So Chic, Very Chic: 'The Valley' Takes Aim at 'Vanderpump Rules'

So Chic, Very Chic: 'The Valley' Takes Aim at 'Vanderpump Rules'

BYJoan SummersMar 21, 2024

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 year is 2020, and I find myself stuck in the San Fernando Valley, daytripping to a CVS during lockdown to hunt for cigarettes at the request of a person who doesn’t like me.

Colloquially known by most as "the Valley," for about seven months in the pandemic, I lived with my former mother-in-law in a place that’s neither here nor there. When I first rocked up to it, early in that relationship, I was reminded that there were just about a million cities woven along the 101 that acted as flimsy fronts in California’s ongoing campaign of suburbanism. There were more Targets than bars, more Starbucks than Targets, more spray tan spots than Starbucks.

I didn’t want to be there, not by any means, but we’d lost our ability to continue renting. Our unfortunate trajectory sent us south, to Everywhere, California. I’d left my rural, small suburban hometown for a reason, and so resented my new lot in life. Well, I resented quite a bit in those days; my former husband’s parents' house was just one of many intricate needleworks on the tapestry of my fraught emotions.

And so, through a series of events too embarrassing to recount, and too infuriating to remember, I was sent on a recurring set of errands that involved securing a distinctly out-of-time cigarette brand from a random CVS deep in the Valley. My former mother in law would call ahead and reserve a case for herself, and then I’d hop in the car and drive past 15,000 identical street corners, only to arrive at a megalopolis parking lot, with the requisite Target, Chili’s, Best Buy, Starbucks, In-N-Out, CVS and Home Depot.

I’d park at the Starbucks — although we’re boycotting these days — and get an iced black tea lemonade with a shot of espresso. Then I’d fumble for a mask in my Ford Focus, wipe the sweat from under my boobs, and humiliate myself in gym shorts and a raggedy tank top in front of the poor cashier. Sometimes I would get a thank you back in the prison of my own making, sometimes I’d be met with silence. Upstairs, I’d sit in the cramped guest room. My seemingly tiny window overlooked the infinite sprawl, and I’d promise myself I’d never come back.

Then, Bravo announced The Valley, starring former Vanderpump Rules cast members Jax Taylor and Kristen Doute. The greater Los Angeles area had its hooks in me once more. I might have escaped, if only for a little while, but I left a piece of myself back in that CVS parking lot. That’s just how it goes in Suburbia.

Let's dig in.

The Valley

Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright

If there’s one fate that awaits the Los Angeles millennial Bravolebrity, it’s a nouveau farm house in Valley Village with HomeGoods rustic decor and shiplap on the stairwell. Here they are in the first scene of their brand new show, wearing a t-shirt and pajamas and a head wrap from Brittany’s recent neck liposuction. Even in their few seasons away from television, I’m happy to see that nothing has changed with them.

I sighed when this confessional rolled across my screen. Brittany's remained committed to the fast-fashion grind since Jax plucked her out of Kentucky and air-dropped her into the WeHo drama nexus. She looks gorgeous, sure, but I don’t know how much of my life I’m willing to spend looking at this dress.

Kristen Doute

Kristen has been a deeply sad and fascinating fixture of my life for over a decade at this point! Getting caught up with Stassi’s machinations before her abrupt firing in 2020 is obviously inexcusable, and she has since apologized profusely, and maybe changed for the better. Or not! I am neither the arbiter of her fate or in any position to forgive her — nor would I want to.

Still, my television has sorely missed her manic panic energy, her questionable taste, her befuddling trains of thought. Chief among the many holes she left in my heart, however, was Kristen’s all-consuming, sexually charged, eternally fraught relationship with nemesis Jax Taylor. God, I hope these people never heal from their late-night hookup in a dingy apartment while Drive was playing on TV.

For her grand return to the silver screen, she wore a faux-silk dress with black lace trim, two chokers and a teeny little pendant necklace. I’d also like to point out her almond-tip nude nails and that Juste un Clou-esque bracelet.

Jesse and Michelle Lally

These two are clearly trapped in a loveless marriage, and I don’t say that to sound mean. They are quite literally trapped in a loveless marriage; they just recently announced their separation. The animosity between them is extremely obvious on TV, and were I Michelle, I’d probably feel the same. I mean, look at her! This dress is gorgeous, her hair is perfect, her makeup excellent, and she looks exactly one million bucks personified. Jesse, meanwhile, is in white pants and a pastel, ill-fitting button up with that all-too-common bread loaf hair. C’mon, dude. You sell luxury real estate and live behind Chateau Marmont. Try and look the part, just a little.

