Style is, rightfully so, important for any young actress. And that’s doubly the case when said actress is starring in a super-fashion-conscious show like ABC Family’s Jane By Design. The dramedy finds the young Erica Dasher (pictured here) playing high schooler Jane Quimby, the naive, yet oddly competent, underage assistant to Gray Chandler Murray (Andie MacDowell), a fashion maven fierce enough to give The Devil Wears Prada‘s Miranda Priestly a run for her money.
In celebration of all that fashion and in anticipation of tonight’s new episode of Jane at 9 p.m., “The Finger Bowl” — which guest stars fashion designer Nanette Lepore and finds our leading lady presenting a new fashion line — EW caught up with Dasher to talk about her own style, which isn’t exactly the same as that of her on-screen counterpart.
“I wear mostly vintage,” she told EW. “I like vintage because each piece is unique, and I think the quality of craftsmanship in vintage is harder to come by nowadays unless you can afford to buy high-end labels.” Mixing, Dasher continued, is her preferred method. “I like high and low pieces,” she explained. “Now that I’m growing up a little bit, I have a couple of pieces that I’ve invested in that I really like, like a nice bag. A nice neutral-colored bag, or a nice black bag, is a really good way to pump-up any outfit.”
Dasher admits, however, that her appreciation for fashion — rather fittingly — has grown since starring on Jane. “I’ve always admired fashion from afar, but it has been fun to immerse myself in the world,” she says. “I’m learning how to express myself with fashion, so my style is still definitely evolving.” In that spirit, Dasher was happy to share her seven (apparently, ever-evolving) personal style rules:
1. Incorporate Color. “I’m trying to incorporate more color into my wardrobe,” Dasher says. “I always thing black clothes look flattering and sophisticated, but outfits pop with color.”
2. Wear What’s Comfortable. “Now that I’m saying it, it sounds… ,” she says, trailing off. “It’s about dressing in what you feel comfortable in. There’s a need to go outside of my comfort zone a little bit for red carpet events and stuff, and that’s good, but sometimes I feel like I look a little bit like I’m wearing my mother’s clothes. So, I’m just trying to wear stuff that I feel comfortable in.”
3. Try It On First. “Our costume designer on the show, Olivia Miles, will bring in racks of clothes and have me try on something, and I’ll be like, ‘I don’t know,'” Dasher says. “So I learned this style rule from [my co-star] Andie McDowell: You gotta put it on. Which I’ve began heeding myself. For instance, there were these trousers in episode nine that my costume designer wanted me to wear, and I was like, ‘I don’t think those are going to look good on me.’ She was like, ‘You just have to put them on!’ So I put them on and they ended up being my favorite thing from the show. I think they make me feel like Annie Hall and I think they’re super cool.”
4. One Item Can Make an Outfit. “I didn’t realize how important accessories were until I started the show,” she says. “Nice shoes or a nice bag — or even a nice shade of lipstick — can dress an outfit up. It only takes one thing to make a whole look really work. A little focus will make things pop.”
5. Own a Leather Jacket. “A must-have is a leather jacket — they always make everything look cool. I own, like, five leather jackets. It just makes you feel cool. I just feel like a rockstar when I wear leather jackets. If you feel confident and cool, then you look cool. Even, say, a nice flowy dress, you can put on a leather jacket and, suddenly, it’s a different look. Or throw it on with jeans. Or it’s a great date outfit, like a first date outfit. Because it doesn’t look like you’re trying too hard and you still look cool. So that’s a definitely must-have for me.”
6. Use Leopard Prints as a Neutral. “It has to be well done, but leopard pumps, I think, can function as a neutral. I have a pair of leopard wedges that I wear with a floral skirt, and it works,” she says. “I think of leopard as a neutral. I’m not sure if it applies to all animal prints, I think it may just apply to leopard. The black and brown work together, and it’s so ubiquitous now. You can pair it with so many different things.”
7. Break All the Rules. “I have this pair of shoes, they look almost like school-boy shoes. They’re super beat-up and gross, but they’re my good luck shoes,” Dasher says. “But I wear them into meetings with studio executives. I produced a documentary, and when I’d meet with investors, I’d wear them because they were my good luck shoes. They’re a conversation piece. While most people might put on a pair of nice black pumps, I put on these cool shoes that have sentimental value. I guess that’s a form of breaking the rules. Mix prints! Floral and strips and layer a bunch of different things, so that’s like breaking the rules.”
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky