Fashion style

Emma Roberts On Becoming A Meme, Early 2000s Trends, & Posting Outfits On Instagram

Somewhere between being a mom, running a book club, and turning her favorite stories into TV shows and movies, Emma Roberts finds the time to put on a good outfit, too. Her OOTDs, short for “outfit of the day,” on Instagram are proof: a printed ruffled dress and strappy heeled sandals from Express, a full Celine look, or a fruit-covered Ookioh swimsuit with a Valentino sun hat, just to name a few. If there’s anyone who truly appreciates documenting their personal style for 16.8 million followers, it’s Roberts.

It’s no surprise, then, that she’s teamed up with Express for its 30 Seconds to Confidence challenge to share her tips on how to feel your best when it comes to getting dressed (and even sharing it online).

“I was so excited when Express approached me about 30 Seconds to Confidence. Any time we can express confidence, give tips on confidence, or encourage confidence in others, especially through social media, is so great,” Roberts tells NYLON. “I love the brand. I remember shopping at Express at the mall when I was a teenager, and so I was really excited to get to partner with them on something.”

Roberts also happens to be a prime example when it comes to handling a major social media moment, like, say, going viral, with ease. After posting an Instagram Reel of herself on a beach set to a Lana Del Rey song on July 24, Roberts became the subject of countless memes overnight.

“This goes back to not overthinking your content, because this makeup artist that I work with named Jodie [Boland] and I were walking onto the beach to dinner, and she was like, ‘Wait, let me do a video of you. You look so gorgeous,’” recalls Roberts. “She was doing the video, and the video wasn’t ending, so I was just kind of being silly. And she sent it to me, and my friend had been like, ‘You need to post more videos on Instagram. It’s all about the videos.’ And I didn’t have any videos except for that video. So I went to go post it.”

After realizing that people were talking over the video, Roberts decided to add music to it. She chose one of the options given by Instagram — Lana Del Rey’s “Happiness Is a Butterfly” — posted it on her feed and then went to bed. The rest, as they say, is history. “I didn’t think anything of it,” says Roberts. “It was really just such an off-the-cuff video, and I literally just did it because my friend told me I need more videos. It was not intended to be viral or funny or anything.”

She took it all in stride, though, responding with quite possibly the best reaction to put the memes to rest. On Instagram stories, she posted her own meme that said, “Me going viral after 30” with a note in all-caps, “THANK YOU GAYS AND WHOEVER ELSE.”

“I usually don’t respond to things, but I thought it was such a fun one,” explains Roberts. “I feel like any time things can be fun and light on the internet, why not be a part of it? Because obviously things can be so hateful online and there’s just so much bad news in the world right now. So if there can be anything funny or confidence-inspiring, I’m all for it. We need more of that online to balance all the other stuff.”

Ahead, Roberts spoke with NYLON about all things fashion, from early 2000s trends that she loves (and has sworn off) to posting OOTDs on Instagram and what she thinks makes a great ’fit pic. Read on for more.

How has your style evolved over the years?

So much, all the time. I feel like every day it’s changing. When I was younger, I definitely was guilty of so many of those early 2000s trends that have come back to haunt me because they’ve all been documented in photos. I feel like after having a baby and spending all of last year pregnant, the only thing I could wear was big dresses. Now I’m enjoying wearing jeans again, even though they’re a few sizes bigger than what I used to wear. But I love getting to wear denim shorts and jeans because I couldn’t for so long.

Are there any early 2000s trends that you have sworn off or would try again since so many are coming back?

It’s so funny. I never thought I would see the early 2000s trends coming back and now they are with a vengeance. I don’t think I’m ready to partake in the flip-flop kitten heel, which I definitely did back in the day. I never was into trucker hats, but I know those are coming back and everyone’s wearing those. I like them on other people but they do not work on me. I think I would get down with a halter again. I like a halter dress, a halter top.

Emma Roberts wearing flip-flop kitten heels in 2004.Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images

Since this Express campaign is about styling routines and finding confidence, what’s your getting-dressed routine and how do you find confidence?

