Style Q&A with Gok Wan
Fashion expert, award-winning TV presenter and all around nice-guy, Gok Wan is here to ‘Style our Nation’, thanks to Target. He took five minutes to sit down and have a chat to us about what style means to him, what got him to where he is today, and how we can have confidence in our wardrobe and in ourselves.
Style can mean so many different things to so many different people.
What is style to you?
Style is how you show yourself to the world. You tell them so much about who you are in what you wear. It can’t be put into words or defined. It’s what you feel good in and what makes you, you.
Tell us 3 words to describe yourself…
Uh, erratic! Compassionate, and highly emotional.
Now you’re a style icon to many.
So, who are your style icons; who do you look up to?
I look up to the House of Dior, Veronica Lake, dare I say it, SJP [Sarah Jessica Parker]. I think she’s one of the best-dressed women in the world. I also look up to my sister….
That’s lovely! Does she have a similar sense of style?
She has no sense of style! Well she does, and when I was younger and impressionable, she was really into her style. I really trust her taste.
She’s my older sister of 4 years and we are really close. She, in a large way, has been a massive influence on every part of my life, and if she doesn’t like something, I will question my thoughts on it.
That level of control she has over my taste is still bizarrely scary!
Does she know she holds this power over you?
I would never tell her!
Who is your celebrity crush?
For men, I would say Johnny Depp because I like the fact that he does something different.
For women, I would say SJP, I think she’s a snappy dresser; wonderful and fearless and fun and all of the stuff you want with a creative force like fashion. I get so excited to see what she’s going to be wearing and if I had to guess what dress I would love the most on any red carpet, it would be hers. Yes, [I’ve got] a bit of a crush actually.
What’s the key to dressing confidently?
Be confident with your wardrobe!
It sounds bonkers, but confidence often breeds confidence. If you convince yourself you’re fine, and you understand that style is subjective and it’s entirely up to you whether you like it or not, you’ll look great.
So that’s where confidence comes from… from understanding what you’re wearing and why, and being confident in your decision to.
What encouraging words would you say to people who are trying to define their own signature style?
Commit; If there’s anything to commit to, forget the boys, forget the husband, and commit to your style and your wardrobe.
Understand the clothes you’re putting on is one of the biggest gifts you’re giving to other people. You’re telling them a million things about who you are, so when you’ve found that signature - for whatever reason you wear it - you own it.
Once you have it, enjoy it, play around with it, have fun with it.
So how you define your own style, GOK?
Have you gone through phases to get where you are?
Everyday I go through phases. I’ve got this on (he points to his black skinny leg trousers and streamlined black blazer) because I know it’s for work, and I’ve got a vintage Adidas tracksuit top, oversized jeans and sneakers to wear home this evening.
[My style] changes daily, hourly, and I'm very lucky I'm in a position where I can have fun with it and enjoy it. But there’s no denying it’s chaotic at times.
If you could only live in two pieces of clothing for the rest of your life, what would they be?
A sweatshirt and jeans! I’m more than happy in that. I would go to a red carpet event in that ensemble and have no problem whatsoever.
You are iconic in the worlds of fashion and style, and known to be a quirky, fun guy – what do you think your trademark is?
My glasses. I love my glasses and without them I wouldn’t be confident.
If I haven’t got my glasses on I don’t want anyone to look at me and my ability to communicate properly, goes. My glasses are my absolute superhero costume!
If there’s one thing us ladies are afraid of, it’s getting out of our comfort zone!
What’s your tip to stretching the boundaries and putting on something you are afraid you won’t pull off?
Test yourself. Don’t worry, there are a couple of tricks….
When you go shopping, pull 2 or 3 pieces from the rails that you would never normally go for, something that fascinates you or entraps you. Try it on and take a photo of yourself in it, but don’t buy it!
Then, go and have a cocktail or have a cup of coffee. Look at the picture five to ten minutes later with fresh eyes and a fresh opinion. If you feel even 50% of the reaction you got when you saw it, when it entrapped you, then buy it – it’s probably right for you.
We’re obviously heading into winter on this side of the world.
What are the trends we need to be keeping our eyes on?
Knitwear is big - tartans, tweeds, herringbone, motif jumpers.
The 40s-era style is huge as well, which I love. Heels are getting dropped and ladies are getting around in court shoes and tiny moments of jewellery. Bags are simple, makeup is simple and hair is kept pinned back. It’s slightly conservative, but I like it!
There’s also a lot of winter floral – it’s absolutely everywhere – and the prints this season are more illustrative and beautiful, incorporating waterworks and stunning landscape prints.
We’re looking at lighter tones too this winter, bright and whispery colours as opposed to dark hues we’re used to seeing at this time of year.
What are the 5 pieces you should have in your wardrobe at all times?
Two: An LBD that could be dressed up or dressed down.
Three: A great pair of fitting jeans that have a stretch in them.
Four: A simple white shirt, high collar, top stitch, double cuff, fitted, scalloped on the sides (for tucking in if you wish) and always buttoned to the top (if you buy one that buttons to the chest, you’ve limited your choices already).
Five: An oversized sweatshirt.
Finally, tell us what you love about women…
I love women!
I like their sensibility, I like their conversation, their compassion, their powerful honesty; I like the fact that you get a security of friendship.
It’s not a wonder you boost women’s confidence everywhere!