Julie Bowen Had to 'Break the Will to Be Serious,' Wore 'Horrible Brick Red Lipstick'

The way that Julie Bowen hilariously obsesses, micromanages and melt downs as Claire Dunphy on ABC's Modern Family seems so natural that it's hard to imagine her not doing comedy. However, before securing her spot on the hit series, the actress aspired to performing classical theater. Fresh out of Brown University with a Italian Renaissance studies degree, she auditioned for plays in New York—often while wearing black moto boots and "horrible brick red lipstick."

"It took me years to break the will to be serious, years," our April cover star tells us in this month's issue.

Things began to change when she shifted her focus from the stage to primetime television, working her way up with supporting roles in shows like Lost and Ed. And as her career evolved, so did her style. The actress once obsessed with Laura Ashley ("Oh, I went deep on Laura Ashley") who stockpiled dated shoe booties ("I had all these pairs from the ’90s, and all the other shoes in my closet were pointing at them and laughing") now shops at Zara and gets red carpet advice from the same stylist as Kristen Stewart.

"I go there and see all this amazing funky stuff, and I know it’s for her. If I get K-Stew’s castoffs, that’s all right with me."

Bowen also relies on regular beauty treatments, particularly Intense Pulsed Light facials, to look her best—which, in her opinion, doesn't necessarily mean beautiful. "To acknowledge I [am] some kind of attractive ideal [was] just not the way I was raised," she says. "Plus, I feel like I look like the pale girl in some Flemish painting."

For more of Julie's self-deprecating humor, style obsessions and thoughts on her Modern Family alter ego, read our full article here.

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