Coachella is nothing without its queen, and no one wears a flower crown quite like Vanessa Hudgens. The actress is known for her festival fashion, so it’s no surprise that she’s teamed up with Covet for some virtual dress-up. The styling app’s biggest appeal is that it allows users to think outside the sartorial box, and Vanessa is the ultimate model. With ever-changing beauty looks and an approach to style that’s independent of trends, she’s a persistent reminder that fashion is fun.
MarieClaire spoke to the actress about her famous festival fashion, her thoughts on 2016’s trendiest accessory (read: chokers), and how she balances her social media presence with staying connected to fans and “frolicking outside.”
Marie Claire: You’re the unofficial Queen of Coachella, so it’s prety spot-on that “summer music festival” is one of your avatar’s fashion challenges. How do you want fans to dress you?
Vanessa Hudgens: I hope they just have a lot of fun and aren’t afraid to pile on accessories. That’s one thing that’s so fun about festivals—you can never go too far with accessories. I’m most excited about the festival look, just because I love festivals so much. They’re my safe haven. It’s just the one time that it’s socially acceptable to dress like a crazy person.
MC: Do you plan to wear the outfits in real life?
VH: Yeah, for sure. It’s summer still so there are plenty of music festivals ahead of us.
MC: Taylor Swift said chokers were the flower crown of 2016’s Coachella. Thoughts?
VH: That’s really funny, I love that. I mean, everyone wore a choker, bandana, or ascot around their neck. And amazing jewelry designers are making fabulous chokers, so it’s not exclusively the tattoo choker that we all knew in the ’90s. It’s beautiful braided leather chokers that have gemstones and rose gold. They’ve become very high end, so it doesn’t feel like a throwback. They’ve come back as their own thing.
MC: What other ’90s trends are you pumped on?
VH: The ’90s is one of my favorite eras for fashion—aside from the ’70s, of course. Look at Kate Moss, she’s such an amazing representation of that peak ’90s fashion of a slinky shimmery dress and choker. Fashion was playful in the ’90s, and that’s why I love music festivals as well. They have that playful essence.
MC: You mentioned ascots at Coachella, which is funny since neckerchiefs are an iconic part of Rizzo’s style in Grease. Did you take any fashion inspiration from the character?
VH: My costumes were so phenomenal, they really helped me get into character. I would put on my costume and I would feel like Rizzo. But it takes some work, so it didn’t really transfer over into my personal life as much as I’d hoped since I’m quite a low maintenance girl when it comes to getting ready. But I do have my ascot sitting in my drawer waiting to be worn. And my Pink Ladies jacket.
MC: Are there any fashion risks you’re afraid to take?
VH: I’m pretty exploratory. I’m kinda down to try anything.
MC: Even those really low rise jeans like Britney Spears wore in the late ’90s and early ’00s?
VH: They should be left in the ’90s. Leave that one behind. I hopped on that bandwagon, too, I had pants that were so low, every time I bent over my butt crack would pop out. It’s just not a cute look for anybody. It’s gotta stay in the past.
MC: You became famous right before Twitter’s takeover, so you were in the first wave of celebs on social. How is your approach to social media different now? Do you censor yourself more?
VH: My god. I remember when Twitter first came out. I was so against it, I wanted nothing to do with it. I wanted to keep my life to myself. I felt like I didn’t want to just put things out to the world that were pointless and meaningless. Instagram was the first one I jumped on to, and I realized it’s more about checking in with your friends and seeing what they’re doing. It’s weird how it’s turned into something that’s so prominent in our everyday lives. We’re all hooked to our phone because of social media, and it’s great that we can stay connected, but at the same time, I like frolicking outside and not looking at my phone. So it’s hard to find that balance.
MC: How do you deal with the enormous pressure to maintain normalcy as a celebrity, while also staying connected to fans?
VH: I try to stay grounded by keeping the people around me as a small group; people who I love and trust. I try to explore and be outside, and I’m a very grateful person so that keeps me grounded. And as much as I do enjoy social media, I try to back off it a bit when I’m out and about. But I love connecting with my fans so much, and I’m super excited about opportunities to do something together. I think Covet’s going to give us a really awesome way to connect that we haven’t before. I’m so big on fashion, and I think fans like me for my fashion, so it’ll be a fun little collaboration.
MC: Sometimes it feels like the internet can’t wait to jump all over Disney stars when they stray from the good-girl path. Do you feel like you’re under a bigger microscope because of your Disney roots?
VH: I think that no matter who you are, if there’s a spotlight on you, people are going to look for a reason to bring you down. Not because of you, but because of their own conflicts and battles. Putting someone else down gives them power. That’s just the way society is, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity or the popular girl at school. If you’re someone that people look up to, they’re gonna always find a way to bring you down when they need a self-esteem booster. I live a life that I’m proud of, and when someone doesn’t agree with that, I’m sorry. I’m happy with myself, and at the end of the day, you’re the only one that lives your life. If you’re happy, that’s all that matters.
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