Brave soul Haley Lu Richardson has admitted something that I, personally, might’ve kept to myself on pain of death: Apparently, some of the notoriously fan-hated outfits worn by her character Portia on Season 2 of The White Lotus were assembled using her own clothes. “Oh no, I’m scared to say this, because everyone thinks Portia’s clothes are ugly, but there were definitely some pieces I brought into it,” Richardson told the Today show on Monday.
Of course she’s scared to say it! Portia’s fashion has been the subject of more tweets than anything on the show save possibly Tanya’s (Jennifer Coolidge) “derpy” death. And, look, I’m not here to defend or suggest I’d wear any of Portia’s outfits, myself. But I will say that the particular hatred Portia’s clothes has aroused among terminally online youths (with whom I identify) is more than a little ironic, considering Portia is very much dressed as a terminally online youth. More on that, shortly.
Back to Richardson’s revelations to Today. One of the clothing items of Portia’s that are actually hers, she specified, are Portia’s cut-off denim shorts. “Because you know, when you find a pair of vintage Levi’s shorts that fit well, you just kind of have to stick to them,” Richardson explained. She added that Portia’s safety pin earrings were hers, too. And when asked what clothing items of Portia’s she might actually wear, Richardson chose “the early 2000s top with all the faces on it.” According to the actor, this top “was actually a dress, but the dress version looked pretty bad on me so we cut it and sewed it and made it a top.”
“The thing about Portia is, you take kind of cute pieces of clothing, and then you put it together in a way that just looks off a bit, a bit messy and chaotic, and that’s why we love her,” Richardson said.
Portia made some deeply strange fashion choices—especially considering she was on vacation in Sicily of all places. To use legal terms, her last outfit at the airport in the season finale was criminally insane.
But truthfully, none of Portia’s outfits were all that far off from what passes for model off-duty style these days, or any of the other arguably tacky, retro trends that Gen Z has enthusiastically embraced and forced down all our throats lately—scrunchies, loafers, baggy jeans, oversized pieces in general, overalls, barbie-core, cottage-core, bright colors, crocs...I could go on.
If Portia’s outfits are as heinous as the Twitter fashion police claims, that’s an indictment of what’s passing for fashion in the real world. I interpreted Portia’s style as a composite of a whole bunch of unglamorous, resurfaced fashion trends, in general, which might work separately in small doses, but not strung altogether as Portia’s outfits were.
Look, I’m not saying Portia’s fashion decisions were above criticism—only that perhaps some of her online critics should self-reflect about the subpar trends we’re all buying into lately in the clunky age of Instagram fashion. And let’s be real, Portia made plenty of awful, non-fashion-related decisions—like getting in the car of a man she suspected to be a kidnapper and then confronting him about being a kidnapper. Let’s discuss those choices.
Portia was, to Richardson’s point, “a bit messy and chaotic,” but she also helpfully brought all of our attention to Ms. Richardson, who is clearly a delight. We now have another quirky-gal celeb to root for, and that’s all that matters.