04/09/2012 08:19 am ET Updated Dec 25, 2013

Leighton Meester's Style Evolution: From Frugality to Frill (PHOTOS)

Leighton Meester is no stranger to drama both on- and off-screen. As the queen bee on "Gossip Girl," Blair Waldorf's actions and scandalous love life are under constance scrutiny. Off-screen, the real Meester was born to a mother in federal prison for drug trafficking charges and a father who spent her childhood in and out of jail. During her rocky upbringing, the actress and her mother moved from Florida to New York to Los Angeles in search of financial security and stardom. The years of struggling finally paid off when she landed her coveted role on "Gossip Girl" in 2006.

Like her Upper East Side counterpart, Meester has become accustomed to VIP treatment, attending galas and snagging first-row seats at top fashion shows (Proenza Schouler, Derek Lam and Chanel, to name a few). Her sartorial choices, though much less lady-like, are also gossip-worthy (spotted: Leighton Meester at Lincoln Center wearing a stunning Versus dress). Since landing on the red carpet full-time in 2006, her penchant for feminine silhouettes, red lipstick and embellished heels has only led to the occasional suit or jumpsuit detour. Now that "Gossip Girl" is in its final season, make sure to catch the fashion choices of Meester's more refined half while you still can. Fortunately, we don't think the actress plans to stop being the center of attention on the red carpet any time soon.

To celebrate Leighton Meester's 26th birthday on Monday, April 9th, we are taking a look back at the starlet's noteworthy style moments. Which looks do you think merit a post on Gossip Girl?

Meanwhile, bet you wouldn't recognize Leighton in this high school photo.

Leighton Meester Style Evolution

Flip through our many other Style Evolutions.

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