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.”
Kathryn Newton may seem to have popped up in all of our faves as of late — the definitive prom/lose your virginity comedy “Blockers” (or “BLOCKERS FOREVER” as Liza replied to my email), HBO’s star-studded prestige drama “Big Little Lies” and Post Malone’s video for “Goodbyes” (nearly 106 million views and counting) — but she’s actually been in our consciousness and on our screens, big and small, since she played toddler Colby Chandler on “All My Children.”
Her resumé reads like our must-watch lists: “Supernatural,” “Halt and Catch Fire,” Netflix’s “The Society,” plus a small role as Darlene in “Lady Bird” and as the controversial Amy March in the 2018 “Little Women” TV mini-series. Next, on Friday, Nov. 13, Newtons kills — har har — in horror comedy “Freaky,” in which she inhabits two roles. (Get it, like Freaky Friday the 13th?) Thanks to a magic dagger, soft-spoken teen Millie swaps bodies with a deranged serial killer nicknamed the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn). Waking up in Millie’s body, Butcher rejects his vessel’s thrift store floral dresses and hand-me-down cardigans for an intimidating red leather moto, a sleek black bodysuit and very good high-waisted jeans, as costume designed by Whitney Anne Adams (above).
“Today, I’m totally channeling my Butcher,” explains Newton, clad in a version of her killer alter-ego’s style, over Zoom. “I have a red leather jacket. I’m really trying to cosplay and get into that vibe. But I’m more Millie, my style. I’m grandma vibes. Man Repeller vibes.”
She’s really understating her legit fashion cred. Newton is one of those few famous people who doesn’t work with a stylist, but tops all our best dressed lists. She’s racked up an impressive series of partnerships with designers, including St. John (this co-ord set!) and Valentino (her favorite), and has also quickly become a front row regular at fashion week shows, from Ralph Lauren to Ralph & Russo to Christian Dior Haute Couture.
Also, at her day job, Newton works with some of the most stylish actors in the biz, especially her on-screen mothers: Kerry Bishé in “Halt and Catch Fire” and Reese Witherspoon and Zoë Kravitz (her mom and stepmom, respectively) in “Big Little Lies.”
“Zoë’s just classic rock ‘n’ roll, untouchably cool,” sighs Newton, as I frantically nod in agreement into my camera. “What I’ve learned mostly from Zoë — because she’s a fashion icon, obviously — is to just rock it. Whatever you wear, rock it and don’t care what anybody else thinks. You shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks because you’re wearing it for you.”
When Newton isn’t hard at work on set, she’s perfecting her golf game. Merging two of her talents, she recently starred in the Spring 2020 campaign for Ralph Lauren Polo Golf women’s line — which also added to her ballooning golf-wear collection.
“Who hasn’t redone their whole closet?” Newton says, of her recent quarantine project. “Recently, I put all my golf clothes in color-coordinated situations: all my pinks, all my blues, all my greens. It makes it so much easier. I don’t know why I’ve never done that before. Golf clothes always look good together mixed-and-matched, like pink, green and gray, blue and yellow, pink and red. So I like to be able to see the colors and make my outfit that way.”
Below, Newton shares which designer red carpet dress she re-wore to her own prom (flex), how she copped Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s sneakers and what sparked her lifelong interest in fashion.
“I was four years old and on a soap opera called ‘All My Children,’ and they had this wardrobe room with all these dresses — for miles and miles is what it felt like. It was this mirrored room and I would go in there and look at all the dresses and play with them all. From a young age I was just inspired, because I was surrounded by so many artists.
“As I’ve gotten older, [my interest in fashion] hasn’t left me. When I was in school, I would make the worst fashion decisions, and I still do. I wear whatever I want that makes me feel good. If you look at my Instagram, you can see some of the crazy things that I wear. But that’s just a reflection of how I am on the inside. My fashion is definitely who I am on the day: You can catch me in sweatpants most of the time, but if I have the opportunity to wear a big fantasy gown, I’m gonna do it — I’m gonna rock it because it’s fun.
