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Desperately Seeking Serena - Part 1 of 3 - The Ace the SAT Plan

Episode Synopsis:  It’s the event every high school student dreads (even those privileged enough to attend Constance Billard and St. Jude’s) - the SATs.  Blair, more desperate to be admitted to Yale than she was for Nate’s attention, uses the Mean Girls to neutralize the triple-threat that is Nelly Yuki.  Jenny decides to try a different angle to regain the Constance crown, despite Rufus’ insistence she stay locked up in Brooklyn.  Meanwhile, Georgina’s arrival brings a surprise for Dan—the re-emergence of “old Serena,” who’s more picking up men in bars than studying vocab.  But the most shocking event at all?  The new man who’s seemingly interested in Vanessa.


Unsurprisingly, we continue the Dan Humphrey World Tour of Boring Flannel Shirts.

Is my favorite this enthralling maroon and puke brown number?

Or perhaps the shirt below that so gracefully incorporates several enthralling shades of gray?


The only time Dan leaves behind the comfortable environs of plaid is when he goes to take the SAT.  For that auspicious occasion, he selects his two favorite colors.

Brown and gray!  Admittedly the coat, with its military styling and epaulets, is one of Dan’s better sartorial choices.  The color scheme he’s sporting?  Not so much.


Serena prepares for the SATs like any New York It-Girl worth her salt does—at the last minute, with a ton of coffee and a cute outfit.

Oh, and don’t forget the ostentatious costume jewelry.  I can only assume Serena's using that huge pendant to marshal as much good ju-ju as she can for the test.

Honestly I don’t know anyone who really lounges around the house wearing this much jewelry.

Oh wait—Vanessa does.  Again, not the best character to be compared to.


The next day at school, Serena’s her usual perky self, with no evidence of late night SAT stress.

How many short plaid skirts does Serena own?  We never see Blair in one, or any of the other Mean Girls for that matter, so we can’t assume it’s a uniform requirement.  That means Serena chooses to wear the short plaid skirts, and really, are we even surprised?

Serena’s tie is the same plaid as her skirt, and the navy blue t-shirt nearly blends in as well.  The only items of interest are her brown leather trench and her studded purse.

As for the coat, I can’t say I’m a fan of the cognac leather or the styling.  It looks like Serena borrowed it from Lily’s wardrobe when she was a rock star groupie in the ‘70s.  The purse, however, is a masterpiece of studs and gold detailing on a neutral leather backdrop.


Later that night, we see a side of Serena that we (and Dan) haven’t seen before—it’s the Serena look on steroids:

Tousled blond hair, too much lip gloss, and a minimalist clingy black tank draped in Chanel jewelry.

Don’t forget the skintight black leather pants and matching boots, and Serena’s favorite accessory for a night on the town: Svetlana, AKA Georgina Sparks.


But of course, after a hard night on the town, Serena likes to go for something basic and reminiscent of the angelic half of her personality:

This cream coat with the military detailing is to die for, and it looks stunning on Serena, perfectly accenting her soft blond waves.  Despite the short plaid skirt she clearly favors, S covers up her long limbs with opaque black tights and a pair of black boots that say gardening rather than dominatrix.


Here Serena brings back the wondrous studded leather satchel, and pairs it with a soft gray jacket, white blouse and a few silver and green layered necklaces.  The look is put together but not overly fussy—one of the few times out of her “uniform” that Serena actually manages to pull this off.


Unfortunately she decides to ditch the gray jacket, which is both classy and flattering, and change into this brown and black cardigan that well . . .isn’t.


Finally, fed up with Georgina’s antics and ready to confront her once and for all, Serena decides it's time for the Sequins of Power.

Adding a long white scarf she can theoretically use to strangle her frenemy if necessary.


Speaking of the frenemy herself, Georgina Sparks makes her Gossip Girl debut in this episode, shaking up the UES for the first, but certainly not the last, time.

The outfit she wears on her entrance is so typically Georgina—though of course we didn’t know that at the time—chic separates with a heavy dose of rocker girl attitude.

Love the gray tunic, cropped leather jacket and fitted black jeans paired with the royal blue scarf, layered necklaces and the big leather bag.  The royal blue and black checked scarf provides just the right pop of color, pulling this from bland into balanced.


Out with Serena later that night, the balance just isn’t there.

The studded black mini provides some interest but that too-loose gray tee doesn’t work with it, and I don’t like Georgina’s very opaque, almost thick-looking black tights either. 

