Throughout her three-decade career, Cameron Diaz has delivered her fair share of iconic fashion moments. Never one to play it safe, she's displayed her style range time and again, shutting down red carpets in everything from couture gowns to tube tops with low-slung jeans, not to mention sporting unforgettable costumes on screen. Looking back now, Diaz has only one fashion regret — and it has nothing to do with the (at times questionable) trends of the early aughts.
In conversation with actor and producer Corinne Foxx for InStyle's May Style Crush feature, Diaz reveals that she only wishes she had the show-stopping looks from her past hanging in her closet today. "My girlfriends have all of their red-carpet looks, and I'm like, 'Wait, what do you mean you have them?'" says the Avaline wine co-founder, who stepped away from Hollywood to focus on starting a family in recent years. "I never kept any, and now I want to go back and get them all. I do have most of the wardrobes from my movies — sweaters, boots, and a Valentino coat from The Holiday and a ton of stuff from Charlie's Angels."
Though her characters' clothes are currently in storage, Diaz explains how she's continued to stay true to herself through her own wardrobe choices over the years. "I never let somebody dress me in a way where they use me to sell something," she says. "When I started going to premières, I didn't have stylists. I'd buy an outfit at Barneys and style it myself." It's her authenticity that inspired Foxx — who executive produces Netflix's new series Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! — to choose Diaz as her Style Crush, and we connected the pair to chat all things fashion for our May issue. "I'd go to events with my dad [Jamie Foxx] growing up, and I was just trying to find my fashion footing," says Foxx. "The glitz and glamour feels like a fairy tale, but as a little girl, I was like, 'How will I ever look like that?'" Seeing Diaz in the press gave her hope. "I'm a bit intimidated by the fashion world, but the way [Cameron wears] clothing feels accessible."
For more on their respective red carpet journeys — plus Diaz's candid take on motherhood style — read their full chat below.
Corinne Foxx: Cameron, thank you for doing this. I love when we cross paths — I've looked up to you for so long and admire how you've navigated your career. I hope to follow in your footsteps.
Cameron Diaz: I'm so flattered. I've always loved seeing you with your father, and I'm sure you'll achieve great things because you're genuine and you go after what you want.
CF: Your effortless style resonated with me when I was younger and saw you on every magazine cover. I'm a bit intimidated by the fashion world, but the way you wear clothing feels accessible. It's very Californian and has this ease to it.
CD: I am from California! I grew up in Long Beach, so you're dead on. I find clothes that represent my ease in who I am. I never want to feel self-conscious or like the clothes are wearing me — I'd rather be underdressed than overdressed. I admire people who want to be over-the-top, but I prefer to be subtle in jeans, a blazer, and a pair of heels. Although I've decided to never wear heels again if I don't have to. [laughs]
I’m a bit intimidated by the fashion world, but the way you wear clothing feels accessible.
CF: You have a minimalistic approach, but I feel like there's always one piece that really shines.
CD: Yeah. I approach everything as wanting to be chic and paired-down, but then I'll have one special piece that anchors everything into place. Then I build around it. You can always zest up an outfit with a great earring or a pop of color.
CF: I'd go to events with my dad growing up, and I was just trying to find my fashion footing. The glitz and glamour feels like a fairy tale, but as a little girl, I was like, "How will I ever look like that?" I'm more confident taking risks now that I'm older and know myself better. But I'm still figuring it out and trying different things to see what sticks. I'm a blank slate. Is there anything you wish you knew sooner about red carpet dressing?
CD: No. I've always been comfortable with what I've chosen to wear. I never thought, "How can I make a big splash or be best dressed?" I wanted to feel good and be authentic to myself.
CF: What's your process for choosing a look?
CD: It's crazy, because sometimes you find yourself standing in front of 15 couture gowns — and who's going to complain about that? You can't help but have reverence for the craftsmanship of these pieces of art. There's always a sit test when I'm trying on a couture dress. Can I get in and out of the car and sit in this for hours in an audience? And how easy is it to get out of to go to the bathroom — will I have to take somebody with me? I've had to do that in several gowns.
CF: Right. You have to be able to go to the bathroom!
