So Chic, Very Chic: Meet Me in Atlantic City

12 views 4:04 pm 0 Comments June 20, 2024

This is So Chic, Very Chic, PAPER’s examination of Bravo’s sprawling cohort of fashion obsessives. From haute couture to TJ Maxx, they’ve literally worn it all. Sometimes they stunt, sometimes they turn the look, and sometimes they burn holes in retinas my ophthalmologist says might never heal.

I was down the shore this week — Brigantine Beach in Atlantic City to be about as specific as it gets, near the Rita’s and weird children’s arcade that only takes physical money and seems to be exclusively staffed by 14 year olds. (I only know this because it was the closest place to pee.)

Peach and vanilla gelato in hand with skin tanned in the safest margins and sunscreen burning through my eye sockets and fusing with my brain’s neural pathways, there I was, sitting on a bench outside the arcade in a bathing suit. My boobs are too big for it now, and a google search for post-boob job bikinis blurs together with thoughts of abandoning everything in my life to trawl the sunny strips of the Jersey coastline. I could go to poker school and be a lady in a vest at the Caesars, helping various boomers gamble away their life savings on Sex and the City-themed slot machines and blackjack tables in the shape of starfish.

It wouldn’t be so bad, I think. I’d find a boyfriend who lives in his parent’s beach house. His dad is the pizza king of New Jersey, and his mom does trunk shows of her handmade purses. They live in Franklin Lakes and spend less and less time there each summer “because of the hurricane,” his mom tells me over dinner. The remnants of her old purse collections jangle on hooks behind the door to the guest bedroom he lives while learning how to DJ. I met him when he sold me molly on the Atlantic City boardwalk. On date nights, we spend the coins he finds littered about at the arcade before having sex on the beach. I tell him about my dreams to write a book about romance and the beach, and he says he’d like to sell all his belongings and backpack through a country that doesn’t exist. He’s not very good at geography, or most things, but he’s incredibly focused on learning how to DJ, and I find him sweet.

My friends emerge from the arcade, freshly pissed out, and we ride home doing Sheryl Crow karaoke in the car. I cry a little about “All I Wanna Do,” because it’s how I’m feeling right now. I get why the the Real Housewives of New Jersey like the Shore so much. We all just want to have a little fun.

Let’s see what they wore this week — shall we?

The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Danielle Cabral, Rachel Fuda and Melissa Gorga

Melissa hosted a “limoncello” party for her Italian friends to commemorate the fourth major remodel of a house everyone made fun of the first three times. The theme was yellow, except some people wore white and others wore red, while some more donned fruit prints, Melissa included. The most daring of the bunch was Danielle, who rocked up in her favorite combo: a tight white sleeveless top and high waisted kick flare pants.

Unlike her more bedazzled variants of this outfit, though, she infused it with Capri vibes, like lace ruffs, an exposed bra and, my personal favorite touch, a large gold statement belt. More than most other things, I appreciate a woman who forgoes big necklaces and fancy wrist wear for ostentatious hip accessories. All those male podcasters argue all day about what constitutes an alpha — whether he leans into his wife in photos, if he can lift, how big his dick is — but what really flags a head honcho is a statement belt. I mean, they hand them out to prize-winning wrestlers and ranchers, and cowboys are obsessed with them. Talk your shit, Danielle! You’re really that girl.

Rachel Fuda, conversely, rocked a two piece that I googled a designer ID for. This column is about honesty and integrity, and I thought it looked cute for a beachside retreat I have planned later this summer. Sue me!

Melissa Gorga

This is the third bow appliqué we’ve seen in confessionals this season, which begs the question: Does Melissa Gorga know who Sandy Liang is? I’m kidding of course, but wouldn’t it be funny if she traded out the A-line dresses and leather pants for little pink bows and ballet flats? Like, objectively speaking, that would be a fashion moment for the history books. The sort of history books I write in my head, of course, and could never sell to a publisher, as my agent would hurry me off to a wellness retreat before I ever stepped foot in Simon & Schuster’s offices.

Dolores Catania

Look at beautiful Dolores! A vision of grace. That said, I remember in like, 2017, when this dress was all the rage at Zara. It must have been, because I wore one just like it in red and black on my first date with my ex-husband. He commented on the frilled collar and ruffled sleeves, and I felt quite fancy with my little pumps on, toes freshly painted. Out of most everything churned through the trend machine in the late 2010s, shirred chiffon has been the most persistent. When I visit my parents, the little country boutiques have exact replicas lining the walls. My sister’s 2022 baby shower was stacked with them, as was a wedding I went to in 2019. Like wrap dresses before it, will this silhouette be the most persistent of the early century, when they dredge up our corpses from the nuclear ash? TBD.

Marg Josephs

I love Marg, and she’s one of the greatest working Housewives. We should be so lucky she graces our television screens this week. That said (understand I say this next bit with every ounce of love I can scrounge up in my heart), this lady loves to show up dressed like a lampshade. And that’s no shade! If there’s a column dress with ruffles, feathers, tassels, epaulets and fringe, this lady already owns it. In fact, she owns four of them in different color ways, and she shows up to parties swinging her hips to show off how all the dangly bits sway to and fro. “Do you see? How fab, right darling?” Of course everyone thinks it’s fab, because she is fab, but don’t we all want to shimmy this dress over a lightbulb and put it in a living room somewhere? It can’t just be me!

The Real Housewives of Dubai

Caroline Brooks

I put off talking about this dress for as long as I possibly can. Three weeks now I’ve been haunted by it and fallen to my knees and gnashed my teeth and cried out to an unjust god who would let such blasphemous garments walk this earth unchallenged. Is there no truth in this world? No beauty? Is there nobody we can turn to, before a designer takes a piece of aquamarine stretch jersey and twists it over the Little Mermaid’s seashell bra? Please, God, now is the time to show your face to us. I cannot take it anymore!

Sara Al Madani

Sara forwent a big shoulder this week for a statement headband, which I found quite charming. She looks the picture of absolute beauty here — her gaze penetrating, her makeup immaculate, her aura radiating the sort of wealth that makes me shudder. There’s just something about headbands, isn’t there? They’re like flagging for women who’ve put Nobu on a man’s credit card.

Chanel Ayan

Here comes Chanel Ayan, dressed like a disco ball. The event was an otherwise quaint backyard mixer, with guests in a range of SSENSE sale dresses and mid-level suits. Not good enough for Chanel, though, who even brought a disco ball with her in case the look wasn’t obvious enough. Thank god for it, too, because it was just about the most memorable thing to happen this episode.

I said last week that she works best when toying with social conventions in the otherwise buttoned up society of Dubai, at least the public-facing side. This is exactly that, and I celebrate her for it, even if I couldn’t quite get a read on what this dress actually looked like. They haven’t invented camera sensors powerful enough, I’m afraid.

Caroline Stanbury

If Girls Aloud debuted today, they’d push the posh one in this exact dress. Imagine! She flitted about various boarding academies for girls with snooty attitudes and thought the casting audition for the girl group was to model, not sing. She can’t do either, of course, so they stick her in the second string for music videos and performances and rely on her to sell their image on the talk shows and red carpets. Her name is like, Violetta, or something, and her daddy’s a Swiss banker. Mum’s job is shopping on High Street and fussing over her little dog, and they’re both very proud of her. They even tell her that, too, on the three total days they spend together every year, when the bank’s close and High Street is empty, and her solo records haven’t sold very well. By the close of her first decade as a working pop star, she’s taken a gig hosting Britain’s Got Talent and goes viral after she accidentally flashes her boobs on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!

Speaking of, she did actually flash her boobs this week on this very real reality show at the aforementioned mixer. One could have seen that happening from a mile away, but mostly, I’m interested in the very prominent nipples on display. It’s something you don’t see very often on these shows, least of all Dubai. I find it chic in a Euro trash sort of way.

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