The O.C.’s Mischa Barton – who admits she doesn’t “have a stylist, I just go about finding what I think looks pretty” – chooses a romantic, green pleated Prada dress for the opening of the designer’s Beverly Hills store (in July). “She went for a great color that works for her, mixing it with her favorite Stella McCartney shoes,” says PEOPLE style director Susan Kaufman.
“Mischa herself has said that she’s very inspired by the ’20s and flapper looks,” says Kaufman. The 18-year-old pays tribute to the retro style in a golden velvet dress at an Oscar party in Hollywood in February. Yet by choosing ankle boots and wearing her hair tousled, she avoids looking like she’s “going to a costume party.”
Barton goes for a “glamorous look” at a charity event in Pacific Palisades, Calif., in July. Her orange Roberto Cavalli gown is definitely a “look-at-me dress,” says Kaufman, but “because she’s not a typical bombshell, she makes it look a little classier than it might otherwise look.” Her choice of Stella McCartney pumps instead of strappy sandals “funks it up.”
READY, DRESS, GO
“The great thing about (Barton) is she’s always camera-ready,” says Kaufman. “You will never see her looking schlumpy, even when it’s the most casual kind of moment.” Case in point: The actress looks stylish on a trip to an L.A. hair salon (in April), pairing a military jacket with jeans and black suede boots.
Barton opts for a “young, fun look” in her rainbow-print Petro Zillia miniskirt and a gathered top (at a fashion show in L.A. in February), says Kaufman. “Petro Zillia is a very L.A. designer – kind of trendy. So (Barton’s) mixing a trendy piece with something a little more classic on top. This is an example of her having fun with contemporary style.”
The actress sports a “lingerie-inspired boudoir dress” during an evening out at Beverly Hills restaurant Koi (in September). Completing the ensemble are ballerina flats and a sophisticated Chanel shoulder bag. The result? “A fresh and youthful look, much more sweet than sexy.” Simply put, says Kaufman, it’s “a Mischa special.”
At an event honoring Tom Ford (in Beverly Hills in March), Barton chose “one of the more avant garde looks” from the designer, says Kaufman of her silver-and-black snakeskin-print dress. “She didn’t go with a typical sexy outfit. That speaks to her confidence in picking clothes for herself that might be a little more off-the-beaten-path.”
SHINY & HAPPY
“This is one of those tops that could go horribly wrong on the wrong person,” says Kaufman of Barton’s satin-and-sequined Luca Luca halter shirt (at the designer’s New York fashion show in September). Yet on Barton, who pairs it with simple black cigarette pants, “it hits in all the right spots. She’s taking something that’s a little high-design but keeps it clean and classic.”
MIX & MATCH
Barton’s fashion talent is mixing and matching pieces and creating her own look. A perfect example is taking a Chanel tweed blazer – “what could be a ladies-who-lunch jacket,” says Kaufman – and making it “casual L.A.” with a white tank top, low-rise jeans and Tod’s flats (at a Chanel party in New York in May). “She takes what could be a very matronly look and makes it young and fun.”
“This is a really interesting choice for her,” says Kaufman of Barton’s Grecian goddess-inspired Viktor amp Rolf gown (at the Carousel of Hope gala in Beverly Hills on Oct. 23). For the occasion, Barton curled her hair and wore smoky makeup. “She’s sort of vamping up this edgy dress,” says Kaufman.
MOVE TO THIS
In this “floaty, layered” chiffon dress, Barton (at a FOX party in New York City in May) wears a “trend of the season,” says Kaufman. Keeping her accessories to a minimum, she puts the focus on the “movement of the dress. When she walks, you’ll see the flow. It’s ethereal.”
Barton shows off her great gams with a chiffon handkerchief dress at the Teen Choice Awards (in August). Her short, belted frock is a “crazier print than she normally wears,” says Kaufman. “She probably intentionally wore something kind of funky and fun and appropriate for the event. It’s unusual for someone as young as she is to have such confidence in her choices.”