Rules of Style: ‘The Hills’

Grab your aviators and join me on the beach because we need to talk.


When you look wistfully into the distance, eyes fixed on the fiery horizon, do you reflect on the troubling beauty of your own insignificance or how tragically you dressed in high school? For me, it’s an intoxicating combination of both.

Nothing sends me careening toward the latter quite like a nostalgic wander through MTV’s The Hills, a show from which I regrettably gleaned much sartorial inspiration.

It seems like just yesterday that we lived and breathed the doe-eyed stares — be they of joy or horror — of one head-banded Lauren “LC” Conrad. The show debuted on May 31, 2006 (that’s 10 years ago, math wizards!) with a premiere titled, “New City, New Drama.”

While that wasn’t entirely wrong — there was plenty of drama and the more manufactured the better, frankly — I’d like to offer up an alternative: “New City, New Clothes.”

There was a lot of style happening on that show and if you’ve been itching to return to your 2006 roots (she said to literally no one) then please shift your gaze from the setting sun to this here time machine and join me in breaking down the 17 rules of style for dressing on The Hills’ .


1) If you’re suffering a stress headache as a direct result of your best friend’s boyfriend’s unsettling name, consider holding your head together with a headband or on with a strand of pearls. Preferably both.

2) A high ponytail might say, “I’m following my dreams,” but a mid-height ponytail featuring a subtle braid says “Why would she even come here?”


3) If you own a jersey sundress and don’t adorn it unnecessarily with a wide leather belt, please reconsider how your actions affect those around you.

4) Remember: there does not exist a cotton spaghetti-strap tank top that is too long or too fitted.


5) The amount of ruching on your daytime going-out top is directly correlated to how many hearts you’ve broken.

6) You know what pairs well with vaguely bootcut jeans? Vaguely baggy boots.

7) Aviators communicate your superiority while also conveniently hiding your dead eyes.


8) Bleach the shit out of your hair for beachside heart-to-hearts.

9) The bigger the bangle, the bigger the lie.


11) Always wear a maxi if you suspect you’ll be gossiping on or around an outdoor daybed.

12) Massive sunglasses blur the lines of even your most platonic relationships.

13) Your graphic tank need not reflect your personal interests in the slightest.


14) Pigtail braids and chicken skirts make for sentimental goodbyes.

15) If your hair can’t take the heat of a 700-degree straightener, get the F out of the Hollywood hills.


16) Keep your black eyeliner thick and your empire waist thin or I won’t even hear what you’re saying.

17) Pronouncements of love and hate are better communicated through a heavy coat of lip gloss.

The rest is still unwritten…

Feature photographs via Pop Sugar; carousel photograph from WireImage via Page Six.


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  • I didn’t watch this nearly as much as I watched Laguna Beach – perhaps at that point I’d moved on to something else? Best part about the show was the introduction of the “super intern” Emily Weiss, who let’s face it is more relevant today than LC (imo).

    Style-wise, however, I pretty much lived by the fashion rules of all those reality shows imported from the land of California. I’m really glad that part of my life is over lol.

    • kellymcd

      I remember thinking Emily Weiss was so intense and irritating when I watched the episode she was part of. Now, she could sell my poop colored lipstick and I’d give her all my money in a heartbeat

      • Beatrice

        This is so funny, because I absolutely remember seeing Super Intern aka Emily and being like “I have never identified with anyone more” with specific regard to the chinoiserie debacle

        • Deborah

          I think of the chinoiserie debacle every time Glossier instagrams a flower.

    • ModernGrace

      I didn’t know she was on the show.. Now I will hunt for that.

  • “The bigger the bangle the bigger the lie”

  • Yes, yes, and yes!

    Also – hats – you can pull them off. Seriously. Wear a fedora.

  • Yvonne Dunlevie

    Vaguely bootcut jeans + vaguely baggy boots. Can’t say I completely avoided that one in my past…

  • Michaela Williams

    The greasier the hair and darker the roots, the better your headband will stay put.

  • Sarah Julia LeBlanc

    I’m dying this is awesome

  • Allie Fasanella

    ‘the rest is still unwritten..’

    this is so so good.
    the boys of the hills need their own story man

    • Deborah

      Yes, please. Can we discuss Justin Bobby’s boots?

  • Catherine Elizabeth

    How are people supposed to visualize The Drama if they can’t see how well I’ve applied my eyeliner to the waterline???

  • Beatrice


    • ModernGrace

      To this day I feel sorry for that girl because she had to have some warped sense of how she looked. But then I remember who she married and all her drama.

      • Amyllim

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    • Lisa

      I died every time she adorably flipped her hair.

  • Carolina Andrade

    So funny!!

  • Harling Ross

    Lemme just give a quick shoutout here in the comments to Brody’s arm cast. That yellow velcro really zests it up.

  • kevynryan

    “Please reconsider how your actions affect those around you.” I’m pretty sure they have assistants holding their belts up off camera, because what even part of their body is that accentuating.

  • Genuinely in love with this. I will definitely be pursuing the Hills for inspo this summer!

  • Aggie

    Please do more of these articles!

  • Andy

    you forgot about not wearing waterproof mascara!


    People in the Hills still dress like this. It’s a sight to behold.

  • Peter

    It is tbh disconcerting to see nary an ombréd head of hair in such long thread containing photos of famous women.

  • Can Emily Weiss/Super Intern vouch for any of these style rules?

  • Nat Ch

    Hilarious AND filled with existencial advice on emotional intelligence to co-exist with the rest of your chosen-through-a-casting-process friends!

  • Ben Gaudreault

    too acurate