When I first heard Eric Daman, the costume designer for the original Gossip Girl, was reprising his role for the 2021 reboot, I worried that the show might rely too heavily on the sartorial takes that made it a cult classic the first time round but are simply too dated for this Zoomer era. When the show opens with mysterious Kate Keller (played by Tavi Gevinson) wearing a camel peacoat, striped top, and neckerchief—very reminiscent of Serena van der Woodsen in her Grand Central Station debut—I thought my fears were coming true.
But my concerns were put to rest one-third into the reboot’s first episode, during a dramatic face-off between newcomer Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak) and the group of ultra-wealthy Manhattanites at—where else?—the Met steps. As she stares down at Zoya, Monet De Haan (Savannah Smith) says disgustedly to her friends, “She has a headband on.”
That was the moment that convinced me: although the show is framed as Gossip Girl 2.0, it’s not just lazily sticking to the original storyline, characters, and wardrobe. Make no mistake, the motley crew is just as gorgeous and stylishly attired as their predecessors, and there’s a heavy dose of bling and metallics that make clear they’re not afraid to outshine the rest—by hook or by crook. But at the same time, their outfits carry a distinct Zillennial edge that makes them much more aligned with the times.
As chic as the headband-wearing Zoya and headband-hating Monet are in their own ways, the true style star of the show is queen bee Julien Calloway (played by Jordan Alexander), who weaves Blair’s preppiness with Serena’s dressed-down coolness, but offers her own edgy take. The result: a wardrobe full of items that won’t look out of place on the It-girls of today such as the Jenners and Hadids. It’s fitting for in the show, Julien is a bona-fide fashion Instagrammer whose every look is breathlessly chronicled and imitated by her adoring followers. As she puts it, “I’m not just known; I’m influential.”
Without further ado, here are the five most lust-worthy trends we spotted in Julien’s massive walk-in closet, and how you can hop on them.
1. Androgynous dressing
While her minions Monet and Luna La (Zion Moreno) look like Blair Waldorf wannabes, Julien does private school chic with a gender-bending twist in an oversized men’s dress shirt that billows around her lithe frame. A loosely-knotted tie around the unbuttoned collar recalls Serena’s boho nonchalance, while her shaved head further adds to her striking androgynous look.
The dress-shirt-and-tie look might seem a tad stuffy, but Julien cleverly injects some street style flair by wearing a pair of bike shorts underneath. In a later episode, she pairs bike shorts with an oversized varsity jacket that’s very reminiscent of Hailey Bieber’s go-to look. No surprise, since costume designer Daman admitted he turned to Bieber’s street looks for inspiration. One can’t help but wonder what dictator of taste Blair Waldorf, who firmly believes “tights are not pants”, would make of this ensemble.
3. Hypebeast footwear
Just like OG It-girl Serena, Julien loves showing off her long legs in knee-high boots. But unlike her predecessor, she favours chunky sneakers as well. In fact, I’m struggling to recall if any of the females in the original GG ever wore sneakers except for that one ill-fated field hockey class in season 1. In the reboot’s debut episode, Julien gifts Zoya a pair of Beyoncé x Adidas Superstars so Zoya can prove to Julien’s squad she’s cool enough to hang with them.
4. Contemporary brands
As befitting her upper-crust status, Julien’s wardrobe features a healthy smattering of high-end brands like Burberry, Fendi, and Chanel. But like the fashion trailblazer she is, her choices also show a distinct slant towards newer contemporary labels. The first episode’s climax takes place at a Christopher John Rogers fashion show, where Julien struts down the runway in a black and white dress, joining the ranks of real-life icons like Michelle Obama and Lizzo who have been dressed by the American designer. Other brands Julien champions include ALC, Nanushka, and Monse, who just launched their Gossip Girl-themed collection inspired by Julien this week.
The original Gossip Girl gave us Blair’s headbands, and this reboot’s accessory of choice is Julien’s neckerchiefs. In the scene at the Met steps where Monet sneers at Zoya’s scarf-headband, Julien steps in to defuse the tension with a gentle reminder that scarves are better worn around the neck. Throughout the show, neckerchiefs are also seen on the other female characters as well, proving not just its significance as an Upper East Side status symbol but also Julien’s fashion influencer cred.
The Gossip Girl reboot can be viewed on HBO Go.