Decked Out: Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Polished Vintage Vibe

Mary Elizabeth Winstead Horizontal - H 2014
Jessica Chanen

Mary Elizabeth Winstead Horizontal - H 2014

Things we learned this week: The cute actress just dropped her first album with music producer Dan the Automator. Also, she has really cool style. Here's why.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead may be best known for starring in the 2010 comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as the title character's dream girl and the 2012 drama Smashed as an elementary-school teacher who suffers from alcohol abuse, but she has another talent: being one half of music duo Got a Girl with music producer Dan the Automator. Make that two talents: The girl also knows how to dress.

The 29-year-old actress met Dan (nee Daniel Nakamura) while filming Pilgrim (he worked on the film's music), and after spending the past few years collaborating, the duo finally dropped their first album, I Love You But I Must Drive off This Cliff Now (Bulk Recordings). In the music video for the record's debut track "Did We Live Too Fast," it's obvious that Winstead isn't just a mesmerizing vocalist, she's also got really cool style. Since we're basically obsessed with her red-carpet ensembles, we met up with the multihyphenate in L.A.'s artsy, serene Beachwood Canyon hood to chat about her off-duty looks and her best vintage finds.

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Congrats on the release of your new album! Tell us more about the record.

Thanks! The album has been done for about a year and a half, so it feels so nice for it to finally come out. It was quite a labor of love, so it's great to get to share it.

So how long did it take to finish it?

It was a couple of years [to do the album], but it was very on and off because Dan, who's my partner in it — he lives in San Francisco and I live in L.A. so we would send each other ideas through email. He would send me tracks he's working on and I would send him lyrics. We'd record whenever we'd happen to be in the same town or wherever we could make time for it. Once we started being able to be in the same city more, we would write so quickly. It just took us a while to get it going because we were both so busy with other things.

Any plans to go on tour together?

I would love to and I know Dan would love to as well. It's just a scheduling thing. Ultimately, acting is always going to be the thing I'm focused on, so it's going to be hard for me to take time out. With acting, you never know when something's around the corner. It's so hard to plan. I would definitely love to do even a small tour. Maybe some showcases somewhere to try it out in front of a crowd and see what it's like.

We also see that you'll be starring in the film Faults. How was working on that?

My husband [director Riley Stearns] and I worked on that film together. I'm so proud of it. He wrote and directed it. I'm in it and produced it as well. It was such a blast to make. We just know each other so well that it was so easy. He's very, very specific in what he wants, which can be frustrating, sometimes, with directors who are specific and if you don't understand their vision, that can be hard to get there, but because I know him so well, it was so exciting to know exactly what he had in his head and to execute that. It was really fun to go through that process together.

That's awesome. We see that you're wearing your wedding ring. It's beautiful. What's the story behind it?

We've been together for a really long time. When we got married, I think we had been together for seven years by that point. It wasn't your traditional surprise, get down on one knee — although he did do that -— but we kind of knew it was coming. We took a stroll around this antique mall in Sherman Oaks on Ventura that we both really like a lot, and has a lot of great antiques and jewelry. So we went in there and saw this ring and a few other ones; I just sort of guided him in the right direction, which was that I've always wanted an art deco ring, set in this filigree. Then he later went back to get this wedding band, which is a 1950s ring. It's a little 1920s and 1950s. I love it — it's the perfect type of accessory. It's understated enough, but there are still a lot of details to it.


Love that! Sounds like you're very much into vintage. How would you describe your personal style?

I've always been pretty feminine and retro. As I'm getting older, I'm starting to add a lot more elements of menswear and comfort, which may be just a part of getting older. (Laughs.) I think on one hand, I'm starting to like to look a little more powerful, so I like a lot of blazers and boots — things that I didn't used to wear that I'm starting to venture toward like high-waist pants and suits. For a while there, I had nothing but dresses. I didn't have any shirts or pants. It was just a closet full of '50s to '60s silhouette dresses. I've always been a dress girl, and I think part of it has a lot to do with my body shape, which is suited for dresses that are fitted on the waist and then A-lined out so I've always been drawn to that because it's flattering and I've always been more drawn to vintage styles. I'm beginning to own my figure more and I don't mind myself in pants. I used to be like, 'I don't want to show my hips and butt.' I was so self-conscious, but now I'm like, whatever. I'll even do pajama pants sometimes because you know, they're not always so flattering, but it's comfortable and cool.

