Before the hungry Saturday brunch crowd started rolling into Silver Lake, Rachel Bloom, star and co-creator of the CW show "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," visited a few stores and boutiques near Sunset Junction on an August morning.
There was Mohawk General Store, Lacausa and Bucks & Does, all within walking distance of each other on a fashionable stretch of Sunset Boulevard. As Bloom sought out rompers, voluminous pants and tie-dyed pieces, she was also busy creating characters for each of the garments she swiped on the rack.
"Tel Aviv hipster."
"Me if I owned a yoga studio."
"Girl who made fun of me in middle school."
"Expensive jewelry shop owner. The lead in a romantic comedy — written by a man," she said, pulling out a red-and-blue bodiced gingham dress, before taking her haul into a fitting rooms.
The parade of wacky characters might feel familiar to viewers of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," which received four Emmy nominations, including best choreography and best main theme music.
In the comedy series, Bloom's exuberant and nuanced performance as love-struck lawyer Rebecca Bunch is heightened and explored through variety-show-style musical numbers.
So it's no surprise that in real life, Bloom sees the potential for multiple personalities in every form of creativity. "Most days when I get dressed, I feel like I'm playing a role. Today, I'm the girl wearing the costume of a L'Agence shirt-dress," she said, gesturing to the cornflower blue maxi-dress she's wearing.
"Other than being able to wear a normal bra and being comfortable, I can't yet define my style," Bloom said. "I think personal style is a thesis statement you develop after years and years of learning about clothes and what looks and feels good on you."
Bloom's sartorial backstory began with a so-so start — elementary school years plagued with a self-described "weird taste" in clothes that got her teased. College in New York was more about staying warm and comfortable during class and a waitress job. But now, the 29-year-old's current status as an executive producer and star of a TV show has helped usher in a bigger fascination with fashion.
"It helps that my writing partner, Aline Brosh McKenna, wrote the script for 'The Devil Wears Prada,'" Bloom said. "Both she and our line producer [Sarah Caplan] are extremely fashionable. So we talk about fashion a lot on set."
They talk so much about all things fashion that Bloom can't stop herself from shopping for both of them. "This is so Sarah," she murmured to herself at Mohawk General Store, before gasping at a dress for McKenna.
Also helpful for Bloom's fashion renaissance was her light-bulb moment in the "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" costume department on the subjects of silhouettes and tailoring.
"I'm learning what I like and what works for my body and not feeling like I'm a slave to the fit of off-the-rack pieces," Bloom said. As she stepped out of the dressing room at every shop, she pinched and pulled straps and waistlines like a stylist, angling for a superior fit.
As a viewer might expect from the show's writing, Bloom's fashion commentary was as entertaining as it was empowering. If Bloom is searching for merchandising opportunities for her quips, her 70,000 Instagram followers might consider buying her sartorial comments in poster form.
On sensible heels: "I'd rather be behind the times and not have to get my knees replaced."
On color choices: "I've been told I look good in white, but I also spill a lot of food."
On fashion mistakes: "I used to buy things aspirationally like, 'Oh! I'll find a bra to make this work!' Now I know. There is very little fashion that is worth being uncomfortable."
And on considering a purchase: "This dress has pockets? It's beshert." (That's Yiddish for one's soulmate.)
However, when it came to the dressing room, she's game for anything. She was awestruck by the shops' selections but not so much that she couldn't poke fun at the clothing she admires.
A Dries Van Noten pearl vest piqued her interest at Mohawk General Store. "Sexy fashion knight!" she dubbed it.
Later, she joked that the open weave made it a great candidate for "getting drunk and throwing up." Though she seemed smitten, the vest didn't go home with her, though a shantung-silk Isabel Marant dress did.
Then it was on to the next store. At Lacausa, Bloom stepped out of the fitting room, glowing in a slip-like camisole she'd previously written off as "too effortless."
"I've always aspired to achieve this look of being cool and not caring," she explained. "I associate that with being very skinny and just throwing something on. When you have curves, that's a challenge because more things are an effort.
"There's [literally] nothing I do in my life that can be described as 'chill,'" she said. Though later when she changed into Lacausa's pale-blue satin pants (another purchase), she looked like an old Hollywood siren in repose; she's clearly adept at making all that effort look easy.
Luckily for fans of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" -- that number appears to be growing since the first season began streaming on Netflix this summer -- the lack of "chill" translates into gloriously calculated, big-think episode premises. And of course, there will be the song-and-dance numbers, including a "very experimental 'Lemonade' homage" -- Bloom's referring to Beyoncé's now-legendary visual album -- that will air during Season 2, which will premiere Oct. 21 on the CW.
Now, when it comes to talking about what she'll wear to the Creative Arts Emmy Awards this weekend, Bloom has an outfit but she remained tight-lipped about it, saying only that she's wearing an unconventional, non-gown choice. "I like playing dress-up, all the fuss and frills of a big occasion," she said. "Traditionally, I'd either dress really schlubby — or all dressed up. Now, I'm starting to understand the middle ground more."
And where better to explore that middle ground than Bucks & Does, a shop where day dresses by the Odells hang next to Mother Denim flare jeans along with more ingredients for a contemporary L.A. weekend look.
That's where Bloom, who tried on dozens of pieces during this shopping trip, stopped herself, zeroing in on pair of white Thinking Mu pants printed with bananas.
So, what character wears these pants? Bloom's eyes remained locked on the trousers. "Honestly?" she said. "These just feel like me."