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Charli XCX just might be the world’s most prolific pop star. Unlike most artists, who typically take years-long breaks between record cycles, Charli’s famous for releasing experimental EPs (like 2016’s electro-influenced Vroom Vroom, her collaboration with enigmatic British producer Sophie) and even entire mixtapes (like the fantastic Number 1 Angel, which dropped in March and melds sugary pop with hip-hop) in between albums.
Charli’s love of changing things up extends to her personal style, too. Once a ’90s diehard who performed exclusively in plaid kilts and crop tops, she recently began working with stylist Lisa Katnic (the fashion maestro behind Miley Cyrus’s Bangerz makeover) and now prefers cartoonish prints, neon brights, and girly ruffles.
In the days leading up to Charli’s performance at Governors Ball in New York, I spoke with the pop phenom about her ever-evolving style, her vintage shopping tips, and her diplomatic approach to handling fashion criticism.
Your style is so fun — tell me about how you choose what to wear every day!
I always just really dress how I feel. It depends on how I wake up in the morning, what mood I’m in. I definitely feel like I’m wearing stuff now that I would’ve never worn two or three years ago. Like, I used to never wear trainers or jeans, and now I wear trainers and jeans all the time! I’m about five million years late on that look. [Laughs]
You were definitely pushing ’90s style — chokers, slip dresses, crop tops — before most people got on board. How do you feel now that those trends are everywhere?
It’s cool! I mean, it doesn’t bother me. I still wear stuff like that from time to time, but I’ve tried to move on to what I think is the next thing.
And what’s that?
Oh god, now I really wish I hadn’t said that! [Laughs] I’m just trying to get by in my trainers and jeans.
How would you describe your personal style in three words?
Lazy, sporty, and... oh god, I’m so hungover. You can pick the third!
Well, maybe “hungover” is the third! I mean, have you ever drunk-shopped?
Oh, definitely. But I don’t know if I’m buying clothes so much as random, stupid shit. And loads of food, probably.
I also know you’re a big fan of vintage. Where are some of your favorite sources?
Well, I went to the Rose Bowl for the first time the other week, which was really cool. I like shopping for vintage furniture because you can really haggle. I’m only okay at it, but my mum is amazing, so I’ll bring her along and let her do her thing. I actually bought myself an outdoor bathtub when we went!
For clothes, there are some really great vintage stores in Portland [, Oregon] — I love shopping there. Squaresville in LA is one of my favorite places, and I like Iguana, too. I’ll also go to Goodwill sometimes.
What’s your best Goodwill find?
I found these silver and pink glittery princess shoes that were pretty cool. I actually haven’t worn them yet, though!
I’m always buying shoes — any kind of shoes. Trainers, boots, heels... I love a platform. I maybe own around 70 pairs. I really love these Dries [van Noten] boots that I got recently from Opening Ceremony; they’re my new favorite.
Are you more into shopping in person than online, then?
I love in person, to be honest, just because you can try shit on. VFiles and Opening Ceremony are two of my favorite places, and I also like Joyrich. In London, I love the big department stores, Liberty’s and Selfridges. And I do like some Topshop, too; they always have really great stuff.
Speaking of high street, you did a collection for Boohoo not too long ago. Any interest in designing more?
For sure! It’d be very cool to do a line of trainers.
Tell me about the most beloved item in your closet right now.
So there’s this Chinese designer called Sankuaz who made me a load of personalized stuff with my name all over it. And there’s one jacket in particular — this green oversized bomber jacket that has his name on the back and mine on the front. I absolutely love it.
What are three beauty products you always take on tour with you?
Do you have any fashion regrets from your past?
Tons. I remember one of the first photoshoots I did was with Rankin, and I dressed up in the stupidest outfit. I was wearing yellow tights with black polka dots on them and a leotard, and I had a blue Marie Antoinette wig on. It was a real fucking disaster.
I mean, it sounds kind of cool to me. Okay, so how do you handle style critics today?
Oh, I don’t really worry about it. Like, if people criticize my style or diss my look, then that’s cool — we’re just not meant to be friends. Maybe they’re just not on my level!
Charli XCX’s mixtape Number 1 Angel is out now.