That Sweater Vest? In Italy?
The least likable character in Season 2 might also be the most hideously dressed. Depends on who you ask. But damn, if there aren’t some gems…
I hate everyone in the latest White Lotus season. But, undoubtedly, that’s the point. Like the award-winning cast of Season 1 — which put Sydney Sweeney on the map — this year’s lineup is a mix of detestable rich people that I’m obsessed with.
In the current Succession drought, I miss my weekly fix of insufferable capitalist antics. Season 1 of White Lotus was a revelation. And quite the poignant portrait of the intricate ecosystem of wealthy people. Set at the prestigious resort, the show did an impeccable job of sucking us into every last character’s storyline — even though we loathed them.
And now Season 2 has arrived with a new cast of privileged hotel guests — and this time . . . in Sicily, Italy.
The show’s genius is that it’s a gripping, modern take on the murder mystery. Not your classic whodunnit, the show is far more than an empty thriller. It’s an examination of class from every angle — and it paints an addictive and unforgiving perspective. If you somehow missed the first season — how? — now’s the ideal time to catch up. Season 2 is here, and every week brings fresh capitalist horrors.
Aside from two returning guests — including the iconic Jennifer Coolidge, who won an Emmy for last season’s performance — we enter Season 2 with a completely new slate. A whole new hoard of characters to judge, hate, and … aspire to?
Beyond the enviable vacation spot — the sprawling Italian hotel, the scenery, the food — one of the main signifiers of status and personality is style. From the put-together college girl duo to Alexandra Daddario’s cluelessly-assembled outfits in Season 1, the show’s styling is one of its many gems.
The show’s costume designer — Alex Bovaird — is an Emmy-winning mastermind. Ethan’s love of tech fleece, Albie’s fresh-from-uni attire, Tanya’s camp opera cape, and even Jack’s tattoos. But nothing has captured the ire of social media like Portia’s outfits.
Jennifer Coolidge won an Emmy for her role as Tanya in Season 1. And while she’s as fascinating as ever, fans are equally enchanted by a new character: her Gen Z assistant, Portia.
What’s Portia’s deal?
Played by Haley Lu Richardson, Portia’s the character they’re trying to launch as this season’s Sydney Sweeney-esque breakout star. Well, she’s certainly starting conversations. She’s Tanya’s assistant and was dragged along on this vacation and is now supposed to hide out in the resort. Which she is not doing.
First seen sulking behind a restaurant menu and weeping poolside, Portia presents as a victim. Poor girl, stuck in a horrible job with a demanding and unhinged boss. Oh no! But as the show progresses, Portia becomes the anti-hero of the show. And while I doubt she’s the murderer, she’s a very compelling villain.
\u201c"It's me, hi, I'm the problem, it's me."\u201d— \u039evan Ross Katz (@\u039evan Ross Katz) 1669047621
Richardson herself told Vanity Fair that “as the episodes go on, you really see just the angst and the misery and the bit of narcissism and unawareness that Portia has.”
“She’s a mess, she’s a miserable mess,” Portia complains over the phone to an exhausted-sounding friend in her first big scene. But now, that line could apply to her. I mean, she’s in Sicily, and the only work she’s had to do is watch her boss get a tarot card reading. Truly, there are worse things.
But Miss Portia is not happy. And she’ll tell anyone who will listen — including the two men interested in her at this resort. Instead, she’s dissatisfied, unmoored, and … badly dressed?
What do Portia’s outfits say about her?
Everything Bovaird does is intentional. Her choices with Portia haven’t gone unnoticed by fans. “She’s trying a lot of different things at once, and it’s not perfect, so she’s a bit zany.”
This zaniness takes indecipherable Gen Z style to a bonkers level. It’s maximalism with no clear direction. From hypebeast logo sweatshirts to barely-there bandeaus, everything Portia flaunts I’ve already seen on an Instagram ad. Gen Z favorite brands — Stussy and House of Sunny — are abundant. So are TikTok trends like a knit bucket hat and bright green nail polish.