I feel like it’s changed so much in the last year and a half where we were all staying inside and not leaving the house. I definitely invested in some nice pajamas that made me very happy. But then also, I started to, probably this time last year, doing outfits of the day on Instagram as a way to just kind of get out of sweatpants, get out of bed, and just feel a little bit put-together when the world was so turned upside down. So I would do my outfit of the day and that definitely upped my mood and made me feel like I had a little bit more of a purpose on some of those days.

For me, I find so much confidence in clothing, and I think that you can put on a certain outfit and immediately just feel like yourself or feel like you look good. That’s so powerful — to be able to have items in your closet that are your go-tos to throw on that you know are going to make you feel like you look your best. And I don’t think that that necessarily has to always be, like a sexy little black dress. I have outfits in my closet that I know are not sexy, but I feel sexy in them. I think that we all have those. For me, my favorite T-shirt that I feel like I look the best in is a ratty old tie-dye T-shirt. I don’t know if anyone else thinks I look my best in it, but I love it. I think feeling like yourself is always the most confident and that can mean something different every day.

“I think feeling like yourself is always the most confident and that can mean something different every day.”

You have a lot of great ’fit pics on your Instagram. What’s your process behind taking those photos?

I love a good mirror photo. I love just seeing people take photos of themselves in a mirror, and I like to do that, too. And then it’s always the photos that are more off-the-cuff and in-the-moment that I think people like the most, so I try not to overthink it or stage it too much and really just kind of go with the moment. And I’ll have my friend take it, or lately during the pandemic, my mom’s been taking all my photos. There’s some pretty funny behind-the-scenes of that, trying to get my mom to get my outfit in the shot. She doesn’t understand to include my shoes, and I’m like, “I need you to include my shoes. You keep cutting off my shoes.” And she’s like, “Oh, sorry, but it just looked cute like this.” She’s always trying to crop my shoes out of the picture.

She recently got demoted from taking my photos. I asked my sister to take them instead in front of her, and she was like, “Emma, remember that last round of pictures, how good they looked? What do you mean?” So there was controversy on who was taking the outfit photos.

Now that we’re going into fall fashion, what are you looking forward to wearing for the season?

I’m always looking for a new boot. I think getting a staple fall boot every year is the best, and something that you can wear with everything, whether it’s dresses, shorts, jeans, whatever that boot is. And then as far as from Express, I’m obsessed with these really cute knit sweaters that look like blazers with rhinestone buttons on them. And they come in black and white, and I love that. I’ve been wanting to style that with denim and with dresses, and it’s just a super cute piece. It also looks really cute on Zoom meetings.

What’s next for you? Are there any projects you can share that you’re excited about this year?

I finished a movie in Boston called About Fate, and it’s a romantic comedy by the same writer as Holidate. I’m really excited about that. I think people will really love it. It’s super cute, with Thomas Mann and I. And then I’ve just been really focusing on Belletrist, my book club. My partner, Karah [Preiss], and I have two shows that are coming. One is based off a short story called First Kill, and that’s on Netflix. And the next one is called Tell Me Lies, and that’s going to be on Hulu. We’re just really excited to get to bring more amazing stories and books to TV and film. Because for me, whenever I’m reading something, I always imagine what the movie version is or what the TV version is. I’m so excited to get to be part of that creative process with so many amazing books and stories. So we just want to keep doing that. I’ve also been trying to enjoy this last bit of summer and spend time with my family and my son, and just get ready for the fall.

I very much admire how much you read and was wondering what you’re reading right now?

Thank you. I try. It’s hard though, having a baby, finding that time to read. So I really have to make time. I don’t just have all the time to read anymore, but I read as much as possible before bed. And right now I’m reading Something Wild, and it is so good. I highly recommend it. It’s a really, really great read. And then — I’m actually looking at the book on my nightstand that’s next me — it’s called Something New Under the Sun by Alexandra Kleeman. She wrote that book You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, which I love. So I’m excited to start that.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.