By Jennifer Ferrise
Updated Aug 27, 2018 @ 9:00 am
InStyle September - Style Crush Mendes Mara - Lead
Credit: Photo Illustration. Photos: Getty Images, Shutterstock

As any Riverdale fan knows, Veronica Lodge loves her pearls and plaid. But that doesn’t mean her conservative way of dressing has rubbed off on Camila Mendes.

“She has a great sense of style, but it's totally not my sense of style,” says the 24-year-old actress, who has played Lodge since the CW’s teen soap premiered last January. “I like really simple and comfortable looks when I’m not working. And on the red carpet, I go for dresses that are playful, patterned, and a little bit sensual.”

Most recently, Mendes has turned heads in everything from sparkly Alberta Ferretti minis to flowy, bohemian gowns by Elizabetta Franchi, quickly establishing herself as our summer style crush, as well as one to watch on the step-and-repeat.

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With that in mind, we asked Mendes to spill exactly who or what has been inspiring her chic #LOTDs, and her answer was swift: fellow actress Kate Mara.

“When you’re on the red carpet, you always want to look like the best version of yourself and I always see that in Kate’s style,” says Mendes, who was a big House of Cards fan when Mara was on the show. “Kate’s style is poised and sophisticated, just like she is.”

So for our September issue, we connected the two style stars to talk shop. On the agenda? Off-duty uniforms, go-to designers, and re-selling clothes (yes, even celebs put their clothes on The RealReal). Listen in on their chat below.

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CAMILA MENDES: Kate, I love how you express yourself through style. You always look so poised and sophisticated.

KATE MARA: I'm flattered! I've been in the industry since I was a kid, so I've had lots of time to figure out what I'm comfortable in. But as you know, the whole experience of the red carpet can be pretty stressful.

CM: There are two sides to fashion: dressing like yourself and then dressing like an elevated version of yourself. I'm a fan of the former. We spend so much time being other people, you know?

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KM: Agreed. I cringe when I see pictures from 10 years ago because I was often trying to fit a certain mold. I also realized that I judge myself much more than other people do. Most of my favorite looks are recent ones. I'm more myself now than I've ever been.

CM: I think there's this idea that you have to be super fashion-forward to assert yourself in this industry, but I think people really do appreciate authenticity. Have you always been interested in fashion?

KM: I fell in love with it when I realized that it can transform you — how you walk, how you feel. I don’t really create things with my hands, so I'm fascinated by designers.

CM: So what is your off-duty style like, then?

KM: It's a masculine-feminine mix. Most days I'm in some variation of black pants, usually by Rag & Bone, with a white T-shirt.

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CM: Oh, I love white Ts by N: Philanthropy, that have a tiny little tear, tucked into pants. I tuck in everything. I’m wearing that with my black Gucci slides right now.

KM: I'm wearing my black Valentino slip-ons too. We're basically in the same outfit [laughs].

CM: Ha! So what's your favorite thing you've ever worn?

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KM: My white J. Mendel gown at the Emmys in 2013 [above]. The handsewn beading was extraordinary. I’m usually more comfortable in short dresses, but I loved the simplicity of this gown. How about you?

CM: I wore a black Elisabetta Franchi dress that made me feel like a dark fairy [below]. It was really flowy and sensual. Ever since I had to dye my hair black for Riverdale, I feel like I've had to change my style a bit to match the boldness of my hair. I like an all-black uniform much more now. Who is your go-to designer lately?

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KM: Valentino will forever be special to me because Pierpaolo [Piccioli] made me an incredible custom wedding dress. I used to work with a stylist, but now I just go to one designer and try things on—it's easy. Valentino looks are always very classic, but romantic and ethereal too.

CM: Love it. When it comes to shopping, I’m a jacket girl, especially denim. I just keep buying them, even though I keep on wearing my Re/Done jacket most of the time. What’s your go-to thing to buy?

KM: I actually love jackets too. I have way too many. Yigal Azrouël makes the most beautiful light jackets that you can still wear in L.A. when it’s 90 degrees. They make you look more dressed up than you are, which is always nice [laughs].

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CM: It definitely is. I used to keep my closet pretty minimal because it gives me peace of mind, but now that brands are sending me free stuff, I've been hoarding more and more [laughs]. Do you have a big closet?

KM: I don't, so my house is kind of a nightmare. I use the closet in my husband and I’s bedroom and the one in our guest room. I’m trying to be better about it and do a clean out every month! When I need space, I sell pieces on The Real Real. They have amazing things.

CM: Good to know! I haven’t been able to keep any costume pieces on Riverdale because we save old wardrobe items to shoot flashback scenes. Have you kept anything cool from a film or TV set?

KM: The coolest thing that I have is my flight suit from The Martian. It’s not the space suit with the helmet, but it’s the gray flight suit that I wear for a lot of the movie. I had it framed and sent to my Mom and Dad. They have a little movie room where they keep things from my sister [Rooney Mara] and I’s movies.

CM: Last Q: What do you like better, character fittings or red-carpet fittings? On Riverdale my character dresses like a preppy grandma — her style is nothing like mine.

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KM: Red-carpet fittings are more fun because I've figured out what's flattering. I get more nervous for character fittings. My show, Pose, is set in the '80s, so I've had to embrace mom jeans and shoulder pads. And every time I go in I think, "Oh god, is anything going to fit?"

CM: It's easy to get self-conscious when something fits weird.

KM: I know. I learned a while ago that I have to tailor everything.

CM: And I've had to learn that the majority of clothes aren't going to look perfect off the rack — unless you're Gigi Hadid, that is.

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