Nia Sanchez

Nia is a former Miss USA winner and a new mom to literal twins. Here she is with one of them, looking like a ray of sunshine. Were I a new mom in this group, I’d probably spin out in a jealous rage through no fault of her own. Still, I worry for her. When Jax pantsed her husband at a carnival-themed party later in the episode, she cried. Part of me wonders if she’s cut out for what’s about to happen to her. Not the newborn babies, obviously, just look at her! She’s got that part down pat. Kristen and Jax are my primary concerns.

Here she is in confessional, radiant as ever with a pristine blowout. I mean, come on! I’d be spinning out in an uncontrollable, jealous mom rage while chasing after my toddler and wondering when my hair would ever look so perfect again!

Vanderpump Rules

Tom Sandoval

Tom is a troubling reminder of the passage of time. He’s never looked older or more out-of-touch than he does this season, literally marooned on an island of his own making. The candy necklaces are just about the worst thing I’ve ever seen him wear, but the desperation wayfarers and muscle tees aren’t helping.

There’s also the nail polish to consider, or his creepy attempts at flirting with these poor girls who looked like they’d been kidnapped by producers from a nail salon parking lot somewhere in Valley Village.

I’m serious! Every decision he’s made around his styling this season is the wrong one, that sweater from his recently deceased friend notwithstanding.

Katie Maloney

I’m a Katie Kat this season. She’s never looked hotter and has, after 11 seasons on television, finally stepped into her power as a short-haired divorcee. The excess of collared shirts and diamond chokers really works in her favor, as do the multiple earrings. Were I her glam squad — of which I believe she is the only member — I might suggest a slightly lighter touch on the brow pomade. But really, who am I to mess with what is clearly a winning look for our girl.

Speaking of collared shirts, this printed black button-up with a bold flower graphic is excellent. The jewelry is a bit of a mish-mash, and I think she'd be better off were she to stick with gold, but wow! She walks into a room and I’m immediately gasping — and then sidling up next to her in an attempt to be her friend.

Scheana Marie

What’s not to love about this look? The hoops, the shirred dress with stretch sleeves, the slightly off-center nameplate necklace, the ice-white highlights, the near-perfect updo? I would never wear it, my god, no. But Scheana would wear it, and I support Scheana.


Something wicked this way comes! Not Jo, if that’s what you were thinking. I was referring to the astrology app Ally Lewber has open on her phone. Still, Jo continues to perplex me. She’s the walking, talking personification of those videos Gen Z TikTokers farm views with mocking millennial women. Still, she has a brand this season, and she’s sticking to it — the brand being frequent Anthropologie shopper who will occasionally splurge on Free People when it comes around on her Poshmark feed.

All things considered, the look isn’t so bad! It has personality!

Of course, that personality will get her in trouble. For the first time in my professional Bravo viewing career, I witnessed someone sit cross-legged in their confessional. Mind you, I’ve seen what is probably thousands of episodes of Bravo shows, and I’ve not once in my entire life seen something like this before. That she’s cross-legged in printed Forever 21 jeans no less is a sight to behold... and that’s before my eyes even settle on the top or that chunky bangle.

Godspeed, Jo! Despite everything, we’re all rooting for you.

Summer House

Lindsay Hubbard

Summer House was light on the fashions and heavy on the relationship turmoil this week. As such, let’s get through this quickly. Lindsay wore this embroidered dress to dinner, and it looked quite nice on her! We’ve seen a resurgence in collared dresses across Bravo’s millennial enterprises, which feels in a way like an omen of certain doom.

Danielle Oliveira

This is the best look Danielle’s ever turned on the eight seasons of this show, and I feel she deserves a genuine, heartfelt congratulations. The matching cross necklaces with the diamond choker and buttery, satin-esque dress? Divine! That brown looks so rich and textured on camera, and her pulled-back hair was the right call, giving us just a peep of those drop earrings.

Carl Radke

Newbies on the Bravo circuit are deeply entrenched on Carl’s side this season, largely because Bravo audiences are misogynistic and will generally side with men like Carl, or Craig, or Shep, or Tom Schwartz, or even Tom Sandoval back in the day. Thankfully, I’m different and have watched this show too long though not to spot his male manipulator behavior. This bucket hat is a new addition to his arsenal, as are the Hawaiin shirts. I’m sure he got the note, at some point, that the goofiness of his looks this season will help inure audiences to his slippery, underhanded tactics. I see right through you Carl!

Photos courtesy of Bravo/ NBCUniversal