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.”
It’s a travesty that it took me (and a few others) so long to start watching “Schitt’s Creek.” The Canadian gem of a sitcom chronicles the Rose family relocating to the rural town of Schitt’s Creek — which patriarch Johnny (co-creator and comedic legend Eugene Levy) bought as a joke for his son David (Levy’s real life son, Dan, also co-creator) — after losing the family fortune.
Yes, the series — now entering its fifth season — is stacked with laugh-out-loud dialogue, ridiculous scenarios and awkwardly heartfelt family moments, but “Schitt’s Creek” also brings some serious fashion with a capital F. It’s as if the outrageous designer wardrobes are a fifth member of the Rose family, joining former soap star and Daphne Guinness-esque matriarch Moira (Catherine O’Hara) and socialite daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy), who always looks like she wandered out of the VIP tent at Coachella.
“That was a big thing for Dan [Levy] and costume designer Debra Hanson: Let the clothes speak for themselves, so you don’t have to keep reiterating that this family is not from this town,” explains Murphy, in New York celebrating Canada Goose Project Atigi, which showcases Inuit craftsmanship through a limited-edition parka collection. “They walk into a room wearing completely inappropriate clothes and you’re reminded constantly that they’re fish out of water.”
The Canadian actress is just as delightful as her character, and generously shared where she found her favorite purchase that would probably elicit an “eww” from Alexis, as well as what it’s like to shop with facial expression master and oft-Rick Owens-clad Dan Levy, who procures the designer pieces for the show. Read on for the highlights of our conversation.
“I would describe my style as ‘bag lady chic,’ in the sense that it’s ‘the baggier the better’ a lot of the time. Comfort is paramount. I love fashion; I love looking at it. I love watching it walk by on the street. But when it gets down to it, I find that there’s so much of it and it’s so overwhelming to me that my fallback is just jeans and a t-shirt. I like to branch out of my comfort zone if I’m shooting, though.
The show has certainly opened my eyes as to what’s out there. Sometimes I do pick something up off the rack that I wouldn’t otherwise. I’ve seen so many things on the rack of costumes and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, never in a million years would that look good,’ and I put it on and ‘Oh my God, there it is!’ It’s also inspired me — and Dan Levy might contest this — to put in a little more effort when going out of the house. Just juzh myself up a little bit more. Put my best foot forward a little bit more, thanks to Alexis.
There’s a lot of facial expression [from Levy when he gives styling feedback]. When I come out of the changing room in our fittings, I know immediately if it’s a go or not. If it’s not, I just go right back in and rip it off. I hate it. But usually it’s a go because he’s a compulsive online shopper. Now, by season five, he knows what will look good and what won’t. So it’s usually more a hit than a miss.
I get to look over Dan’s shoulder a lot when he is online shopping. I’ve been in a few last minute binds where we have a thing to go to and I don’t have anything to wear. So he takes me through our wardrobe trailer and we just kind of pick things out together — slash — he picks things out for me.
Also, one of his best friends works at Derek Lam, so we actually went shopping at the store one season and got to pick out a few things for the show. I also wear a lot of Isabel Marant as Alexis and carry a lot of Celine bags, which I didn’t even know existed. I didn’t know any of these names when we started and now…
Dan has like an encyclopedic memory [for fashion]: ‘oh, that was from the cover of Vogue in 1994’ and he’s usually right. It’s freakish. A deep obsession. It’s like talking to a physicist. I know nothing about what he knows so much about. He likes talking about it and educating me about it, but I don’t think too much has really stuck with this old girl.
I get a lot of people coming up to me being like, ‘Hey, have you seen ‘Schitt’s Creek?’ There’s a girl on the show that you kind of look like.’ I say, ‘That’s… that’s me.’ Instead of people being like ‘holy shit, really?’ They’re like, ‘Nooo…. what?!’ Then I have to do ‘ew, Day-vid’ and then they’re like, ‘OK it’s you.’ Sometimes it takes convincing.
[Being on the show has inspired me to] take a little bit more risk with what I wear and realize that things you wouldn’t necessarily pair together can actually work really beautifully. Also, accessories are now much — don’t look at me now, this is a bad example — but Moira is constantly brooch-ed, and bedazzled and ring-ed and necklace-ed and hatted and all the stuff. So it’s really proven how much they can add to an outfit. I’m starting to take away bits and pieces.
For my own shopping, I go to Zara — and then I go to Zara online from the comfort of my own living room. Sometimes I go to [North American thrift store chain] Value Village. I have probably four bursts in me a year. I wake up and I’m like, ‘Today’s the day. I’m getting my fucking shopping done.’ I go and I just blitz it out. Literally just sifting through item by item until my hands smell weirdly musty and then I know it’s time to pack it in. But it takes a very specific mood for me to wake up and want to do it.
My favorite thrifting find isn’t a chic jacket or something. I found a bright blue onesie, like hooded zip-up onesie made from sweat clothes material. It’s pajamas. It’s basically a stranger’s pajamas. I was like, ‘This will do me very well.’ I wear it all the time. For all I know someone died in it, but at least they died comfortably.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.