woman-owned business” of course), you might as well dress the part. In a fitting room montage, and with the help of an irritated associate, Ilana is outfitted with a necklace comprised of ethernet cables, a titanium briefcase, and a pair of AirPods, positioning her as a cultural force who wears the symbols of the zeitgeist on her sleeve (or at least inside of her ears).