July 23, 2012 01:00 PM

Johns PKI/Splash News Online

Lea Michele is a best dressed list regular at StyleWatch, but things weren’t always that way — and the star is the first to admit it. 

“At the beginning — at a lot of the Glee press stuff — I was sort of dressing myself and I wasn’t used to taking pictures,” Michele told PEOPLE at the unveiling of Valspar Hands for Habitat — an initiative that auctions colorful handprints of celebrities to benefit Habitat for Humanity — in New York City on Friday. “So, the awkwardness didn’t help the not-so-great outfits.”

Now, the Glee star calls on top Hollywood stylist Estee Stanley to help put together her outfits, some of which recently have been sexier than usual: think leg baring, plunging and body hugging. “I feel really good, well-rested and happy. I’m just in a really good place in my life,” the star explained. “And I think when you personally feel good, you could put on anything and just sort of rock it.”

And though the native New Yorker loves designers like Oscar de la Renta (which she wears above), Versace, Pucci and Stella McCartney for the red carpet, it’s the opposite when’s she’s off duty. “I’m casual, comfortable — shorts, flowy tops, flats, boyfriend jeans, T-shirts, maxi dresses — I have my flats right over there waiting for me to pop on!”

For more information on Valspar Hands for Habitat and to bid on a handprint (including Michele’s), visit the campaign’s Facebook page. Tell us: What do you think of Michele’s red carpet style?

—Jennifer Cress


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