Blake Lively has made headlines this year for her expanding lifestyle empire, Preserve, and has fashioned herself as kind of a humble foodie (yep, she made pal Beyoncé a “bee” birthday cake and hangs with Martha Stewart), but after chatting with the 27-year-old actress about her spot on our Best Dressed list, it’s clear that the field she’s an expert in is fashion.
“It’s such a passion of mine,” she tells PEOPLE. “That’s the reason I don’t have a stylist, not because I think I can do it better than any of these people, but because I just love it so much that it would be like handing over something.” And leave it to Lively to meld two of her favorite worlds: cuisine and couture. “It would be like making a cake and then handing it off to someone else to ice and decorate,” she explains. “Why would you do that?”
Working sans stylist truly lets Lively chart her own red carpet course. “I look at the whole story — I won’t say ‘journey’ because I saw Anna Wintour’s 73 Questions [Vogue] video (ed note: that’s the word Wintour wishes banned from fashion vocabulary) — when doing any sort of press tour or when doing multiple events, and say ok, how can I diversify these looks?” she says. “[I want] to make them exciting but also not totally manic.”
Photoshoots: 2014: Latest Additions x015
Blake Lively has spent nearly a decade in an industry she initially had no interest in pursuing, but from the moment she appeared on TV screens in Gossip Girl, there’s been no denying her allure—just ask Leonardo DiCaprio, who was so under her spell, he engaged in several PDAs during their brief dalliance (we still want to know how she pulled that off). Today she’s married to Canada’s own Ryan Reynolds, has worked with Oscar winning directors such as Oliver Stone and Ben Affleck and this past summer launched Preserve, her own lifestyle website.
Amid the frenzy of the Cannes Film Festival and her duties as an official spokesperson for L’Oreal Paris back in May, Lively sat down with FASHION’s beauty director Lesa Hannah to discuss Hollywood, cakes and that time she visited babies in Sudbury with Reynolds.
On avoiding Hollywood at first:
“It was never that I didn’t want to be an actor because I thought it was a bad industry. It was just that my whole family did it and I wanted to do something different. I was the youngest of five kids and I wanted to create my own path and my own sort of legacy.”
On her announced visit to the pediatric unit of a Sudbury hospital last year:
“I have six nieces and nephews, so for me, children are really what gets my heart going. I’ve spent time at St. Jude’s in the States and so any chance I get to go to a children’s hospital, I do. I try to do that in a way that’s it’s on a more personal level, but that one became sort of a public thing that we didn’t intend, but it’s great to do that.”
On how her mom’s cakes made her see the power of baking:
“She just created a whole life, a personality out of this thing. It was very much art and a celebration, and it made every holiday so special. I would be so proud when she would bring them into my class, and all of the kids in school would just freak out. She would let other kids help decorate too. And I suffer from the opposite, I’m very precious about it, it has to be perfect.”
On Age of Adaline, her first movie post-Gossip Girl.
“I really wanted some time to myself and to focus on other things that I loved, so that when I did it again I would be really re-invigorated. And it took a movie that I really couldn’t say ‘no’ to, you know, because there’s plenty that I would have done, but it was really important to have that time. So when I read that one, I said, ‘I can’t not be in this movie, I have to do this movie.’”
To read our cover story, pick up the FASHION Magazine October 2014 issue starring Blake Lively, available on newsstands September 15, 2014.
Blake is going to be hanging out on the Presrve.us instagram on Wednesday September 10th at 2pm eastern and wants you to come hang out with her! Check out the video below.
If you’ve already anointed Blake Lively as your lifestyle guru (that hair! That baking talent! That website!) we’ve got some more great beauty advice straight from the source.
The face of Gucci Première fragrances (who gives PEOPLE an exclusive peek at the Eau de Toilette launch in this week’s issue) dished about what perfume means to her in an Q&A with us (and in the video below). “Fragrance is a big part of one’s identity. It’s one of the very few things I do every day, is put on fragrance,” she says. “If I’m not wearing makeup, if my hair’s not done, if I’m walking around in pajamas, I still have fragrance on. You know, I brush my teeth, I put on my perfume.”
Makes perfect sense for the star, who says “glamour is a state of mind.” And though she is often spotted looking like the textbook definition of glamour at events like Cannes, Lively tells PEOPLE that her aesthetic will change day to day. “Every day it’s different … I love the history and story of fashion so I love dressing in different decades,” she says. “I think the best thing to do on the red carpet is just whatever makes you feel the most comfortable and the most confident. Everyone has their own version of that.”
TV Appearances: Commercials:  L’Oreal Paris [Superior Preference]