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."
Like Lara Jean Covey, the "To All the Boys" character she completely embodied and made us fall in love with, Lana Condor has moved onto the next exciting stage in her career — and then some. She's spreading her wings with challenging projects, including the sci-fi (and rom-com — very intrigued) movie "Moonshot," alongside Cole Sprouse, plus adding the executive producer title to her resume (as well as starring in, of course) Netflix's upcoming comedy series "Boo, Bitch."
The incredibly down-to-earth Condor has also grown into style star status with the help of stylist Tara Swennen. (See: her "To All the Boys: Always and Forever" virtual premieres and press outings.) She recently hosted the Costume Designers Guild Awards in an edgy lace cut-out Christian Siriano gown and, in support of AAPI designers, a sculptural Prabal Gurung Fall 2020 ensemble. She graced the cover of Self in sharp power-shouldered Balenciaga and stunned in a dreamy Vogue Singapore feature in Jonathan Simkhai and Ulla Johnson. And just last week, she released her first-ever fashion collaboration, with Vera Bradley.
The actor teamed up with the brand on its Recycled Cotton Collection of colorfully minimalist bags for all occasions. And, in a moment of nostalgia while Zooming with Fashionista, Condor revealed a trait she very much has in common with diligent dreamer Lara Jean.
"When it comes to bags, one of my gauges is: It has to big enough to carry a book and an iPad, because I'll keep my scripts on my iPad," she says, with her infectious smile, while displaying the solid black Lana Utility Backpack (below), complete with very LJ-esque pink trim that Condor herself suggested. "I'm a bigger bag girl, because I can't go anywhere without my books. Like, it makes me feel happy to have a book whenever I want."
The utilitarian aesthetic is a departure for the early-2000s accessories brand, most known for its quilted floral totes and duffels — which Zoomers are now scouring for on resale sites. Understandably, the 24-year-old doesn't have a super clear memory of that era. ("Those smaller purses are definitely coming back ... and I remember having one when I was a kid, but ... ")
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Ahead, we talk to Condor about how Lara Jean and Swennen have influenced her style, why it's important to support your causes through shopping and what treasures from her closet spark joy (and made it through a recent Konmari session with boyfriend Anthony De La Torre).
"I definitely think Lara Jean has made me wear more pinks and more skirts. I love a miniskirt — they're so cute. But I gotta say, Lara Jean's fashion is much better than mine. She [and the trilogy's two costume designers, Rafaella Rabinovich and Lorraine Carson] just put pieces together that I would never think to put together. So she's smarter in that capacity .
"I would say, just every day — like not on a carpet or something like that — my style is comfort first. I always try to wear things that I feel really comfortable and safe in. When I say, 'safe,' I mean, like, I feel at peace in my body. I love a perfect white T-shirt, which is so hard to find, but when you [do], you hold on to it like it's the last diamond on Earth. I always go for a white tee with structured boyfriend thrifted denim in black — beautiful and chic. And I love gold accessories: gold hoops or chains or big chunky rings. That's my everyday uniform. It's just comfortable, but stylish across the board.
"Working with Tara — T — she's really helped push me to try new things. We just did the Costume Designers Guild Awards together, and I was obsessed. We've been sweatpants all year, so I wanted to go more costume-y. That's gonna be my vibe, I think. I don't know, we'll see. Every day that changes. But I do think that with red carpets coming up, I want to go big.
"Within fashion and beauty — skincare and makeup and everything — a huge passion of mine is to lift up, amplify and wear products that are from Asian designers or founders. One of my favorite skincare brands, 5Yina, is founded by two Asian women who are marrying traditional Chinese medicine with Western influences. One of my favorite jewelry lines is a Vietnamese-owned brand called Paris Jewellers; they're based in Canada and I love wearing their pieces.
"What we put on our body says a lot about what we believe in. You can make that choice, when you put yourself out there, to stand up for what you believe in and represent your people and your beliefs.
"With Vera Bradley, the sustainable aspect was one of the biggest things for me, because, as far as I know, we have one planet to live on, so we have to protect it, and we have to do what we can when we shop. I pass a lot of my pieces down to my cousins, and I like to shop sustainably because it's love for our planet. Also, thrifting: You're getting something, from someone, that's well-loved. I have a collection of those worn, oversized graphic tees of bands or cartoons that I've never watched, but I think look cool [laughs]. I mean, I know Nirvana — like I know them, but I listen to Taylor Swift. But I don't wear the T-shirts out that often. I like to wear them as cozy pieces in the house. I'm really into denim right now. I'm constantly on the search for a great, classic Levi's from a thrift store.
"This year, it's really been shopping online, but I prefer to go in stores because I like to try things on. I like to touch it, feel it. Am I an impulse shopper?! Yeah! I think I am an impulse shopper! Well, I haven't gotten [my latest item yet], but I'm close to getting it. My birthday is coming up and I'm trying to be good, but there's this opal ring... I love my rings. But it would definitely be impulsive.
"Anthony, my boyfriend, and I just did a huge Marie Kondo of our house. Top-to-bottom. I could get rid of everything, except for bags. Bags and rings are my thing. I'm so obsessed with bags and rings. He's much better at letting go of things, like I'm like, 'No, but this one has sentimental value. This one brings me joy!' Anthony's like, 'Decluttering will bring us joy.' But honestly, we watched the Marie Kondo Netflix special and then we did exactly what she said: We thanked the pieces and then we held them and were like, 'Does this spark joy?' If it didn't, we would just say, 'Thank you for keeping me warm,' and put it away. We really followed it to the T.
"There are a couple pieces that I kept — that I've worn for carpets or that different designers gave me — that I can't bear to let go of mainly because I just feel honored. Marie Kondo, she told me I could keep them, as they spark joy! There's my first pair of Chloé shoes that are my first big designer purchase. I kept a Miu Miu piece that I wore years ago [to party celebrating Miu Miu's 'Women's Tales' short film series in January 2019]: a sparkly black dress with stars on it. I was obsessed with it. There was a Sea New York piece that I wore on James Corden that I kept and loved — it's like a classic lace sleeve dress.
"I wore a couple Diane von Furstenberg pieces when I did a speech at the Library of Congress, with Hillary Clinton, [for the 2020 DVF Awards, above]. I was like, 'I have to keep that.' I just will never get rid of them. Hopefully, I will pass it on."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.