We met when you were 19, and you quickly became a household name. How did you deal with so much notoriety at such a young age?
I was very grateful for my success. I started modeling when I was 15, so it didn’t really happen overnight. I spent three years working hard, learning about the industry, and meeting different people. Nobody really prepared me for [success]. At the beginning, people thought they knew who I was before getting to know me. Slowly, I’ve worked to bring my real personality to the forefront.
How do you want to be perceived?
I’m not one-dimensional; I’m a whole person. Sports Illustrated really launched me, so everyone looked at me as a swimsuit model with a curvy body.
How has your life changed?
Where do I start? I feel like I’m in a much more stable place in my life than when I was 19. I’m engaged! [Upton’s fiancé is Detroit Tigers baseball player Justin Verlander.] I’m still growing my career and branching out into new directions. I also understand the world that I’m in better, and maybe I have a better appreciation for it.
What’s next for you in fashion?
I found the most success through my message of body confidence and positivity. I want to continue being a spokesperson for that, and helping women find balance between living a healthy life—working out and eating well—but also enjoying their lives. In terms of Hollywood, I’ve been taking acting classes for seven years. I want to continue growing in that outlet but continue my modeling career as well.
Do you have any regrets?
Of course, but any mistake that I’ve made in my professional life has been a learning experience. Now, I’m smarter and more prepared.
Why did you want to work with [photographers] Matt Easton and Siobhan Roso for our shoot?
I’ve worked with a lot of iconic photographers, but I also think it’s so great to work with upcoming talent. Matt and Siobhan come from a really unique place—they worked with [photographers] Mert [Alas] & Marcus [Piggot].
You have a massive Instagram presence. Does it stress you out to have so many followers?
I’m one of those people who sometimes forgets to post! It’s difficult, because people don’t like you to post much on jobs. If I take behind-the-scenes photos, I end up forgetting about them completely by the time the work comes out. But I do enjoy sharing some of my life with my fans.
How are your horses?
They’re in Florida. I have two new ones, which are rescues. I train them whenever I’m in town. Being out at the barn with the horses is helpful to my mind. It makes me feel connected with life and slows everything down. It’s my outdoor therapy.
You had your third Sports Illustrated cover this year!
I was so excited. That team is truly like family. They helped launch my career in a massive way, and they are lovely people. This year’s issue was all about women of every age and size loving themselves and showing their confidence.
Will we see you in the Hamptons this year?
I would love to go! I used to go once a year, and I love it. I grew up in Florida, so my favorite thing to do is to hit the beach!
What kind of sunscreen do you use?
Neutrogena SPF 110 on my face.
Very smart! Your birthday was this month. What did you do?
I went to Tokyo! When I got back to L.A., my friends threw me a surprise party, which was a lot of fun.
Any plans for July 4th?
It’s my dad’s birthday, so every year, my entire family goes to my hometown of St. Joseph, Michigan, to celebrate.
Simple makeup has always worked best for me. I grew up in Florida, and I think that may be part of the reason. I was really involved with showing horses, and that’s actually why I first wore makeup: Before the horse shows, my mom or older sister would help me put on lipstick or some eyeshadow. It was never about pageantry; it was a little confidence boost that helped me feel more put together.
The other reason I usually do more natural makeup is my personality. I’m a talker—and I don’t have a filter. Plus, I’m always smiling. I think if I walked into a room wearing neon or lots of makeup, people would be like, « Whoa, it’s all too much! » So I tone down my makeup for balance.
My everyday look is based on something a makeup artist once told me, which is, « Start with pretty. » I brush out my brows, put on a bit of brown shadow and mascara, and then perfect my skin with Bobbi Brown’s concealer kit. You can always add a lip color and enhance it from there, but if you start with pretty, then it’s more about the woman than the makeup. That’s Bobbi’s philosophy, too. I remember a few years ago when I saw her Pretty Powerful campaign everywhere, and I was like, « She gets it. » Her message has always been that inner beauty comes first, which is how I feel.
Take Instagram. I want to post a #wokeuplikethis photo and have it be what I actually look like waking up. If you’re touching up your photo or putting on makeup before taking a #wokeuplikethis picture, what does that say? If we all toned it down a bit, and weren’t retouching our own photos so much, that might send a message.
Regardless, wearing makeup isn’t the same as retouching—it’s something I do for myself. It’s a look. It completes my outfit. I mean, you buy nice shoes to make an awesome outfit, and it makes you feel good. Putting on makeup is the same.
Good, no, fantastic news! In celebration of the new Bobbi Brown Hot Collection, Kate Upton is taking over the Marie Claire Twitter account on February 24 at 1 p.m. EST. Tweet your beauty questions for Kate to @MarieClaire with the hashtag #KateOnBeauty, and she’ll answer them LIVE!
The new Mario Sorrenti-shot Express campaign features bombshell Kate Upton, and aside from the entire super-hot supermodel thing, it turns out she has a lot in common with me (and, therefore, you). I got to preview the pretty pics and then asked her to spill a few of her fashion firsts.
« My first date was to the movies, and I wore jeans and an Abercrombie shirt. »
First pair of high heels?
« A pair of gray BCBG heels. I think I still have them! »
First expensive fashion item you bought for yourself?
« The first thing I bought to celebrate a great moment in my career was a Prada purse. »
First thing you bought from Express?
« Jeans! »
First outfit you felt exactly like yourself in?
« I love jeans, boots, and a leather jacket. »
There’s no doubt Kate Upton is on top of the world, having conquered everything from magazines to movies (not to mention being a bona fide social media mogul). The model and actress just added EXPRESS brand ambassador to her résumé, and we had the chance to sit down with Upton to chat about all things style. Here’s what she had to say.
On body confidence:
« I never really compared myself to other people, and I think that’s maybe where insecurities are drawn from –- comparing your body to other people’s bodies. »
On her favorite magazine cover:
« I loved working with Tonne Goodman and Mario Testino for American Vogue, and just the whole shoot and the energy was just so positive and happy. And every shoot I’ve done since with them has been like that, but that was my favorite because that was my first one. »
On her weirdest daily ritual:
« I always have to have a coffee, I always have to have eggs and spinach every morning… And I always wake up and have to have a glass of water with lemon right away. »
On her dream gig:
« My dream is to continue doing what I’m doing, because I’m in such a great position where I can work with companies that I actually really love and believe in and want to be a part of, so that makes my job a lot easier. »
On her advice to young girls:
« Instead of looking at someone and envying part of their body or their face, look at how they hold themselves. Appreciate their confidence. »