CD: Exactly. So I pick things that speak to where I'm at in life. I never try to be on-trend. In fact, I'm always picking through trends—I have long legs but a short torso, so a lot of cuts don't match my proportions. I think it's important to find a silhouette that works for you and make that your go-to. I have pants from the '90s that I love, but they don't make them anymore. It's a cut that works for me, so I had a pattern of them made for my current size. It doesn't matter that it's not on trend, it just looks good.
CF: I love that you don't subscribe to the trends, but you subscribe to what works for your body. I have the opposite problem: a long torso and short legs. So I also have to be picky about what I wear. I'm loving suits and blazers right now because I think they look good on my body.
CD: If you find one you love, hold on to it! My girlfriends have all of their red carpet looks, and I'm like, "Wait, what do you mean you have them?" I never kept any, and now I want to go back and get them all. I do have most of the wardrobes from my movies — sweaters, boots, and a Valentino coat from The Holiday and a ton of stuff from Charlie's Angels. I also have the sickest shoes and beautiful designer clothing from the '90s and early 2000s. People had to go to Europe to buy designer clothes back then; it wasn't as proliferated here as it is now. High-end designer clothes were really special, and I'm always proud to say, "I've had this since the '90s. I got it in Rome." Those are the items that I'll pass down [to my daughter, Raddix].
I never let somebody dress me in a way where they use me to sell something.
CF: What is your favorite thing you've ever worn?
CD: The silk Emanuel Ungaro dress [pictured at top] I wore to the Oscars in 2002. I kept on a $20 turquoise plastic bead bracelet I'd been wearing all week and then tied a ribbon to this crazy-expensive Indian paisley diamond necklace that was on loan to wear it as a belt. I put my hair in a ponytail and was like, "This is how I want to leave the house." My nails weren't even done—the polish was chipping off.
CF: I love that. When too many people are involved in a look, you can lose yourself and become someone else's creation. Obviously that's an art in and of itself, but the red carpet is such a strange environment and it's incredible that you're so dedicated to feeling authentic. Maybe I'm making this more spiritual than it needs to be [laughs], but to have even a little piece with you, like a bracelet, can be grounding.
CD: Definitely. When I started going to premières, I didn't have stylists. I'd buy an outfit at Barneys and style it myself. The red carpet wasn't a big business then. It's become a marketing tool for designers to use celebrities as models without having to pay them to be in a campaign. It's a shit show now, the whole thing. There's a 360-degree camera panning your nails and advertisements for your diamonds, your dress, your hair. I'm like, "No, thank you." I never let somebody dress me in a way where they use me to sell something.
CF: It really is a huge production now, and I love that you were your own stylist originally. What designers have you gravitated toward over time?
CD: I've worn beautiful Chanel and Versace gowns, and Stella [McCartney], of course. I love Valentino and did great work with Gucci when Tom Ford was at the house. For a more casual red carpet, I like to mix different designers. It's all about high-low.
CF: These days, what do you feel your best wearing?
CD: Well, it's COVID, so I'm just in sweatpants, like everybody else. I give zero effs, as they say, about the fashion situation. [laughs] My poor husband [Benji Madden].
CF: It really is hard to care right now when there's nowhere to go. I'm always rushing to set at the last minute in jeans and sneakers and a hoodie. My executive producer wardrobe isn't glamorous or flashy at all, because I don't have to be in front of the camera or in hair and makeup or anything. I'm just trying to blend in and make sure my dad gets to work on time. [laughs]
CD: I fear what's going to happen when we get let back out into the world [laughs].
CF: I know, right? I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I actually have to put thought into this now."
CD: Exactly! Quarantine has been like a reset mode where it's the least amount of effort I can put into any aspect of what I look like, which is kind of great. I do put on my face and some earrings for Zoom calls, and I try to wear a clean shirt. I keep a pile of them next to where I do my Zooms, away from the baby and my four dogs. It's really true what they say about having a baby: Nothing stays clean. I used to wear light colors, but now that I'm covered in everything imaginable, I wear mostly black. My strategy since becoming a mom is all about how I can hide that I have crust all over me.
For more stories like this, pick up the May 2021 issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Apr. 16th.
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