Real Housewives Style: Erika Girardi’s Rules on Leggings, What She Buys at Target, and How to Dress for the Camera
In the name of doing business, chats with fashion designers and top models regularly pop up on our radar. And while we'll never run out of things to learn, there are entirely different grounds to cover when your interview subject is a Housewife—capital H intended—whose wardrobe is on display for viewers across America every week. One of the very first questions we asked The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills's Erika Girardi when she popped by the Glamour offices? How in the world does one approach a show like that, where the wardrobe is your own responsibility and looking impeccably pulled-together is a must? Does a whirlwind of shopping take place before filming commences? Is it crazy stressful?
"Very stressful. Fashion is a part of not only my personal life, but also my stage persona. I was fortunate enough to already have a big collection, but I definitely added to it for the show," she told us, mentioning Alexander McQueen and Versace pieces she immediately knew she wanted to pull out of her archive. "It's a job, and you always want to maintain your persona and your whole thing."
That stage persona she's talking about is Erika Jayne, the vixen-like singer who's starred in some pseudo NSFW music videos. And while she knows how to dress for literal spotlights, Bravo cameras presented new challenges. "I know what reads better for the stage or video, but not for reality TV with bad lighting. I had to figure it out quickly, and I had to dress appropriately for the situation [we were filming]. I couldn't be decked out if we were going to build homes," she said in reference to the Habitat for Humanity episode that's aired this season. When it comes for dressing for the camera, it's "the simpler the better. I'll tell you what's not camera-friendly. Something that makes your bust not shapely. Too much fabric can give you a matronly look. It needs architecture even if it's just a t-shirt."
Her pre-Housewives life had more fashion skills that translated nicely to the show. She's a pro packer, having adopted the sort of industrial, rectangular wardrobe trunks magazines use when sending clothes to fashion shoots (you might have spotted her arriving with them before her flight to Dubai). She's used to working with stylists and has it down to a science, shopping herself and then asking someone to locate certain pieces to tie a look together. "We photographed every outfit so we never repeated it. Just for the show though, not in real life—I don't have that much money," she laughed (note: she did re-wear jeans and shoes during taping, but nothing else).
Girardi at the premiere party of this season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Another question any Bravo fan would ask? Are these ladies always so done? Because, honestly, it seems exhausting. Girardi assured us she wears sweatpants and t-shirts all the time, even though we shot her a surprised look at the statement since she's become the season's breakout glamourpuss.
"It's because I'm on TV! If we were at home right now I'd be in sweats and a t-shirt with my hair up and no makeup. I believe it's important to relax and let all of that go," she said. "You can't be totally identified by that 100 percent of the time. I still go through Starbucks every morning with no makeup, looking crazy, and they know who I am. And they're like, 'We watch the show!' and I'm like, 'Okay, cool!'" The fact that Mrs. Girardi doesn't feel pressured to dress up for her barista shouldn't surprise viewers of the show who know that this is a woman who does what she wants.
Our entire chat made the Erika Jayne girl crush we've been nursing swell to greater proportions, not least because this is a girl who adores leggings.
"I always say I'm going to be buried in black leggings," she said with a smile, citing a favorite Kiki de Montparnasse pair is one of the most worn items in her closet. "I've worn them so many times they're thin in places. I wear leggings every day of my life." She pairs them with tees and funky sneakers for daytime; at night, it's all about a sexy top, a short jacket, and heels. She's found high-rise, ankle-length styles the most flattering (mid-calf crops "chop off your leg—you want as much length as possible"), and when probed for a stance on whether leggings need to be worn with a shirt that covers your rear, she seemed aghast.
"No! Absolutely not! The whole reason you're wearing leggings is so your ass looks good, and your body looks long." If that sounds bold, her other how-to-wear rules are downright aggressive. She'd rather you skip underwear altogether, though if you are rocking a pair, forget caring about whether they're see-through. "I don't care if they are. Actually, I kind of prefer if they are."
And just in case you needed another reason to be a full-fledged Erika fan, know that she's a total fan of bargain shopping. She's in on the style secrets that Target harbors, stocking up on cozy chenille socks and sweatpants from the bullseye, and prefers Forever 21 for rehearsal gear over pricy athleisure brands. And for leggings? "Zara—they have this panel that sucks you in."
More reality TV style? Check out these fashion secrets about The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.