Before getting decked out in gorgeous designer gowns for events, Blake Lively found her red carpet looks at a mall store favorite

By Kaitlyn Frey
April 25, 2019 12:54 PM

Blake Lively famously styles herself and has built relationships with high-fashion designers like Versace, Dior and Chanel to create looks for her to wear to major red carpet events. But before the actress made it big in Hollywood, she did her most of her red carpet shopping at the mall.

“I wore Forever 21 much longer than I admitted,” Lively, 31, told The Handmaid’s Tale actress Sydney Sweeney in an interview Sweeney conducted for InStyle.

Eventually Lively wanted to be more low-key about her Forever 21 looks, so she started pretending that the dresses were actually vintage designer pieces — and people believed her.

Credit: Jim Smeal/BEI/REX/Shutterstock

“I just started saying it was vintage because I was so shamed for it,” the actress laughed. Lively previously admitted the strapless yellow mini dress she wore to the 2005 Teen Choice Awards (above) was a $13 design from Forever 21.

She added: “For me, fashion is a form of self-expression. It also really takes me out of my comfort zone. One of the reasons I’m an actor is that I’m naturally very shy, so it’s liberating to dress up and pretend to be someone else.”

Now when it comes to dressing for the red carpet, Lively turns to designers who she knows can make her feel confident. “I just try to find designers who I like and trust and who make my body look better than it does when it’s not in clothes,” she said.

Truly loving the outfit she wears is of the utmost importance to Lively, who still cringes when she looks back at dresses she didn’t feel 100% comfortable wearing.

“For one of my first events, I wore a dress that I was so insecure in, but I was told that I couldn’t back out because it was made custom and it would hurt my relationship with the designer,” she said. “It didn’t fit right though, and everybody knew it was a mess. Whenever I look at a photo from that red carpet, I can see how uncomfortable I was in my own skin. I’d never do that again.”

One way she says she gets confidence to wear more risqué, skin-baring outfits is by striking a “smoldering face” and channeling one celeb in particular to nail her pose.

“With some outfits you need to do a smolder because if you’re wearing a slit up to your hip bone and you’re smiling like you’re on Space Mountain, it just doesn’t go together,” she said. “It took me a few years to learn it too. If you pretend that you’re J.Lo, that helps.”