In case you haven’t noticed, New Jersey is the new black.
Although reality TV is suddenly saturated with all things Joisey—Real Housewives of New Jersey, Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, Jersey Couture—Jersey’s climb from red-headed stepchild to golden child has been years in the making. What, you think Snooki started this? No, loves. It wasn’t Snooki. Or The Situation.
It was Carmela. And, more than Carmela, it was the fabulous Adriana La Cerva. Ah, the highlights. The hoops. The boobage. The gum-chewing. Who can blame Chris for loving Adriana? She will always be my Jersey pin-up girl.
You see, Jersey style (and a love of all things Italian-American) infiltrated the collective American subconscious years ago. You can blame it on The Sopranos, which, incidentally, I loved. Ever since Tony made his last walk to the mailbox, we’ve all been jonesin’ for that Jersey grit. For that fantastic fakery that is just so bad, it’s good. Jersey Shore is The Sopranos without the gats, felonies, and Dr. Melfi. It’s all T-and-A, ego maniacal guidos, and fake nails as far as the eye can see. I freakin’ love it. Who needs The Hills when we’ve got Jersey?
My own little homage to Jersey style (and recent exposure to Jerseylicious) got me thinking about the elements of Jersey style that both horrify and fascinate us. Me, I can’t get enough of it. As a Greek-American, I can identify with Italian-Americans—the only difference between us is the tongue of our motherlands. I don’t know if it’s because those Italian-American princesses work the quintessentials of femininity to a spectacular degree, or because they take no prisoners and take no s***. Either way, this phenomenon deserves a proper dissection, from A to Z, baby. Well, almost.
Elements of the Jersey (life)style:
- Animal prints. Leopard, cheetah, tiger, zebra…all of the above. Animal prints have some kind of magnetic attraction for Jersey girls. Don’t believe me? Just watch an episode of Jerseylicious, where you are likely to spot ALL the girls in a scene in some sort of print.
- Balls. Yes, I wrote that. One of the most important aspects of both male and female Jersey style. Somehow, everyone in Jersey got an extra, heaping helping of hubris, which equates to bigger, brassier balls. Which is always better for boardwalk brawls.
- Cleavage. Woe to the Jersey girl who was born with less than a C-cup. No worries, though. Daddy will buy you a pair like JWoww—anything for his princess. Then wear that new rack like a necklace, honey.
- Dresses. You don’t see guidettes hitting the town in capris and sensible shoes. You want to snag a guido, you wear a dress. A short one. With five-inch heels. Guidettes know better than to think a guido is going to be interested in sweet little kitty. Hence the animal prints. A tiger needs a tigress. Grrrrrr.
- Extensions. Big hair isn’t big enough. It needs to be long and big. And then longer and bigger. And blacker. Or blonder. Jersey girls like extreme beauty.
- F***. As in the F-word. Sorry, but this is a critical piece of the Jersey vernacular and attitude. Can you really see Tony Soprano saying “fudge,” or a guidette lambasting the tart who tried to seduce her guido with anything less?
- Gym. You saw this coming, didn’t you? The first piece of G-T-L, which was made famous by The Situation. This is the one piece of guido brilliance that I also wish extended to some guidettes. Let the record show that the Jersey Shore boys have got this one right.
- Hair. Big hair, specifically. What, you thought teasing died with ’90s minimalism? Wrong. For the true art of the tease, one need only see a guidette freshly coiffed for a night out. We’re talking big hair that is truly gravity-defying. Also see Extensions above.
- Jewelry. Jewelry is to Jerseyites as tofu is to vegans—a key element of life. Hoops that rival Saturn’s rings. Gold and crosses. Pavé. Chains so thick you could tow a car with them. They always put another piece on before leaving the house. Anything and everything but pearls.
- Kleinfeld. All guidette bridezillas make the trip to Kleinfeld Bridal in NY for their gowns, because Daddy’s money is never an object. Designer fave? Pnina Tornai. Style? Corset back, lots of cleavage in front.
- Laundry. The last piece of G-T-L. A good one too. I’m sure the bronzer and glitter lotion rub off on everything.
- More is more. This applies to bling, cleavage, hair, muscles, alcohol, drama, what have you.
- Nails. As in acrylic nails. No guidette is complete without acrylics. The thicker the better. And French manicured, of course.
- OTT. Over-the-top. Goes hand-in-hand with more is more. Jerseyites do it bigger, better, louder, and harder. They take OTT to a new level.
- Product. As in hair product. Gel, mousse, spray, all of the above. Big hair takes a lot of product. So what if you’re going to the beach.
- Rock out. The later, the better. Snooki, on the experience in Miami: “Miami definitely has a lot of good clubs, and so does Jersey,” she said. “The only thing that’s good about Miami is they’re open till 6 in the morning. Jersey closes at 2 a.m., so that kind of sucks.” (Source: mtv.com)
- Salons. For hair, nails, tans, whatever. The success of the independently-owned American beauty salon can probably be traced to its Jersey-born clientele. For Jersey girls, especially, a non-negotiable expense.
- Tantastic. The most important element of G-T-L. Actually, to say a tan is requisite is a bit of an understatement. We’re not talking sun-kissed skin. Jerseyites aren’t happy until they are baked within an inch of their lives. White skin is for Anglos. Not Italians.
- Unapologetic. There was never a more unapologetic bunch. Curiously, under all the fake hair, nails, tans, boobs, etc., are people who seem to be very true to themselves. They don’t care if you think they’re tacky. They don’t care about Ivy League schools and propriety and all that. They are what they are. Like it or not.
- Vanity. It is impossible to imagine a more vain bunch. Guidos and guidettes are nothing if not obsessed with their looks. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We obviously all revel in witnessing Jersey vanity; we must love wondering at the artifice of it, or we’d all be watching Real Housewives of Omaha.
- Wildness. Guidos and guidettes don’t censor themselves, ever. From Jagerbombs, to vajazzling (Google it), to hot tub hookups, theirs is a no-holds-barred existence. And what happens in Vegas—or Jersey—definitely does not stay there.
- X-rated antics. Mmm-hmm. All that G-T-L isn’t for Mass. It’s for the things that happen that necessitate Mass—and a liver cleanse—by Sunday morning.
The newest season of Jersey Shore debuts on MTV (in the U.S.) on July 29, 2010.