Her pen necklace is weirdly incongruous with her characterization as a party girl...maybe she's rocking the Joan/Mad Men trend? The blue of her hoop earrings serve not as a counter-balance to the neutrals of her outfit, but more as a distraction.  I'll give her a break on the ponytail. It's is a nice touch and flatters her face.


Is it surprising that Georgina Sparks’ lingerie resembles something a vampiric goddess would own?  Absolutely not.


Though cut from similar cloth as her earlier ensembles, this dinner outfit of Georgina’s is the least flattering of all.

The back pleather pants definitely give her an edge, but that ugly dark blue sleeveless tunic is truly unfortunate and makes her look a lot chunkier than she is.  Plus she needs to lay off the jewelry layering—she’s also beginning to resemble a certain jewelry aficionado from Brooklyn.

Even the shoes are just plain ugly—I really dislike the heavy gladiator styling with the tiny pick stiletto heels.  The combination just doesn’t work together, much the way this outfit doesn’t.


Lastly, Georgina, down but not certainly defeated, reinvents herself for a Blair-like scheme.  And her wardrobe drastically changes.

She looks so innocent and sweet!  The gray corduroy jacket is paired with a simple pair of jeans and an eye-catching skinny lace scarf.  Even her makeup is noticeably lighter and sweeter compared to the seriously smoky eyes she was sporting before.


In this episode, we’re not only supposed to believe that Serena literally is drawn to men and booze like a moth to a flame, but that Nate has already taken his SAT.

I’m sorry.  Nate doesn’t even know what the SAT is.

See, my point exactly.


Nate can be a baby blue t-shirt wearing soccer stud, but he’s just not a brainiac who preps for the SAT, and I have the proof right here.

He is literally wearing two shirts, and before you scream “layering!” at me, here’s the scenario:

After an especially potent bong hit, Nate gets dressed, except that he forgets he’s already wearing his pajamas, and whoops, puts another shirt on.  There is literally no other cogent explanation, because he is smiling away at Vanessa (blech), acting like the world is perfectly alright.  But Nate—it’s not.  Take off the Gap pajamas with contrasting piped placket.


However it turns out that when properly motivated, Nate is able to dress himself!  Of course, he can’t be bothered to stray from the color blue, but none of these separates are pajama-related, so I’m inclined to be less harsh.

The navy double-breasted peacoat is honestly gorgeous on him, as is the shawl collar sweater.  It would be even better if they were different shades of blue, but again, I’ll take what I can get from our resident stoner.


It takes to the end of the episode before it appears the dear boy can even put one foot in front of the other.

How many blue peacoats does the dear boy own?  One for every day of the week?  One for every girl he manages to charm?  I’ll admit, if he turned up like this, I might be willing to be one of the many.  Love the contrasting light blue button-up paired with the tailored blue striped sweater and the perfectly-fitted jeans.  Overall, a great look for Nate.  So great in fact, that you have to wonder if his mother or Chuck helped him put it together.


And who is the wonder woman who convinced Nate to wear items of clothing that aren’t navy?

You may not believe it.

Actually as Vanessa’s outfits go, this is one of her better moments.  I really like the blouse with its delicate floral pattern, and her hair and understated makeup compliments the simplicity. 

Jeans and a pair of bangles and a ring (What?  You expected she was going to leave the jewelry off?) complete the look.

When Vanessa chooses the simplistic route, she’s always better off.  The question is why she refuses to stick to this most of the time.


Instead, she goes outside in hot messes like the one below:

Just . . .no.  I never liked the legging and jean skirt trend even when it was at its height, and though I guess I can admit she doesn’t look terrible in it, it’s still seriously ugly.  Paired with that oversized purple tunic, gray and black checked sweatshirt and the black leather jacket, it’s a whole load of fail.

And how could I forget the ubiquitous gold hooker hoops she insists on wearing with every outfit?  The only time you do this is when they’re diamond studs and worth more than a house.  I think Vanessa bought hers for fifty cents from a garage sale.


Just when you think this couldn’t possibly get worse, you get the full length view.

Yes, those are pink patent leather Doc Marten boots. We will never discuss this again.


After all that, you really are thinking, “wow, Vanessa can’t possibly bring more pain to this episode.”  You’d be wrong.

For her “date” with Nate, she changes into this tunic, which is a cross between my grandmother’s tablecloth and the color of pus.  Not good.  We also learn why Vanessa wears her hair up so often—because it looks hideous down like that.  An Archibald asked you out!  Try a little harder!

Again, the full view leaves me speechless and nearly nauseated.  Those pewter shiny leggings look straight off an 80’s ski model, and as for the black booties, the best thing I can is that they might have looked better with another outfit.  With this one, they are mired in a desolation so thick they get caught up in the rest of the ugly.


