As soon as the first photos from “The Real Housewives of New York”‘s reunion hit the internet, people were up in arms over Jenna Lyons’s look. On Sept. 27, the cast picture for the anticipated reunion was released, and several fans seemed disappointed by the fashion designer’s sartorial choices. The look in question? A black blazer, a sheer button-up shirt paired with a black tie, and — here’s the shocker — jeans. “Denim, of all things?” “How is that dress code appropriate?” “I thought she was a fashion icon,” some of the comments read.
According to Bravo, the blazer and tie were from Saint Laurent, and the sheer blouse was designed by Thom Browne; Lyons finished the look with Dries Van Noten heels and Levi’s jeans. SLP, Thom Browne, Levi’s, and Dries — does it get any more fashionable than that? But jeans were somehow the point of contention.
“The reunion — yes, I wore jeans, and I am not sorry,” Lyons captioned a now-expired Instagram Story. Somehow, jeans are unfathomable for a reality TV show reunion. When the first Real Housewives reunion premiered in 2006 (for “The Real Housewives of Orange County”), the dress code was very casual — replete with wedges and gauchos, and housewife Jeana Keough even wore a tank paired with jeans and heels. Then, in 2008, at “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”‘s reunion, the dress code became more business casual, with tunics, leggings, and cowl-neck sweaters. Somewhere between then and now, the expectation has shifted to ornate gowns with sequins, feathers, and all the finery. And while the ladies look glamorous and red carpet ready, I question if that format allows each cast member’s style to genuinely shine.
Lyons, after all, has built a career on her distinct aesthetic sensibilities — in fact, it’s that very same aesthetic that helped reintroduce J.Crew to a new audience when Lyons served as president and creative director in the early aughts. It also massively influenced the way women dress then and now. It’s equal parts glamorous and traditional, juxtaposed alongside more casual, utilitarian pieces. Consider her look for the 2012 Met Gala: a pink satin J.Crew skirt paired with a denim jacket. More recently, she attended the “Real Housewives of New York” premiere celebration in New York City wearing a romantic pink tulle Oscar de la Renta cape covered in floral appliqué and paired with jeans.
Denim is part of Lyons’s stylistic DNA. She’s worn it as a neutral throughout her career and several times during filming, so to think that she wouldn’t represent said aesthetic for the reunion is a bit short-sighted.
What Lyons and her affinity for denim do signify is the concept of a uniform — having a signature style and repeating that formula. And through the discourse on social media, it’s clear we don’t appreciate uniform dressing enough. Like a cartoon character, uniform dressing is akin to branding. Once you fine-tune your style, why switch it up? This is most observed among style icons, particularly in the fashion design and media space. Take, for instance, Tom Ford and his impeccably tailored suits, André Leon Talley and his luxurious robes, Carine Roitfeld and her sharp pencil skirts, Grace Coddington and her all-black outfits, and Yohji Yamamoto and his black fedora.
With this new “RHONY” reboot, the aim was to capture a much more “realistic” view of the affluent NYC-dwelling woman. She frequents cafes in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Tribeca (shout-out to Jessel Taank), eats caviar with potato chips, is serious about three-ply toilet paper, and most likely pairs vintage Levi’s with a structured blazer from The Row. She should be able to show up to the reunion — and frankly, everywhere else — as herself.
Keep scrolling for more outfit pictures from “The Real Housewives of New York”‘s reunion.