"I’ve just gone completely feral in quarantine," James, who stars in Rebecca, tells The Politician's Schlaepfer. "I think I’ve worn the same white dungarees every single day."

By Jennifer Ferrise
Jul 24, 2020 @ 8:00 am
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Credit: Shutterstock

Actress Julia Schlaepfer remembers the first time she saw Lily James onscreen. “Years ago, I was having a really bad day, and my dad said, ‘Julia, we’re taking you to see Cinderella. That’ll make you feel better,’” she recalls. “And when I saw Lily in the film, I was like, ‘Who is this person? I want to emulate everything about her.’”

Fast forward five years, and Schlaepfer is becoming one-to-watch as well, most recently for her spirited turn as Alice Charles in Netflix’s The Politician. So for InStyle’s August Style Crush chat, we connected her with her longtime idol to talk all things fashion. On the agenda? Quarantine style, Cinderella dresses, and why their moms always tell them to smile more on the red carpet.

Read on for their full conversation below.

In Emilia Wickstead
| Credit: Getty

JULIA SCHLAEPFER: Lily, I’m so excited to talk to you! I’m your biggest fan. I remember years ago, my dad took me to see Cinderella. And when I saw you onscreen, I was like, “Who is this person? I want to emulate everything about her.”

LILY JAMES: Aw, thank you! You’re brilliant in The Politician — so composed and icy. Matt [Smith] also has the nicest things to say about working with you on Charlie Says.

JS: Matt is the best. And I think you’re electric in everything you do, too. You always look so cool on the red carpet.

LJ: I’m sure that’s not true! Recently my mum has been getting angry at me for pouting too much in pictures. I realized I do need to chill out a bit. It’s hard to know what to do with your face. [laughs]

JS: That's so funny because my mom says the same thing: “Smile more!” But honestly, I get so terrified. I’m like a deer in headlights.

LJ: You’re doing great. I loved that peachy dress you wore to the Golden Globes [below]. The material looked cool, like latex.

In Greta Constantine
| Credit: Shutterstock

JS: Yes, that was a Greta Constantine look that was actually made of all sequins. You’ve had so many good ones too— how would you describe your red-carpet style?

LJ: It’s all about confidence, which you can only achieve if you feel f—ing great in a dress. I have a wonderful stylist, Rebecca [Corbin-Murray], and I always look for movement in a look, so if it’s a windy day I’m thrilled to play up the drama.

In Chloé
| Credit: Getty

JS: A Beyoncé moment! How does that differ from your off-duty style?

LJ: With that, I'm quite lazy. I try to be a little bit Frenchie with high-waisted jeans and a top. Something effortless. But it’s always evolving, that’s what I love about fashion — it morphs and changes with where you are in your life.

JS: I like to dress according to my mood. I wish there were a button I could press to change my hair color every morning.

LJ: You have blue hair now, right?

JS: Yes! I’ve dyed it three times during quarantine. There’s no better time to experiment than when you’re stuck in the house for months. [laughs]

Credit: Getty

LJ: I love that! You’re naturally a blond, so you can change your hair color quite easily. For me, it’s super hard to switch up. Recently, I’ve just gone completely feral in quarantine. I think I’ve worn the same white dungarees every single day.

JS: Ha! Well, I’ve been putting acne patches all over my face and then totally forgetting they’re there.

LJ: That's totally acceptable these days. [laughs]

JS: Ha! I also wanted to ask you about the amazing Burberry turtleneck dress you wore for the Yesterday première [below]. I texted a picture of it to my friends saying, “I would kill to wear this!”

In Burberry
| Credit: Getty

LJ: That’s so nice! I’ve been working with Burberry for the past three years, and this was the first look I wore from Riccardo Tisci. When I saw it on the hanger, I was like, “Are those bottle caps sewn onto the dress? Because I’m in.” It was so bold and modern.

JS: I’ve been into menswear lately. My stylist, Sarah [Slutsky], gave me this cool Prabal Gurung suit for an event, and I felt so powerful strutting around [below]. Would you say you’ve gotten used to the cameras more over time?

In Prabal Gurung
| Credit: Getty

LJ: I can turn it on and off better now, but I still get butterflies before events because people are screaming your name and there are lights flashing — and, you know, it’s very unnatural.

JS: Totally. For the Cinderella première, you wore a very Cinderella dress [below]. Do you like to tie in the theme of your project?

In Elie Saab Haute Couture
| Credit: Getty

LJ: I went full-on princess for that! Each character brings out a different part of you, and it’s exciting to reflect that in your clothes. But mostly I try to dress for my body, which fluctuates depending on how much I’m eating. [laughs] Sometimes I like getting my boobs out and wearing something figure-hugging; other times I like something a little more sweet.

JS: Bodies are meant to change, so I think that’s beautiful. I wore a Paolo Sebastian dress to The Politician première [below], and I was worried because it showed a lot of cleavage. Then I thought, “This is crazy. We all have ’em!”

In Paolo Sebastian
| Credit: Getty

LJ: I saw that, and you looked sensational. We should all embrace our womanness.

JS: What has been your favorite look that you’ve worn so far?

LJ: Erdem is one of my favorite designers, so for the premiere of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I wore this amazing two piece gown that had a flamenco feel to it [below]. It was one of those dresses that you just want to steal.  The moment when you have to give a dress back is just a really painful time. [laughs]

In Erdem
| Credit: Getty

JS: It’s heartbreaking! If you could switch closets with anyone, living or dead, whose would you pick?

LJ: Brigitte Bardot’s. How about you?

JS: Marilyn Monroe’s. Her classic dresses truly celebrated a woman’s curves.

LJ: I do really love a corset too. I probably shouldn’t because they stop us from breathing, but I like the feeling of being held in ... for a short period of time.

JS: You’ve worn lots of corsets onscreen too. Which wardrobe was the most fun?

LJ: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. They took a Regency-style look and added a zombie-slaying toughness. I got to wear these cool leather lace-up Miu Miu boots with petticoats. What about you?

Credit: Getty

JS: On Charlie Says, we were encouraged to roll around in the dirt in vintage costumes, so that was pretty liberating. I felt like a hippie for a month, and then for the premiere, I wore a long hippie-style Zimmermann dress [above], which was fun.

LJ: That’s the polar opposite of The Politician, right? Where you have this prim, preppy look?

JS: Total opposite. The clothes in The Politician were incredible though. The costume designers gifted me vintage red-and-blue Gucci heels after season two, and I’m dying to wear them.

LJ: As soon as we get out of quarantine! I can’t wait to see a pic.

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