Beth Allen goes for a less prissy look than her alter-ego.

You may know her as Brooke, the token bitch in Shortland Street with a penchant for tailored jackets, pencil skirts and plunging necklines, but in real life Beth Allen's style is very different.

She is part of the star-studded cast of women acting in The Vagina Monologues, which starts today at the Basement Theatre in Auckland.

The rotating cast of 20 is a who's who of local female talent (and a few Shortland Street faces): Allen, Antonia Prebble, Hannah Banks, Fleur Saville, Sara Wiseman, Lisa Chappell, Anna Julienne, Chelsie Preston-Crayford, Fern Sutherland, Kate Louise Elliot, Toni Potter, and more. Here Allen shares about her off-screen style.

Who are your favourite designers?
Karen Walker for her gorgeous dresses; Rich and Skinny jeans, because they are actually comfortable; World for its fun; Helen Cherry for her elegance and Madeleine Richards of MAW for feminine-with-edge.

What was the last item of clothing you bought?
A box-style 1950s-inspired coral wool coat from MAW.

Who or what inspires you?
Our costume designer, Nicola Newman, for her grace and professionalism. My mum and dad, who are so wise and funny and cute. My husband-to-be, who has such remarkable drive and enthusiasm. Older actresses who haven't messed with their faces and get more powerful on and off the screen and stage: Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep.

Your favourite accessory?
My Toyota Corolla, Goldberg. She is reliable, sparkly and a cheap date.

Who does the best shoes?
Kathryn Wilson. I have a pair of her Jimmy boots, some flats and heels, and they are all comfortable, classic and great quality.

What's the one thing everyone should have in their wardrobe?
A well-tailored winter coat.

What endures throughout the seasons?
Jeans. I tend to wear knickers all year round, too.

Your favourite shop?
Smith & Caughey's. I so admire them for sticking to their old-style service standards, when we are otherwise surrounded by casualness. And - hello! The hosiery section is amazing.

What is your beauty routine?
Splash water. Smooth aqueous cream into face. Dry with bathroom towel. Moisturise with aqueous cream. Done.

How do you define the word "fashionable", what does it mean to you?
A flattering cut. In everything.

Any style icons?
The clever, funny women around me who wear whatever the hell they want. If you can put together a cool outfit at 6.30am before starting an 11 or 12-hour day on set, then you're an icon to me.

What do you wear to work?
Stuff that is easy to get on and off so I can get in and out of costumes without messing up my hair and makeup.

The one rule you always dress by?
Do I feel good in this?

Best sartorial advice you've ever had?
Dress for the weather.

Most cherished item?
My vintage rabbit fur coat. Am I evil for wearing it, if it's second-hand and I am so warm?

Most overrated item in fashion?
Bubble skirts. Have bum, will not wear.

Best way to recycle your old clothes?
Swap them with girlfriends. Their bad calls are often my brilliant scores.

Favourite fashion moment in film?
The montage in Clueless, where Alicia Silverstone goes through her conveyor-belt wardrobe and photographs her outfits with a Polaroid. It was the first time I remember being fascinated with clothes.

* The Vagina Monologues, Basement Theatre, is on until Saturday September 11. Tickets from or phone (09) 361 1000.