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Bryce Dallas Howard Reveals Her Defining Wardrobe Item

See the surprisingly stylish staple the actress used to tell her life story in her latest project for Canon.

Source: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin

How would you sum up your life in 60 seconds? If that's a bit too daunting, consider your wardrobe: Could you sum up your style in a 60-second video? Bryce Dallas Howard recently tackled both by creating a movie trailer for Canon's Project Imagination, a contest inviting aspiring filmmakers to submit their own for the chance at a short film. Spotlighting some surprising stylish items, the actress, writer and director gave us the scoop on the role fashion has played in her career—plus why fancy footwear takes center stage in her real-life story.

I’ve always felt very sentimental about shoes—ever since I was a little girl."

–Bryce Dallas Howard

What inspired you to spotlight shoes in your trailer? "This format gives you so much freedom. With a full-length feature film, you need a significant storyline with a beginning, middle and end [as well as] complex character development, multiple adventures and then you have to make it all hang together in a 90 to 120-minute film—it's incredibly challenging. With this project, you only have 60 seconds to fill up, so it gives you the license to get creative. For a short trailer, you don't necessarily have to know how the characters ended up together, how this character got on the roof of that building or if something like this would really happen in such-and-such period. Because of that freedom, I wanted to try something I never would be able to do with a feature film. I knew I wanted to tell a love story inspired by my own family's love stories. I’ve always felt very sentimental about shoes—ever since I was a little girl. I will typically repair my shoes several times, get them re-soled and cleaned. I never want to let go of [them]. The wear and tear that I see with my shoes and the kinds of shoes I wear during different periods in my life in retrospect directly represent my own journey—perhaps more than anything else. I wanted to tell a love story that showed the passage of time and when I was day-dreaming about how I could do that, I happened to glance down at my own feet, where I was wearing a particularly worn pair of shoes I’ve had for over a decade and thought, ‘ah ha!’"

Do you have any additional items in your own wardrobe that are just as meaningful to your life story? "Well that's easy: my grandmother’s pearl necklace—with her high school ring and a ring my dad gave my mom when they were 21 as the pendant. It's my ultimate good luck charm. I bring it everywhere with me."

Bryce Dallas Howard as Fisher Willow in The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (Source: Constellation Entertainment)
Bryce Dallas Howard as Fisher Willow in The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (Source: Constellation Entertainment)

I probably relate to my character in 'The Help' the absolute least, but I must say that she had great clothes."

–Bryce Dallas Howard

Which of the characters that you’ve portrayed throughout your career do you relate to the most? How about in terms of style? "I played a character named Fisher Willow in a Tennessee Williams film [The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond] that took place in the 1920s. She's bombastic and sticks out, but she’s also sensitive and self-aware. She's deeply flawed but brave and unapologetic. Her costumes reflected that as well. And the clothes from the time period were beautiful with so many ornate details. In fashion, the '20s represented a time of independence and freedom of expression for women. I probably relate to my character in The Help the absolute least, but I must say that she had great clothes—lots of florals and color-coordinating. Women in the 1960s had shape, and the clothes of that time accentuated that femininity so I felt great in all of my costumes. Any period film is a blast, costume-wise. In Jurassic World, I got the chance to wear beautiful delicate rose-gold jewelry by Jennifer Meyer. I love wearing her jewelry in my own life as well because without being fussy, her pieces look and feel so elegant, understated and personal. I have a Jennifer Meyer nameplate that was given to me as a gift with my husband’s name on one side and my children’s names on the other. I wear it everyday and people always ask me about it, and then I get to talk about my favorite subject: my family. In my next movie, Pete's Dragon, I play a park ranger in the early 1980s and I get to wear pretty much the sickest hat ever made. It has this really detailed, handmade, embossed-leather band. I absolutely am obsessed with it. I'm secretly hoping park ranger hats come back into style so I can wear it at the premiere—there's an easy way to get on the worst-dressed list!"

Bryce Dallas Howard Reveals Her Defining Wardrobe Item
Source: Mark Davis/Getty Images North America

How has your sense of style evolved throughout your career? "The older I get, the more comfortable I am wearing pajamas whenever I want. Seriously, my advice to any woman, especially a young mother, is find a great set of pajamas and never let them go. It's about as essential as finding the right pair of sunglasses. My personal favorite is BedHead. They recently did a collaboration with Liberty that is gorgeous, and I love the cotton-stretch for comfort. J.Crew has very comfortable and classic flannel pajamas.

I’ve never felt comfortable looking like the ‘actress’ in the room."

–Bryce Dallas Howard

When I'm out of the house, I typically wear J.Crew or Banana Republic jeans; a T-shirt and cardigan or blazer from J.Crew; and TOMS or a pair of old, beat-up pale blue Chanel flats I adore—I bought them eight years ago and have had them re-soled three times.  I try to avoid wearing too much black so I have a ton of navy in my closet. And I love wearing color, but I very rarely will go for a print during the day. I keep it basic on a day-to-day basis. When it comes to going out at night for dinner, my go-to is often Kate Spade. What I find so stylish about [her] clothes is that the cut is always classic, flattering and pretty while the colors and prints have a touch of unexpected flair. There is an inherent ladylike playfulness with Kate Spade that makes wearing her clothes an occasion unto themselves.

When it comes to the red carpet, I also try to keep it pretty easy. I’ve never felt comfortable looking like the ‘actress’ in the room. I like looks on the red carpet to have an understated quality, something effortless and timeless. Posing on a red carpet already feels so inherently awkward, so I gravitate towards clothing that makes me feel grounded, comfortable and like myself."

What is the key to a good movie trailer? "Beautiful imagery, mind-blowing music, a stellar concept [and] characters we fall in love with. If you have those things, you'll have a great trailer. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but I really don't think there's any kind of magic key—and my dad could certainly tell you that. He's made numerous films, and each one is a new kind of challenge. Like anything else, it takes hard work and a willingness to learn. If you want to make a trailer—and you absolutely should—workshop your idea with friends, show them your rough cut, get their feedback and then work to improve it. The art of filmmaking isn't as much about talent as it is about dedication."

Calling all aspiring filmmakers: For the chance to have your trailer turned into short film—starring The Hunger Games' Josh Hutcherson!—submit here. For inspiration, watch Howard's example, inspired by her grandparents' love story (and be sure to have tissues handy):