Things weren't always Manolos and Harry Winston
Sarah Jessica Parker Instyle
Credit: Thomas Whiteside/InStyle

Sarah Jessica Parker has long held a reputation of having the world’s most enviable closet, thanks in large part to her fashion-obsessed onscreen alter ego, Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw. But even before she had every designer at her fingertips, the star says, she was having fun with fashion, just in a much more low-budget way. In her cover story for InStyle’s January issue, Parker explains — and opens up about inspiration, being a designer and why thrift stores are so important to her.

“I dress based on what I have,” Parker tells the magazine’s new editor-in-chief, Laura Brown. “I’m not a huge shopper, but I love beautiful things. To be able to borrow them is ridiculously fortunate, and I enjoy every second of that. I have a pretty standard wardrobe, though I’ve got wonderful shoes.”

But before she introduced women across the country to the idea of using your oven as extra storage, Parker didn’t have all those designers on speed dial. So where did the queen of fashion inspiration turn for fashion inspiration? Parker says wardrobe cues were always all around her — on the streets and subways. The challenge, however, was bringing those looks to life.

“I was like, ‘How can I do that? How can I afford to do that? What’s my version of that?’ Honestly, thrift stores played such a huge part in my life before Sex and the City, and of course, my mom was the biggest influence. She had pretty firm ideas about how we should dress.”

Of course, the Divorce star has come a long way since those days. Now, she’s not only looking for trends, she’s creating them as a designer herself. But according to Parker, being so involved in the fashion industry isn’t a walk in the park — no, not even if you’re SJP.

“It’s really tough,” she tells InStyle of what she’s learned since becoming a designer. “And it’s competitive. I don’t mean the designers are competitive. I mean it’s a competitive industry. Without marketing dollars, you have to be consistent with your customers. You have to be deserving of their money.”

Read more from the star at InStyle, and the next time you walk into a thrift store, take a minute to wonder: “What would SJP choose?”

What’s your favorite look of Bradshaw’s? Sound off below.