Who is your fashion icon? One of the many self-proclaimed queens of Instagram? An androgynous rock star type? Or are they a Manhattan loving, slightly evil fictional character with a prominent forehead, a penchant for car sex and a borderline addiction to very expensive whiskey?
Let's flash back to 2007. Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix was tearing up cinema screens, the world's dancefloors were shaking to the Timbaland infused-beats of Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado and I, a newly 18 year old young man, was dressing primarily in the permanently virginial combination of scruffy beer-stained hoodies, ripped jeans, falling apart trainers and Red Hot Chili Peppers tour t-shirts (I owned multiple) most likely delicately positioned on top of a second, longer sleeved t-shirt.
A brief experimentation with Seth Cohen-esque cardigan and corduroy combinations had led to nothing but mockery from my peers and sent me running straight back to the scuzzy grunge closest to regroup. I had perfected the kind of mid 00s style worn exclusively by those with an alt-affiliation who were slightly too awkward to be truly cool - the players of Tony Hawk Pro Skater who would never dare set foot on an actual board due to a wood or wheel allergy. I was comfortable with it and saw no reason to alter things.
But that September, a TV show appeared out of nowhere complete with a character seemingly created purely to shake my idea of style to its very core. That show was Gossip Girl and that character was Chuck Bass.
Serena and Blair may be the best remembered for their in-show outfits and Dan's Brooklyn-based button downs are still visible in every GAP campaign. But, for 6 seasons, Brit actor Ed Westwick had the greatest job in all of television - walk purposely into a series of glamorous NYC bars, speak in a gruff mumble, make some "business" style hand-gestures and make out with the random hired hottie of the week before dramatically exiting, most likely with a flourish, a wink and a cheeky pun for good measure.
And he'd do it all wearing the most fantastic clothes imaginable.
I mean just look at them - the garish colours! The perfectly tailored fit!
Suddenly when I looked in the mirror, the smiling, mugging faces of Flea and Anthony Kiedis adorned across my chest just appeared sad.
Time for a change.
I quickly got a summer job working in Brooks Brothers, the legendary US purveyors of suave gentleman's clothing and a regular favourite of the always preppy Chuck. Soon, I was swapping out my ripped jeans for the outlandish offerings afforded to me with my employee discount, from knitted ties to striped sports jackets. I was The Great Gatsby on a schoolboy budget.
Sites like whatchuckwore would show exactly how to recreate his look from any given week and, if you hunted hard enough, they were easy to replicate without spending your entire college fund.
Plus, most important of all, by wearing the Chuck outfit, I was imbued second-hand with the confidence and swagger synonymous with the character. Yes, true, that confidence made Chuck into a total douchebag most of the time but let's be honest, if you are going to roll into the club as an 18 year old in bright neon blue chinos and boat shoes, you better at least fake that you are the most fabulous person to walk the earth.
As university life approached, my wardrobe would allow band t-shirts and trainers to sneak back into my general ensemble and a second stint at Seth Cohen chic would later become my go-to daily look. But whenever I'm headed for a night on the town, perhaps in a glamorous gin-cocktail based celebrity lounge or at a charity benefit hosted by the Waldorfs, I will always look to Gossip Girl as my inspiration. Probably something around Season 4 - that was the peak of the blazer era.
So thank you Chuck, not only for your excellent looks but for opening my eyes to a new world of fashion and giving me the confidence to pull it off.
XOXO buddy. XOXO.