In what might just be the most satisfying celebrity confession of all time, at the start of her career Blake Lively wore Forever 21 on the red carpet—like a lot. Moreover, she was so embarrassed about it that when reporters would ask who she was wearing, Lively would simply reply: “Oh, it’s vintage.”
But it wasn’t. It was the product of everyone’s favorite fast-fashion brand (until Fashion Nova came along and stole their crown). Forever 21 was the shop that allowed burgeoning fashionistas to cut their teeth on watered-down runway rip-offs for a price their parents could justify, and is still convenient when one needs a strong staple. In an interview with InStyle, Lively expressed her early affinity for the brand, admitting that the strapless yellow mini dress she wore to the Teen Choice Awards was from the retailer—and cost just $13.
“This was my second ever premiere,” she said. “I’m wearing a $13 dress from Forever 21. On the red carpet people were like ‘who are you wearing?’ But when I told them, they said I shouldn’t admit to it, like it was more impressive to have a designer gown that’s thousands of dollars. After that I just told people it was vintage.”
The actress went on to claim that the 2005 ceremony was not the only time she wore Forever 21 to glamorous Hollywood events.
“I wore Forever 21 much longer than I admitted,” she adds. “I just started saying it was vintage because I was so shamed for it.” Then she laughed. “For me, fashion is a form of self-expression. It also really takes me out of my comfort zone. One of the reasons I’m an actor is that I’m naturally very shy, so it’s liberating to dress up and pretend to be someone else.”
In Lively’s honor, we scoured Forever 21 for the hottest summer pieces that you can totally claim to “vintage,” you know, in case a reporter asks.