February 07, 2014 07:00 AM

Michael Simon/Startraks

Kate Mara has been having a lot of fun with her hair lately, between lopping it all off into a bob and gradually lightening it to its current bright blonde iteration. And she’s loving it as much as you are (“It’s so much easier,” she says).

But though she went short just for fun (the color is for a movie), Mara had a very good reason for wanting to make a big hair change. “I was just ready to not be — this sounds really cheesy — but I didn’t want to be defined by my hair color,” she tells PEOPLE. “My hair has always been crazy long and I was just ready to let that go.”

RELATED PHOTOS: Vote on more star hair changes right here!

She’s still experimenting with different looks to go with her blonde hair after years of having her one-length auburn locks. “Obviously the color changes the way makeup looks and the way colors look,” she says. “With my natural red hair I gravitate more towards color, and with the blonder hair I like to wear more neutral things like black and white.” Which is great news for sister Rooney, who also favors that stark color palette — now she’s got twice the clothes to borrow!

What do you think of Mara as a blonde? Do you also change up your wardrobe when you change your hair?

–Alex Apatoff, reporting by Gabrielle Olya

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