**SPOILER ALERT NOTE: This post was written before I watched my episode and in order of filming/accordance with actual events that occurred on set. A lot of things I allude to may not have made the cut/spoil something for you. If you’ve already watched and these things don’t make sense/seem out of order, keep in mind that editing was involved. Full story to come on my podcast!!**
Mes cheriés… I cannot explain how stoked I am to no longer be holding in this secret! 😎
For those of you who don’t follow me on social media (you should by the way @bougeandrouge), you may have missed the big news: I am on a dating reality show called 5 Guys A Week airing on Lifetime! The show is a dating social experiment that feels like a down-to-earth combination of The Bachelorette and Big Brother. Instead of lusting after theatrics and the chase, a leading lady invites 5 strangers matched by a matchmaking process into her home to all live together for a little under a week. Since someone has to get eliminated every day, there is no time to waste. The high pressure situation brings out true colors in everyone, allowing you to cut through bullsh*t easily and find who is The One for you.
Unlike other shows at the moment, it is episodic instead of serial. There are 20 episodes each starring a different leading lady and 5 guys. You can stream the first half of the season (which already aired) on Lifetime website, app, or video on demand by your TV provide. My episode and a few others dropped today, September 14. You guys know the drill: binge it before it expires and goes into that dark vault all shows live in before they are released on-demand on streaming platforms! All episodes of the season will be up by Wednesday, September 28th!
While it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to the day I’ve been waiting for, I have so much in store for you all in my post-show content. Today, my cast member (and now great friend) Mike Martucci and I released a special episode on his podcast, The Night Cap. We dove into all the hilarious highlights and not so fun lowlights of filming from what was on screen to what didn’t make the cut. Be sure to listen to it now on major platforms (I use Spotify) with clips on YouTube. I have my own podcast episode coming out on Et Cetera next Monday, September 19th. I will be going through the more personal aspects of this experience as well as spilling the UNBELIEVABLE amount of drama that unfolded after we wrapped filming.
But today, we are talking about the important sh*t: the outfits I wore throughout my episode! 💃🏻
When picking out my outfits for the show, there were no coincidences or happy accidental pairings. Every look was picked out with a purpose: revealing one extra layer of Erica to the men and audience. Just like any other movie or scripted TV show you watch, fashion and style is a crucial in understanding a character. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
The first official day of filming was dedicated to hours and hours of interviews for each cast member, especially the leading lady. I was pretty much in the interview chair for hours sharing everything little thing about me, my dating history, what I look for in a partner, my red flags, my biggest weaknesses, my biggest traumas… the list goes on. I knew I needed to be in top-flattering outfit that was comfortable but didn’t distract the audience from my story.
After studying all the interviews of the numerous reality shows I watch, I opted for a simple neutral colored top that framed my décolletage well and one statement jewelry piece that showed personality without overwhelming the audience. Given that you can still see up to my waist if they included a more zoomed-out shot, I made sure to pair it with baggier jeans (that wouldn’t create a muffin top) and a statement belt. My iridescent earrings matched the colorful necklace and shoes. I will admit the shoes was more for me and my crew than it was for the audience, as no one but us saw them.
Given that the men weren’t going to see this outfit, I didn’t feel pressured to create anything monumental. I chose comfort for the long interview day, which led me to this outfit that I’ve worn in my “regular” life out to meals with friends and even going out. It was something cute, relatable for the audience at home (I mean who doesn’t wear a black top and jeans nowadays), but not significant to my personality and story.
TOP: Princess Polly
SHOES: Kurt Geiger
NECKLACE: Loren Hope
EARRINGS: Kate Spade
RINGS: Mejuri & Ana Luisa
Prepping the House with Rebekah
The next day was the start of the wild adventure! Before the men arrived, I had to clean and organize the house for my guests. Knowing I was full of nerves, one of my best friends Rebekah came by with coffee (which we spiked of course) and hugs. She was the perfect person to help calm my nerves! Throughout our friendship over the last 8 years, we’ve gone through so many ups and down in parallel separately but always found our way back to each other to heal. No matter how busy we get or how long we go without talking to each other, I know she will always be a huge part of my life.
