GUESTPOST: What We Talk About When We Talk About Gok Wan

A special guestpost by Sophie Atkinson on style-saviour Gok’s latest TV self-help-athon:

Gok. He of the perma-black attire and inappropriate epithets for the female anatomy would like to show Britain’s tragic female singletons How to Date. Apparently, we’ve forgotten – and in Gok’s Style Secrets he’s going to give us back the key to the magical kingdom of Picking Up Men In Bars and Chatting Up That Stubbly Guy With A Dog In The Park. As the title indicates, while much of the show is devoted to cod psychology and flirting tutorials (“This isn’t staring. This is staring.”), a small significant segment is all about style. Which Gok claims to have bags of to put to use in his infamous makeovers. I’m not convinced. Much like Gok’s former placeholders, Trinny and Susannah, while he’s master of accentuating bosoms and waists and hiding saggy stomachs and too-big bottoms, nothing he chooses is ever very cool.

princess diHis big style craze this series is “peacocking” i.e. catching a lascivious male eye by sporting clashing neon brights. This seems like an odd choice. For one thing, it’s basically impossible to be a smouldery femme fatale while clad in an orange skirt paired with a yellow blouse. Even worse, he keeps taking wimmin with beautiful mermaidy hair and lopping off one side of it. One wonders who, besides creative directors at Toni & Guy circa 1999, has ever thought that asymmetric hair equals volcanic, Jessica Rabbit-y levels of sexiness. I do appreciate, as a woman who occasionally de-beautifies herself for the sheer joy of it, rather than dressing to catch the eye of eligible males (2006-2008, a pudding bowl haircut because it was fun looking like a young Princess Di – see above – and made costume parties easy; 2012 – favourite purchase of the year a too-big tasselled suede baseball jacket that makes my upper half look très Johnny Bravo) I may not be Gok’s target audience.

But all the same, personal fashion prejudices aside, I can’t help but find his fashion choices a little headmistress-y. The ages of his subjects so far have ranged from twenty-somethings to fifty-somethings, and yet Gok keeps on opting for the same togs, regardless of the three-decade age difference – mid-calf pleated skirts in bright colours, fitted blazers and Primark bangles. Surely you know you’re going wrong somewhere if you’d feel comfortable wearing your hot date outfit to a job interview… So Gok, if you’re reading this, please can tragic single wimmin have more yoof fashion? After all, singletondom can be punishing enough minus pastel blazers and collarbone-crushing necklaces, and these women have the rest of their lives to dress like their (stylish) mums at a village fete.

Compulsively watching Gok’s Style Secrets is just one of a long list of terrible hobbies that means Sophie won’t be finding a cure for cancer anytime soon. Other items on the list include: reading gossipy articles about David Foster Wallace’s life; making yogurt and raising hell after half a shandy. Follow her on Twitter here.

Below: Gok’s guests enjoy his unique approach to bagging a date

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Co-editor and co-founder of Pamflet //

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