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
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: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable