Actress Kathryn Newton has had a huge year. If starring in Big Little Lies as Reese Witherspoon’s daughter wasn’t major enough, Newton has also had memorable turns in two Oscar-nominated films, Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
While we’ve been crushing on her effortless style vibes over the last few months, we wondered: Who’s style does she have her eye on right now?
The answer was easy: Alexa Chung.
So for our April issue, we connected the two style stars to talk shop. On the agenda? A shared joy of sneakers, track suits, and eating burgers in couture. Listen in on their full chat below, and for more stories like this, check out the April issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download now.
Kathryn Newton: I’m such a fan, Alexa. I’ve been wearing your brand since I was 16! I have a corduroy vest and pants that I always bring when I go to London.
Alexa Chung: Oh, that’s so nice! And congratulations to you on a big year. You’re in everything that’s good on television and cinema right now.
KN: Thanks! I’m actually filming a movie right now, Detective Pikachu, and we based my character’s look on yours. How would you describe your vibe?
AC: I’m doing my fall collection right now, and everything is playful. For me, it’s about taking something classic and twisting it so it’s humorous or knowing.
KN: When I wear your pieces, I kind of feel like Mick Jagger.
AC: I always say the goal is to look like you could be in a band or, at the very least, shagging someone in a band.
KN: Ha! It’s a good day when you walk outside looking like a rock star. Lately, I’ve been trying to cultivate a classic style too. I’ve spent most of my life collecting clothes, so rather than investing in a stylist, I’ve always just invested in the pieces I loved. When I was 14, I bought a Valentino dress—and my mom probably wanted to kill me—but I wore it to a movie premiere and then again to my prom. It was magical when Valentino dressed me for the Golden Globes and Emmys last year because it came full circle.
AC: That’s great. People can tell when they see true style on the red carpet because it’s authentic. If that’s something that you feel comfortable in and have always gravitated towards then it will come across in the images.
KN: I’m in London, so I’ve been really into coats lately too. I brought a different one for every day of the week.
AC: When I’m struggling with the weather and heavy coats, I always feel a bit more chic when I put on, like, big, massive earrings. It helps if you’re struggling with the London winter and walking around in the rain a lot.
KN: I’m taking notes! I’m into the ugly-sneaker trend lately too. It reminds me of my character Darlene in Lady Bird.
AC: I’ve never really been a sneaker girl, except for Supergas. I just did a collaboration with them reinterpreting their trainers in fun colors and fabrics like silk. I’ll send you a pair.
KN: That would be amazing! What do you wear them with?
AC: I like them with something unexpected, like an evening dress. I can never commit to being dressed up or dressed down.
KN: Do you have anything that you tend to buy over and over? For me, it’s band t-shirts. I have so many vintage ones!
AC: I used to think my main addiction was navy blue sweatshirts, but it’s ankle boots. I’m always looking for the perfect pair, and as time goes on, it evolves. At the moment, it’s cowboy boots. I got a pair of Dior ones the other day with a white skull on them.
KN: Cool! I need to step up my boot game. I’m on set all the time, so I also have so many tracksuits.
AC: I’ve been preoccupied with making a cool tracksuit for travel too.
KN: Yeah, I love those red sort-of bellbottom track pants that Gucci did. And Adidas, of course. Do you ever feel the pressure to always be dressed up?
AC: For me, it’s the other way around. It’s not like I have to go out and get dressed up, it’s more like I’m motivated by the outfit to go out [laughs]. Like the other night, I was quite hung over and didn’t feel like going to this Chinese New Year dinner, but I put on a really beautiful dress and it instantly put me in a good mood to go and showcase that bad boy on the town.
KN: Do you ever take fashion advice from your mom?
AC: No, because you know what she tells me? She tells me to brush my hair, which isn’t ever going to happen! Sometimes she’ll say, ‘Alexa, can’t you look nice?’ Which means a very pretty dress and heels. She’s against my basic thought that fashion should be always be comfortable. I’m usually too contrary to do what other people tell me to do anyway.
KN: That’s funny! What do you think is the secret to looking nice but not like you’re trying?
AC: It’s more about your attitude. I’ll wear an incredible Chanel couture outfit but end up in a bar at 3 a.m. eating a burger.
KN: I get that—after the Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri première, I went to McDonald’s in my Valentino gown [laughs].
AC: I love Valentino. I once wore a couture look that was so lovely, they flew someone out to make sure I didn’t spill wine on it.
KN: My favorite was a blue Valentino dress [below] that I wore to the London Film Festival. It was a sample, so I had to pick it up in New York and fly with it. I held it the whole plane ride! When I wore it, one of the petals fell off, and I still carry it around in my backpack.
AC: Love that. You know, when I think back on my first red carpets, the one thing I regret is not fully embracing feeling beautiful. I’d always kick against it like, “I don’t want to look like I dressed up for this.” Now I think it’s nice to really go for it.
KN: I’ve been in the process of trying to find the things that I really like and that I feel good in. I’m getting to a place where I’m more comfortable saying ‘Yes, I want to wear this’ or 'No, I don’t like that.’
AC: That’s good! I remember when I started out in television, but I wasn’t necessarily known, and I asked to borrow a sequined, one-shoulder Balmain dress and they said no. So, I went to a vintage store and brought a similar one and cut it off myself. That was actually one of the first things that got me in the news for having good style. Things don’t need to cost hundreds of pounds. I’m a strong believer that if something looks authentic it will look good.
KN: Totally. Do you have a favorite look that you’ve worn?
AC: So many. I’ve been lucky enough to wear Chanel in the past and there’s this one midnight blue-and-black tuxedo dress [below] that I wore to the couture shows—it was traditional, but really special. I asked to be buried in it. They never really gave me an answer, though, so fingers crossed for me! [laughs]
KN: Last thing: I’m turning 21. What do I wear to my birthday?
AC: That’s a big one! For my 30th, I bought a Saint Laurent suit by Hedi Slimane. My goal was to wake up in that suit with a Champagne glass in my hand, and it happened! Always aim for the outfit you’ll want to wake up in.