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How I Shop: Sutton Foster

“One of my favorite things to do is to find that bargain. I love it.”

Sutton Foster at a Tribeca Film Festival screening of ‘Younger.’ Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

After faithfully watching six seasons (and awaiting a seventh) of the TV series “Younger,” it’s easy for fans to somehow merge the charming Sutton Foster with her also very charming character Liza: a 40-year-old former New Jersey housewife masquerading as a 25-year old Williamsburg fashion hipster to re-enter the ageist Manhattan publishing world. 

But, obviously, the talented actress, singer and dancer is her own person, with her own signature style, which happens to be as down-to-earth as the two-time Tony winner and Grammy nominee (plus honoree of a bajillion other theater accolades). 

Foster recently sat front row at at the Spring 2020 runway show of longtime supporter and theater buff Michael Kors — alongside Yalitza Aparicio, Kate Hudson and Nicole Kidman — but she still seems a bit shell-shocked by the moment, which also feels refreshingly Liza-esque. “It was really cool, but I was just like, ‘Oh my god, what?'” Foster says over the phone from her home in New York. “That front row picture: I was like, ‘How did that happen?’ I was just honored to be invited.”

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Sutton Foster (center) next to (left to right) Yalitza Aparicio, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Inez van Lamsweerde, Karen Elson and Derek Blasberg at the Michael Kors Collection Spring 2020 runway show at New York Fashion Week. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Michael Kors

For the NYFW event, she was, of course, dressed in an asymmetric shoulder and floral print midi-dress by the designer, who’s lent her pieces throughout the years. She also recently wore a sultry bustier-topped brocade number by Michael Kors for a live performance at Cafe Carlyle (which I can imagine Kelsey, Liza and Lauren checking out after a day at the millennial offices on an episode of “Younger.”) 

But in her downtime, Foster is way more chill with her aesthetic, which she’ll describe in detail below. Well, unless it’s for one of her dedicated workouts. “You know what I’m proud of? I’m proud that I’m often the only person in class wearing colors. Everyone wears black!” laughs Foster, who’s a fan of Lululemon‘s high-waisted Align leggings. “I just have 10 pairs of pants and 10 sports bras and some shirts, but they’re all with butterflies, flowers and tie-dye. So it looks like a unicorn puked in my workout drawer.”

The triple-threat emphasizes that she doesn’t pay full price as a member of the brand’s “Sweat Collective,” which offers a professional discount, because she loves herself some sort of bargain. Shoppers would more likely spot Foster at an outlet mall or off-price multi-brand retailer rather than, say, Barneys New York or Bergdorf Goodman. Plus, as a seasoned discount power shopper, she always goes on a mission prepared — in a move that Diana Trout would throw some side-eye at (or maybe not since Enzo probably hits the sales in the Staten Island malls with his ma).

Always bring snacks, like, have a smoothie with Lactaid milk,” Foster suggests. “You have to keep going, especially when you’re bargain shopping. If you start fading, you might miss a bargain.”

To help alleviate “Younger” withdrawal — related both to fashion and drama (#TeamJosh or #TeamCharles?!) — Foster shares with Fashionista how her style differs from her on-screen alter-ego’s, where her favorite places are to bargain shop and what she’s learned about styling from Liza. Read on below:

Team Charles or Team Josh? Peter Hermann, Foster and Nico Tortorella at a ‘Younger’ screening in April. Photo: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/Getty Images

“Gosh, I always joke that my character on ‘Younger,’ Liza, has way more style than I do and actually I think my two-and-a-half year old has more style than I do. Half the stuff that Liza wears, I could never pull off. I will say that her style has evolved quite a bit. 

At first, I felt like Liza and, rightfully so, was almost trying too hard to look young. But as she’s evolved — and as her age has been more and more revealed — she’s stepping into her own power. A lot of the things she wears now, I’m like, ‘Oh, I would totally wear this.’ Her style has streamlined quite a bit. She’ll wear simple dresses. She doesn’t have 18 layers on and a beanie and leg warmers. All these things on top of each other.