All of this points to Portia’s own unpredictability. The internet calls her style chaotic, just like her personality. And it certainly makes sense. She doesn’t know who she is or what she wants — and she dresses like it.
This is the life of a disillusioned twenty-something, especially one with proximity to wealth. You want something better, something more than what you have … but you have no clue what that is. Unfocused desire, pandemic-stirred boredom, and far too much wine-lubricated social media scrolling lead to a wardrobe of Instagram finds. It’s evident that she’s been inspired by aspirational influencers she watches while doomscrolling. And the desire to prove she’s adventurous and interesting — even if there no substance underneath.
But no matter what you think about Portia — her style, and her choice of men — a broken clock is right twice a day. So while I wouldn’t wear all her outfits, there are some pieces I do appreciate. I just probably wouldn’t pack them for a Sicilian vacation.
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Graphic Sweater Vest
House of Sunny is one of Gen Z’s most loved, eclectic brands. It went viral on TikTok during the pandemic and is now famous for its prints and bright colors. This is why the exact House of Sunny Sweater Vest that was seen on Portia in her inaugural outfit is totally sold out. You can try to score it secondhand, sure. But like Emma Chamberlain — who is completely on Portia’s style inspo list — Gen Z girls like a sweater vest. So there are many similar options to get the look.
Similar: Ganni Sweater vest
Similar: Cider Graphic Sweater Vest
Gen Z loves square sunglasses. It’s their chosen accessory — second only to scrunchies, which of course, Portia wears, too. These marble-printed Off-White knockoffs are Portia’s statement accessory. Work on the forehead or in the waistband of her slouchy pants for peak nonchalance.
Similar: Shevoke Norm Glasses, via Revolve
Away Luggage, in Millennial Pink
The luggage of millennials, in that particular shade of pink favored by millennials. Despite Portia’s questionable taste, this one is a fabulous investment. Don’t forget to sloppily slap on some stickers.
Same: Away Luggage
Levi Midi Cutoff Shorts
Levi’s cutoff shorts are classic. But how Portia styles them? Maybe less classic. But this is the one piece that I’ld definitely take on any vacation. Versatile, flattering, and that mid-thigh cut to stay on trend.
Same: Levi Midi Cutoff Shorts
White Strappy Sandals
When Portia steps off the boat, the first things we spy . . . the sandals. Clunky, chunky, and ugly-chic, they anchor many of her outfits. For a casual, controversial edge to your outfits, go for a similar strappy shoe.
Similar: Alias Mae Platform Sandal
Aries ‘No Problemo’ Sweatshirt
What Gen Z doesn’t love a logo sweatshirt? Bonus points for tie dye, the preeminent pandemic trend. Aries Arise is a newly minted hypebeast favorite, and this No Problemo slogan befits Portia’s apathetic attitude.
Stussy Workwear Top
Stussy has been a streetwear staple for decades. And now the internet girlies are catching on. Over the past few years, Stussy has become a social media sensation. But this orange gingham workwear-inspired top is one of the more divisive offerings.
Another streetwear classic, white Nike Air Force 1s have become sorority girls’ token white sneaker. No wonder they speak to Portia - they’re generic but paired with her kooky outfits, add another unexpected element.
Same: Nike AF1s
Asymmetrical Print Midi Skirt
The 90s are back on trend, and this midi skirt proves it. Asymmetrical enough to appeal to Gen Z and turbulent enough to appeal to Portia, this vintage-inspired skirt is an eclectic addition to any closet.
Similar: Urban Outfitters Patchwork Skirt
Similar: Love Shack Fancy Gracia Maxi Skirt
House of Sunny Patterned Halterneck Dress
More House of Sunny! This halterneck dress appears when Portia starts having the fun she only dreamed about. When her fantasy Italian vacation finally gets into gear, she pulls out the big guns with this bold, knit dress.
House of Sunny Two Piece Set
Portia wears this two-piece on her big date with Jack. It’s one of her most put-together ensembles — but perhaps only because it’s a matching set. It says: I’m here for a good time, not a long time. And she certainly is.
Similar: ASOS Swirl Wide Leg Pants