InStyle March 2017 BLA 1 - Lead
Credit: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty; Everett

Fashion has always felt like acting to me—getting to channel someone else by sticking out, blending in, or teleporting to different eras. To be Holly Golightly or Audrey Horne or Wednesday Addams, even for a day. It carries the same magic for me that acting does. And in 2016, which felt like the Year of the World Falling Apart (how it does in movies, only it wasn’t a movie), fashion and film became godlike for me; they let me be reborn again and again.

There’s always been an immense comfort in knowing that if the real world became too much, I had acting—a separate realm where I didn’t have to think or feel anything personal. On set, it didn’t matter what was happening to me, and that was surprisingly a relief. I turned to that safe space when I didn’t want to watch the news, or hear what happened to girls around the world, or read what our president-elect was tweeting.

Blanchard inspired by Guys and Dolls character Miss Adelaide's outfit during the song "Take Back Your Mink"

Blanchard inspired by Guys and Dolls character Miss Adelaide's outfit during the song
Credit: Courtesy Rowan Blanchard

Embracing fashion and film wasn’t giving in to the superficial; it was survival. When you’re a teenager, you already feel like the world is always ending and then holy s—, maybe it actually is. I’m not saying clothes saved me from the real world, but at least they brought a sense of fast change and renewal. Maybe that change brings hope, tears, anger, happiness... As a girl, I’m not sure I believe in self-confidence as much as I believe in acting self-confident, and I think personal style lives between the two. Fashion is political but it's also a series of contradictions.

Fashion is more metaphor than concreteness, and the only thing I want for certain right now is metaphor. I seek metaphors with the clothes I wear, sometimes to represent nothing but mostly to represent something in between. Fashion is my way of taking myself out of a society where men dominate. I take it as my tool, my choice, an empty fresh space that hasn’t been filled, and my attempt to fill it.

For more stories like this, pick up InStyle's March issue, on newsstands and available for digital download Feb. 10.