Since Christian Dior, has anyone given the waist belt such mass appeal as Gok Wan? I’m meeting the TV presenter and fashion expert to talk about his new clothing collection WULI:LUU at QVCUK.com, so of course I need to ask if he still has the same enthusiasm for his favourite accessory, and his answer didn't disappoint. “I love a waist belt,” he tells me, animatedly. “I got very excited this season when the massive belts came in with the huge oversized buckles. I love the idea that you can see the moment between waistline and shoulders and breasts and bum. I’m all about showing those curves off.”
With that important issue dealt with, I ask the fashion expert about his collection and why he’s chosen the pieces he has. He tells me the range has been inspired by Anna Wintour, VB and his good friend Fearne Cotton, whom he says always looks effortless. There are printed dresses, classic shirts, and cosy but elegant knits. My eye, however, is on the grey checked suit inspired by Fearne. The idea, he says, is that these are easy pieces that always look good. And being Gok, he has some sage advice when it comes to dressing for the office: “Don’t ever go to work thinking you’ve got to wear the same as everyone else. Show the colours of your personality.”
Clearly, Gok knows his stuff when it comes to fashion. I mean, of course, he does—he’s worked in the industry for well over a decade. So while you might be missing Gok’s Fashion Fix or How to Look Good Naked (because I know I am), we didn't just stop at asking him about his new clothing line. We’ve given you a reminder of his brilliance by asking him the most-googled fashion questions. This is one to bookmark for the ages.
How do you cut the sleeves off a shirt?
“You cut the sleeves off a shirt—if you really want to—by going into the overlock underneath the shirt and picking off the top layer first. Then you go into the set inseam from there and you would unpick it through. And then what you’ve been left with is a raw edge on the shirt, and you have to fold it through. Then I’d probably wonderweb against the shirt afterwards.”
How do I start modelling?
“You need to work out what kind of model you want to be. So either commercial, you might be a fashion model, an alternative model, a glamour model… There are lots of different versions. Once you’ve done that, I’d suggest you find representation, because you want someone to look after you. When you go and meet your agent for the first time, the golden rule is that you never ever pay for a portfolio and never pay to have a picture taken. If that agency is going to look after you and make money from your looks, that person has to be responsible for that.”
What is haute couture?
“It’s very expensive designer clobber. It’s your left-of-centre—your not ready-to-wear. Essentially, one-off pieces that are very expensive.”
How do you wear ankle boots with skinny jeans?
“You can wear them however you want to. You’ve got to think about your body and your proportions because you’re going to be creating a break line between your boots and your jeans. Now, if there’s a moment of flesh in between that, you’ll be creating even more of a break line, which is essentially going to make your legs look shorter. So if you’ve got very long legs, it doesn’t matter what’s happening at the moment between boots and jeans. If you’ve got quite short legs and a long torso, go for the same colour [for your jeans and boots].”
How can you get wax out of clothes?
“Basically, you put the item in the freezer, let it freeze and then pick off the wax afterwards. Then you let the garment go to room temperature. After that, you take a piece of brown paper or something that will soak up oil. Then you place it on top and with a light iron and no steam; iron over the paper and it will lift all the grease from the clothing into the paper.”
How do you get lipstick out of clothes?
“Lipstick will be part oil and part colour. I would work on the colour first. I would wash the garment with just a hand soap or washing up liquid in warm water, and would rinse it thoroughly and let it dry off. After that, I would then use a piece of brown paper and then try to take the wax from the lipstick onto the brown paper with an iron.”
How do you iron silk?
“You don’t—you steam.”
What is boho? How can I dress like a hippie?
“Boho originally came from the ’60s and ’70s (late ’60s, early ’70s), and it was all about the kind of freedom of speech and freedom of wearing the clothes you wanted to. So when you look back at those incredible images of Woodstock, and you’re seeing people as if they’ve been rolled through a vintage store backwards and kicked out the back door. That’s truly what boho is. But boho over the years because it has been a fashion trend, so you’ve kind of got to work out what boho you like. Is it provincial? So you’re going to take moments of Russia and Eastern Europe and all that wonderful embroidery work. Or are you going to go over to America and take that slightly more rock ’n’ roll style? My key to getting it right is you don’t want your clothing to feel like a costume. Why don’t you just take a moment of boho and keep on adding it to your look very slowly—like adding salt to a dish?”
What did people wear in the ‘90s?
“I’m a ’90s kid, and it was all about sport luxe. You’d mix sport brands with very relaxed designer gear. Plus a slightly oversized look, which we inherited from the ’80s, so it was a bit of a mishmash. But right now, every brand has a sweatshirt and a pair of jeans, so actually, the ’90s never really went away.”
How do you shrink clothes?
“You shouldn’t you should buy the clothes that fit you accurately. Or I’d see a tailor and get it cut to your body shape instead.”
How do you stretch a T-shirt?
“Take your T-shirt and start at the neckline; pull on either side. And then you work down the T-shirt [horizontally]. Never pull length-wise, because you’re going to break the stitching.”
How do you become a fashion designer?
“Start drawing. You don’t have to be an incredible drawer—it just needs to be a way of you conveying your ideas to the team around you. Hopefully it will be a team one day of everything you’ve got in your mind what you want a collection to be. The next thing you need to do is start learning about fabrication and about colours and cuts and the stuff that stimulates you. Get your hands on a mannequin, buy cheap cuts of old material and start putting them together.
“From there, I’d start building up your network. Probably the best bit of advice I ever give anybody wanting to work in this business is to never burn a bridge. You have no idea at all about who’s going to help you up the ladder, or who you’re going to assist, or maybe you’re going to employ one day. So make sure you speak to as many people as possible, be polite, be punctual, be willing to work super hard, and stay true to your creativity. Whatever happens, when you leave the person you’re talking to, they’ll always remember you.”