Though she was born and raised in beachy Orange County, Ashley Benson is a New Yorker at heart. “Even when I was in L.A. I dressed like I was in New York—which didn’t always work,” says Benson with a laugh during a trip to the Vogue office. The Pretty Little Liars star’s affinity for leather jackets and biker boots may separate her from her California counterparts, but it has resulted in a look that turns heads, whether she’s sitting front row at Marc Jacobs or attending the CFDAs in an embellished Kate Spade LBD.
Now, Benson is joining the list of celebrity style influencers who’ve ventured into fashion by launching a sunglasses line with Privé Revaux. At under 30 dollars per pair, the styles, available this week, are accessible to Benson’s legions of teenage followers without compromising on quality. “Personally, I don’t want to have to spend 600 dollars to get a great pair of sunglasses,” she says. “My fans who can’t always buy designer can now get these glasses and afford them, which was important to me. If we can have something that they love and I love, then that’s the perfect thing.”
With styles like mirrored aviators, retro cat-eyes, and cut-off lenses, the shades hit on current trends while falling in line with Benson’s love of minimalist fashion—and reliance on extras to add visual interest. “I’m very plain with how I dress—I’m always in Levi’s, a dark T-shirt, a big coat, or a leather jacket,” she explains. “I go more out there when it comes to accessories; it’s really about whatever I’m drawn to at the moment. I love small bags and pieces that are funky yet sophisticated.” Benson admits that she’s more likely to try wild color for her hair rather than her clothes: “I love going brunette, blonde, and every other thing, but pink was probably coolest.”
Though understated shades make up the bulk of her closet, Benson and her stylist Jamie Mizrahi have had fun moving beyond the basics. Whether stepping out at Cannes last month in a floral print Erdem ball gown or dazzling in a canary-color Sophie Theallet suit during the press days for Pretty Little Liars ’s final season, Benson has lately proved herself willing to experiment. “Jamie always tries to push me to go outside my comfort zone,” Benson says. “I gravitate towards neutrals and black, but she always encourages me to do color, and I appreciate that.”
A fan of Givenchy, Calvin Klein, and Saint Laurent, Benson pays close attention to the runways, and her dalliance with design has left her ready for more. “I love fashion and I love being involved in things like this,” she says. “It’s been an incredible experience.”