Whether she's crowned in a power headband or wearing scads of oversized pearls, Leighton Meester's primetime alter ego-Gossip Girl's peerless Blair Waldorf-is adored for her prep-princess look. But while Meester is well known (and rightfully worshiped) for her screen-stealing character's fantastic outfits, frankly, the actress's personal style is much more intriguing. Though she works her character's amped-up UES look very well, in real life, Meester consistently demonstrates her ability to execute edgier ensembles with sophisticated flair. In fact, Meester manages to dance upon the fine line between directional and disappointingly trendy-a very difficult balancing act, indeed-without ever veering into fashion-victim territory. Plus, and perhaps most of all, we appreciate the way she consistently supports emerging talent, opting for designers like Christian Cota, Christopher Kane, and Emilio De La Morena for her red-carpet moments.
Since Meester knows how to pick unexpected, ultra chic cocktail frocks, we figured her personal wardrobe would be the perfect inspiration for this month's What Would She Wear story. (After all, dear readers, holiday party season is literally just around the corner!) As demonstrated by one recent fashion week look-a plum Emilio de Morena number, similar to this Structured Mini Dress with Beading ($1650), and a pair of Proenza Schouler booties-Meester usually steers clear of the traditional starlet ensemble. That means skipping the strapless frock and staid pumps and reaching for modern silhouettes mixed with aggressive accessories instead. We think we pulled together a look that has the right combination of edge and elegance, so read on for all the shopping details!
1. Preen Line Band Dress ($440)
As we mentioned earlier, one of the things we like best about Meester is how she always appears fashion-forward without any unnecessary fuss. One way she achieves this look is by opting for snug, well-constructed frocks with one or two directional details. Accordingly, we picked this red-hot number from Preen because it fits the bill perfectly; it subtly incorporates of-the-moment trends like peplum and asymmetry without being over-the-top. But if you'd like a simpler style in the same bold hue, check out Elizabeth and James' One Shoulder Dress ($150) in Neon Coral, which is an excellent understated alternative.
2. Jaeger London Wing Collar Cropped Tux Jacket
Although we are fully aware that Meester and her on-screen persona are not one in the same, we wanted to pick at least one item that we think both the actress and our beloved Blair Waldorf would like. We think both ladies would like this sharp wing-collared jacket from Jaeger London, though naturally they'd style it in very different ways. While Queen B would pair this black-and-white cropped tux with a ruffled-front shirt, snug pencil skirt, and some ladylike high heels, we know Meester would wear it in a less conventional way, like over a coral cocktail dress!
3. Banana Republic Rosette Princess Ring ($39.50)
While some of our favorite stylesetters are all about piling on gobs of jewels (a look we also love-don't get us wrong), we admire our lady-of-the-day's restraint when it comes to her accessories. Meester prefers to get serious mileage out of one or two statement pieces, like a well-chosen necklace or a sparkly cocktail ring. Falling into the latter category, this antique-inspired option from Banana Republic is a perfect fit. Its imperial design and neutral tones have a classic vibe, but the large size renders it eye-catching enough to allow it to stand on its own.
4. Fendi Mini Bead Baguette ($2140)
Considered by many to be the first flame to light the "it bag" fire, the Fendi Baguette enjoyed a monstrous amount of fame in the late nineties. Now, more than a decade after its launch, we think it's time to break out the bag again! Meester's the perfect person to bring it back, as she'd make the bag look relevant by pairing it with her ahead-of-the-curve outfits. If beads aren't your thing but you like the embellished look, try Diane von Furstenberg's Stephanie Slouchy Bag ($875); it has the same spirit, it's just a little tougher.
5. Velvet Angels Decibel Platform Open Toe Pumps ($325)
While Meester may be restrained in the jewelry department and typically opts for understated beauty looks, she goes all out in the footwear department! Whether she's spotted walking to set in a pair of Chloe Sevigny for Opening Ceremony Multi Buckle Wedge Booties ($625) or is broadcast on Alexa Chung's show in Christian Louboutin's Miss Fortune Sandals ($1160), it's clear that Meester loves her interestingly detailed black shoes. Keeping this in mind, we figured that this semi-bootie would be completely representative of our subject's taste and perfect for this story. The silver-and-suede combo is both sexy and fashion-forward while the added platform elongates the leg-line!
6. Stephen Webster Green Jade Stud Earrings ($510)
Our final element in today's outfit is a gorgeous pair of earrings from jewelry giant Stephen Webster. The hue is a sly nod to the Chanel runway, plus we love the idea of a hint of jade juxtaposed with the bright coral dress. If your budget limitations keep you from these gorgeous green baubles, don't worry, we've found a fantastic substitute. Janna Conner Designs' Aqua Jade Drop Earrings ($100) offer a similar faceted look and rich tone, but at a slightly lower price point.