There’s a particular outfit from Gossip Girl’s six-season run that lives rent-free in my mind. It’s Upper East Side queen bee Blair Waldorf in a brocade mini A-line dress, paired with lace black tights and a chunky-rose shaped necklace in the Season 3 masterpiece Thanksgiving episode “The Treasures of Serena Madre.”
It’s the kind of outfit — styled by the show’s costume designer Eric Daman — that makes Blair Waldorf a Thanksgiving fashion icon. The show ended in 2012, but Waldorf’s style inspires many fashion fans today. On TikTok, searches for “blair waldorf thanksgiving” have amassed over seven billion views.
Throughout the show, Waldorf — known for her preppy style and deviously good headbands — rolls out Thanksgiving Day outfits that mix festive flair with elevated preppy staples. They also evoke Waldorf’s inner child, a result of her fond memories of the holiday (making pies with her father, for example) that implode over the course of the series, as each Thanksgiving episode blows her childish fantasies up in her face.
Followers of Gossip Girl lore know that when Blair Waldorf is in the mood for pumpkin pie the outfits are about to be delicious.
Take, for example, the Season 1 Thanksgiving episode “Blair Waldorf Must Pie!,” in which the Upper East side princess is dressed in a lacy Marc Jacob mini dress, paired with a Trina Turk cape, lace tights, and thin gold headband. In that same episode, we see a flashback of Blair Waldorf’s previous Thanksgiving (a throwback scene of her parents cooking before their divorce cuts deep to any child of parental separation), where she’s wearing an A-line baby doll dress over a purple turtleneck and a thick green headband.
While on paper the Thanksgiving outfits might not seem different from her usual style, visually, they hold an innocence and fantasy that’s hard to describe. And that’s because, just as with Waldorf, so much of our Thanksgiving traditions — coming back home, having a family dinner — are all about satisfying our inner children.
I speak from experience. Years ago, when I first became obsessed with Gossip Girl, Waldorf’s Thanksgiving style influenced me to go back to A-line dresses, bows, and headbands for the holiday. While I was already a grownup, her fall style gave me childish jitters that could only be calmed via an A-line dress and tights (even though I lived in the Caribbean at the time). Since then, every Thanksgiving I remind myself that, while the fantasies we ascribe to Thanksgiving may be just that, style can always help us fulfill them.
Waldorf, for example, didn’t stop dressing for her inner child every single Thanksgiving, no matter how many schemes and only-daughter complexes exploded at the dinner table. In Season 3, we see her sport that gorgeous brocade frock while getting angry at her mom for her supposed pregnancy while Jason Derulo’s "Whatcha Say" plays in the background (that last detail is essential to this scene, I promise). By Season 4, she’s about to fly off to Paris to visit her dad wearing an orange plaid dress and sheer black tights when she gets derailed to see her best friend Serena in rehab. Every year, there she is, styled up with the best of intentions to celebrate her favorite holiday, including references to children’s clothing that somehow look chic on a 20-something. While she should know better by now, why waste an opportunity to create an unbelievably impossible fantasy? Or even dress up for it?
Of course, Blair Waldorf’s Thanksgiving dinners are a lot fancier than most people’s. In reality, we mostly want to wear pants that are comfortable enough to accommodate the day’s many courses and maybe a sweater we’re okay with capturing in family photos. But, if Blair Waldorf is any indication, then a little style regression might be the best Thanksgiving fashion hack. Have an old baby doll dress hanging in your closet? Time to dust it off. Has there been a bow headband in your shopping cart for months? ‘Tis the season to give it a chance. Whatever makes you feel like Thanksgiving this year might actually be a fun time, just like the veiled nostalgia of your childhood makes it seem, wear it to dinner.
If all fails, at least you’re wearing an outfit that makes your inner child smile. And that’s better than any cranberry sauce.