Busy Philipps on Family, Finance, and Finding a New Sense of Style in NYC
The Girls5eva actress tells InStyle all about her evolving style, her rocky history with money, and the unexpected items she's bought since making the move to New York City.
Imagine, for a second, that Busy Philipps was your mom, giving you full access to her closet and, therefore, every stunning designer piece she owns. Well, for her two kids, Birdie and Cricket, that's the reality, and while talking to InStyle over the phone, the actress, author, and social media must-follow paints a good picture of what's going on in her house.
"Birdie's home from school today and currently floating around in the viral strawberry dress and a pair of Rachel Comey booties that, well, apparently, they're Birdie's now," Philipps tells us, adding that it's Birdie, who uses they/them pronouns, who is the fashion and makeup lover out of her two kids.
"I love how much they love to dress up and that they have very specific aesthetics," she continues, proudly. "When I was a kid, my mom and I didn't wear the same size, and she wasn't really into fashion. My mom was a real estate agent in Scottsdale, Arizona — she wore Chicos. Like, at 15, I'm not feeling my mom's Chicos. I say to Birdie, 'Do you understand how insanely lucky you are that anything you could possibly come up with, that you want to look like, I have in my closet?' I've gone through all of those phases, and I really have held onto so much."
Philipps, of course, hasn't just gone through phases when it comes to fashion. The Girls5eva star has also had plenty of experiences with money, and openly admits to struggling a bit early on in her career.
"I felt really confused, overwhelmed, and also embarrassed to talk about it. I didn't know how to save money or budget well," she tells us. "It's one of those things that can get away from you so quickly, and because people aren't having these conversations, they can find themselves — like many did this past year — in really unfortunate situations, or in situations where they really feel like they don't have any options."
It's that history with money that made Philipps so excited to partner with Credit Karma, a company that helps people build a better financial future. With the site and the app, users are able keep track of their credit score for free, find out about loans, open a credit card, and even work on savings.
"They want people to feel confident and in control of their finances, and really have tried to make it accessible and start these conversations," she says. "They also launched Credit Karma Money, which is very much rooted in helping everyone be thoughtful about how to save and spend, and they have checking and savings accounts. There's also this thing called Instant Karma, which I love because when you use your debit card, you get a chance to just be reimbursed instantly. Whatever your charge, it could just be wiped clean."
All this talk about fashion and money had us feeling a little curious about a topic that perfectly merges the two: investment pieces. With Philipps' packed wardrobe on the brain, we wanted to know more about some of the oldest items she owns — things she'll never get rid of, because they hold more value than just the price tag.
"I have my mother's wedding dress from the '60s, which was an A-line shift dress, and it's so cute," the actress reveals. "She also has these amazing sort of muumuus, I guess, from when she was in Hawaii when my dad was stationed there. I love those, too. I wear them."
And, somewhere in between her new favorite designers, such as Autumn Adeigbo and Royal Jelly Harlem (which she collaborated with on a summer dress collection), Philipps is storing a special dress that once made a red carpet appearance.
"One piece that I love and am so grateful that I bought is this polka-dotted Dolce & Gabbana gown that I wore for the Golden Globes with Michelle [Williams], the year before she won for My Week with Marilyn," Philipps says. "I was on Cougar Town at the time and couldn't get in to do a fitting with my stylist, Karla Welch — I think it was just very much last minute that I was even going. My friend, Irene Neuwirth, who's a jewelry designer, was at Barney's (RIP), and texted me a picture of that dress, like, 'You should just wear this to the Golden Globes.' I put it on my credit card and I actually think somebody from the wardrobe department at Cougar Town went and picked it up for me, and it fit perfectly. I just loved that dress, and I still do love that dress. I'm holding on to it. I'm sure when Birdie finds that dress in my closet, it's over."
Yet, while Philipps might be hanging onto old fashion items, she does reveal that her sense of style has changed since making the move from Los Angeles to New York.
"It's so hard to dress here!" she says, noting that she's had to sacrifice heels and cute shoes for practical pairs that are built for walking. "In Los Angeles, I would put on clothing to get into my air-conditioned car, drive around, get out, walk into a place, sit down. I mean, I'm angry with Sex and the City. I feel like I'm blaming Carrie Bradshaw and Michael Patrick King, because they just fed me a bunch of lies in my early 20s, thinking I could live in New York and still dress the way that I dressed in LA. That's just not true; I've had to make some adjustments."
As for the pieces Philipps has started incorporating?
"I had to invest in more boots that I can wear with dresses and things, and — this is going to sound weird — but yesterday, I was going out wearing a really cute little shift Doên dress, and I was like, 'Oh, I need to put on shorts underneath.' Because if it's windy, I just didn't feel comfortable not having shorts on, you know? It's not like it was a super short dress or anything, it's just all of a sudden, those things now occurred to me. Now I'm investing in tap shorts and boots, I guess."