“My career has never been something where I needed a stylist. It’s more I’ve been really lucky to get to work with brands, like Valentino, because I love the brand. I feel so lucky to have been dressed by them and Katie Goodwin [the brand’s director of entertainment relations].
“I get a lot of red carpet inspiration from whatever project I’m doing. [For the ‘Freaky’ press day] I wanted to keep it in the leather world — very ‘Halloween’ and kind of hot, like badass. Whereas when I was doing ‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu,’ I was all into the jiggly puffs, Pokémon and Harajuku, making it cute and fun. I get inspired by the story and I let that take me.
“As my career progresses, I just pull things from my closet, too. When I did ‘Little Women,’ I had this Gucci dress [above] that I bought on sale and I hadn’t worn it for like two years. It was the perfect time to pull it out because it had the up-collar and buttons, but it was still modern because it was blue chiffon. It was of the time, but also a callback to clearly being inspired by back in the day. ‘Little House on the Prairie’ vibes.
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“I don’t think you always have to wear things that are brand new to be stylish. I really do mix vintage and things that are new, just to mix it up. I will keep something forever and cherish it. I got a nice little collection going now. A lot of vintage Chanel pieces that I’ll find on location. I don’t really buy things full price. If you know me, I don’t like shopping and trying on clothes. But sometimes you find things and they remind you of a time that’s special.
“When I was 12 years old, I bought a Valentino dress [from the Resort 2011 collection, above] for my premiere of ‘Bad Teacher’ and wore it again to my prom. It was mostly amazing because the first time I went to a Valentino show, I told Pierpaolo about it and he knew the outfit! There’s so much heart and love that goes into these pieces. It’s not just about the dress — it’s the story behind each piece. So, for me, I have a story now in that dress, and everyone really loved my dress!
“It’s how you wear it. If it speaks to you, you can wear anything. If you rock it and you feel good in it, that’s what people are gonna like. That’s the truth. I recently wore a beautiful neon haute couture orange dress by Valentino to the SAG Awards [below]. It was like this crazy orange color and everyone on my team was like, ‘I don’t know. It’s a little much. Are you sure?’ I was like, ‘I feel amazing in this dress. I feel incredible, so I’m going to wear it.’ And I did, and everyone loved it. But if I had been out there and felt uncomfortable, it probably wouldn’t have gone over too well.
“I guess the reason I hate shopping is because I’ll walk into a store and want everything. I’ll want everything and not get it and then the next day, I’ll forget about it. But if I can think about something and it stays with me, then that means I gotta have it. But most of the time, things go on sale, so I’m like, ‘Just wait it out and go vintage shopping when you need to.’ If you’re gonna wear it every day, it’s always worth it. I’m that kind of person. I don’t know about you, but I’ll wear the same outfit every day for like a month.
“Like, I got — on sale — a Gucci blazer and Gucci pants from two different collections that I found in a boutique. I have worn them for like five years or more now. I’ll never forget, the first time I had a meeting in the Condé Nast building, when I stopped at the Vogue level, I just stood outside the door and pretended I was going to see Anna Wintour and I was stepping into Miranda Priestley’s office.
“I wear that Gucci blazer all the time. I’ll wear it to dinner. I’ll wear it with my friends. It just looks good with everything. That’s a piece that I’ll have forever. I bought my first Chanel bag in Paris; it’s pink and it’s fluffy and it’s a backpack and I’m gonna keep that forever. Of course, I have my classic sweatpants. My Gucci sweatpants — that are just ridiculous — that I wear every day.
“Also, I have a pair of Valentino sneakers. I saw Pierpaolo wearing them after the show in Paris and I was like, ‘I really like your sneakers.’ Then the next day, I had a box of sneakers and I was so dead. You have no idea. I wore them to shreds, like to shreds. They were falling apart, so they gave me another pair.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Homepage image: Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Image