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We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what's "you"? These are some of the questions we're putting to prominent figures in our column "How I Shop."

In "Everything's Trash," Phoebe Robinson plays an alterna-version of her Brooklynite self — Phoebe Hill, a successful podcaster and 30-something exploring love, life and professional success in the borough, as her brother runs for local office. Of course, many of us know the real-life comedian, actor, producer and best-selling author from her podcasting-turned-HBO special "Two Dope Queens," alongside Jessica Williams. But there's no doubt that the Phoebes also share a very New York City trait: an affinity for exploratory and self-expressive fashion.  (Her brother really is a representative in her home state of Ohio.)

Back in May, Robinson teased the new Freeform comedy — which is based on her 2018 book, "Everything's Trash, But It's Okay" — as her "Black girl Carrie Bradshaw fantasy." Followers of her Instagram, @dopequeenphoebes, know the influence the "Sex and the City" character played in Robinson's own fashion journey: As a freshman studying screenwriting at Pratt, she enrolled in fashion 101, in a way, by watching the Patricia Field-costume designed HBO series. 

"We really wanted it to be like, 'Look, just because [Phoebe] is broke or is struggling financially, that doesn't mean that she can't turn a look,'" says Robinson, recalling discussions with the show's costume designer, Anitra Michelle. "We want to have fun. We want to show off her vibrant personality."

Phoebe's brother Jayden (Jordan Carlos), podcasting colleague/friend Malika and Phoebe chat in the studio.

Phoebe's brother Jayden (Jordan Carlos), podcasting colleague/friend Malika and Phoebe chat in the studio.

Robinson and Michelle wanted to maintain some realism in Phoebe's wardrobe, which features vintage-esque music tees and accessibly priced high-street label like Zara, ASOS, Paige and Free People. Plus, Robinson says, "I want this character to repeat pieces of clothing throughout the series, because that's real life, when you don't have money. You've got that pair of Levi's jeans, and you're gonna wear them 20 times a week. We really wanted to have that mix of aspirational, but still be somewhat grounded."

Of course, "Everything's Trash" features elements of a fashion fantasy, too — including a neon yellow cut-out David Koma minidress (which takes Phoebe from secret hookup to canvassing for her brother's campaign the next day) and a metallic green Retrofête gown that increases her credit-card debt (below). 

Malika and Phoebe scheme, sartorially, to get the digital magazine cover.

Malika and Phoebe scheme, sartorially, to get the digital magazine cover.

Also like Carrie Bradshaw, Phoebe mixes in statement-making, one-of-a-kind retro pieces, like a pair of colorful, vertical-striped and chevron-patterned crochet flares, from Baltimore's Illicit Rag Vintage

"I was sweating that day because we shot that episode at the end of May when it was like 90 degrees, but it's so worth it because it looks so good on screen and it's so different than anything else I wear that this season," Robinson says. "Anitra found really specific things that you can't get anywhere else."

In "Everything's Trash," Phoebe lives life on her own terms, whether it means jumping into relationships that could throw a wrench in her brother's political campaign efforts or shrugging off so-called wardrobe malfunctions caught on IG Live (below). Her sartorial journey plays with — and disregards — what society and many clickbait-y headlines often ask: How should a 30-something young professional woman dress?

Phoebe Hill engages with her fans (and trolls) in a Zara top and Paige jeans.

Phoebe Hill engages with her fans (and trolls) in a Zara top and Paige jeans.

"I would like for the word 'should' to be banished," says Robinson. "That's such a troublesome word. What I'm excited about — especially with women — there's so much more flexibility in terms of self-expression."

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Ahead, Robinson discusses what made her love fashion as a college student, why she's embracing the color pink and allowing others to push her out of her sartorial comfort zone.

Robinson at the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in H&M x Giambattista Valli.

Robinson at the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in H&M x Giambattista Valli.

"As a kid, I hated fashion because I was like, 'I have no boobs.... The clothes aren't made for me...' Whatever. But as I got older — and certainly coming to New York from Ohio for college — you just walk down the street and you're like, 'Oh my god. This person is cool. That person was cool.' It made me go, 'Oh. People are having fun with fashion. They're just taking the pressure off a little bit.' I was responding to what they saw and what they thought will look good on them, and that that really changed for me. 

"I started reading fashion magazines. I would see what was in InStyle or Glamour or Essence. I would save to get my issues of Vogue. Then I would go to Forever 21 and make my version of that. Trying to be creative is really what helped me fall in love with fashion, because I got to express myself and figure out how to put together a look on my own. I only had, like, 70 bucks to put together a nice outfit. 

"My personal style is eclectic. There are moments where I want to look a little more androgynous or be a little more baggy. Then there are moments I'm a sucker for a high-waisted pant and little crop tops, where you get a little peek of skin but I can still be comfortable and move. There's some times where I want to have a little body-con moment. I think about someone like Solange or sometimes Tilda Swinton in a little loud pantsuit. I like a mix of everything because I'm like, 'Life is short. I only have one chance to wear all the clothes. I want to try as many styles as I can.'

"Right now, I'm leaning into what clothes are making me feel good and happy, that are comfortable, that I can breathe in, but still will make a head turn or two as I'm walking down the street. That's really important. I feel like I've discovered some different brands that I wasn't wearing before, so it's nice to incorporate that into my life. I love looking online at different fashion inspiration, especially when you're inside all day. 

"I'm a loyal Levi's jeans girl, but then I saw Agolde; it's fun and breezy and light, so I really like that stuff. Things like Farm Rio — because I was inside my four walls all the time, I'm like, 'Can I please just have a pattern that has life and fun?' It's good to wear that and feel vibrant. Sometimes clothes can make you feel happier. If you're wearing a nice yellow or a pattern, it's gonna make you feel a little saucy. 

"I like to shop on Free People from time to time. I found powder-pink, high-waisted, straight-leg pants and a little white and pink pinstriped cropped button-down that's a white and pink pinstripe; they're so cute because you could throw that on with a pair of sneakers and still feel like you're dressed up. It's hip and cool. I was never a pink person growing up. Now, with the show, I have pink braids, so I like to have a little bit more pink in my closet. 

"I like to shop online. Sometimes I'll shop in person, but I don't know — I just feel like if you shop at a store, sometimes you can get caught up buying things that you really won't wear. Whereas, when you try it on at home — with your mirrors in your space — you can go, 'This is cute, but I'm gonna wear this one time, so there's no point in me keeping it.' Or, 'Oh my god, I love this, and now this is my go-to casual lounge outfit.' Every once in a while, I do like to go into a store, because sometimes I don't mind being pushed into being like, 'Hey, I know you're kind of scared of this outfit, but this actually looks good on you. You should go for it.' It's good to sometimes have that other person who can just tell you the real real.

Robinson, in a Retrofête dress and Mia Becar heels, guest-hosts 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' in July 2021.

Robinson, in a Retrofête dress and Mia Becar heels, guest-hosts 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' in July 2021.

"My stylist Ryan Young is really good because he knows my silhouette, but then sometimes he'll be like, 'I know this has a lot going on, but I think you should try it.' Like the sequin wrap-dress by Retrofête I wore when I guest hosted 'Jimmy Kimmel' last year — it was the cutest thing, but it was a lot of sequins and a sky blue, and I don't really wear that color. But when I put it on, I was like, 'This is so cute!' I had pink braids because I was working on 'Everything's Trash' at the time, and it really looked fun and playful. That kind of stuff sometimes seems a little bit loud to me, but once you wear it, it feels a little more chill."

'Everything's Trash' airs on Wednesdays at 10:30pm ET on Freeform (and streams on Hulu the following day).

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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