Many guests at the White Lotus have made some questionable fashion choices — Albie’s white socks, Tanya’s ode to Peppa Pig — but none has been as viciously ridiculed as those of Portia. Every week, Portia’s wardrobe of loud prints and bucket hats has been the subject of Twitter discussion and critique, and her look in The White Lotus season-two finale has been the most hated on. And now that the season has come to an end, actor Haley Lu Richardson is defending Portia’s fashion choices, specifically her final outfit.
For most of the season, Portia’s outfits seemed to be something out of a Lizzie McGuire–reboot fever dream. Part millennial nostalgia, part Gen-Z casual, and a whole lot of mix and match, her outfits were, quite frankly, a mess. But her finale outfit was certainly the messiest of them all. After spending two days being unknowingly kidnapped by her British boy toy and potential murderer — spoiler alert — Portia finds herself safe at the airport ready to board a plane back to the States. Still wearing her patchwork skirt and pink-and-purple baby tee, Portia has added a hoodie around her waist, a baseball cap wrapped in a scarf, and giant sunglasses in an effort to … go incognito?
The outfit has been compared to everything (Halloween costumes, E.T., Scooby Doo, even Angela Lansburry), but Richardson thinks fans are being a bit harsh. “The people shitting on that outfit in particular — it’s like, she literally has been kidnapped. She’s been in the same outfit for two days. She literally just almost died,” the actor told Variety. “So what do you expect her to be, like, a fashion icon? I’m confused what people expect of this young woman.” Fair enough. (As a personal assistant, she probably had a limited budget, not to mention a limited selection of airport shops. Give this girl a break!)
Richardson, who collaborated with costume designer Alex Bovaird and showrunner Mike White behind the scenes, also defended Portia’s style in general. “I feel like she is classically herself in the way she dresses, and how it connects to the person that she is on the inside, and the place that she’s at in her life,” she said. “I just think that it’s very uniquely her — for better, or for worse.”
The actor also defended her character against online hate, calling the intense dislike “weird.” She explained to Variety, “Portia, of all these people, is the one that you’re labeling the villain of the season? She’s the only one of all of them that doesn’t have money and is also kind of redeemable at the end of the day.”
One thing she’s not defending: Portia’s white sandals (ironically, the only practical thing she wore all season). Richardson told W magazine the shoes were so egregious that even her co-star Theo James teased her about them.