At only 21, actress Ellie Bamber has already walked in a Chanel show, starred in a film by Tom Ford, and soared to the top of practically every best-dressed list, so it’s pretty clear she doesn’t need any help in the style department. But still, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms star isn’t above taking some outfit pointers from one of her fashion icons.
For InStyle’s February issue, we connected Bamber with her current style crush, Jessica Biel who has been charming us for the last two decades with her chic choices (ahh, the 7thHeaven days). During the chat, Biel reminisced about some of her most memorable looks and also got candid about what she wishes she would’ve known back when she was a red carpet newbie. Her biggest regret? All those years of dressing sexy.
“I wish I would’ve explored some different shapes, and not gone so sexy all the time,” she told Bamber. “I think if you look at some of my earlier choices, maybe it didn’t need to always be about the body. I know it’s a vibe that you feel when you’re young, but still that’s what I would’ve done a little differently.”
Biel also opened up about being a bit of late bloomer when it came to the whole fashion thing altogether. It wasn’t until her 20s, she said, that she finally started moving past her tomboy days. “It took me a minute to get into those types of womanly things, like bags and shoes, but in my early 20s a light bulb went off and I was like, ‘Oh, I get it now.’” The actress’s first major designer splurge? A black leather Marc Jacobs bag, which she recalls being “super-high end at the time.”
Ellie Bamber: Jessica, first I have to tell you I loved The Sinner so much. I’m just getting into the second season right now.
Jessica Biel: Yay! Season two is just as crazy and weird.
EB: I’m very excited. And I also love your style. Your day-to-day look is so cool and effortless and then the gowns you choose for the red carpet have such simplicity and grace.
JB: Thank you, gosh! For me, fashion is fun because you can be one thing one moment, and something completely different another moment. I just try to find a balance. Some things that are super fashion don’t make a lot of sense on the red carpet. My off-duty look is usually just jean on jean with a pair of high-tops.
EB: Same. When I go to the pub, it’s almost always Air Force 1s with jeans. Do you have a piece that you’re living in right now?
JB: Yeah, I have an oversized embroidered jean jacket that’s on 100 percent repeat. It’s by Russian designer Katya Dobryakova and pretty affordable too. And when it comes to jeans, I’m loving my Re/Done Levi’s. Mother and AMO denim are great too.
EB: I have loads of jeans, but then I only wear like four pairs, which always include my AMOS. That white strapless dress that you wore to the Emmys last year was so gorgeous [above]. Was it a favorite of yours?
JB: Definitely, but it’s tough to play favorites. I feel like I need to Google myself and look at all the previous stuff. The other one that pops into my head was the sheer red Giambattista Valli gown I wore to The A-Teampremière [below]. I remember feeling incredible on that day in that dress. How about you?
EB: I love wearing Chanel. I wore a beautiful black Chanel Métiers d’Art dress when I walked in their show in Tokyo. I loved it so much that I asked if I could also wear it to my first Vanity Fair Oscar party [below]. It was kind of weird that I wore it twice, but I didn’t care [laughs].
JB: I think that’s great. I always go back to Giamba over and over again because of his feminine and romantic style. He also made my wedding dress, so there’s a little nostalgia there.
EB: Sweet! I’ve also loved every single Tom Ford dress that I have ever worn. He really crafts them to how your body is shaped. On the set of Nocturnal Animals, I remember he’d always wear denim on denim too, with a cowboy hat.
JB: He did? Well, I love him even more now.
EB: He wears everything with absolute confidence, and that has always stayed with me. Who has given you the best fashion advice?
JB: I’d say my stylists Rob [Zangardi] and Mariel [Haenn]. It’s sort of like what you were saying about Tom — they’ve helped me understand that I just need to dress for me and genuinely go with whatever makes me feel confident.
EB: Yeah, there was a moment when I tried to follow all of the trends, but then I realized that’s just not feasible [laughs]. Is there anything you wish you would’ve known about fashion when you were starting out?
JB: I wish I would’ve explored some different shapes, and not gone so sexy all the time. I think if you look at some of my earlier choices, maybe it didn’t need to always be about the body. I know it’s a vibe that you feel when you’re young, but still that’s what I would’ve done a little differently.
EB: I’m going to take that onboard now too. How about shopping — are you into vintage?
JB: I do like vintage clothing, but I’m not a good digger, that’s my problem. Knowing where to go and how to find those amazing pieces — that’s what I need to work on [laughs].
EB: Do you have any cool vintage hand-me-downs from your mom or your grandmother?
JB: I have some amazing costume jewelry from my grandmother. She had the best style — very simple and classic. I had a few of her pearl pieces remade for my bridesmaids to wear in my wedding.
EB: I also just saw that you’re designing a yoga collection. What’s that been like?
JB: Yes! It’s a collaboration with the yoga brand, Gaiam. Basically it’s cool, comfortable clothes for all types of fitness or just for living, going to the store, picking up your kids. It has really been fun to dip my toe into the pond and figure out how to combine fashion with function, so people can actually work out in the clothes. We’re working on the new collection now.
EB: I’ll keep an eye out for it. After I finished Nocturnal Animals, I went to Flight Club in New York and bought a really expensive pair of trainers. What was your first big splurge?
JB: It took me a minute to get into those types of womanly things, like bags and shoes, but in my early 20s a light bulb went off and I was like, “Oh, I get it now.” So I remember buying a black leather Marc Jacobs bag, which was super-high end to me at the time. It was a big deal.
EB: Last question: Whose fashion opinion do you trust the most?
JB: My husband’s, for sure. I say, “Justin, does this work? What’s wrong with it? And how do I fix it?’ He is my best fashion bounce-off.