Whether she's on a red carpet or taking her sons to school, Gwen Stefani is always dressed to the nines -- and with good reason.
"I mean, I'm very vain," she tells Elle's May issue (on stands April 12). "That would be my middle name. Of course I am, you know what I mean? I love the visual."
"I don't see myself in those girls," the L.A.M.B. designer says. "I usually put pants on. I see these girls as more going for the sex-symbol thing. I was more, in the band, like a tomboy. Of course, I think every girl is sexy, so there's going to be a little of that. But I see a lot of younger artists going more toward the sexy thing."
Fashion aside, the singer (and mom to sons Kingston, nearly 5, and Zuma, 2) also opens up about her eight-year marriage to Gavin Rossdale, 45.
"The first time we ever kissed was right around Valentine's Day; we were in New Orleans on tour," she recalls. "I always think about that because it's unbelievable that we've been able to stay together. I feel so proud of us. It's one of my biggest achievements."
Though she hasn't released an album since 2006's The Sweet Escape, Stefani, 41, promises her third CD will be her best yet.
"Prince, who is one of my idols, gave me some advice when I worked with him: 'Have you ever just tried writing a hit? Like, don't just try writing a song; try and write a hit song.' I remember him saying that and me thinking, 'Yeah, you're right. Why would you write anything else?"
"When we were growing up, some of the hits were legendary ones that you hear your whole life. But certain songs, I don't know if you'll ever hear them again," she continues. "Because that's what that music is, like a guilty pleasure, it's right at the moment. It's like fashion -- it's now, then it's gone."