For most up-and-coming actresses, appearance is everything. They use this truism as a reason to explain their more superficial tendencies and to justify an aggressive addiction to the newest, hottest, latest fashion. But while narcissistic preening and glutinous shopping sprees are definitely the norm in for some of Hollywood's youngest residents, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Occasionally you meet someone who looks at clothing as a tool for storytelling rather than showboating, someone like rising star Kay Panabaker.
The 20-year-old actress is currently starring in the hit ABC show No Ordinary Family, which is about a family who discovers they have superpowers after a plane crash in the Amazon. Her performance as Daphne Powell, a newly telepathic teenage girl, is engaging and captivating, accolades than can be attributed in part to Panabaker's attention to outward details. "With acting, it's not always so much about the words, it's more about the persona that the character gives off," she says. "It's in the mannerisms, the hair and makeup, and especially the wardrobe. In fact, wardrobe is everything to me, it really defines the character." Panabaker takes the clothing aspect of her job very seriously, and will reject anything that doesn't feel true to Daphne's fashion sensibilities. "There are so many times when I will say in a fitting, "No, this is too edgy for Daphne, it's too hard," because she has such a specific sense of style," Panabaker says.
Off set, Panabaker has equally firm ideas about how she wants to present herself to the world and the stories she'd like to tell through her wardrobe choices. She's not interested in being the first to try a crazy new trend or pushing the envelope with super-sexy attire, instead Panabaker looks for classic silhouettes and opts for a less-is-more approach to her hair and makeup. "Some of my peers want to seem older, so they'll wear a slinky dressy and heavy eye makeup and show more skin," she says. "I always want to be comfortable with what I'm wearing and take a more youthful approach to dressing."
Now, that doesn't mean she's uninterested in what's going on in fashion; in fact, Panabaker went crazy for a number of the looks she tried on for her Who What Wear shoot. As a self-confessed fiend for knits of all shapes and sizes, she adored the cropped chenille Alexander Wang sweater (in Look 3), raved about a maxi skirt (in Look 2), and fell for the oversized striped Marc by Marc Jacobs blanket coat (in Look 1). All of the above-the-knee textured socks made a big impression too, as Panabaker reveled in their warmth and flattering look. "One thing I loved through the whole shoot was the knee-high socks; I really like the look of a tall boot and the sock coming out a bit over the top," she says. "That's something I'll definitely incorporate into my day-to-day look." We certainly hope so, but regardless of which seasonal trends Panabaker ends up trying, one thing is certain: this talented young lady is one to watch.
Personal Style Icons: "Rachel Bilson's great: she seems to always have fun with what she's wearing on the red carpet and she always looks comfortable too, which is so rare."
Must-Try Trends: "I've been looking for the right maxi skirt, so I'm going to try and find something like the one I wore for the shoot; it had the exact essence I'd been looking for. I also love oversized sweaters and would wear the big, baggy Marc by Marc Jacobs one [from the opening spread] with super-tight skinny jeans and some massive heels."
Go-To Pieces: "I'm a huge sweater person, but my favorite one is actually one I just got at Target. Everyone comments about this sweater; it's just a classic cable-knit button-up in a cream color, but it's amazing!"
Favorite Look: "For the Young Hollywood Awards in 2009, I wore this really pretty dress--I think it was BCBG--that I still think about. The top part was like a black tank and then the skirt part was off-white and ruffled. I wore it with a really long strand of black pearls I'd gotten on a trip with my family [layered to form a tiered, three-strand necklace] and my hair in loose waves, parted in the middle, which I normally don't do. The whole look was really seamless and effortless, I was really excited about it!"
Favorite Places to Shop: "Jeans are impossible for me to find, but Levi's has really figured out a system that makes you feel great.* I go to Steve Madden for fun heels, Nordstrom for everything, and Urban Outfitters for great accent pieces."
*For a custom fitting, visit the Levi's website to schedule an appointment.
Photographer: Justin Coit; Creative Director: Katherine Power; Producer: Liza Kaplan; Style Director: Laurie Trott; Assistant Stylist: Neelo Noory, Hair: Ian James, The Wall Group; Makeup: Kayleen McAdams, The Wall Group; Nail Technician: Barbara Warner, Barbara Warner Beauty; Props, Juliet Jernigan.
Shop The Spreads
D&G Wool Fair Isle Jumper ($795, 800.979.3038), Marc by Marc Jacobs Orion Blanket Sweater ($528), Tory Burch Snap Hat ($85) in Black, Bing Bang by Anna Sheffield Cherokee Feather Necklace ($185), Winifred Grace African Trading Beads & Brass Squares Necklace ($205), The Way We Wore Vintage Belt ($50), Falke Striggings Rib Overknee Socks ($26).
D&G Fair Isle Chiffon Dress ($755, 800.979.3038), Etoile Isabel Marant Mohair-Blend Sweater ($405), Iosselliani Skull and Crystal Chard Swing Earrings ($215), Rebecca Minkoff Triple Wrap Tiny Stud Bracelet ($78) Worn as a choker, Ulla Johnson Skinny Belt ($125, 773.862.4523) in Burgundy, Urban Outfitters Speckled Over The Knee Socks ($14), Ash Clash Shod Shaft Boots ($360).
Alexander Wang Long-Sleeve Chenille Crop Top ($575), Les Halles The Boy Scout Flannel ($88), Winter Kate Saxon Silk Velvet Shorts ($165), Helmut Lang Shearling-Trimmed Jersey Jacket ($1175), Winifred Grace Brass Charm Necklace ($210), Made Her Think Large Hex Ring ($195), Falke Striggings Rib Overknee Socks ($26), BCBGeneration High-Heel Combat Boots ($178) in Black.
Tommy Hilfiger Blouse ($248, 212.223.1824), A.L.C Leather Laight Skirt ($374), Topshop Fairisle Knitted Long Scarf ($55), Bing Bang by Anna Sheffield Basic Long Mixed Chain ($58), Alex and Ani Jagger Expandable Wire Bangle Set ($158), Hue Tweed Cable Over the Knee Trouser Socks ($14) in Charcoal Heather, BCBGeneration High-Heel Combat Boots ($178) in Black.
Shakuhachi Gingham Mesh Pocket Shirt ($224), Alexander Wang Fitted Miniskirt with Tailcoat ($565), Kova & T Lennox Jacket ($434), Michael Kors Gunmetal Metallic Melange Hat ($295, 866.709.5677), House of Lavande Unsigned Silver Pendant Necklace ($598), Tory Burch Arm Warmers ($65, 310.248.2612), Mixology NYC Cassandra Square Bangles ($32 each), Made Her Think Thorn Cuff ($92).