August 31, 2012 01:00 PM

Kelly Jordan/Startraks

If you ask Nicole Richie, her style phases have all aligned with a pop culture moment. “I’ve gone through every stage from Punky Brewster to Clarissa Explains It All, Reality Bites, Clueless,” she tells PEOPLE. “I was that girl, constantly playing around with fashion, playing around with different hair colors, different hairstyles. I still do that, and I probably won’t be stopping for a while.”

However, “playing” with fashion can have its consequences. “I’m sure that in 10 years I’ll be looking back on some things I even wore now and think, ‘What the hell was I thinking?'” she jokes.

For as bold as she is with her statements, Richie actually considers her daily style quite basic. “I think of myself as kind of a jeans and T-shirt person who just accessorizes a lot. I am probably an over-accessorizer,” she says. “It’s really easy to change up jeans and a T-shirt with shoes and sunglasses and a bag. There’s a million different ways to go ahead and do that.”

That easy routine definitely has to do with being a mom. “I get ready in 20 minutes, and sometimes it looks like I got ready in 20 minutes,” she admits. And surprisingly, her kids take notice.

“I was wearing these polka-dot harem pants the other day and my daughter said to me, ‘Mom, why are you wearing your pajamas out?'” she recalls. “I was like, oh boy, already getting an opinion.”

While Harlow may be tough, Sparrow seems to be less of a critic. “My son always comes up to me and gives me a hug if he thinks I look pretty,” she shares. “Their biggest compliment to me if I’m wearing anything with sequins on it, they tell me that I look like a princess.”

The star, who just released her first fragrance, Nicole, and has a line for Macy’s hitting shelves on Sept. 12, hasn’t changed her entire wardrobe to suit her work as a mom, though. “I wear heels if I like them,” she says. “I’m lucky in the sense that I’m really good at walking in heels, but I definitely don’t wear them for height. I’m 5-ft., 1-in., so the tallest I’m ever getting is 5-ft., 5-in., so who cares about that? So if I’m wearing a heel it’s because I actually like the heel — I don’t sacrifice comfort for heels.” For more with Richie, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

–Reporting by Jackie Fields 


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