A certain famous frog once said that it’s not easy being green. We’d guess that Zoe Saldana could relate to that sentiment, albeit with a slightly less melancholy undertone. The Jersey-born, Queens-raised style star, who got her start as the rebellious ballerina Eva Rodriguez in 2000’s Center Stage, is currently on the big screen as the alien criminal-turned-assassin Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy—a role that meant five hours in the makeup chair daily for a mega dose of green body paint.

“By the time you got to set, you felt like you’d worked a full day,” she told us. “It was crazy, but it paid off. The movie is fantastic and I am so happy to be a part of it!” Clearly, Saldana (who consistently makes headlines for her red carpet choices in addition to her film roles) knows the value of a good look—something she applies to her personal style as well. “I’m an artist,” she said. “I like practicing art, taking art it in, and discussing it. So whatever it is I’m going to put on, it has to have a meaning or a story or give me something of substance.”

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“Every choice needs to have depth,” she continued. “I like to know the history of things. If I ask Roland Mouret why he cuts in squares and discover he comes from a family of butchers in France, that’s exhilarating information. I also think that you should feel beautiful with what you wear, and comfortable most of all. Be comfortable in your skin and take some risks within reason, but only if you are wearing the clothes and they aren’t wearing you.”

Words to dress by, indeed. With her style mantras in mind, we asked the actress to share the pieces she’s currently coveting.