InStyle March 2017 DUN Lena Dunham - Lead
Credit: Byron Purvis/AdMedia/Sipa USA

I never set out to annoy people with my clothes. Rather, like HPV or a screaming match with a cab driver, it just happened. I always leave the house thinking I look good.

Let’s take a moment to define “good”: I don’t think I look like Adriana Lima or that I own Opening Ceremony. But am I accurately expressing myself? I always thought so, but apparently not.

In my public life, my outfits—at least on fashion blogs—have become something of a punch line. Internet critics constantly seem to be sighing at some shoe mismatch or moment of (perceived) delusion about my body type or just at the entire idea that I want to—gasp!—have fun.

VIDEO: Lena Dunham's Red Carpet Style

To be clear, this doesn’t keep me up at night. To quote the Dixie Chicks: “I made my bed, and I sleep like a baby.” To quote my friend Paul: “Looking chic was never your thing.” And to quote Nicki Minaj: “I give zero f—s, and I got zero chill in me.”

I actually enjoy reading blogs that obliterate my wrinkled sundresses and tell me my hair makes me look like an ’80s cartoon (I’ll analyze that in therapy later). Plus, this research has also allowed me to hone in on the best way to annoy people with my clothes, and I’ve reduced it to five simple rules. So join me, won’t you? It’s actually pretty fun, like a prank that never ends.

1. Don’t pay any attention to what’s considered “appropriate” for your body type.

Ya got some powerful thighs? Wear a satin shirt with house slippers and nothing else. No boobs? Let your neckline plunge like you’re J. Lo at the Grammys. Bend the rules because not only were they made to be broken, but they weren’t ever rules in the first place. Also, show your belly button even if it’s pale and mottled.

2. Make yourself laugh.

One of my favorite designers is the brilliant and daring Giambattista Valli, who designed my 2014 Emmys dress [pictured above]. I loved it because it was gorgeous, but I also loved it because I looked like a riot grrrl cake topper. I was deeply amused by myself when I left the house. I knew I wasn’t dressed like a siren—I was dressed like a piece of French pastry. That made people angry, and someone even dressed a goat up like me on Instagram.

3. Let your seams show.

A wrinkled shirt here, a visible panty line there. Give people a nervous breakdown by letting them in on the secret that even celebrities don’t have a full-time wedgie picker following them around—and even if they could, they might want to use their resources some other way. If you really wanna make a fashion blogger crazy, do not hem your pants.

4. Have a grand old time.

I smile in almost every picture. Sometimes I cackle. This is breaking form with what seems to be an almost unanimous decision to wear high fashion with the grim bearing of a girl attending a wake. Usually on a red carpet I run into a woman I love, or a photographer says something insane, and I open my mouth into the kind of joyous laugh that melts my own icy heart. This also means I look happy to be wearing my dress. Scandalous!

5. Choose comfortable shoes.

I was once told I took the Golden Globes stage like a baby giraffe learning to walk or possibly dying. And it’s true! My heels almost killed me. So I now make an effort to wear shoes built for a human girl. Loafers. Flats. Kitten heels. Well, that won’t fly either. It appears I’m not meant to wear flats but rather must learn to walk in the treacherous stilettos that almost sent me to whatever heaven clothing-related death victims congregate in. (I see you, Isadora Duncan.) But guess what? I don’t care.

Because, as I mentioned before, it turns out trolling the people who professionally critique fashion can be a real joy too.

Postscript: I’ve been wearing a hoodie that says “Free the pimple” for a week, often with only boots and a choker. I’ve graduated a level and am very proud of myself.

For more stories like this, pick up InStyle's March issue, on newsstands and available for digital download Feb. 10.