How I Shop: Ashley Park of ‘Emily in Paris’

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ashley park rent the runway collection

We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what’s “you”? These are some of the questions we’re putting to prominent figures in our column “How I Shop.”

Actor Ashley Park is best known these days for her fan-favorite role as Mindy Chen in the rom-com Netflix series “Emily in Paris.” Since the show debuted back in 2020, Park has proven to be a style star both on and off the screen — and she’s just getting started. 

Ahead of the show’s anticipated return for its third installment on Dec. 21, Park has a new project up her sleeve: her first-ever fashion collection, made in collaboration with Rent the Runway. The exclusive line of party-ready silhouettes launched on Nov. 15, just in time for the holiday season.

The actor tells Fashionista that she’s been a fan of the site since the early days of her career when she first moved to New York City almost 10 years ago. “[For my auditions and events], I remember debating if I should buy something, wear it and then return it with the tag,” she says. “Finding out that Rent the Runway existed was really a game changer for me because I didn’t feel out of place when I was going to certain events and I could really shine at that moment. I didn’t have the burden of trying to keep everything and cram it all into my little tiny studio closet.”

Rent-and-return platforms have gained popularity over the past decade, allowing shoppers to take more fashion risks without the commitment — solving a dilemma that’s often prevalent around this time due to end-of-year festivities.

Park’s collection includes eight silhouettes that can be worn from day to night, ranging from $55 to $65 per rental. The faux-leather outwear, sparkly dresses and velvet minis reflect Park’s personal sense of style, she says. 

Ashley Park at the 2022 Met Gala in New York.

Ashley Park at the 2022 Met Gala in New York.

Her closet, she admits, is a little different, especially post-pandemic. “I really prioritize comfort now, especially because of the things I’m asked to do on set and sometimes I’m in heels for like a whole day,” she says. “So I’d say my personal style is comfy and chic.”

Ahead, Park discusses her oversized blazer obsession, the importance of shopping intentionally and which “Emily In Paris” character would wear each of her designs.

“I love combining both masculine and feminine styles. For example, I’ll put on a cute tank and crop top with baggy jeans and an oversized blazer.

“Speaking of oversized blazers, I guess it’s the headline of my fashion style. When I unpacked in France when filming the latest season of ‘Emily in Paris,’ [it] was all oversized blazers and neutral colors. I love stuff that makes you comfortable in your body and it doesn’t have to always be so revealing.

“I’m a huge fan of over-the-top shoulder pads, and that’s why I like oversized blazers. I love to have the structure up top, but also comfort.

“Recently, I’ve also been a fan of halters and wide-legged pants. My favorite pair would be these black Phillip Lim cargo pants. It works so well with any top and I can wear it out to dinner, or while I’m walking around the city. I have these Roger Vivier boots that are such a wardrobe staple. I can wear any of these pieces just about anywhere at any time of the day.

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“If I had to choose a piece from my RTR that could be worn from office to night, Sylvie and Emily [from ‘Emily in Paris’] could both rock the ‘business in the front, party in the back’ tuxedo jumpsuit. I think that Emily would love this velvet dress especially since it’s very elegant but also super flirty and fun. Mindy would also look amazing in that halter jumpsuit because she definitely gravitates toward suits sometimes but loves a sexy halter moment. She loves not to be confined to a box because she has a lot of sides to her. For Camille, I can really see her in that vegan leather blazer — she would really rock that purple color and it feels very structured and mature for France.

“I realized that I’d been traveling a lot — I don’t think I’ve been in the same place for more than a few months at a time for the past couple of years. Whenever I’m shopping, I try to pick out something that I can wear in all seasons, all places, at all times. That’s what I love about those oversized blazers. You can wear it off the plane and then you move straight to a nice dinner and your outfit still looks elevated.

“It’s so funny because I was just trying to ‘Marie Kondo‘ my stuff recently by getting rid of things in my closet and I noticed a lot of my staple pieces are my mom’s, especially clothes that she had in the ’90s. She had this nice black blazer and ugh, I just couldn’t get rid of it because it was hers!

“Aside from my mom, when it comes to style inspiration, I would have to say Zendaya is a major one. Her style is so sophisticated yet sexy, and it’s almost this easy-breezy glam. What I love about her style is that the outfit never owns her; she’s owning the outfit. I’ve learned a lot from that and apply it to myself now, especially when I’m picking out clothes for my character, because [Mindy] likes to take risks but she’s not so obnoxious about it.

“Honestly, I’m not even sure if I have anything on my wishlist this holiday season, but if I had to choose, I think maybe my wish list is to just organize what clothes I already have.

“These days, I definitely shop with more intention. I can’t remember the last time I went into a store. Don’t get me wrong — I love to window shop, but for me, I usually find pieces when I see it on somebody and I’ll be like ‘Where’d you get that top? Oh my gosh, I wish I had it in my suitcase.’ Also, Instagram ads know me really well, too.

“I do believe in shopping therapy sometimes, but for me, it’s really become quality over quantity. I used to shop for as many things as possible for the best deal. Nowadays, especially with the way that I travel and work, I’m like, ‘Okay if I’m gonna get a quality black T-shirt, what’s the most versatile shape I know I can have for a long time? What is the best option that I can wear with just about everything?’ 

Ashley Park at the Valentino Spring 2023 show in Milan.

Ashley Park at the Valentino Spring 2023 show in Milan.

“Over the years, I’ve grown such an appreciation for the craftsmanship and the thoughtfulness behind a design. Coming from a theater background, I now look at a brochure and know all of the different elements and people that go into putting something together. 

“I went to the Valentino fashion show where they returned to Rome. Pierpaolo — I love everything he does — he brought out the seamstresses at the end along with the models. [That moment reminded me] that I’ve learned so much about fashion, and it’s an opportunity to be a storyteller and uplift different cultures, ideas and perspectives. That’s been a really impactful and fun part of the journey [designing my first collection], and I’ve learned so much as well.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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