If not for Chuck, I might despair completely, but as usual, he manages to save the entire episode from sliding off the sartorial scale.

Do we know any other man that would be caught dead in a bright (neon) orange trench?

Mais non, and that’s because it takes a certain je ne sais quoi to pull off this look, and that diabolical glare Chuck is sporting is it.  He’s telling whoever just insulted his coat that he’s Chuck Bass, damnit.


Just as Nate owns as many blue pea coats as there are days in a week, Chuck seems to don a new Technicolor dreamcoat each morning.

Love the bright red with the contrasting black collar.  And of course, Chuck pops the shit out of that.

Only a man excessively comfortable with the nuances of style could pull this off without looking literally like a pimp.  Oh wait.  He still does, but we forgive him because without his inherent pimpness, he wouldn’t be Chuck Bass.


When I lounge around the house, I tend to favor a ratty pair of shamrock boxers and a wifebeater.  Chuck, of course, couldn’t be that plebian.

Yes, boys and girls, Chuck Bass even coordinates his socks with his pullovers when relaxing on the couch watching TV. 


Of course, we’re waist deep in the middle of Chuck’s dapper phase (okay, his even more dapper phase—the fish cardigan anyone?), so naturally matching socks aren’t nearly as far as Chuck goes.

Purple cardigan with coordinating pastel striped shirt?

Child, please.  This is Chuck Bass.


Desperately Seeking Serena - Part 2 of 3 - The Get Out of Jail Plan

Fresh from her defeat at the hands of Blair and the Mean Girls, Jenny is grounded in Brooklyn, but even Rufus’ punishment can’t keep her down for long.

For school one morning, Jenny chooses this ensemble, guaranteed to keep her on the outs for even longer.  The snapped crossed tie is just plain ugly, especially paired with the overly-ruffled blouse.  The jumper is cute though, and I do like her blue coat.  Also, this was my favorite period of Jenny hair.  The swept bangs with the curled chunks around her face are so flattering.  I wish she’d kept it short like this longer.


Jenny spends much of the school days during this episode in very similar outfits—the only girl at Constance Billard who is apparently required to wear anything resembling a uniform.

My favorite version is this one:

The purple patterned scarf is so lovely with her skin tone, and contrasts beautifully with the dark somber fabrics of her jumper and coat.  Plus, the patchwork tapestry bag is a fun, nearly boho touch.

Plus, has Jenny ever looked this sophisticated?  Nope, and she never does again.  This is an unfortunate short-lived detour.


Grounded at home and annoyed she can’t launch her new plan to rule Constance, Jenny wears a simple top and jeans.

I think we might have seen this in a previous episode (if we have, brava, Eric Daman and co.), but I love the purple and the square neckline is beautiful on her.  Plus, I have to give props again for the great hair, and continue mourning that it didn’t last.


Finally, Jenny manages to outsmart Rufus and engineer a date with the new plan named Asher.  After all, as Jenny points out to the new minion, even Blair doesn’t have a man right now.  Nobody does.  Except for her, of course.

For the date, Jenny wears this simple sundress with a flowered pattern and color-blocked bodice.  I don’t like the light pink against her skin (it’s too light), especially when it’s paired with such a bold choice as the cerise belt.  Still, she looks young and cute and sweet, which is probably exactly the impression she wanted to make.  After all, most boys aren’t interested in dating a human piranha.


Asher, Jenny’s new “plan,” looks like most young teenage boys on the Upper East Side, but apparently he’s supposed to be dreamy in that young Nate Archibald lookalike way.

He certainly has the Nate Archibald look down with his plaid button-up shirt and jeans—but I do think the black wool coat has some interesting detailing like the hood and the toggle buttons.


For the date, he doesn’t vary it much, but then why should he?  He already knows he’s exactly what Jenny wants.

Though he couldn’t possibly know that even though Jenny Humphrey appreciates a Nate Archibald sweeping bang haircut as much as the next girl, she wouldn’t like the combination of so many distracting plaids.  After all, she’s a Humphrey and therefore an expert on plaid.


Speaking of plaid, let’s check in with the head disciplinarian himself, Rufus.

What Rufus?  No plaid this episode?  Is it even possible?  I’m in shock too.

To make up for his lack of plaid, Rufus does bring back the awesomeness that is the Nehru collar.  Unlike fellow YKYLF staffer Bella, I can’t say I like a man in a Nehru collar.  They always look strangely abbreviated to me, like someone forgot to sew the rest of the shirt on.


Later, he chooses this bizarre ensemble.

