Kate Mara

Sometimes it's a splashy performance that draws us to certain actresses, while other times, control and restraint makes the most indelible impacts. (Consider Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada versus Adaptation: two diametrically opposed but equally well-executed examples.) The same can be said of fashion-though we always adore the Agyness Deyns of the world for their fearless fashion choices, we are equally drawn to those style-setters who are able to catch our eye with subtle sophistication and poise. Kate Mara is one such example of a stylish young thing who has made her mark in both categories, as she creates characters and outfits that are thoughtful and pitch-perfect at all times. While we first took notice of the former when she starred as Heath Ledger's optimistic daughter in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, we have become fans of her personal style as well. Though she isn't against making a bold and bright statement (we particularly loved the shocking yellow Zac Posen gown she wore while accompanying the designer to the 2008 Costume Institute Gala), it is her put-together, polished, and feminine take on fashion that has officially stolen our hearts. So, it is with a great sense of pride that we present our current fashion crush and Girl of the Month: Kate Mara!

Before we delve into the outstanding outfits, let us give you a little background on our GOTM. Born and raised in Bedford, New York, Mara cut her teeth singing the National Anthem at home games of the New York Giants (her grandfather, Wellington Mara, is the longtime owner of the team, and her maternal grandfather, Art Rooney, was the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers). It is no wonder, then, that her breakout performance in We Are Marshall hit so close to home (she has confessed to crying upon first reading the script!). Mara has also made a name for herself on the small screen and is set to play a recurring role in the new season of HBO's Entourage. As for her big-screen parts, she is starring in next summer's Ironman 2 with Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mickey Rourke-not too shabby! Needless to say, Mara is a rising star and we're delighted to inform you that her career prospects are equally matched with her personal style choices!

Though it may seem that Mara is a fan of muted hues when it comes to her palette, the truth is that she is very smart about picking shades that work with her auburn hair and peaches-and-cream complexion. For example, Mara wowed in a pretty-in-pink Dior piece while attending the opening for The Annenberg Space for Photography (above, far left). Mara wisely grounded the voluminous shape with a wide belt to get a more body-con silhouette, and kept her hair and makeup sexy and simple! Her Ambre Dress is from the French fashion house's Spring 2009 collection and therefore no longer available, but we like Tracy Reese's Ruffled Dress ($300) as a stylish stand in for her runway-worthy number.

While her Dior number is as chic as can be, Mara looks just as good when not swathed in high-end designer duds. In fact, she appeared perfectly polished in Nanette Lepore's Vanity Dress ($286) while attending the 500 Days of Summer after party (middle) last month. The bead-embellishment and satin tiers add some eye-catching interest to her chocolate frock, and elevate a simple shift into a truly inspiring eveningwear option!

Of course, our subject du jour cannot live in dresses alone; on the contrary, Mara proves time and again that she is quite adept at selecting smart separates for any occasion. While attending a Cinema Society and The New Yorker-hosted screening of In The Loop in Manhattan (second from left), our GOTM looked fresh in Club Monaco's Grace Jacket ($149) and Pencey's Soft Floral Lust Skirt (sadly, no longer available). To get a similar ensemble, throw on a white linen blazer with Kimchi Blue's Tulip Skirt ($58), which will be fantastic with a sheer tank for summer and chic with tights or knee high boots for a smart transitional ensemble! Just remember to finish off the look with a structured clutch, like Mara's Grancio Clasp Clutch ($1090, 800.628.8916) from Salvatore Ferragamo, and you'll be all set for a night on the town!

Another way Mara blends high-impact pieces with more casual fare is by combining luxurious leather jackets with fringe or jewel-adorned garments. While attending the DJ Hero launch event at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles in July (second from right), she proved that a simple sheer tank top looks sharp-especially when it's enhanced with metallic details. Mara elevated her basic outfit by mixing Club Monaco's Lola Chain Tank ($68) with Paige Premium Denim's Skyline Classic Rise Jeans ($168) in black diamond. She finished off her look with Christian Louboutin's Deva 120 Fringed Boots ($1095) and a second skin gray leather jacket, like the Yaya Moto Jacket ($68) by Nom de Plume, which will give you the same edgy chic result!

Additionally, Mara solidified her status as a master of the high-low mix when she rocked a killer pair of bejeweled blush shorts with Express' Minus The Leather Motorcycle Jacket ($118) for a charity event in Los Angeles in July (far right). If you are a fan of her chic shorts, reach for Rory Beca's Triton Drawstring Shorts ($145), which reflect the soft shade of her sand-colored pick! Just make sure to pair them with a nude colored heel and your favorite biker jacket, and you'll be Mara-worthy in no time at all! -KM

Photos from Getty.