Lili Reinhart, 20, and Camila Mendes, 23, are best known for playing ride-or-die best frenemies on CW’s Riverdale, who not only have each other’s back through all of their small town’s never-ending scandals but also look impeccably chic while doing so. So far, not even a ruthless and conniving town murderer known as the “Black Hood,” a back-stabbing love triangle between the two pals and the town’s hot ginger, Archie Andrews, or the release of Southside Serpent F.P. from jail could stand in the way of an iconic Betty and Veronica style moment.
When Reinhart and Mendes aren’t wearing their characters’ clothes, the two actresses serve as the face of Bongo jeans and are now also teaming up with JCPenney to put their style expertise to good use by creative directing the JCPenney 2018 prom campaign. The stars worked with the Y to help girls who belong to the organization get prepared for prom (and have a major moment in front of the camera). We chatted with them from the set of their busy, bling-y shoot for the campaign, which will coincide with the prom collection’s Feb. 2 launch.
What does it feel like to style the JCPenney prom campaign with these girls?
Lili Reinhart: We were excited to meet them, and they were super happy to be here. Just to say that we’re creative directors, that we can be on the other side of the camera is a really nice change for us and something we were looking forward to do, because we didn’t want it to be about us—we wanted it to be about the girls getting ready for prom.
Camile Mendes: I think at the end of the day what we’re really trying to do is help these girls figure out what the want for themselves and find a dress that they feel reflects their own style and personality.
What did you wear to your high school prom and what would you think your characters on Riverdale would wear?
Lili Reinhart: I actually didn’t go to prom. I didn’t have the chance. I moved across the country when I was 16 so I left my high school and finished school online in order to pursue my acting more. I remember when I thought that I might be able to go to a prom, I would always look online and screen shot photos and save them on my phone like ‘Oh, this is the kind of style I want!’ but I actually never got to go. But the one thing I told myself to make myself feel better about not going to prom is that I would have plenty of opportunities [to dress up] when I’m on a red carpet some day.
Betty is a little bit more plain and simple and elegant and sweet. I think I am as well, and we both like floral patterns —I think it’s very elegant and timeless.
Camila Mendes: It’s funny – I spent three hours at a department store and wasn’t finding anything; these dresses were really expensive and I didn’t find anything I liked for the price I would pay, so I ended up not getting anything. I was with my mom and we were so frustrated. Then the next weekend I went out with my friends and we were at a thrift store and I came across this really cute, black, kind of old-Hollywood vintage dress and it was so cheap (definitely under $100; I think it was honestly $50 or something). And I put it on and it fit me like a glove. It was just a simple black dress with an open back and it had fake diamonds outlining the back. It was really glamorous and I had my hair all old Hollywood-like and I was like, Oh my God. I kind of cheated prom because I went to a thrift store and found my dream dress.
Camila, you actually got to wear a wedding dress this season. What was that like?
Camila Mendes: I did. One of the shoppers in our costume department borrowed that [dress] from her sister – it was her sister’s wedding dress. We tried on four dresses and that was the one that fit me perfectly; we didn’t even have to alter it at all. And when I put it on I was like ‘Oh my God, when’s the wedding? I’m so ready to get married.’ It was a gorgeous dress.
Is there anything you’d like to see your characters do more of, style-wise?
Camila Mendes: I mean I think there’s something to embrace about how consistent they [Betty and Veronica] are and I think that’s what brings it to the comic book world, because the characters are so set in stone. We definitely like to explore different facets of their personality, but at the end of the day ,what makes it so nostalgic is how true to their selves they are.
Lili Reinhart: Lili speaking on behalf of Betty: You have no idea how many times I tried to get our show runners to let me wear something other than sweaters.
Camila Mendes. Or to have your hair down.
Lili Reinhart: Yeah, having my hair down is a battle. Or wearing something different – even a dress to school, how dare I? But like Camila said, we go with a very consistent sort of feel and our show takes place in a very short amount of time, so if something is evolving in these characters’ lives it’s not gonna be an immediate change. It’s something that is gonna happen slowly over time over the course of seasons, not from one episode to another.
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But we did see Betty in a crazy lingerie set doing a dance! What was that like to film and style?
Lili Reinhart: Scary. I had a fitting for that lingerie and we kind of played around with it: what was appropriate and how I wanted to reveal the black lingerie underneath my outfit. It was a process and it was intimidating. I’m not a Victoria’s Secret model, so I wasn’t trying to be something that I’m not, but it was fun and it gave me an opportunity to show a side of Betty that I don’t normally get to. It was a fun, once in a lifetime, let’s just go for it kind of chance rather than anything else.
What’s your best piece of style advice?
Lili Reinhart: Accepting that you need to wear the clothes, the clothes don’t need to wear you. So it is all about finding things that work for you and there is nothing wrong with your body if something doesn’t flatter you. It’s just a matter of finding the styles, finding the fabrics, shapes that accentuate your own body. You can’t be altered but the clothes can.
Camila Mendes: I think from going to fittings once a week and having to look in the mirror for two hours, I feel like I built a intuition for what’s gonna work and what isn’t, and I noticed how important tailoring is, especially being a more petite body type. I get lost in fabric really easily and tailoring has become so important to really feel like your clothing is meant to be worn by you.
What do you think of Camila Mendes’ and Lili Reinhart’s style advice?