How I Shop: Ariana Madix

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."

After a tumultuous couple of years, "Vanderpump Rules" star Ariana Madix has emerged as one of the most visible figures in pop culture. In addition to concluding her 11th season of the drama-filled Bravo reality series (of which, I'll admit, I've watched every single frame), she's starred in countless brand campaigns, published a cocktail book, competed in "Dancing With the Stars" (finishing in third place), appeared as Roxy Hart in "Chicago" on Broadway and is preparing to host "Love Island USA" this summer.

But, at the end of the day, Madix is one of us: a millennial New York-to-Los Angeles transplant with an overflowing closet who loves the mall, obsessed over the Spice Girls and survived an indie sleaze era.

Just days after her defiant season finale walk-off aired, Madix hosted a dinner in Beverly Hills to celebrate a new collaboration with DSW on a range of shoes by several of the retailer's affordable brands. It's one of many partnerships she's booked of late, though one imagines these only represent a small percentage of the deals she's offered.

"Deciding on what's a good fit for me, I think depends on, 'Is this something that I use already? Are these brands that I shop already?' And that's why this made so much sense for me, because I'm a DSW shopper and these are my favorite brands," she tells me at the event. "You'll notice, in the collection, there are a lot of Steve Madden shoes — that's all I wear."

Below, Madix discusses her favorite L.A. malls, how moving to California (and being on television changed) her style, what she does with the mountains of clothes she's gifted and her biggest splurges — including (finally!!!) a new house.

Dayna Kathan, Ariana Madix and Katie Maloney<p>Photo:Courtesy of DSW</p>
Dayna Kathan, Ariana Madix and Katie Maloney

Photo:Courtesy of DSW

"I've always loved shopping. I'm a mall rat, so I love going to the mall. Even now, me and my best friend Logan, that's one of our favorite things to do together.

"[My favorite L.A. mall is] Century City. I do also love the Glendale Galleria-Americana combo, because you really get everything. Or, sometimes, the one in Sherman Oaks, the Westfield with the Macy's — I like that one for just the grab-and-go moment. Or the Topanga Mall. See, I love 'em all. But I've always loved shopping.

"When I was younger, people that inspired me were the Spice Girls and Britney Spears, of course. So, I've always loved a big platform shoe. I was always a Ginger.

Ariana Madix (far right) on Season 3 of Vanderpump Rules<p>Photo: Jeff Daly/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images</p>
Ariana Madix (far right) on Season 3 of Vanderpump Rules

Photo: Jeff Daly/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

"There's been a lot of time in my life where I felt like fashion wasn't for me because fashion is for the tall, rail-thin — I think that was something that growing up in the '90s and 2000s was very much the way things were. Now, I feel like fashion is much more accessible, not just consumer-wise, but in terms of who you are and what you want to wear and your individual style. I love that.

"My first [big splurge] — and honestly, I'm still not a big splurger — there were two things: There was a pair of Giuseppe Zanotti shoes and a little Gucci bag. But I realized over time that spending money on shoes is not exactly the wisest thing to do, because you wear them. So I've stopped doing that.

Ariana Madix in 2014<p>Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images</p>
Ariana Madix in 2014

Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images

"Coming on ['Vanderpump Rules'] early on... I had moved from New York... 2010 is when I moved to L.A., so I was coming out of my indie sleaze era — a lot of boots, short shorts with a flannel tied over it, messy hair and a lot of eyeliner. That was my vibe. When I came out here, it felt like my vibe was not matching my surroundings. So, very slowly, I started to open up into more color, florals, things that feel a little bit more Los Angeles. I definitely feel like I went through a phase where I went so far in that direction that I wasn't myself anymore. Now, in my late thirties, I'm finally finding the groove of what actually feels like me.

"I like to shop with friends, but, when I shop, I don't try anything on. I'll buy a bunch of stuff, either online or in person, and when it gets to me, then I try it on and either send it back... or tell myself I'm going to send it back or maybe eventually have to give it to a friend. I hate trying on clothes in the mall or in the store.

<p>Photo: Rivery Callaway/Variety via Getty Images</p>

Photo: Rivery Callaway/Variety via Getty Images

<p>Photo: Bravo/NBC Universal via Getty Images</p>

Photo: Bravo/NBC Universal via Getty Images

"I think you could see on the most recent season of 'Vanderpump Rules,' there were a lot of boxes, a lot of new clothes. I had to get rid of old clothes to make room for these new clothes. Now I'm in a position where my home and my closet are a lot smaller, so I'm having to be super honest with myself about: Am I really going to get this tailored? Does this actually fit? Am I going to actually wear this? And just be careful about not having too much. It's honestly the biggest blessing and it's the most amazing thing, the things I dreamed about my whole young adult life of like, 'Man, that's so cool.' But it does get overwhelming.

"Anytime I get sent skin-care stuff, I get super excited. Right now, literally in this moment, I've been using the Dr. Brandt eye gel. I've been putting it on with my concealer, and I don't know if my makeup looks that good right now, but I've been really into it.

Ariana Madix at Coachella 2024<p>Photo: Gilbert Flores/WWD via Getty Images</p>
Ariana Madix at Coachella 2024

Photo: Gilbert Flores/WWD via Getty Images

"This year? My biggest recent splurge was a house. I have not been shopping. I'm very behind. I think that I've gotten to a point where I'm like, 'Do I really need this?'

"I'm on a fitness journey for ['Love Island'], because I want to be able to wear anything and feel like my best self. Maya Jama, who's the host of the UK version, is so stunning — she's so... just... she's perfection. So many of her style choices for the show are just exactly... if I could be her... But I have to be my own version. I'm going to be looking for things that are super sexy, super fashion-forward and definitely have an element of beach to them.

Ariana Madix on 'Watch What Happens Live'<p>Photo: Bravo/NBC Universal via Getty Images</p>
Ariana Madix on 'Watch What Happens Live'

Photo: Bravo/NBC Universal via Getty Images

"This season [of 'Vanderpump Rules'], not a lot of thought goes into those outfits, except for just being stressed out about needing something to wear. Sometimes I need something like this, and this is all I have. I really liked my outfit when we were just hanging around in San Francisco — it was a green dress with a blazer and jeans. I feel like that's very me."

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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