Dakota Johnson and Cailee Spaeny on Their Best Fashion Moments — and the Ones They'd Rather Forget

These former co-stars bonded over fashion, and the rest is red carpet history.

Dakota Johnson/Cailee Spaeny
Photo: Eric Charbonneau/Shutterstock

When Dakota Johnson and Cailee Spaeny first met on the set of 2018’s Bad Times at the El Royale, something just clicked. Spaeny, 22, who was a relative newcomer at the time (she’s since gone on to star in critically acclaimed hits like On the Basis of Sex and Vice), says she’ll never forget how her co-star took her under her wing as they went into rehearsals.

“I can get super tunnel vision when I’m nervous and Dakota just looked right in my eyes and was basically like, ‘I’m gonna take care of you on this journey,’” says Spaeny. “And she did! She was so kind and lovely and right alongside me for every single moment.”

In between takes, Spaeny and Johnson got to know each other by doing PopSugar quizzes together, like “What Disney princess are you?” (“I think I was Snow White and Cailee was Ariel,” laughs Johnson.) But the other major thing they bonded over? A shared love of fashion, of course.

So when we asked Spaeny to pick her current style inspiration for InStyle’s March Style Crush chat, it was no surprise that Johnson’s name popped right into her head. “What I love most is how effortless Dakota’s style is,” says Spaeny. “All of her streetwear is so cool and laid back, but she still manages to look so pulled together.” The two pals also talked shop about their favorite red carpet looks, biggest style regrets (low-rise jeans! Crocs!), and why you won’t see Johnson in a high fashion harness anytime soon.

Read on for their full chat below.

CAILEE SPAENY: So, Dakota, you already know how much I love you, so it’ll be easy to talk about your style right now. Your looks are just full-on cool girl. You have this perfect, effortless mix with all your blazers and your distressed jeans.

DAKOTA JOHNSON: Aw, Cailee! But, you know, I’m a real slob, and when you throw a blazer over anything, it looks chic.

CS: OK, that’s true. [laughs]

DJ: You know, I love you too. When we first met [on the set of Bad Times at the El Royale], I thought you were the most intense young woman I’d ever met. When you’re nervous, you just get really serious. But it comes off like, “I am as deep as the ocean.”

CS: Oh my god, I’m so red right now. But then you were basically like, “I’m gonna take care of you on this journey.” And you did! We would always do those PopSugar quizzes together, like “What flavor ice cream are you?” or “What Disney princess are you?”

DJ: I think I was Snow White and you were Ariel. I take those quizzes seriously. I learned a lot about myself. [laughs]

Dakota Johnson
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

CS: My favorite thing that you’ve worn was that pink Gucci bedazzled dress at the première of Bad Times [above]. So dreamy.

DJ: That was a good one. I loved your short hair at that première.

CS: Thanks! I just cut my hair even shorter and I feel so badass. It’s freeing. I just spray on some dry shampoo and I’m out the door.

DJ: That’s the best. What’s been your favorite look so far?

Cailee Spaeny

CS: At the Rome Film Festival I wore a seafoam green Valentino dress that I loved [above]. I also have to say, I loved everything you wore to the Toronto Film Festival last year.

DJ: That green Valentino gown was one of my all-time favorites [below]. It looked like a pretty artichoke.

Dakota Johnson
Brian de Rivera Simon/Getty

CS: The one thing that I wear over and over are my Chuck Taylors. What fashion item are you obsessed with right now?

DJ: Jumpsuits. I just got this great Dries Van Noten one. But it’s a problem because now jumpsuits are all I want to wear.

CS: You wore a blue jumpsuit with a scrunchie on your wrist to the Independent Spirit Awards [below]. I just looked it up.

DJ: I did. That scrunchie was from [my stylist] Kate Young. But I do love them — I have tons all over my house right now.

Dakota Johnson
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

CS: On the red carpet I’m always just trying to find that balance of feeling sexy and confident but also comfortable.

