Rummaging with: Leighton Meester

The very adorable Leighton Meester, one of the Gossip Girl's most promising stars, took us to her favorite NYC shops.

fashion with Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl

Photo: Tim Soter

The upcoming, sure-to-be prime-time hit Gossip Girl (airing Sept 19 on the CW), produced by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage of The O.C., revolves around a group of privileged UES high-school kids who pass their time sipping martinis at hotel bars, undermining each other’s romances and planning intensely elaborate black-tie bashes. They also find time to shop (Henri Bendel makes a huge cameo in the pilot), for all those occasions when they’re not turned out in school uniforms (check out frenchtoast.com if you’d like to replicate that look). Leighton Meester, 21, who plays Blair Waldorf—the daughter of an established fashion designer and sometime best friend to the show’s star, Serena van der Woodsen—knows how to turn herself out in real life, too.

fashion with Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl, Julie Haus Secretary dress

Photo: Wenyi Huang

As she cruised through the racks at Intermix (125 Fifth Ave between 19th and 20th Sts, 212-533-9720), Meester pulled out picks from some of her favorite designers: Diane von Furstenberg, AKA and Julie Haus. “I gravitate toward things that aren’t your average trendy piece. It’s better to rock a $5 T-shirt than a Chanel dress if you’re not comfortable in it,” Meester offers. “Of course, if it’s a quality item, that’s a bonus, but ultimately I want to wear things that feel like me.”

LEFT: Julie Haus Secretary dress ($428, at Bloomingdale’s, 1000 Third Ave at 59th St, 212-705-2000)

fashion with Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl

Photo: Tim Soter

Catherine Malandrino (652 Hudson St at 13th St, 212-929-8710) reliably hits a balance that Meester loves: “I go through phases, but right now I like more classic, structured items that have a few girly touches.”

fashion with Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl

Photo: Wenyi Huang

“Belts are essential: They can pull any outfit together and give you a shape, particularly on something big and billowy.”

Stella McCartney dress (on Meester, above), $995, and Streets Ahead leather belt, $95, both at Intermix.

fashion with Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl

Photo: Wenyi Huang

On the go all day, Meester has to pack a mountain of essentials into one bag. “I love this tote,” she explains, singling out a buttery-soft carryall.

Gustto Cala bag ($695, at Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Ave between 50th and 51st Sts, 212-753-4000)