Beanie Feldstein on Channeling Her Mom's Style and Posing Unretouched in New Aerie Campaign

The Booksmart actress caught up with PEOPLE after being named a new Aerie #REALRoleModel on Thursday

beanie feldstein
Photo: andrew buda

At the Golden Globes, Beanie Feldstein wore a shimmering midnight blue Oscar de la Renta off-the-shoulder gown paired with matching earrings and a ($42!) embellished headband. One week later at the Critics Choice Awards, she chose a satin pink-and-red color-block midi dress by Lela Rose.

To say the Booksmart actress is having fun with her red carpet fashion would be an understatement. And she’s taking a few hints from one of her biggest inspirations — mom Sharon Lyn Chalkin — along the way.

“What I love about my mom’s style is that she has never put any rules on herself. She doesn’t believe in it. Like age, hair color, whatever it might be, whatever you think, I can wear this or I can’t wear this, height, she just doesn’t believe in it,” Feldstein tells PEOPLE. “And she’s always just worn whatever she wants, and then it ends up being like the biggest trend the next year because everyone’s like, she’s such a trendsetter.”

beanie feldstein
andrew buda

“Now [wearing] leopard, I’m sort of becoming my mother’s daughter…our staircase in our house is leopard,” she adds. “But I’ve always been a bit more simple than she is. She’ll wear like a leopard thing paired with like a neon green hat paired with like a gorgeous purse, and she just is like all over it”

The star admits she rebelled against her mom’s eccentric style for years but began embracing and appreciating it as she got older: “For awhile I was like, ‘I could never wear leopard’, and now I’m like, ‘Bring it on!'”

aeriereal role model
#AerieREAL Role Models. andrew buda

On Thursday, Feldstein was named an Aerie #REAL Role Model, joining stars like Lana Condor, Aly Raisman and Ali Stroker, to advocate for the brand’s mission of self-love, as well as empower and inspire change through “leadership, advocacy, workshops and philanthropic partnerships,” according to a press release.

As part of the campaign, the brand also launched the #AerieREALChange Initiative, which will award 20 real-life changemakers with $20,000 “to help them on their journey in making the world a better place,” Aerie states.

Aerie #REALRoleModels
#AerieREAL Role Models. andrew buda

Feldstein tells PEOPLE, “What my mom showed me growing up really plays into the Aerie message of wearing what makes you feel good and what makes you feel comfortable.”

“It’s a big honor. I feel very grateful,” the Lady Bird actress says of being named a change-maker and starring in the un-retouched Aerie #REAL Role Model ad campaign. “Looking at the picture of everyone, I just feel so inspired by these women. It’s such a beautiful group of women, both in how beautiful they look in the clothes, but mostly who they are and what they’re doing in the world.”

Beanie Feldstein
Beanie Feldstein at the Critic’s Choice Awards. John Salangsang/Shutterstock

Each Role Model selected an initiative — a cause they’re passionate about — which Aerie will back as part of the empowering campaign. The Golden Globes nominee chose “Extraordinary Women,” inspired by her work with successful female directors Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and Olivia Wilde (Booksmart).

To work with those two women so young and so early in my career is deeply inspirational, and I hope to follow in their footsteps one day,” she says. “When I was part of Lady Bird, I was like, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’ I want to be part of stories that genuinely feel like a part of my soul and just mean so much to me. There are so many of those stories. We’re starting to celebrate them, but we can continue to do that in a more powerful way, and I want to be a part of that.”

Beanie Feldstein, Sharon Lyn Chalkin
Beanie Feldstein and mom Sharon Lyn Chalkin at the Golden Globes. Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Aside from getting the opportunity to bring about change in her community and work with a brand she loves, Feldstein says the partnership made sense because she genuinely loves Aerie clothes — especially the bike shorts!

“I literally get sad when they’re dirty. Then I dream of the day I can next wear them to the cardio dance class I go to,” the star, who describes her personal style as “elegant but fun” quips. “I also love the accessories and you can’t beat the sweatpants.”

“I really love Aerie because it’s inclusive as far as people and price range,” she concludes. “And the quality of the clothes are so incredible.”

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