DJ: Same. Fashion can be so crazy. Someone like Timothée Chalamet looks amazing in, like, a harness, but that’s wild to me. I’ve never had the desire to wear something like that.

CS: I’m so awful in heels that sometimes I have to go over to my stylist Chris Classen’s house and have heel rehearsals.

Cailee Spaeny
Dominique Charriau/Getty

DJ: No, you don’t! Oh, heavens. [laughs]

CS: I do! I have to work on my face poses too. Duck face is no good.

DJ: I never want to feel any more uncomfortable than I already do on the carpet. But it will always be strange to have so much scrutiny on your appearance. Like, everyone was freaking out when they thought that I’d closed the gap in my teeth.

CS: Oh, right! That was crazy.

DJ: The whole thing was a nightmare for me, honestly. I was so upset because I’ve had the gap my whole life. But when I had a retainer on the back of my teeth taken off, it closed by itself. The fact that it was global news was so shocking to me because of the actual global news that we should be talking about. But, anyway, now I have a retainer, and I’m trying to get my gap back. [laughs]

Dakota Johnson
Karwai Tang/Getty

CS: Another look I wanted to ask you about was the Gucci Met Gala dress that seemed to tie into your movie Suspiria [above].

DJ: That dress was see-through, but nobody really noticed, which is hilarious. It was actually a coincidence that it had a bleeding heart on it, but it was very Suspiria. We added blood drops so that it looked like I was dripping all over the Met, which I thought was pretty cool. The Gucci team is amazing because they let me have a say when I think something could be better without sleeves, or you know, be a little shorter or longer.

CS: I want to be in a Gucci ad too. At the airport I love seeing your face coming out of a pool of water while I’m running to the gate.

DJ: I’m like a little water nymph, like “Hi, hello!” [laughs]

CS: So I’ve noticed you don’t typically wear a lot of jewelry, like necklaces or earrings. I think it gives you this really beautiful soft neckline. Is that something you and your stylist have talked about from the beginning?

DJ: I love jewelry, but I don’t love to wear loads of it because it just doesn’t feel like me. Maybe I will when I’m older? I don’t know. Right now, I’m good with one piece, usually earrings. I don’t want to overdo it.

CS: What’s an item of clothing you wish you could pull off? Like I can't wear motorcycle jackets because I'm tiny and it looks like it's eating me alive. [laughs]

DJ: I will get you a baby-sized motorcycle jacket then!I can’t pull off shorts. Of any kind. I hate them. The only pair I have are these big denim ones that only sometimes look cool.

CS: Do you keep things from your films? I stole the boots from Bad Times, and I use them as bookends in my little Brooklyn apartment.

DJ: I hardly keep anything. From Fifty Shades of Grey I kept regular stuff like socks and T-shirts. Nothing scandalous.

CS: Back when we were filming, you said you wanted your character to look as cool as Steve McQueen. So who is your personal style icon?

DJ: Lee Radziwill. She wore a trouser better than anybody and I'm really into trousers.

Cailee Spaeny
Phillip Faraone/Getty

CS: Her style is so good. We both love vintage shopping, but I get really protective and weird about telling people my favorite spots. Is there one shop that you’re willing to share with me?

DJ: Well, there’s one in Paris that I don’t want to give away. It’s a special little hidden gem that has all vintage Hermès and Celine — so chic. But have you been to Filth Mart in L.A.? You’ll love it.

CS: Nope, but I’ll go now! Last question: You just turned 30. What did you learn about style in your 20s? Help me out.

DJ: Oh, I have some regrets, like really low-cut jeans.

CS: Those are back, though! Go look on Instagram.

Dakota Johnson
Frazer Harrison/Getty

DJ: I refuse to believe it. What’s your biggest fashion regret?

CS: Crocs. It’s like a third-grade regret. I also went through a very weird headband phase. But that’s back when I was cute, you know?

DJ: Girl, come on. You’re still cute!

For more stories like this, pick up the March issue of InStyle available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Feb. 14.

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