In today’s world, what’s old is new again. Between fashion nostalgia and the mainstreaming of vintage hauls, more and more, we’re looking to years past for inspiration. And why shouldn’t we? Sometimes the answer isn’t buying new clothes, it’s working with what you’ve got. With This Old Thing?, we’re bringing you all the fashionable details, red carpet memories, and styling tips you’ll ever need—straight from the celebs you love.
Given that her aunt is legendary fashion designer Anna Sui, it makes some sense that Chase Sui Wonders would have strong opinions on fashion. That’s not to say she’s always been a fashion fan: The actress says that when she was growing up, she practically lived in her oversized hockey clothes, in part because she didn’t know how to feel about her changing body. That’s changed in the years since, though, and Wonders is now somewhat of a fashion darling, earning props and attention from brands like Armani, Chanel, and Miu Miu.
She’s garnering even more attention for her acting work, though, and for good reason. After bursting into the collective millennial consciousness as Riley on HBO’s Generation, Wonders stole scene after scene in Bodies Bodies Bodies, in which she played opposite her now-boyfriend Pete Davidson. She’s teamed up with him again for Bupkis on Peacock and is also top-lining City On Fire, the new Apple TV+ crime drama from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, a duo that fans might know from their previous work developing shows like The O.C. and Gossip Girl.
Byrdie talked to Wonders about how she uses wardrobe to help find her way into a character, those ill-advised hockey looks, and her tricks for stylish travel.
On Her "City On Fire" Style
“I love using costumes as an entry point to a character because it's something you have to work in and inhabit all day.
Samantha Rattner, the costume designer on City On Fire, is so amazing. She helped on Gossip Girl, so she knows her stuff. We really worked together on how [Wonders’ character] Sam accessorizes, because Penny Lane was a huge inspiration. I remember the reference board had all these photos of Kate Hudson and early ‘90s Kate Moss. Sam is super rebellious, but there’s also an effortlessness. It's like she rolled out of bed and put on a beautiful, amazing coat and a tattered Stooges T-shirt and it looks awesome. So I think that was huge in terms of cultivating Sam, because she's so confident and her wardrobe is an expression of that confidence and coolness.”
On Her Tween and Teen Style
“I always look back at old pictures and say, “What was I doing in these?” I was the grossest. I was very much a tomboy and I would wear my ice hockey sweatshirts and ill-fitting khaki pants, and that was my uniform. I wore my hair in a ponytail with a sweater and khakis literally all throughout my youth.
I can't even look at pictures. It's like I had zero desire and zero sense of style or fashion or anything. Even in high school and college I was very kind of muted, fashion-wise. So getting to cosplay as someone in City On Fire that’s cool, confident, and stylish was very fun…
[In hindsight I probably wore those clothes] because puberty is so scary, and you just want to hide from it. At least I did. I was constantly just so confused by my body and so I had my uniform as a crutch to get through it.”
On Her Current Style
“After college, I started actually having fun with fashion, but it's not something I put too much thought into. I would describe my style as chaotic and not too put together.”
On What She's Swiped From Sets
“I took home as much as I could from Sam's wardrobe, and Samantha [Rattner] was very generous.
Shirley Kurata was the costume designer on this show Generation I did on HBO, and I think I took about half of that wardrobe home, too. I remember we talked about these Marc Jacobs graphic T-shirts that my character Riley wore, and I loved them so much.”
On Her Forever Style Icons
"Diane Keaton always looks amazing. I love the ‘90s and early 2000s right now, like Julia Roberts’ ‘90s red carpet looks. They’re very feminine, but sleek and professional.
A lot of my references are ‘90s and 2000s right now, and I’m in a chic, professional staples era. That's why recently I've been wearing a black vest and black slacks and loafers on carpets, and then I just accessorize with jewelry.
I live near NYU and I see these squads, though, and they look so cool. They’ll have like 17,000 different accessories and like their nails are all different colors and designs, and that's an awesome way to express yourself but I don't have the bandwidth to put 45 different things on my body in the morning.”
On the Jewelry She Wears Every Day
“I wear a pearl necklace every day, and one other necklace was a gift that I love and that brings me a lot of good luck. I also wear my watch every day. I can't put too much effort into whatever I’m wearing right now, really. I'm so confused by my closet and overwhelmed that I just need to pick and wear one thing.
In high school I had those metal earring racks with a bunch of holes in them from Claire's, and I had all those gummy earrings that looked fruit. It was the most chaotic spread. I miss those. I should run those back.”
On Her Love of Vintage
“I love vintage. I feel like the stuff that has lasted in my closet for the past decade has all been vintage stuff. Here in New York, there's this place called Mirth in Brooklyn that I love going to, and they have a lot of good basics. Duo is good for jeans. When I'm in LA, I always go to American Rag, which is like this big curated vintage shop.
I just feel like the trend cycles are so fast. The moment I think something's cute, I end up disgusted by it the next week or whatever. I just want stuff that is going to last or that I’ll at least be cycling through in my closet all the time. It's just nice, and it’s sustainable.
I want to be as monk-like as possible. I want to have like 10 outfits that I wear all the time, especially if I'm just working or at home. I want to just simplify my life a little bit.”
On Her Travel Tricks
“I have my travel kit down to a science. I never check a bag. I always carry on, and always save a lot of space in my carry-on because you're either going to get souvenirs or because it's just always better to travel simpler.
I bring my Hokas everywhere, even though some people think they're disgusting, but I feel like they're cool. You can wear them on a run and you can wear them walking around. I have my same vintage sunglasses that I always wear when I’m on vacation. I have an Anna Sui bag that fits everything. It's the best for travel and you can put it in the washing machine. I have these Tae Park pants that have like six different pockets along the legs so you can fit everything in there. I'm very streamlined. I’ve got my approach down.
The worst feeling in the world is when you get to the end of the trip and then open a whole section of your suitcase and realize you didn't touch any of the clothes there. That’s a pet peeve for me, for sure.”