Yeah, agree. Do you prefer only vintage?

I used to be almost solely vintage. One thing that started to change is — there's something about vintage fabric that isn't very forgiving in terms of the heat, for example. There's a lot of polyester and thick wool. I used to be able to bear through that and be like, 'It's cute. I'm just going to wear it anyway.' And now I'm definitely going toward luxurious fabrics. I used to only thrift shop and go through the dollar bin, and I still love to do that but I think it's more for accent pieces than for the whole look. I like mix things up with a designer thing, a vintage piece and an H&M thing here and there. 

What are some of your go-to brands?

H&M -— I have so many H&M pieces -— Topshop, Madewell, thrift stores, especially in Burbank. There's one called Hubba Hubba that's really great for '40s, '50s stuff. My favorite thing, though, is to go to thrift shops when I'm traveling. I do a little bit in L.A. but I end up doing it more so when I'm on location shooting, because I think in L.A. it's too much of a trend. So many people do it that they mark the prices up, but if you go to a thrift shop in a small town, you find the most amazing things for so cheap. That's one of my favorite ways to discover a new town — visiting vintage and thrift shops.

You must find so many amazing things. What has been your best find so far?

One of my favorite things was I found my wedding veil for $20 at a thrift shop. It was in perfect condition from the '50s. I found it in Toronto while shooting there. My dress was Monique Lhuillier, but it looks very vintage. It was called the "Grace" dress — it was very Grace Kelly-inspired. It was the only dress I tried on and I knew it was good to go.

That sounds perfect. Since you travel so often, how do you usually like to get ready?

I'm very low maintenance. I love a lot of flowy dresses, flat shoes or sturdy boots. I've never been good in heels. I do the red carpet and then I take it off as soon as I'm inside. I'm all about ease and comfort. I'm really enjoying the fact that more comfortable styles are becoming more trendy. I've been living in a pair of Birkenstock-like shoes — it just has one strap instead of two — that I got at a store in Atwater [Village].

Is there anyone whose style you really dig?

I like looking at a lot of models and their off-duty looks. I love Freja Beha. She always looks so cool, has messy hair, or a leather jacket — she always looks like she just woke up looking amazing. That's the thing with models — they probably did just wake up looking like that, but somehow, you feel like emulating that. I love Alexa Chung. There's a couple of blogs that I like to look at, like Natalie Off Duty. I love that blog. Her style is a little kookier than I would go, but I love her photos and a lot of the pieces she puts together. And I've always loved Audrey Hepburn. She's always been my idol since I was a little girl. As I got older, I discovered Anna Karina, who's like the French Audrey Hepburn.

What's been your biggest summer splurge lately?

I am working in Vancouver right now and there's a store called Gravity Pope. I'm working there for four months and I'm planning on going there once a month to splurge on something because it's this amazing store that has all the best stuff. I got these great Rag & Bone boots there. I've been wanting them for a long time, so I was just, like, 'I'm going to do it.'

How long will you be in Vancouver for and what's the project you're working on?

I'll be shooting there until the beginning of October. It's called The Return. It's a 10-episode series from A&E that's based on a French show. It's kind of dark, moody and mysterious. It's about a small town where all these people who have died there start coming back for no reason. They're not ghosts, zombies or anything. They're just there and nobody knows why. It's about their relationships and the consequences of them coming back where they're not supposed to come back. It's a lot of good drama.

1. Sunglasses from a San Francisco boutique

2. Two-piece Proenza Schouler dress found at Opening Ceremony

3. H&M loafers