My personal style is comfort and ease. I’m a jeans, T-shirt and Toms type of gal. If I need to elevate it to any degree, it’s a simple dress — like an Ulla Johnson dress — and some flats. When I work with a stylist or when I’m getting dressed for events, I tend to go classic, easy, nothing too structured, nothing too severe. Anything that feels easy. I don’t want to be uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because I spend so much time in the theater and I’ve had to wear all sorts of costumes and tights. I always opt for comfort and ease.

I grew up very middle class. I still love bargain shopping and I’m obsessed with a day at Marshalls or T.J.Maxx. I love all the [discount] sites: HauteLook, Gilt and Rue La La. I love any type of bargain. I have brands that I really like, like, I love James Perse and its classic T-shirts. I just went to Woodbury Common, which is this outlet mall about an hour outside New York City and they have a James Perse store. I always go there and I buy stuff for myself and for my husband and they’re just really great quality cotton.

Foster on the 2019 Tony Awards red carpet. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

I’ll just scour racks. One of my favorite things to do is to find that bargain. I love it. I love it. I was just in California for the summer and one of my best friends was out there and she’s the same way. We went and hit Nordstrom Rack and Marshalls. You just have to spend time and often you’ll find the thing that you tried on [previously] in a store and it’s now 40% off, and, you’re like, ‘Yesss.You feel like you found the score. Some of my favorite clothes, I’ll be like, ‘Awwwwww.’ I’ll remember the Marshalls I found it in.

There are two [Marshalls locations] in Los Angeles that I found were just awesome. One in Studio City on Ventura and one in Burbank at the Burbank Empire Center. They’re all a little bit different and also different coast to coast. We always come with snacks, so we can stay and find everything we’re looking for — and then everything that we’re not looking for.

That’s the thing, often when you go shopping, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to get a new pair of jeans or going to get new shoes.’ But when you’re bargain shopping you have to be like, ‘OK, I didn’t come here for a jacket, but this jacket’s awesome and I’m going to get this jacket.’ You have to have a bit more of an open mind.

I actually found this really cool Free People jacket in a Marshalls in L.A. It was on the wrong rack; It was hidden amongst the sweaters or something. It’s a perfect fall jacket: a camel color, but it has ties and big pockets and I’m so excited for the weather to get cooler so I can wear it.

“I was joking about smoothies, but literally the last time I went to Marshalls, I had a smoothie.” Photo: Michael Simon/Courtesy of Lactaid

I guess the way that Liza’s style has influenced me is how [costume designer Jacqueline Demeterio and former costume consultant Patricia Field] dress her very high-low. She’ll wear a lot of high-end pieces, like Gucci sandals, but then she’ll have a dress from Zara. I invested in a pair of Gucci loafers. Suddenly, I feel chicer and they’re so comfortable. Then I invested in a Chloé bag. I’m just trying to elevate my staples, so that I feel a little more put-together. Everything doesn’t have to be, you know, designer designer. You can mix and play.

But, [storage is] a nightmare because I have one closet and it’s tiny. We actually have a house with a giant closet outside the city, but we only go there on the weekends. I just did a major clean-out last February and I’m going to try to do another one. I tend to hold onto things. 

Just last week, I went through all my jeans and if the inseam zipper was shorter than two-inches, I was like, ‘they gotta go.’ Why did we ever do that to ourselves? So I’m trying to keep my clothes here to a minimum. But I’m in my bedroom right now and I’m staring at a pile of clothes on a chair that I need to go through. My closet: No one is allowed in there because everything’s kind of on top of each other. The closet is always on the to do list. 

I try to keep things seasonal. That helps. I’ll move all my summer stuff now to the lake house and then I’ll forget all my summer stuff is at the lake house and then I’ll buy all new summer stuff. I’ll be like, ‘Where are all my T-shirts? I should probably get some more.'”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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