Several months ago, a XXI (that's the slightly fancier version of Forever21) flagship store opened in the Houston Pavilions downtown. My best friend and I waited eagerly in line with more than 200 recessionistas for the store's doors to open for the first time. The store was packed with sales associates, thankfully, as I wanted to ask where one of the items on display was located.
"Oh, that's in the Gossip Girl section," she said, as my jaw dropped, seemingly in slow motion.
"The what section?" I said, stunned.
"The Gossip Girl section," she repeated. She explained that the store was divided into sections based on the most popular shows—mainly Gossip Girl and the revived-from-the-90s 90210.
It's no secret that Gossip Girl is worth watching for the fashion alone (raise your hand if you love the fashion as much as the drama!) From the embellished school uniforms (which, by the way, I would have totally got sent to the office for in my Catholic school days), to Blair's preppy-chic, girly ruffles, bows and headbands, Serena's edgy bohemian, New York City-girl style and Jenny's rocker-girl look, the show is style-heavy in all the right ways.
Just like with Sex and the City (RIP, but thank goodness we still have the movies to look forward to), I sometimes find myself so drawn into the fashions featured on Gossip Girl that I have very little recollection of the actual plotlines. I especially love the winter episodes that feature all of those amazing coats, boots and handbags, which we can't really wear here in warm-year-round Houston, but it's nice to covet them from afar.
Since GG's inaugural episode (the series is based on novels by author Cecily von Ziegesar), there has been a phenomenal trickle-down effect that's influenced the entire fashion industry. Never have I see so many blatantly girly fashions and accessories available. I think designers and retailers finally got the message: basics are still in, but let's spice it up a little! From J.Crew's gorgeous feminine details in both their clothing and accessories to Forever 21's droves of ruffled tops, dresses, floral headbands and preppy looks, Gossip Girl style is here to stay (and I couldn't be happier).
It makes sense—the variety of styles on the show are appealing to many audiences. While some love Blair's perfectly polished ensembles and flawlessly coiffed tresses, others covet Serena's earthier style, including her undone blond waves and "this took me 5 minutes" makeup (and she totally rocks the glam look as well).
Designer Ana Sui recently created a line for Target based on her interpretation of Gossip Girl looks. I have to admit, I was disappointed with the results. Nothing about it said Gossip Girl to me. If it hadn't been marketed that way, I wouldn't have had a clue that the line was made to mimic some of the character's looks. Her patterns, textures and colors failed to make the GG connection. Disappointment aside, it's clear that designers and clothing retailers are tapping into the success of Gossip Girl by bringing back those pretty and intricate details so many women desire.
My love for feminine, pretty, girly details in clothing and accessories runs deep, so shopping has been particularly fun for me lately. The fact that I can easily find incredible accessories to amp up a little black dress (a gorgeous headband or a pretty cashmere cardigan with ruffles) is so liberating. I say liberating, because for someone like me, the ability to add girly elements to my daily ensembles is of utmost importance—it makes me feel polished and pretty.
I'm ecstatic that Gossip Girl has re-ignited a move towards clothing that is wearable and beautiful, but also isn't afraid to be something exciting, with details that prove the garment was given a little extra thought. Basics like cardigans, pencil skirts, tanks, silk blouses and simple dresses have transformed into pieces brimming with so much detail and careful design elements, that it's hard for them to not immediately catch your eye when you walk into a store. And that's what consumers should expect, because there's nothing more disappointing for a fashionista craving her next fix than a store full of boring clothes that don't spark something inside of her.
Gossip Girl style is about pushing the limits and combining prints, textures and accessories like never before—bright purple or yellow tights with an otherwise simple dress, an unexpected sparkly brooch in the hair for the evening, a great, chunky bracelet with a mini dress, layers of charm necklaces in varying lengths—the possibilities are endless. That's why I hope this style continues to evolve and thrive.
Besides, there's no better excuse for women in Houston to have a little bit of an Upper East Side look, even without the cold winters.
Veronika Javor Romeis writes about fashion and beauty on her blog Veronika's Blushing.