Jean shirts are just a big no-no, and especially paired with a Henley the color of well . . .nothing.  Of all the shirts Rufus has ever worn, that’s the most blah and colorless we’ve seen on him  yet.  I hate to say it, but considering the above fail, I almost missed the plaid this episode.


Desperately Seeking Serena - Part 3 of 3 - The Annihilate Nelly Yuki Plan

Unsurprisingly, Blair is on the warpath this episode, determined to ace the SATs and score early admission to Yale, which has been her dream since well. . .birth.

For notecard quizzing with Dorota, she chooses an navy and red ensemble sure to boost her mental acuity and her style quotient.

Love the bright red capri pants, paired with the blue cardigan and the plaid vest.  Even her hair, curled and swept to the side, is adorable.

And of course, studying attire wouldn’t be complete without a string of pearls.


Like Jenny, Blair opts for a tie with her uniform, but it’s paired appropriately with a white buttonup shirt and an eye-catching yellow overcoat.

Both the yellow and the orange headband she’s sporting are wonderful pops of color that accentuate the pristine navy and white of the rest of her outfit.

However, even Blair Waldorf is capable of taking a sartorial choice too far, which she does here, by breaking out the matching orange tights.

I’m sorry but a Waldorf should never have oompa loompa legs.


For her SAT soiree for the Mean Girls, Blair resorts again to navy and red, since they were so successful for her before—I’m happy as long as she puts down the highlighter colors and steps gingerly away.

Admittedly, this contrasting polka-doted blouse and skirt confection is a bit . . .much, but this is Blair we’re talking about.  Outfits like these are made in Blair’s dreams.

It is tough to argue with either this outfit’s effectiveness or charm though, especially when she looks so damn sweet (and diabolical).

After all, nobody else could make a headband look like veritable devil horns.


As for stalking the intended target of her evil plan (it’s Blair, of course she has a plan to ace the SAT—or at least to make sure nobody scores higher than her), nothing says spying like argyle paired with a cape.

Like so many of Blair’s uniforms, there’s a lot of detail and pattern going on here.  Blair tends to dress in layers, so let’s start peeling some of them back (though I’m sure she’d prefer Chuck peeled them off instead).  The cape itself is blue, but lined in cream fabric with blue and red checks.  The blue ties in with the argyle sweater she’s wearing, the red with the red and white checked shirt.  

And of course since this is Blair, it’s all topped off with a blue and white striped bow headband and a red quilted bag.  Yes, there’s a hell of a lot of pattern going on, but you can tell just how carefully she picked out the individual pieces because they all work so well together.


This simple blue and white striped silk kimono-inspired lounger is lovely, and lovely on Blair.

After such complicated outfits , it’s nice to see that Blair can just dress simply to sit about at home.  But since this is Blair we’re talking about, she’s never fully dressed without a headband.


For the SAT itself, Blair goes the super professional route, probably because she's thinking optimistically for the future.

This slate blue skirt is fairly nice, though I think it hits her a bit too far below the knee.  If it was a bit higher, we could see Blair’s gorgeous white lace tights.  I know I’ve bitched a lot about the white tights on Gossip Girl and how every girl seems to resort to them at one point or another, but I'm making an exception for these.  

The tights compliment the cream colored blazer with contrasting white trim really well, and also contrast with her striped blouse, complete with bejeweled brooch.

With Kati gone for good, Isabel is left to carry on the great Kati & Isabel standard without her.  She does pretty well this episode, but not spectacular.

This green coat is a fabulous color on her, but the big gold buttons are a little garish, especially when paired with that ugly gold lamé handbag.


Isabel seems to favor gold this episode, because she also wears this cute cream and gold patterned blouse.

It’s cute, but not as good as this outfit:

The color-blocking on the shirt is flattering and sophisticated, adds she adds just the right pop with the orange, yellow and silver dangly earrings.


Clearly, that was a high point for Isabel.  In fact, I’m not sure she’s ever looked better.  Hair and makeup are flawless and she looks so put together.  I find it hard to believe that the same girl who dressed like that could don this for school:

Is it dowdy, ill-fitting or just plain ugly?  I’m going to go with Option D—all of the above.

That jacket thing is the worst part of it though.  The print is hideous, doesn’t go well at all with the green dress/skirt she’s wearing underneath and the way it cinches her above the waist is so unflattering.  Add in the sequined neckline complete with bizarrely chosen cameo brooch and you get a complete pass.  I don’t even like the pink headband.


The rest of the Mean Girls also fall in line with Blair’s SAT plan.