I gave her a quick tour of the TV-ready home before we sat down for some girl talk. We walked down memory lane of all the traumatic relationships/situationships I’ve been in and how far I’ve come. I might have even lightly shed a tear or two as she told me how proud she was to know the woman I am today. After a big hug and a big chug, I sent her off to catch her flight while I stayed at home to catch feels.
Despite seeming soft in the previous scene, I wanted the audience to know that I also have an edgy side. Like I mentioned earlier, each outfit was hand chosen carefully. At this point in shooting the show, the men were not at my house yet. I knew this next scene would follow the montage and interviews in the actual episode. Banking on the fact that I submitted very diverse photos of me, I wanted to continue that trend by wearing an outfit that would contrasted the sweet, bubbly interview persona in juxtaposing frames. It had to be an outfit that I loved, that showed an edgier side to me, and didn’t need to be used for identification when the men arrived.
Since we were filming in the dead of winter, I opted for one of my winter favorite outfits: a satin dress, vintage cropped sweater, furry combat boots, and tons of sliver bling. Not only did it keep me cozy, it also helped me feel a little more badass during a time of intense nervousness. The patterns of the sweater were just “hard” enough to pair nicely with the softer image from the satin and bold enough to match the spunk in the shoes. Although this could have been an outfit to wear for the guys, the shoes were intimidating and added over 6inches to me. I’m a petite girl with a tall personality, and I didn’t want to start off tall and bearing a tall personality (and I knew there was no way everyone would be over 6 foot).
TOP: vintage store in NYC
DRESS: Nasty Gal
SHOES: Jeffrey Campbell but DIY-ed laces and fur
JEWELRY: Alex & Ani bangles, Tiffany & Co, Moon Magic, NYC artistan marketplaces
Meeting the Men
The big moment finally arrived that afternoon. It was time to meet my five guys. For my first impression outfit, I wanted to go for something subtle but sexy and not too distracting or dramatic. Staying true to my Bouge & Rouge qualities, I opted for silk top with beautiful colorful print and gold hardware. I paired it with black skinny jeans that really hugged my curves and banana yellow strappy heels that matched the fabric’s designs on the top.
Now, this was not my original outfit. Originally, I had a long balloon sleeve top tucked into a plaid tight skirt with tall over-the-knee boots. A day before the crew arrived to set up cameras, we decided to swap to the outfit you saw on your screens. The reason is two fold:
- This is a dating show! You want to show your fashionista side while being sexy and not too intimidating or overwhelming.
- The key to building a relationship with your audience is staying relatable. Trying to constantly wow a crowd and push an image is not only uncomfortable but disingenuous and distracting.
While the jeans did get a little uncomfortable after sitting around for so long and eating all that sushi, it sure made my cute satin slip and robe pajama set really comfy for the after-hours fun!
TOP: Zimmermann from Intermix
JEANS: American Eagle
SHOES: Sam Edelman
JEWELRY: Etsy, Mejuri, Ana Luisa
The Escape Room
To quote David Rose, I let very few people see me before 10am. Unfortunately, 4 guys and probably 50 producers and production crew members had the pleasure of watching me drool, wake up, and blindly find my glasses. After an appetizing (and a very unappetizing) plate of breakfast, I headed out my room to start the day with the four men left.
Full disclosure, we were supposed to film in the city and have a full day out. However, unforeseen circumstances with the location and COVID omicron variant had us shut in NJ. Since we were missing the fun at an actual escape room, I created my very own escape room for the guys! There were multiple purposes to the game: to test how closely they’ve paid attention to the items in my house, how well they listened the night before in all of our conversations, and how good of a team player they are. Having a confident but not aggressively cutthroat partner is extremely important to me. I’m very big on being a team player and knowing when to step in or step out. When you are married with a family, you need to know how to contribute to the team and not allow your ego or other factors to sabotage a dynamic.
Each of the clues were hidden behind important objects in the house (will go into detail on the podcast) that told a story of who I am as a person. Since I had to keep up with all the sprinting around that I knew Mike T was going to do (and because I wanted to show my more casual/bro side), I opted for sneakers! For the escape room, I wore a comfy bodycon dress, denim jacket, retro Jordans, and a Dior twill headband. The goal of this outfit was to create a more comfortable and grounded image for myself. Even though I love to be bougie and overdressed, I do have days where I’m a bit more of a tomboy. Since I still wanted to look feminine on camera, I opted for the curve-hugging dress and Dior twill instead of just rocking a more street-wear look that I normally would do.
