So Chic, Very Chic: Love. Angel. Midriff. Baby.

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.

The Summer House reunion kicked off this week and with it, a parade of people online making bold claims about emotional manipulation and gaslighting and the like. It’s usual fare for Bravo these days: the sort of chum kicked up by the residual thrashing about of Vanderpump Rule’s breakthrough cultural moment Scandoval. Thankfully it’s in the dying-gasps phase of its lifecycle, but that hasn’t stopped the terminally online from chasing the fleeting high of a moment in time that not only changed the network, but the trajectory of reality television.

To be quite clear, I don’t care much about any of that, at least not in the confines of this cozy little column, but it does frame my own dilemma this week, fueled by Summer House and made worse by Ariana Madix’s hosting run on Love Island. Here it is: I think the cast of Summer House gives me a body dysmorphia I didn’t know I had? I’ve always been the confident sort, no matter the weight or shape of my body, pre and post-plastic surgery. But watching these hot layabouts strut around stage in midriff-exposing dresses and cunty little getups made me want to put a pillow in front of myself on the couch, lest they catch a stray look at me through the lens.

Genuinely, the the wave of dysphoria surprised me, like a story I once heard about a man who got struck with lightning through his landline while he talked to his mistress on the phone. I just paraded around Alabama at a festival stuffed with 20-somethings with my own midriff exposed to God and a host of famous people. Half the dresses in my wardrobe have some sort of risqué element to them, since I did get a bunch of strangers on the internet to pay for new tits. I owe it to them to show them off, or the investment goes to waste! So what gives, really? This show’s never made me feel like this before.

Later in the car, my friend shuffles Gwen Stefani’s Love. Angel. Music. Baby. for no reason in particular. I glance at the cover art at the red light down the street from our gym and remember the way I used to dance in front of the mirror in our living room to “Hollaback Girl” in elementary school when my parent’s would leave us home alone. I’d pull my shirt up like the crop top Gwen wears for the video, jeans low, wishing I could look like her. The memory makes me laugh because the visual is absurd and later comes back to me now. I wanted to be Gwen Stefani, and the jealousy made me do jumping jacks and pray at night God would give me long blonde hair.

I think, for the first time ever, I felt a twinge of jealousy for how cool the cast of Summer House looked at the reunion, stomachs out, screaming. It’s a feeling that has never washed over me in the history of this show, a feeling that still stuns me to silence a bit. That’s the secret formula to my dysmorphia, maybe. Not just hot, not just body tea, not just good clothes. It’s Love. Angel. Midriff. Baby.

Summer House

Lindsay Hubbard

I’ve said it just about every which way it could be said: They will never make me hate Lindsay Hubbard. After a somewhat perilous season for my sister, she painted on some abs and showed her stomach. That’s right. She painted those abs on — a fact that later snapped me out of the stupor summoned up by her exquisite styling choices. We hear too much noise online about how women should wear their hair for fancy events. Updo? Slicked back? Messy bun? Messy waves? Straightened? I like that she forsook the modern conventions for a rather plain ponytail, combed back over her center part. Without one, it opens up the face, leaving room for all that gorgeous makeup and bone structure. It helps the bitch is painted down and bronzed beyond belief. Her eye makeup often strays towards the heavier side, but the buttery effect of her blush and lip combo really opens the whole look up and highlights those aforementioned features.

Of course, it helps that this dress seems carved from marble on her. It’s the perfect shade of nude for the effect she clearly desired. Kudos! This is absolutely the best she’s ever looked.

Paige DeSorbo and Ciara Miller

On the topic of midriffs, Paige and Ciara also one-upped their previous reunion outings this time around. Ciara’s own look comes complete with a silk thong. Yes, there’s a peek-a-boo from the back, and it’s delightful. Her makeup is also incredible, as it has been all season. The hair too! I saw some chatter about the cut of the bangs, but I quite like a spiky, uneven fringe. A simple way to modernize a classic look.

Paige, meanwhile, is dressed like we’d expect. I have some issues with the way this dress fits, likely because of those sleeves and the nude illusion panel around the midriff. I also struggle to think this is the hair she and her stylist desired from the jump, but she’s always been one to puzzle me in the realm of follicular arts.

Gabby Prescod

Did the cast of Summer House spend a collective one million dollars on makeup artists this reunion? It wouldn’t shock me, considering the results. Kudos to Gabby for the strong showing this season and the dress that originally kickstarted my own “body tea?” crisis. I haven’t landed on whether or not I like it very much, but she sells it beyond a shadow of a doubt, and that’s ultimately what matters here. No matter that it looks like the type of thing AI would spit out when asked to dream up what sexy Greek gods would wear if they shopped on Revolve.

