Padma Lakshmi Recycles J. Mendel Gown for the Emmys: 'It's Wasteful Not to Enjoy These Dresses'

When it came time to choose a dress for the 2018 Emmys, the actress pulled from her own closet

Padma Lakshmi pulled a gown straight from her own closet for the Emmys – and she’s sending a powerful message.

The star, 48, wore a plunging red J. Mendel gown with a high slit up the side to the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, a design which she first stepped out in last October at the Vogue India Women of the Year Awards in Mumbai.

70th Primetime <a href="" data-inlink="true">Emmy Awards</a>, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 17 Sep 2018

“I’m excited to wear this beautiful J. Mendel dress again,” Lakshmi tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I think in this day and age we should stop sending the message to young women and girls that we all have these endless closets of clothes we never wear more than once, especially on a red carpet.”

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She continues, “The hours that it takes, the artisans’ labor and the gorgeous fabrics all deserve to be worn again and treasured. It seems wasteful not to enjoy these dresses.”

This time, Lakshmi added a different accessory to her look — a blue ribbon pinned to her hip to show her support for the American Civil Liberties Union.

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While Lakshmi admits that “fashion is fun,” she believes “there are more important ways to spend my time than to have hours of fittings for these big events.”

Check out all of PEOPLE’s 2018 Emmys coverage here

“It’s a lot of pressure!” she admits. “What matters is the work that got us here to the Emmys. Instead of fretting so much over what to wear, I’d rather go to the park and throw a ball with #littlehands or tinker in the kitchen with her bonding over delicious food. I want to teach her that there is more to life.”

Lakshmi previously hinted that she planned to wear the J. Mendel gown again when she stopped by PEOPLE HQ earlier this year.

“I love, love, love the Chrisitian Siriano dress I wore to the Emmys [in 2017]. But I had another dress that I loved as well and it was a J. Mendel dress. And I felt like it was a little risqué and very cleavage forward, shall we say. So I didn’t wear it and I wound up wearing it to the 10th anniversary of Indian Vogue,” she said. “But I wish, and I probably will, wear it somewhere here in America. I don’t care if people are like, ‘Oh she wore that!'”

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Michael Che and Colin Jost, will air live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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