“It’s the first thing that I think about that I barely even think about it,” she told Vogue Australia
in June 2019. “It’s my whole identity. My whole personality is based off my clothes and what I’m wearing that day. I’ll have a different personality for a different outfit sometimes. If I’m wearing something I don’t feel comfortable in I will turn into a totally different persona that I hate. “
Her unconventional sartorial choices have made her the antithesis of the classic queen of pop — though as the most Googled female musician of 2019, that’s exactly what she is.
Eilish’s edgy wardrobe is studiously deliberate.
She made that clear as early as 2017, when, aged 15, she told Harper’s Bazaar that she was fully aware of how her style may appear: “I just like dressing out of my comfort zone. I want to dress in a way that if I was in a room full of people wearing regular clothes, I would be like, ‘Oh, I bet everyone’s looking at me.’ I want to feel that way. That’s my casual,” she explained.
Eilish is not without help. Since she was 14, she’s worked with stylist Samantha Burkhart, who counts clients like Katy Perry, Kesha and Rosalia on her roster — all artists with much flashier wardrobes.
Burkhart has apparently never imposed a look upon the singer, but simply serves as a “kind of personal shopper,” she told the New York Times. “She enjoys the uncomfortableness of not fitting in,” Buckhart said.
Her baggy clothes have also helped protect herself from the intrusive nature of stardom. In May 2019, Eilish appeared in a Calvin Klein campaign
, “I Speak My Truth in #MyCalvins,” and talked about how everything she wears is meant to deflect judgment on her body. “I never want the world to know everything about me,” she said. “Nobody can have an opinion because they haven’t seen what’s underneath.”
In a world where female bodies are so often the object of scrutiny, that stance, paired with her uninterest in conventional glossy aesthetics, has felt like a refreshing outlook for swarms of Gen-Zers, who have hailed Eilish as their fashion icon.
They have mimicked her style, not just by touting similarly oversized pieces and bold hair-dyes, but the artist’s very own retail products, from the merch on her site Blohsh to her sold-out collaborations with youth brands like Urban Outfitters, Bershka and, at the start of 2020, H&M.
If Eilish’s striking, jarring and ultimately singular aesthetic has turned her into a style powerhouse for a generation of youth, her current (and future) fashion clout doesn’t just lie in her choice of deliberately not fitting in, but the fact that she’s in full control of her image — and having fun with it.
Nowhere is that more evident than on the red carpet. As outrageous and “weird” as her outfits are, they’re also just playful (albeit highly curated) ways for Eilish to express herself, and challenge “dressing up” as we know it.
But, she’s not criticizing more form-fitting sartorial options. In a V magazine interview
with Pharrell Williams last August, Eilish said she does not approve of people using her style to shame others who don’t dress like her. “I have never ever looked at a girl who feels comfortable in her clothes, body, and skin and thought, ‘Ew, that’s gross, she is showing too much.'”
Three months before she turned 18 last December, Eilish told Elle magazine
that entering adulthood might herald some changes in her wardrobe. “I’m gonna be a woman. I wanna show my body,” she said.
How she’ll do that is likely going to spark more hype and conversations around her sartorial prowess — and keep the red carpet interesting.
Regardless, it’ll be just another way for Eilish to be Eilish.