Can’t let go of the past? Jessica Chastain is here to help—at least if it’s fashion-related. “I get very emotionally attached to things like clothes,” says the Oscar winner. “But I’ve figured out a process that really helps. It’s a little bit about fashion and a little bit about life.”
Starting today, the actress lends those immaculate “everything’s gonna be alright” vibes to the resale platform Vestiaire Collective, donating a slew of her greatest flashbulb hits to the site. The hot-pink Gucci dress from Paramount’s 2022 studio party is there; so is the 2015 Givenchy gown she wore to the premiere of The Martian.
Chastain curated the selection with her stylist Elizabeth Stewart, and they’re donating proceeds to Women for Women International. The charity is dedicated to keeping women safe and advancing economic opportunities in worldwide conflict zones—so if you end up dropping $550 on this velvet Dries Van Noten minidress, consider it philanthropy as well as a damn good find. And there’s a bonus: Besides donating her clothes to an NGO, Chastain gave us some career advice that was basically free therapy. (Working as a prestige theater and pulp TV actress for over a decade will equip you with invaluable learnings.)
Below, her sage counsel in full, along with her take on the viral mob wife aesthetic that’s taking over TikTok and shopping carts alike.
You’re parting with some major designer pieces in this sale. Are you always able to clear things from your closet, or does it take some work?
I get very emotionally attached to things, but I watched that Marie Kondo show [Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix], and she explained that letting go of physical things is about cultivating joy. That actually does help me when I’m in my closet, and I have steps I take.
What are the steps?
First, I imagine myself wearing it. How does that feel? Then I ask, “Okay, when’s the last time I wore this?” Also, I ask myself if it still fits my body. I don’t want to keep something around that I wore when I was 20 years old, you know? I don’t play that game of, “Someday I’ll wear it again.” I don’t want to put anything around me that doesn’t celebrate who I am today, at least in my immediate wardrobe. And then I think, “Do I wear this a lot, and when I do, does it cultivate joy?”
Can you fold your clothes like Marie Kondo does?
Oh, no. That’s something I wish I knew how to do. But I’ll tell you, my favorite thing is organizing. I love an organized closet. In my dreams, I organize everything according to color, so my shelves and bins are all just rainbow colors. I’m all about it.
Why did you choose to partner with Women for Women?
What I really love about Women for Women is that it’s an international organization that invests where inequality is greatest. And I love that we’re supporting women who basically are being forgotten across the globe. Oftentimes, they go into war-torn areas where women are heavily victimized, and they invest in women, because they understand the rehabilitation of communities happens through women. [My publicist] Nicole Perna introduced me to them, and I found what they were doing really exciting.
We all have our go-to resale sites. Why is Vestiaire your pick?
I browse a lot, and with Vestiaire, I love how everything’s curated. It feels organized; it feels heightened; it feels elegant. There’s low chaos there that has almost a Marie Kondo element to it that I find really soothing….And I am someone who has always bought second-hand pieces. I love the simplicity of that type of recycled moment, like, “I don’t wear this anymore; you do.” It’s such an easy way to lower our impact.
You played a literal mob wife in A Most Violent Year. Now it’s a fashion trend that’s going viral on TikTok. What are your thoughts?
Well, here’s the problem. I’m not really “trendy,” you know? I have people around me who tell me what the trends are in terms of social media. So I will fully admit, I wouldn’t know what the next online trend is going to be—but I love that the mob wife thing happened. I think we should evolve it, though. Can we turn “mob wife” into “mob boss” for the next trend? I think “mob boss” is more modern than mob wife, and I think if there’s a future for Anna Morales [in A Most Violent Year], she’s got to take more control. She’s got to be the boss…a powerful Sergio Hudson pantsuit, something like that.
Some people might not know that you worked for a very long time to get to where you are today professionally. What’s your best piece of advice for those who might feel lost in their career?
That’s such an interesting question, because I think about that all the time. I swear, I do. There are so many ebbs and flows in life, and in anyone’s career—my career especially. You look at everyone else who’s doing what you do, and you say, “This person is getting so much attention right now! Everyone’s talking about this person! It’s almost like someone else becomes a trend, right? So you have to ask, “How do you make sure that you’re more than just a trend, and that you have some kind of lasting power?” What I do, first of all, is I try not to worry about it. Because I did find some success later than I initially had hoped, I can say that. I’m actually very grateful that everything turned out the way it did.
I saw a documentary recently about Katharine Hepburn. I love her so much…and what’s interesting about her is that she had success earlier in her career, but then she went through a really long dry spell, and the majority of her success actually happened in her 60s. Helen Mirren is the same. She’s always been fabulous, but it wasn’t until around 10 years ago that she became the bee’s knees and everyone was talking about her. You have to give yourself a break, because you will always be in style. Enjoy the quiet parts. You need those moments of contemplation, because you won’t always have them. Things will get going again because you’re not a trend. You’re always important.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.