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."
As the titular queen bee, "Selah and the Spades" star Lovie Simone is a formidable presence on-screen, whether she's demonstrating new cheer-team choreography or parleying with fellow students (slash illicit-activity-conducting factions). In real life, the actor is an incredibly sweet and thoughtful conversationalist. (I was expecting a Friday afternoon call from a weary publicist to connect, but it's Simone herself. "Hi! It's Lovie.'" Me: "Oh, um, hi.")
The indie film, premiering on Amazon Prime Video today, made waves after its 2019 debut at Sundance. Director and writer Tayarisha Poe refers it as "'The Godfather' meets 'The Baby-Sitters Club,'" which sounds exactly right: Set at an elite boarding school, it follows senior Selah Summers, who is a charming exemplar and an intimidating — if not terrifying — adversary, as BFF Maxxie (real-life friend and Emmy-winner Jharrel Jerome) and protégée Paloma (Celeste O'Connor) know all too well.
"I'm an introvert naturally," says Simone, who decamped from filming a new project in New York to stay with her family in Atlanta amid the pandemic. "I call myself 'the friendly antisocial' sometimes."
She found herself connecting more with underclassman Paloma's relaxed, arty-influenced style and demeanor rather than Selah's prep-school aesthetic and hard-line approach. "I walk around a lot looking like Paloma on my off-days — like the natural hair, boots, cargo pants. All of it is me," she says. "With a lot of Selah's lines to Paloma, I was just like, 'Wow, you're talking to yourself right now.'"
But both Selah and Simone use fashion to claim their space and take charge of their own narratives. During a team practice scene, Selah explains how the cheerleaders deciding on the length and cut of their mini-skirted uniforms empowers the young women. Simone, meanwhile, says "the way I dress myself — and how I step out into the world — definitely have an impact on how I'm gonna move, talk and feel." One way that manifests for her personally is through color: "I'm very big on color therapy, so there are certain colors that hold energy and power for me that day. So I can walk in the right mood or energy. Just to be aligned with how I'm feeling." (She's feeling relaxed that day, thus pastel blue and green, if you're wondering.)
The Bronx-born, Orange County-raised actor considers her first big break to have have been her role as Zora, the also-high-achieving teenage granddaughter on the OWN series "Greenleaf." It also offered the privilege of working with co-star and executive producer, Oprah Winfrey.
"I'm very observant. So just by watching her, I was able to know how to go through this industry and just stay true [to myself]," explains Simone. "She has a lot of pressure [on her] and a lot of things to do, but she still finds the time to smile, be graceful and not get too overwhelmed by everything going on. That's very inspirational to me and what I took from her."
The 21-year-old continues to apply those lessons to an impressive lineup projects, including the much-anticipated Zoe Lister-Jones remake — or continuation? — of the 1996 teen horror flick, "The Craft." While the plot is shrouded in mystery, we do know that the main group of — just guessing here — witches include Simone as Tabby, plus Gideon Adlon ("Blockers"), Cailee Spaeny ("On the Basis of Sex" and "Vice") and Zoey Luna ("Pose").
Below, Simone drops some clues about Tabby that I definitely need to parse, plus how she gained style confidence through costume designers (including Avery Plewes on "The Craft"), where she shops for spiritual accessories and why her mom is the biggest influence on her skincare routine.
"I'm most definitely learning how to dress with every role that I get, because the more I work with costume designers — from 'Greenleaf' to 'Selah and The Spades' to [HBO social media thriller] 'Share' to 'The Craft' — the more inspiration I get from them. I can see the world through their eyes. They're all so different and they all have these different perspectives that I very much am in love with. I feel like I'm evolving with my style as I'm going through this.
"Avery is the one who let me know that you can get inspiration from literally everything. Before, it was hard for me to figure out my style because I didn't know or I didn't want to really stay true to the things that I like. But with getting dressed based off of Tabby — and her element, too, which is fire — I was like, 'Got it.' I can pick this up a little faster, and I can dress around things that I like.
"I actually was talking to my sister about my personal style the other day and I came to the conclusion that I want to give off the vibes of a fairy warrior. I'm very feminine, but I do have my masculine side. I also feel that out of all my roles, my character in 'The Craft,' Tabby, captures that fairy-warrior style the most for me. Because she's very much a teenage girl — and is into being comfy — but [her style] also takes inspiration from video games, like Call of Duty or Mortal Kombat.
"I also like pull inspiration from the '90s a lot, because another thing for me is comfort. During that time, girls were wearing the baggy jeans and boots, so I'm very into that. I have this blue flow-y dress from Free People and I pair it with this black belt and sneakers to be comfy, of course. I just wear my hair up with a little bit of bangs in my face to give me that feel. Or I'll wear a sweater with some baggy jeans and denim vest.
"I personally like shopping in the actual stores. I just like being in that environment, so I can see what I really want in that moment. But I don't really shop at your 'normal' stores. I like thrifting and going to vintage stores a lot. It's a competitive thing, and it's also a creative thing. A lot of my style is older mixed with the modern. I don't shop too often, either — I just do what's necessary when I need some clothes.
"I have a lot of coats that I've found while vintage shopping and a lot of them [have] the 1970s kind of feel — brown with fur cuffs and collars. I'll find jewelry, like rings and earrings, mostly. I love thrifting earrings, which, is very underrated. I have these turquoise earrings and I absolutely love them because they have gold accents. Everything I have has to have a vibrant color to it, so I love turquoise, oranges and golds. I'm a gold girl, rather than silver.
"I'm very into dressing with crystals. I have a necklace that's made out of copper and it has clear quartz in it. Clear quartz is for having clarity and is an all-purpose stone. That's the whole color therapy thing. So when I dress based on colors, I also pick the colors of the crystals I want to bring with me for that day. Sometimes they'll be in my earrings.
"I have these butterfly earrings made out of a deceased butterfly. But I got the earrings made after the butterfly died. I go to this this spiritual bookstore in Atlanta called Phoenix & Dragon. It's where I get my sage and my crystals and my singing bowls and all of that stuff. They have a jewelry section with a whole bunch of earrings just made out of butterfly wings.
"My mom has an organic skincare business and e-commerce site, Solo's Eclipse, which also sells moonstones. There was a period in time, from when I was 16 until 19 and I was suffering from cystic acne, like bad, and it was giving me anxiety — especially because I had just started working on 'Greenleaf.' I was wearing makeup every day for 16 hours and it was really messing with my self-esteem to the point where I wouldn't go outside without makeup. One day I was like, 'I need to try something different' — because I tried all the products and they didn't work. My mom was like, 'Listen, I'm just going to make stuff for you. I know your skin best.'
"So my mom just started making these creams, then soaps and scrubs, and then eventually started selling them. She also has sage and smudge kits on her site, too. So we're also incorporating our spirituality with it. Because I have really dry skin and eczema, the Moon Butter and the Moon Glow Face Serum oil help me the most. So now that's where I go to. The face oil that is literally the reason why every girl on Instagram is asking me for my skincare routine. So that brings me to life every time."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.