Hazel, in particular, brings the awesomeness this episode, which Bella noted she did last episode as well.  As much as I love Penelope’s snark, I wish we could have Hazel back too.  She was such a great dresser.

Love, love, love this muted gold satin number, and wish we could have seen more of it.  I even don’t mind the matchy-matchy bowed headband because it perches so flawlessly on her blond curls.

Not only can Hazel dress in neutrals, but she definitely can pull off color too.

Case in point, this gorgeous cerise coat and contrasting green headband:

Not sure I’m a fan of the high ruffled collar, but the coat’s awesomeness makes up for any potential pitfalls.

This outfit of Hazel’s isn’t quite as successful as the other two, but it’s still pretty kick ass.

The double-breasted gray coat has a lovely sheen and texture to it (it might be velvet?), which is only emphasized by the subtle white polkadot pattern.  I don’t like the simple white shirt with blue tie, or the navy skirt, which might be dowdy from the looks of it.  Also, the silver headband is just blah and is *gasp* askew on her head.


For Blair’s SAT soiree, Hazel changes into this sophisticated blouse that is, as other YKYLF writers have said, is definitely a monet.  From a distance, it’s not so bad, but up close, the pattern is just too busy and I don’t like the ultra-wide matching headband.

Makeup is wonderful though, and I really liked what she did with her hair, all bashing of the headband aside.


At the SATs, Hazel follows Blair’s lead and dresses ultra-professional, but adds her own feminine touches.

The cream blouse with hints of gold is pretty but the long dangling scarf makes her look much chunkier than she is, and even gives her a hint of pregnancy-tummy.  I do like the gray patterned jacket with wide collar though.  It would be even better if it could cinch her waist and not make her look fifty pounds heavier than she really is.


Could we love Penelope any more?  I don’t think so.  Along with her inherent snark and patronizing attitude, she also has a serious case of hot mess syndrome.

Here she tries to brighten up one of her boring white and navy school uniforms by adding a huge silver cameo brooch, except she pins it awkwardly on the lapel of her jacket.


Then she decides to steal one of Eleanor Waldorf’s shiny blouses for Blair's party.

Admittedly the color is gorgeous on her (she looks better in red than Blair, even), but the shiny fabric is just a big no-no.


This one's not bad:

Simple, with no crazy touches to get her into trouble.  Also, unsurprisingly, it’s red.


It’s when Penelope goes overboard that she tends to get into real isssues.  She needs to remember that she's not Blair Waldorf, therefore complex outfits with lots of detail are beyond her.

A black blouse patterned with purple butterflies covered by a short-sleeved jacket with three rows of buttons?  It’s a bit much.  

Pair it with the big eggplant bag and that bizarre purple leaf headband, and she’s got a recipe for disaster.


For the SATs, she almost manages to redeem herself.

It’s not a bad suit, though it’s definitely a touch too tight and also a bit on the fussy side.  But the pale pinky gray is nice, and I like the subtle pattern in the fabric.  Also, that peach color on her blouse is very flattering to her skin tone.


Finally, I get to the new Mean Girl. Is she ever given a name? No matter, Jenny has taken under her wing. 

A Mean Girl who doesn’t follow Blair around like a trained puppy?  Can I even call her a Mean Girl?

She’s also still trying to figure out the whole Mean Girl uniform.  The pink coat is cute, but a little teeny-bopper when paired with the purple tights and lighter lavender bag.


Her hair is really quite pretty though, and she wears a headband well, which is definitely a pre-requisite for Mean Girl admittance.


Later, she seems to be grasping the idea a little better.  Same pink coat and purple bag, but she’s paired them with a wide red belt and red headband, which definitely give the entire look a greater air of sophisticated.  After all, pairing pink and red is tricky and definitely not for an amateur or for someone who can’t pull off the look, and she definitely does.

Nelly Yuki isn’t the Queen of Constance by any means, but she is definitely the smartest, which means she’s #1 on Blair’s Annihilation List.  While she might be uber-intelligent, Nelly isn’t the smartest dresser.

This uniform of oatmeal-colored separates is just unfortunate and unflattering.


Knowing Blair’s sartorial splendor, Nelly obviously tries to change into something nicer for the party, but still kind of fails.

The pleating on the bodice is interesting, but again...far too reminiscent of hot breakfast cereals.

As depressed as poor Nelly Yuki looks after a day of Blair destruction, her outfit is even more depressing.  That blah gray dress paired with the unflattering white coat and brown belt is just pathetic.  The gray tights are ugly and the flats she’s wearing are even uglier.  Yale, as I’m sure Blair would say, deserves someone more splendid, wouldn’t you say?