Molly Ringwald

Molly Ringwald at a signing for her book "Getting the Pretty Back" at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Santa Monica, Calif. Photo: Getty Images

Generally, there's nothing more cringe-worthy than a "celebrity advice book." But somehow Molly Ringwald has managed to transcend the genre with "Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick."

The book is sort of like your coolest, most fashionable friend, serving up smart snippets on sex, beauty, motherhood, and personal style. Though she's forever etched in our brains as "princess" Claire from "The Breakfast Club" and the awkward, endearing Andie from "Pretty in Pink," Ringwald is now a 42-year-old mother of three.

And whether she's talking about age ("There's nothing I would give up. Well, okay, maybe I'd pass on the Dorothy Hamill haircut I got in the fourth grade") or quoting from the likes of Jane Austen and J.D Salinger, it's clear that she hasn't lost her quirky-girl spunk.

StyleList: What does it mean to "get the pretty back"?

Molly Ringwald: I'm not talking about anything physical, so much as a feeling you have when you're younger -- a sort of lightness and spontaneity. Life takes over and you lose that feeling, so I wanted to write a book about getting that back. Some of that has to do with style, but most of it has to do with an attitude and the importance of taking time for yourself.

SL: You talk about turning 40. What is it about that age that makes women so crazy?
MR: Society imposes that upon us. When we think about 40, it seems like that's the moment you can no longer call yourself a young woman. My forties thus far have been fantastic. It kicked me into high gear and it's a very creative time for me.

Is getting older in Hollywood especially hard?
MR: Hollywood is difficult for any age. You're told you're not what they want all the time. I encountered that as a teenager, and I encounter that as a 42-year-old. But there are women who have phenomenal careers after 40, and in their 50s and 60s. Look at Meryl Streep -- she's a beautiful woman and she only gets better.

SL: You draw the line at plastic surgery. In your book you write, "Be bold, as long as you are under the care of a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist (not a plastic surgeon, since we don't want you to look plastic)".
MR: I don't judge. I understand the pull, but as an actress I depend on my expressions to get my emotions across. To do something to my face that would inhibit that ability would be a mistake. Otherwise, yeah, you start to look plastic.

So you wouldn't even do Botox?
MR: It's not the route I want to go. But you could talk to me a year from now and if there's a line that shows up on my face that really bums me out, I might change my mind.

Molly Ringwald Pretty in Pink

Ringwald in the 1986 romantic comedy, "Pretty in Pink." Photo: Paramount Pictures / ZUMA

SL: You're beloved for John Hughes's '80s movies. How are the '80s faring in fashion history?
MR: Judging from the huge resurgence, I think they've fared really well. I'm surprised. But the '80s have been reinterpreted in a really interesting way. You have to bring back the best parts of an era and leave the other parts back where they belong. I find myself revisiting a lot of elements of the '80s.

SL: Like what?
MR: Layering, though definitely not with the same enthusiasm as when I was younger. I'm a bit more streamlined. I'm really into Wayfarers. And lately I'm into bright red and yellow, and primary colors. I still wear leggings, and I wear jeans that are tight and have little zippers on the bottom, and Vans and Converse.

SL: Are there any '80s trends you pray will never return?
MR: Definitely the hair. The big, poufy, mulletlike hair. I never had a mullet, I'm proud to say, but that is definitely part of the '80s I think should stay there. And also the intense shoulder pads.

SL: You were always a trendsetter. Were you born with a great fashion sense?
MR: I believe it was connected to acting, wanting to feel like a character. I was into books, particularly F. Scott Fitzgerald, so I got really into the '20s. I was interpreting the '20s in my own way. I would wear beaded gowns, which were easy to find in those days -- all the vintage stores were completely untapped -- with Converse. I never felt the pull to look obviously sexy, like it seems so many kids do today. It's more interesting to not show everything. That's something I definitely want to instill in my children.

SL: You have a six-year-old, Matilda. Do you struggle with her about what she wears?
MR: We have struggled since she was pre-verbal! She decided she wanted to wear skirts or dresses -- no pants. There were times I would buy the cutest patent leather boots, and I would give them to her and she would nix them. She's told me very calmly, "Mommy, that's your style, that's not my style."

SL: You write that you were never influenced by the looks you saw in magazines. How did you escape that?
MR: I didn't feel like I was "the ideal." Growing up in California in the '70s and '80s, my sister was blonde-haired and blue-eyed -- the stereotypical California-girl beauty -- and I was pale, thin, freckly, and had a big mouth. So I thought, No matter how hard I try I can't be that; the only thing I can be is myself.

Speaking of teen stars, read about Miley Cyrus's latest style scandal.