When Laverne Cox first stepped on screen in the first season of Orange Is the New Black, it wasn't just her Emmy-nominated portrayal of lovable hair guru Sophia that left us mesmerized, but her flawless red-carpet style and beauty looks that made us pay extra attention once awards season rolled around.
In honor of her 31st birthday, we dug through the archives to find our exclusive interview with Cox from InStyle's November 2014 issue. Ahead, read an excerpt from our talk with the star, who dishes all things fashion, beauty, and Orange.
Red carpets and parties mean many outfits. Do you have any go-to designers?
The thing is, if you're not sample size, it gets very tricky. It's rare for designers to do a size 10 sample, which is what I am. I've been very lucky with pieces by Marc Bouwer, Donna Karan, and Hervé Léger by Max Azria.
What do you think works best for you?
Really, it's about knowing my body and showing off this body I've worked so hard for. I'm a self-made woman in every sense of the word—well, with some medical help [laughs]. But every woman needs to figure out how she wants to dress and present herself to the world. I love high fashion, but a lot of it is not made for curvy girls. I had a makeover show on VH1, and I came up with this acronym I still live by: FFPS.
I won't even attempt to guess what that stands for.
It's for "fit, fabric, proportion, and silhouette." Take fabric—there's wonderful clothing at discount stores that can look expensive. Most of my adult life I haven't had any money, but I've learned how to look pulled together. As for fit, tailoring is so important, and proportion and silhouette are about truly understanding your body and how things fall on your curves.
Growing up, who were some of your fashion icons?
When I was young, I was really into Leontyne Price. She was the first international black opera diva. My mother gave me this black-history book when I was a kid. Leontyne wore a turban, and she had big lips, high cheekbones, and dark skin like me. She was so elegant and had so much dignity and a tremendous amount of glamour. Leontyne was my first icon, but then, of course, there was Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, and Annie Lennox. There was something about those '80s folks that spoke to me and gave me space to be myself.