How do I look? Gok Wan, Stylist & TV presenter, age 33

Growing up as such a big person had a real bearing on how I looked and how I felt about the way I looked. I was never comfortable with my physicality [Gok was overweight as a child] but was always really confident about who I was. I've always been really close to my parents and my brother and sister, and they always supported me. My dad's from Hong Kong and has really strong genes, so we all look very Chinese, but my mum's English and though she never knew her father, we know that he was really tall hence my height. It's pretty bizarre for a Chinese guy to be 6ft 1in!

When I was a kid I basically wore whatever fitted, but as I became a teenager, I found fashion in a big way and got really into experimenting. Anything, from retro, Sixties stuff to nu rave. At about 16/17, I went off to college and just decided that enough was enough and committed to losing weight. I know that I'm slim now and fortunately I don't have to work at it, I'm just so bloody busy all the time that I get natural exercise.

Obviously I'm seriously into clothes, and I do have the most varied wardrobe. From skater-boy to rock star to mafia-style suited and booted, I'm just constantly shopping so I pretty much have it all. To be completely honest, I have more than once been out at a club with friends and decided I hate my outfit, so I've left, grabbed a taxi home to change, then gone back again. It's awful, but there you go.

I also suffer from a terrible case of wardrobe envy. I'll be out on the street and see some guy who looks particularly hot and I'll have to find a shop selling what he's got on. Fifty per cent of what I buy is a variation of something I've seen some cute guy in I'll run to the shop then find a toilet somewhere to put it on!

When it comes to the shops I like, it depends on what I've had for breakfast and the way the wind's blowing at that moment. One day I can spend five hours in Topshop and love everything, the next day I can't stand anything in there it's completely impulsive.

It's not about replacing who you are with what you wear; quite the opposite. It's about using what you wear to reflect and enhance who you are inside. I went through such terrible bullying as a child that I learnt to combat the bullies by focusing on my personality. I'm not about dressing bodies I'm about dressing personalities. I draw from my experiences when I'm choosing what to wear myself, it can totally depend on where I've been the day before or what I've seen earlier that morning.

There's no chance of being invisible when you're involved in something like How to Look Good Naked. I do get a huge amount of attention everywhere I go now; women come up to me and some want a chat and others just want to touch me. There's nothing I hate more than rudeness so I would never want to tell someone to fuck off. But it does mean it takes quite a while to get down Oxford Street!

People should be kind to each other and if you're comfortable with yourself, that comes naturally. All my life people have been making up their mind about who I am before ever finding out who I really am, but I don't need to worry about that now. The only person I really need to please is me.

A life in brief

Gok Wan was born in Leicester on 9 October 1974. A fashion stylist and TV presenter, he left school before his GCSEs and worked at his father's restaurant. He later took a place at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London but left after a year. With no training, he worked as a hair and make-up artist before moving into fashion styling. Following a stint as fashion consultant for shows including Big Brother's Little Brother and The Xtra Factor, he presents his own show, Channel 4's How to Look Good Naked, which is in its third series. He lives alone in London.

Interview by Charlotte Philby

Portrait by Graham Jepson

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up