The Cast of Gossip Girl: The Way They Were

Before Penn Badgely acquired his sarcastic smirk, before Leighton Meester had a stylist, before Blake Lively’s breasts became the lead characters on Gossip Girl, before Taylor Momsen‘s ’80s glam hair, and before Ed Westwick mastered the Chuck Face, the young actors on the CW show were, shall we say, not quite as polished.

Digging through old photos of the cast, the Daily Transom discovered that the group of twentysomething lead actors–or teenage actors in Ms. Momsen’s case–that have become the beautiful young fixtures on red carpets over the past year were once just goofy teenagers with bad skin and terrible fashion sense. (Which just goes to show how far a stylist and a hit TV show will take you!)

In 2003, Mr. Badgely had long surfer hair; by 2005, he’d managed to turn that hair into a carefully styled Jheri curl. The fluttery Ms. Lively was spotted wearing an outfit of ripped denim Capri pants, a turquoise tank, and a sparkly pink baby shirt paired with pink stilettos. Rewind a few years, and it turns out Ms. Meester was a blond, Mr. Westwick had a genuine, sweet smile, and Ms. Momsen was–gulp–a 10-year-old Dakota Fanning lookalike!

That being said, it seems Chace Crawford was born looking like a pull-out poster from Bop! magazine: The Daily Transom was unable to unearth of a photo of Mr. Crawford looking anything less than tween-crush perfection. But we did find a photo of Kelly Rutherford (Lily van der Woodsen) from the ’90s, blue eye-shadow and all.

Click on the slideshow below for the incontrovertible evidence.

The Cast of Gossip Girl: The Way They Were