Danielle Olivera and Jesse Solomon

Jesse and Danielle are dressed like the extras we never speak too in the background of Real Housewives “Great Gastby” themed dinner parties. They got married last year and half the cast went, but Bravo didn’t think the footage was very interesting, so they cut it to make room for a storyline about their other friends who are beefing over Instagram ad deals. Danielle, angry about her “friend of” status being revoked, goes on a podcast hosted by comedians nobody has ever heard of to spill “tea” on production, which mostly consists of why she could be seen for 10 seconds in the background of a shot on a yacht. Jesse, her husband, runs a multi-level marketing scheme that peddles plant-based supplements to dogs and has coaching courses you can find linked in his Instagram bio.

Mullet Man, Amanda Batula and West Wilson

Sometimes I pray that Amanda wakes up and hightails it out of her marriage, nothing but a rucksack full of string bikinis and 15 crates of dogs to her name. She treks cross country and is accidentally embroiled in a Showgirls-style year in Las Vegas, where she discovers her talent for burlesque. She meets an older, lesbian director who promises to make her a big star, and she lives out of a trailer with the show’s costume designer, until eventually the whole things blows up in her face, and she hightails once again to Hollywood, where she and the dogs open an animal rescue in Malibu. She supports them by taking pictures outside of Erewhon and designing bikinis for women with huge breasts — a dream she abandoned for her husband. Kyle, meanwhile, falls into despondency, and he and Carl Radke do a sort of modern day Grey Gardens in the Loverboy factory, wandering its dilapidated halls while Kyle’s mullet gets longer and longer.

As for West Wilson, I’d expect nothing worse from a man who works at Complex Sports than to wear a white Costco tank top to the Summer House reunion. Glad those early predictions of mine were true, like they always are.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Jackie Goldschneider

There’s literally nothing in this world more diabolical than a ruched, cropped, leather button-up shirt. Nothing. This shirt radiates pure evil. I know I should expand on those feelings, but if it doesn’t do the same for onlookers who read this column, maybe seek professional help from an exorcist.

Dolores Catania

I’m just going to speak for myself, but I think all women should show up to restaurants in bedazzled, white denim jackets and a fresh blowout. But it’s important that the bedazzled, white denim jacket is draped over their shoulders because it signals power. The sort of power only women who shop at strip mall boutiques named, like, Cutie Beez or Angel Moments, possess inside themselves and radiate outward.

Danielle Cabral

My idealized self has a white plush rug in my closet, snow leopard throw blankets and a sweater that reads “HAPPINESS,” and then in smaller letters, “Double Happiness.” If I lived in this home and was married to Danielle here, I’d also have double happiness. That’s what happens when you have more than one kind of happiness, only found in those aforementioned snow leopard throw blankets or mahogany floors and white baseboards.

Marg Josephs, Dolores Catania and Rachel Fuda

Me and literally who? I’m so serious. I’m looking to form a sort of girl group where we walk around in cunty little golf outfits, but one of us is in a different color than the rest to signal we’re in charge that day. We can even sit in the grass and talk shit about our other friends, or hold hands, or exclude each other from group chats because we drank too much Celsius in the school pickup line and our emotions are out of control. But the important part is that we’re all in cunty little golf outfits.

Jennifer Aydin

It’s become something of a running theme for Jennifer Aydin to wear an inordinate amount of Chanel in her confessionals. In fact, it’s her primary personality trait, besides squawking or having an antenna on her head that allows Teresa Giudice to control her with a remote. At least it’s something, even if it’s a bad something! Didn’t she get the memo Virginie Viard is out these days?

The Real Housewives of Dubai

Chanel Ayan

Chanel is fabulous, will always be fabulous and in fact, is the most fabulous there might ever be. These outfits rock because they’re silly and fabulous, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about this week. I’d like to point out her hair in each and ask a very special question that will determine the fate of human civilization itself: Which is a bob, and which is a pixie? I’m serious! We’re all here waiting for an answer, and should someone get it wrong, the fashion police are on standby to lock them up until I get the chance to teach them proper sense and respect for the follicular arts. I say all this because I’ve noticed a troubling series of tweets on Twitter that describe pixie cuts as bobs. I don’t know if this is the aftereffects of a country that has gutted the public education system or teens and young adults that don’t know what Google is. “Let me pour this nasty dressing and serve bob” except it’s a pixie cut. Don’t you all feel foolish?

Chanel also wore her Lady Dune regalia this week, which I’m grateful for. It’s a trend I hope never dies on Bravo, because I need these women to channel the spirit of Jessica Atreides neé Harkonnen forever. The purple really works for her, and the fact she’s dressed so much more extravagantly proves my point from last week that she’s the only proper dresser on this show. Kudos!

Taleen Marie

I attempted to ignore this dress last week when Taleen was first introduced, but it’s become unignorable. It’s as if a Miss America was contestant was launched full speed at the Marco Marco showroom, which subsequently was attacked by a freak tornado that sent her spiraling into the Jovani archives. Mostly, I’m troubled by the structured bra cup and superhero shoulder, or the tiny little clip on ponytail, or the color of that nude bust. Do your worst this season, Taleen! It gives me something to talk about.

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. The Summer House reunion kicked off this week…

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