And for the record: none of these boys impressed me during the escape room. Could you tell… 🌚
SHOES: Nike Air Jordan 6 Retro Gold Hoops
JEWELRY: Alex & Ani bangles, Tiffany & Co, Moon Magic, NYC artistan marketplaces
Club Bouge & Rouge
Since we couldn’t go to Beauty & Essex in the Lower East Side of Manhattan like planned, we had to bring the club to our Jersey house! My INCREDIBLE team went WAYYYYY above and beyond turning my living room and dining room into a nightclub. They even surprised me with the Bouge & Rouge step and repeat (which will make an appearance at my viewing party this weekend), red carpet, disco lights, and VIP section! My friend Priya made my custom cocktails (all named after something important in my life) while her boyfriend Sumedh DJed like a pro for us all night.
The best part about the club night was the boys got to meet some important people in my life, my girlfriends! First friend to enter was Amanda, my best friend from middle school. A science teacher, beach lover, and aspiring vet, she took time out of grading endless biology projects to come ~vet~ these men for me. Next up was my college friend and sorority sister, Cassandra! A burlesque dancer, lover of witchcraft and cosplay, and graduate of Carnegie Mellon’s famous school of dramatic arts, she understood the assignment: find the tea and be the drama. Within five minutes, she clocked Jacob for being a suspicious liar, Mike T for being misogynistic with a girlfriend at home, and Martucci as the one I should really keep a life-long friendship with. Talk about intuition AND drama! Last but certainly not least was my sorority grandlittle, Samantha. She may look like your typical corporate American girl living in NYC but she’s got a little Fallon Carrington mixed with her Italian grandma’s spice in her. Let’s just say when she shoots, she never misses. Boys… I hope you watched yourselves.
Even though we were partying at this exclusive quarantine club, I had to dress it up for my girls! After all, they came all in Manhattan uniform black to make sure I shined bright on the big screen. For this night “out” on the town, I picked a floral top that I would normally pair with dress pants. However, my rising Leo demanded I take this rare opportunity to full send the dramatics! It manifested in a feather skirt, statement belt, statement earrings (that sadly broke after filming 😭), and strappy white stilettos.
Normally, I wear something much sultrier on a night out with my girls. However, I wanted to take the chance to really shine and just be the extra diva I never get to be! This was the only outfit that was solely for me, and I have no regrets about it. I will say, I was very excited to change into my Dior-inspired printed pajama set afterwards for some long makeouts, postgame games, and unnecessary drama.
TOP: Par Violet
SHOES: Steve Madden
JEWELRY: Cartier, Alex & Ani bangles, Tiffany & Co, Moon Magic, Dillard’s
The Snowball Fight
After a really tough after-hours post Club B&R (tune into my TELL ALL podcast episode coming FRIDAY 9/16), intense one-on-ones, and very little sleep, I woke up feeling defeated, emotional, and confused. I was excited to see my “brothers” (my best guy friends from college) and have them play their usual role as my sounding board with Tucci, Kaizo, and Jacob. Unfortunately, there were complications with COVID logistics last minute rendering our brunch null and void. Unfortunately, that meant I had to make the hardest choice in sending Tucci home earlier than I’d like.
To lighten the mood, we decided to return to our childhood roots and have a good old-fashioned snowball fight! With all the madness that happened indoors overnight, it was refreshing and peaceful to see that the outdoors were covered in pristine clean white snow, something you rarely see in NYC. Jacob, Kaizo, and I put on our warmest clothes we could find and let our inner children heal with snow angels… ironic since we all bonded separately over our childhood traumas the night before 🙃. Unfortunately I had not planned for the surprise blizzard and only had my peacoat with me. As a result, I was soaked head to tie by the end of it, and not in the best way.
For this youthful fun, I wore a comfortable long sleeve black mock-neck shirt, jeans, a faux fur vest, and my Timbs. I figured it was time I let the New Yawker out with the two New Yawkers! This outfit helped me look and feel tough as I made some difficult decisions early in the day. I wanted the guys to know that despite my soft core, I am a LOT stronger than they’ll ever know. If the Tombs are out, don’t mess! 😤
JEWELRY: Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Moon Magic
The Family FaceTime
After I got all that angst and tension out of my house and my system, it was time to get serious. We changed out of our cold clothes and into something more comfortable for afternoon coffee and wine. Knowing how desperately I needed to hear their voices and advice, my producers got my boys on FaceTime with me where I poured my heart out about Jacob and Kaizo. Although you didn’t get to hear all of the incredible things they said to me, just know that my field producers and showrunner called it the most heartwarming and loving conversation they’ve witnessed in a long time. Despite being upset they couldn’t physically attend the brunch, I think this happened so we could get our genuine dynamic and friendship on screen instead of a short-lived light-hearted brunch where they would have inevitably just bros with the remaining guys.
Their conversation with me unfortunately left me even more confused than before. In fact, I was so confused they almost had my mom come comfort me despite her not wanting to be on television! I calmed myself down and had two long one-on-ones with my final two to get the answers I needed. Needless to say, I broke down completely.
To make me feel like more of a badass boss bitch during this unexpected emotional turmoil, I put on my power blazer, favorite heels, a belt that also repped my last name, and pulled off a power ponytail. If I was going to cry all day, I was going to look damn good doing it!
SHOES: Christian Louboutin
JEWELRY: Etsy, Madewell, Mejuri, Ana Luisa
The Final Dinner
As Kaizo and Jacob prepared steak and salmon for me, I wiped my tears, attempted to de-puff my face, and got finale ready. When I first received the call about being cast on the show, I knew right away that I would wear a statement gown (within a somewhat reasonable price range) regardless. Some may say I went overboard Bachelor style, but I say there is no such thing as too much when it comes to celebrating yourself!
Although this dress comes in a few colors, black spoke to my soul. It represented my love for New York, my dark past, my dark humor, and the inner peace I feel despite the chaos I’m always a part of. Black is also sexy yet elegant and timeless. Although I don’t usually love how I look in a strapless dress, the neckline and train were so beautifully irresistible! This gown, like the club outfit, was more for me than it was for the men. I did want to pick something that would make their jaws drop (and I guess whatever they’re holding onto at the time…Jacob really made a mess when his jaw and plates fell to the ground) but also slightly intimidated them. This was my last chance to find out on camera if I have learned all the hard lessons in dating and life, so I wanted to do it in a dress that made me feel beautiful, worth, and empowered.
Side note, in my teary eyed haze I put on the wrong earrings for the final dinner. It was supposed to be a dramatic set with a front and back piece that dripped down and cradled my earlobe like a firework. Instead, I put on some more basic dangling earrings that truly should have just stayed in my apartment. You’ll see them below compared to the ones that were actually on screen…
To this day, I haven’t found a new reason to wear this dress. I’m also mad that I tripped and snagged the bottom of the train a few times during both filming and my photoshoot. Regardless, I am keeping it and passing it on to a future daughter if I no longer fit, as I feel a deep indescribable feeling with it.
DRESS: Revolve x For Love and Lemons
SHOES: Manolo Blahnik
JEWELRY: Nordstrom, Cartier, Moon Magic, NYC artisan marketplaces, Alex & Ani Bangles, Cartier
And just like that, the lookbook is complete! I want to give a HUGE shoutout to my extremely talented and fun photographer Ryan Sides! He was able to churn out all these looks for me within a few hours and capture me in a very natural but flattering way. Check out his work with local influencers in NYC and give him and his new business Epifemme so much social media love and support!
I hope you enjoyed my dramatic episode of 5 Guys A Week and continue to binge the entire season before it expires off the Lifetime platform. All 20 episodes will be up by Wednesday, September 28th. Thank you again for joining me on this ride, and I’ll see you over at my podcast for the MAJOR TEA SPILL on Friday. In the meantime, check out a special edition of The Night Cap Podcast with Tucci going live today September 14th at 7PM EST.
Until next time, bisou bisou…