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

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

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff