So Chic, Very Chic: Trade of the Season

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

Hanging out with gay people can be one of two things. Either you’ll sit around in silence while Sabrina Carpenter’s “Espresso” loops on YouTube against your will while everyone tweets about how it’s impossible to date without sex in New York City, or you’ll be at dinner at dinner and that one friend will start an open discussion about the word “trade,” as it’s used on RuPaul’s Drag Race, at least.

My mind lingered on the etymology and evolution of the word “trade” while watching the The Real Housewives of New Jersey this week. Their husbands all look like butch queens who think being a butch queen is what trade means. More specifically, they dress like the men RuPaul conscripts into the Pit Crew. They’re oiled and tan, sure, but also shoeless. I half expected one of them to turn to camera and start hawking Horse Meat Disco tickets, or complaining about how OnlyFans has ruined their community and stolen their 20s. (Just another thing butch queens on the internet and New Jersey small business owners have in common.)

I’m new to the East Coast and still learning about its culture. Namely, the men of Jersey’s tendency to look like that and do their hair like that, outside my knowledge of RHONJ and the extras in the background of Jersey Shore episodes. Even the gay ones! I used to think it was a joke until I moved to Philly and made my first inaugural trip to the Costco in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Inside, I caught a glance at a butch queen with spray tan stains on his muscle tee.

Of course, I like to show, not tell. So let’s take a looky-loo at some buff New Jersey residents.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Marge Josephs and Joe Gorga

I don’t know where Bravo producers got this picture of me with trade, but I got choked up when it flashed across the screen. When he started playing in my hair and makeup, I knew our days were numbered. It’s a slippery slope, once they get their hands on a shake-and-go wig and some lip gloss, but I remember him fondly, even if he did leave tan and oil stains all over my sheets.

Also, Marge’s hair is so blonde now it’s almost white, which I actually quite like. The dress is nothing to write home about, except if the people at home were desperately looking for the fake Hermès scarves they sell on Alibaba to women like this.

Melissa Gorga

Despite the cacophony of Teresa Giudice fans always threatening to call lawyers on Instagram pages or hiring private investigators to spy on people who disagree with their queen, I quite like Melissa’s whole vibe this season. Without the crushing weight of Teresa on her shoulders, she’s relaxed a bit — enough to slip into this latex dress, at the very least. It’s a fabulous color on her! It fits her OK enough to boot, even if I wouldn’t have plopped the braid over the shoulder, and even if we already saw Erika Jayne and then Meredith Marks in this look years ago. At least, I think it was Meredith, or someone with the same sort of fillers.

Teresa Giudice

Teresa gives Hera, the Greek goddess: a vengeful mistress who exercises her resentment of her husband on mortal women, constantly terrorizing some peasant or upstart minor deity whose eyes had wandered a bit too close to Zeus’ large, imposing … thunderbolt. The dress is patently ridiculous, as is the lopsided updo, but I’m smitten nonetheless. This is what I need from the CW reboot of The Argonauts, specifically that scene in book three when her and Artemis conspire over Jason.

That said, let me open a roundtable discussion on the bangle. I’m not quite sure how I feel about those sorts of charm bracelets for the rich, and I’d love to hear dissenting opinions.

Jennifer Fessler

Fessler, as she’s known by most, fucked James Gandolfini back in the day. I’m resentful of her for getting to take Tony Soprano out for a spin, but it is her claim to fame, and by god will she tell it to just about anyone in earshot. Anyway, here she is dressed like one of his side pieces. The statement necklace troubled me at first glance, when I initially thought it was attached to the dress. I’m not quite sure it’s not, but it could be. And that sort of trickery from a statement necklace is no laughing matter. Still, she’s never looked better, at least in my own estimation! Keep me on my toes, Jennifer. (Miss Fessler, if you’re nasty.)

Danielle Cabral

I really need everyone who will ever read this column to fix their eyes firmly on Danielle’s pants. Yes, she absolutely paid too much for 40 percent of a pant, but that’s not the international law she’s broken. Somehow, by witchcraft or villainy, the exposed threads in the rips have been dyed neon green. Why? Well, I’m no wicked soul, and thus the answer eludes me.

Summer House

Paige DeSorbo and Lindsay Hubbard

I’m normally quite hard on these two, because my affection for these crazy kids runs deeper than I might let on, but I’d like to give props where they are properly due. While it’s hard to fully get our eyes around Paige’s dress, it’s a beautiful, creamy silk, and the cut suits her perfectly. She’s still walking around dressed like a haunted American Girl doll, but I’m always talking about her. It must be working. (The haircut, likewise, was invented just for her.)

As for Lindsay, it’s like this Courrèges dress was hand dyed to look as excellent on her as a dress could possibly look. Her breasts are sat, her waist snatched, and all the other sorts of things I could possibly say about a girl boss queen who slays boots the house. I think she should let off the high ponytails just a bit, but only because I think a rough mane would have elevated what is already one of her better looks this season.

Just as quickly, she dashes me on the rocks. That’s the Lindsay Hubbard experience!

West Wilson

I’d like to take back every nice thing I’ve ever said about this philandering sports writer with a smile that could hide the nastiest of misdeeds. Of course, we’ve no idea if he’s really fucked around behind Ciara’s back, but his coy, shy, playful demeanor won’t fool me a second time! No matter how often he grooms himself like a tragic Dickensian orphan come to beg for scraps of bread.

The Valley

Some Guy, Literally

The Valley continues its current reign as Bravo’s least fashionable show, and I’d probably have it no other way. The most memorable sight this episode was Jesse’s beanie, seen above, which he picked up while doing ayahuasca in the woods with a bunch of men who were surely men’s rights activists. The beanie is just so predictable, isn’t it? This is the type of man you never swipe for on the apps, because they’ll trap you at a bar only college girls go to while he lectures you about why girls these days should lighten up, and maybe go do mushrooms with him in the woods while he dodges calls from his ex-wife. He often gives off the vibe that him and Louie — Teresa’s spooky husband on RHONJ — would get along quite nicely.

Kristen Doute

Last episode, Kristen donned her wrist brace and yoga pants and ate lizard food on camera while her boyfriend watched, a bit too eager for my liking. I worried she’d fallen into a pit she’d never escape from, until she popped up in a new confessional look this episode, signaling she’d made herself a nice little home down there. It’s her best, and breastiest, look in the booth in the eleven plus years she’s been on television. Kudos.

Vanderpump Rules

Katie Maloney and Ariana Madix

Look at these two! Ariana somehow topped her revenge dress last season, while Katie somehow drank the potion from Death Becomes Her, overnight transforming into a woman who radiates power, poise and literal glamor. She looks like the women they throw at James Bond, to get him to hand over the keys to the space laser, before she turns on him in the third act and runs off to do counterintelligence for the Russians. Ariana, meanwhile, is the plucky casino waitress he picked up while in Dubai, drafted by accident into espionage and trickery inside the Burj Khalifa by whoever they casted after Daniel Craig.

Dumb, Scheana Marie and Dumber

Tom Schwartz once again showed up to the reunion in a maroon t-shirt and poorly-fitted blazer. One trick pony? More like a tapped-dry beer keg. Brock is stuffed into his magician’s suit, and Scheana looks like the woman he’s about to saw in half for his direct-to-DVD special. (That’s a compliment, in case that isn’t clear.) She also got her highlights fixed, and the whole effect of the peachy gold dress is utterly fantastic for her complexion.

Photos courtesy of Bravo/ NBCUniversal Media, LLC


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 Hanging out with gay people can be one…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *