Ah, August. A month when you’re torn between savoring the last smoldering days of summer and starting to dream about the the crisp days of fall. And who better to embody the carefree nature of the dog days with the fresh vitality of a new season than our gorgeous August cover star Zooey Deschanel.

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The raven-haired actress arrived at our cover shoot at N.Y.C.’s Milk Studios in a lace Sandro top and Imogene + Willie jeans, carrying a quilted Chanel bag—but don’t get her started talking about designer labels. Caring whether a cute jacket is from a fancy brand is “so dumb,” she says, along with the notion that a woman has to to show a lot of skin to be in style.  “There is an audience for more modest clothes,” says the actress, who makes her case on our cover, looking breathtakingly beautiful in a Prada dress and scarf accented by the Jin Soon Kookie White polish ($18, net-a-porter.com) she picked out herself.

At the shoot, while the blue-eyed beauty snacked on fresh veggies and sipped an unsweetened chocolate-almond milk latte to keep her energy up, makeup artist Lisa Houghton drew attention to her “flawless porcelain skin” and hairstylist Kevin Ryan achieved a ’60s French actress vibe with her signature bangs, which she admits she cultivated early in her career to create a memorable persona as in real life as she morphed into different characters on screen.

“I do see the advantage of having something people can grab onto,” she told InStyle. “‘Hey, I know who that is—she has bangs!'”

For Zooey Deschanel’s full feature, pick up the August issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download July 11.

Want more of the gorgeous actress now? See her best looks ever in our gallery!