Still, she has style credibility — and is making the most of it. She's working on her own clothing line for New York & Company and is hoping to have it in stores for the fall. She's also been tapped to represent Vogue eyewear.
Mendes, 38, talked about spreading her wings in an interview with The Associated Press:
AP: Do you feel any pressure to look "done up" whenever you leave the house?
Mendes: No, that's a pressure I would never put on myself because I wouldn't want other women to feel that pressure. We all have our good days and our bad days. We all have our days when we feel great and want to look great, and then we have our days where we just want to be in our sweats or our jeans or our sweats equivalent and throw our hair up in a bun or a cap. For me, I like to throw my hair up in a scarf because it's an easy way to not deal with bad hair and it adds a little bit of elegance. So, usually when you see my hair up in some kind of scarf it's really not going for a look, it's going for function because I didn't have time to wash my hair or style it.
AP: Do you ever look back at any of your red carpet moments and think, "What was I thinking?"
Mendes: I really am the first one to laugh at myself and point out what a horrible fashion choice I made or point out an unflattering photo. About six years ago I went to the 'Ghostrider' premiere in New York City and it was cold and snowing — I don't know why I'm sharing that, I think I'm trying to justify — and I had my dress on but I had to finish my hair and makeup in the back of an SUV. It was a beautiful dress, but the way I put everything together, it was a Princess Jasmine gone wrong. The strapless, purple dress with necklaces and a hair in a really high braid. It's not a good look.
AP: Are you someone who follows trends?
Mendes: No. In fact, the worst thing a sales person can tell me when I'm in a shop is, 'Oh, that's been a hot seller.' ... Most of what I wear is vintage ... I like little boutiques. I feel stressed in department stores. Or, oh my God, I can't go to Target. I'm just overwhelmed. It's like the Super Bowl of stores. I like thrift shops more than vintage stores because at vintage stores just calling it 'vintage' kind of ups the price (laughs).
AP: You're the face of an eyewear campaign. Do you wear glasses?
Mendes: I started to need reading glasses like two years ago, but the funny thing is I used to want glasses so bad when I was little that I actually used to stare into the sun to damage my eyesight. My mom would catch me and be like, 'What are you doing?' I was obsessed with looking smart. I also went through a stage in junior high where I would wear non-prescription reading glasses and then I got called out one day, so I stopped that because I felt like a phoney. So, as of two years ago, I just started needing them. I love them. (Wearing glasses) adds an instant quirk and elegance.
AP: What's the clothing line you're working on?
Mendes: It's with New York & Company. I'm working on it right now for the fall line and working with vintage-inspired prints and cuts but not making it retro in any way. I come from a family where the women are more voluptuous so I like to cater to that.
AP: Is this something you always wanted to do?
Mendes: Not really. It crept up on me slowly. Then I realized this is where my passion lies. I think one of the great things about being an actress nowadays is we can wear so many hats. If you're creative in one area it usually seeps into another, like my home. I feel like my home is a set in a way — a lived-in set. I love to production design my own home.
AP: Does the look of your home change based on what's going on in your life?
Mendes: All the time. It's so fun. I love listening to music, rearranging my furniture, playing with materials. Flower arrangements. I make flower arrangements for every room in the house. That's really peaceful for me.
Alicia Rancilio covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow her online at http://www.twitter.com/aliciarSuggest a correction