Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Kylie Brakeman captures the thought process behind late-'00s TV shows' many-layered wardrobes

Bella Thorne and Zendaya on Shake It Up
Bella Thorne and Zendaya on Shake It Up
Screenshot: Disney+

With more than a decade of hindsight, we can now clearly see how ridiculous mid- to late-2000s fashion really was. At the time, it was both acceptable and even kind of cool to wear big belts, military patrol caps, and layers upon layers of tank tops, t-shirts, and vests. Now, we look back at the 00s with the same mixture of embarrassment and fascination that inevitably follows after a trend has died, marveling over the era’s pop culture artifacts like archaeologists examining curiosities from a recently vanished civilization.

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A new video from comedian Kylie Brakeman documents the spirit of this kind of cringe-nostalgia through the character of “the wardrobe person for Nickelodeon And Disney Channel” circa 2007.

Brakeman, fully inhabiting the role of a YA-sitcom costume designer of old, stands in a t-shirt over a long-sleeved shirt, skirt over leggings, and the obligatory military cap while ordering unseen celebrities into wardrobe. “iCarly, you little rascal, you forgot to put your t-shirt on under your prom dress!” she says. “What’s your web show rated? NC-17?” After telling Zendaya to wear a vest over her tie-dye jacket, Brakeman lets us know she’s an expert. “I know what I’m talking about,” she says. “They slimed me at the Kids’ Choice Awards.”

As the video goes on, her character explains more of the philosophy that must have informed late-’00s shows. In between “swooshing” Zack and Cody’s bangs and making sure a scene’s integrity is maintained with the sparkle fedora necessary to “code [a] 10-year old boy as homosexual,” Brakeman tells us that she likes “to think of fashion as a symphony where all the clothes are fighting each other.”

This kind of mockery is fun for now but will definitely end up tipping over into ironic celebration and mainstream adoption in the years to come. Just remember: People used to goof on mom jeans, bucket hats, and tiny oval sunglasses, and now they’re back in force. It’s only a matter of time until we— like Ariana Grande and an unnamed character actor in Brakeman’s video—are back in “hilarious graphic [t-shirts]” and sparkle scarves.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.