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Teen Vogue

Jessica Simpson's got a major music mogul for a mentor (Sony honcho Tommy Motola, who's signed her the minute he heard her sing). She's got a big-deal stylist on the payroll. She's got 98 degrees boyfriend Nick Lachey, and she's got a gazillion-carat-diamond bangle-gift from Nick-on her wrist. And of course she's got the talent (her voice is often compared to that of Mariah Carey, one of her early musical idols) that landed her a platinum first album, Sweet Kisses. So I won't feed you the "She's a normal girl" line: Any 20-year-old with a schedule this grueling (I sang in Detroit last night, New York City tonight, Boston tomorrow, Philly the next night," Jessica says) and who hasn't had two consecutive days off in five months ("but it's worth it," she chirps cheerfully); who is up for two movies without having to audition and who the WB is reportedly creating a show for is no normal girl. But she is a cool girl; a good natured girl, a really warm, nice girl; a girl you would have a lot of fun hanging out with. She's a girls girl.

I meet Jessica in a New York hotel over Diet Cokes with Nick (they haven't seen each other in three weeks, but he suffers the Teen Vogue interview like a gentleman); her dad, who travels everywhere with her; and her cousin Zeb (my on-the-road personal trainer-slash-bodyguard," says Jessica, laughing. His weapon is a flashlight!") At the time, she is busy at work on her second album (it's got a harder R&B edge to it," she reports enthusiastically), but it is untitled, and she has recorded only a couple of tracks. So we decided to talk about her next fave thing, after music and Nick: fashion!

youthful mistakes

"My worst fashion moment was Rockies and Wranglers. Hey I grew up in Texas. I had to wear a whole new outfit in school every day-you know, I didn't mix and match. I had two-inch-long acrylic nails that I decorated with, say, candy canes. When I was signed at Sony/Columbia, they were like, 'The nails have to go!' [Laughs.] When I first started out and I was touring, opening for 98 degrees, I was styled like Britney-crop tops, big baggy pants. It wasn't very feminine, and I don't dress that way anymore." (Proof that Jessica is the nice girl I told you she was: "I love Britney's style now-she looks great.")

saying bye-bye to the britney look

"Now I'm a designer nut. I love Fendi bags, Dolce & Gabanna, Roberto Cavalli, and Jimmy Choo shoes. Oh man, I love those shoes! What girl doesn't? I wear Sky and Steve Madden to perform in-you can dance in them, and the platform gives me more height. But at night, I like sexy, strappy sandals with leather pants and a tank top. My favorite jeans are Frankie B. and Earl-they ride low on the hips, which looks good."

fashion nirvana: a private stylist

"Deborah Waknin does all my concerts and videos. [She has also styled Lauren Hill's videos.] She got me into wearing tons of bangles, big hoop earrings, a bandanna. It's a urban look, but fresh." When I ask Jessica what she wears for a big night out, she looks a little blank and says, sounding like a real superstar, "Well, I just leave that to my stylist. She borrows things for me." (For the record, Jessica's stylist often selects sexy, slimfitting slip dresses with spaghetti straps for evening, paired with a glamorous high heel and lots of hair.)

writing the book

"For a while, every city we went to, we went to the mall. I was going to keep a diary about all the malls of America-for a book or something. Some of them are so nasty-massive, but still no stores you like." (Jessica's favorite mall fashion? "Bebe. They definately have some cute stuff.")

Camera shy

"I'll tell you, every magazine cover I've ever done made me want to cry! It seems like they always pick the worst shot! Being in front of the camera definately makes you more body-consious. It sucks. I wanted to eat that banana split my dad just had, but you have to watch it. But I hate that Hollywood skinny look. I don't think it's attractive at all. I mean, I have breasts and hips-I couldn't be that toothpick thin! More toned, OK, yes!" (Here Zeb, who has been quietly listening to all this girl talk, can't resist putting in his indignant two cents: "I call her hotel room in the morning for our workouts, and she always cancels!" But she never misses the A.M. protein shakes he mixes up for her.)

more body stuff

"If I could change something about my figure, I'd wish for longer legs. I'm only five foot three. And smaller feet. I wear 7 1/2." But she's learned how to dress to flatter her figure: "Because I have a bigger bustline, I always make sure the waist is taken in. I love the bustiers, especially by Shoshanna-for my body type, they're perfect. I love Halle Berry's and Lauryn Hill's and Salma Hayek's styles. I look at Salma for ideas about what looks good, because we have similar builds. She always has on a beautiful dress."

beauty school

"If I weren't a singer, I'd be a hair-and-makeup artist. I love transformation. I often do my own hair and makeup for a show, or my dancers' hair and makeup. I wear clip-on extensions all the time-everybody does. Right now I'm into little braids, like I wore in my video 'I think I'm in Love with You.' One thing I'd never, ever do is cut my hair. The only person I let color it is Rita Hazan at Oribe Salon in Manhattan. I did it myself once when I was touring, and it turned Pamela white! Playboy hair! Never again. When I'm in L.A., I fly Rita to me." (I told you she wasn't exactly a normal girl.)-Amy Astley

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