Shailene Woodley speaking with Matt Lauer. Photo: Getty Images
It’s undeniable that fashion has picked up its pace (there’s a reason why the likes of Zara, H&M, and Forever21 are so successful). In addition to a speedier production process, consumption has also increased. Yet shoppers aren’t just starved for new items, they’re also looking for constant inspiration from their favorite influencers. This feedback loop means that stars — and their stylists — feel pressure from brands, designers, and fans to serve up new looks whenever they step out. During press tours, this market force only increases, which is why Blake Lively, Selena Gomez, Chloë Grace Moretz, and more change their outfit multiple times in just one day. But the fashion Olympics hasn’t drafted every PYT in the industry. In fact, there’s one woman who should take gold for completely rejecting the practice: Shailene Woodley.
While promoting her new film Allegiant, the final installment in the Divergent series, the 24-year-old made the rounds. First, she spoke with Matt Lauer on the Today show then headed downtown for AOL Build, BuzzFeed’s offices, and more media outlets throughout New York. For the different obligations, the actress didn’t call on her stylist Ilaria Urbinati for various eye-catching ensembles, instead she showed up wearing her own clothes (which could possibly be more captivating for that very reason). In skinny jeans, crew neck sweater (she wore a navy blue knit for her first appearance and a light brown braided piece for the rest), black booties, minimal makeup, and messy bun, she shirked expectations and instead wore a relatable, normal outfit.
“She’s very down to earth, very normal,” Donna Freydkin, who works with AOLBuild (watch the interview here) described of her experience with Woodley. “She greeted me with a hug, and she’s extremely straightforward and direct. She who owns who she is.” Freydikin added that despite her celebrity status, Woodley’s authentic, smart and thoughtful. “She’s very inclusive. But don’t let the hugs fool you — she’s very professional, very punctual, and very focused on doing a good job, as opposed to a lot of people in the business who are focused on the exterior."
Other famous women might use fashion as paparazzi bait for extra attention, yet the fact that Woodley rejected this often-employed practice keeps with her brand. Every article of clothing worn — by Woodley can also be seen on the thousands of women who admire her. It’s a uniform for most girls and women from the halls of high schools to business casual office environments. "There’s a lot of pressure from the media and from society to look a certain way or act a certain way,” Woodley told Freydkin during their chat. “To be frank, it’s much easier to just be yourself because you’re not trying to appease any social standard.”
Despite having started her career in the spotlight at a young age, Woodley has never conformed to the celebrity lifestyle. She doesn’t own a cellphone and when she has time off from shooting or promoting, she goes off the grid, foraging for food, couch hopping, camping, and traveling. "I struggle in real life trying to balance my natural connection to the earth and the somewhat materialistic side of the industry I am in,” she admitted.
Woodley in Elie Saab at the premiere of Allegiant. Photo: Getty Images
Sure, that night she walked the red carpet at the premiere for the movie in a fancy Elie Saab jumpsuit, except she did so as part of the job. “If I was to show up wearing my five-toe shoes, my Melodia organic leggings and some hippie top, no one is going to take me seriously,” she once said. “When I go on a red carpet, I’m Shailene, but I’m also Shailene representing a movie. I’m there for my boss, for my employer, so part of that comes with wearing the uniform." She might get glam for an important event, but draws the line at wearing fur and diamonds.
Lesson learned? Slow it down, fashion. Sometimes a simple pair of skinny jeans can make more a statement than multiple designer looks.