The Jenna Effect

Ever since her J.Crew days, I have loved Jenna Lyons and her effortless style.

Jenna is the whole package, from her undone button-downs to her amazing accessories to her jumpsuit chic. The ultimate fashion alchemist, Jenna Lyons marries casual cool with downtown dressed up like nobody else. And nowhere is her fabulous flair more evident than in her recent (and admittedly surprising) appearance as one of the newly cast Real Housewives of New York. Jenna stands out for her style and quiet smarts among women who dress for Instagram. I will forever hold on to my Drake’s x J.Crew silk PJs, a brilliant collab under her tenure, and I was pleased to peek them in her closet, too (her closet is the subject of much envy; ps. It’s fantastic.)

And at 55, she is the oldest cast member but undoubtedly the most fabulous. So I side-eye through all the new episodes, where the other gals just don’t get it. They call her “boring” for wearing button-downs and try to get her to look sexy for dinner when she outsexys them every episode. Gangly and with a genetic condition that affects skin, hair, and teeth, Jenna’s unconventional beauty had me at her tuxedo jacket, which she wears with nothing underneath. Her look is American in the best ways: classic quirk, effortless chic with a rebellious twist. Masculine. Feminine. All of it. What I love most is when I look back at her style over the years, it looks as fabulous now as it did years ago. It has a timeless, confident cool that can be worn at every age and stage. Jenna is indeed reed-thin, but her vibe is for all; trust me.

And yes, she favors designer duds over fast fashion. Her look is all about investment pieces that last, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the look without a black Amex.

So let’s break down the look because there are some staples JL keeps in rotation that all of us can get behind.

Great glasses. As a gal who wears glasses and considers them an essential accessory, I love her take on specs. If you want her exact look, check out her collaboration with Dita, the Dita 004, a limited edition currently sold out. I own and love them. She also goes for Tom Ford plastic frames like these, and the assignment is definitely all about oversized, androgynous frames with a bit of a ’70s vibe. I just bought these with her in mind.

A bold lip. I’ve always been a neutral-lip girl since I like a well-done eye, but Jenna’s makeup is minimal (she is the founder of LoveSeen, an eyelash brand) except for a bright red or reddish coral lip. This is her favorite shade. I also love this shade from MAC to help get the look of this pencil from Nars.

Fine jewelry. Our girl doesn’t go much for costume pieces; her jewelry is next-level.  Think Foundrae or a great initial piece on a budget from a brand like Gorjana (Jenna wears an initial piece by James Colarusso). On a recent episode, she showed up to breakfast in PJs and full diamonds, and it was fucking fabulous.

Button-down shirts. This woman wears a button-down in such an iconic way, buttoned downtown and braless, a look I would never wear, but the shirt is a VIBE. My favs are a tuxedo version from Nili Lotan or an oversized striped shirt like this, but this staple is a style heavyweight when you want a bit of garconne chic.

501s. I recently wrote about 501s on my Substack, and admittedly they are not fab for gals with curves. Jenna’s vintage 501 collection is enviable on every level, and they always are in style and so timeless. 

Surplus pants. Chances are, you’ve got a pair of army pants in your closet. Jenna rocks hers with a sequined blazer or a shrunken sweater, button-down, and heels. They are an excellent base for a dressed-up/dressed-down vibe. Go for a real-deal pair like these or these Jenna pants (yes, that Jenna) from Nili Lotan that you will love forever.

A major shoe. Jenna loves a heel, and her shoe closet is very Carrie Bradshaw. She anchors a masculine look with a cardigan or blazer, button-down, and jeans with statement heels like these from Manolo Blahnik. She will also rock a Birk like this one to balance it.

Jumpsuit. I owe my jumpsuit collection to Jenna Lyons, who inspired me to try a boiler suit-style jump years ago, and it’s stuck with me as a go-to instant cool look. She loves this brand, but I also love the one-piece wonders from fashion stylist Molly Bloominati — a bonus for her inclusive models. And Alex Mill is the jumpsuit master.

Sparkles or feathers. Jenna loves to pair a simple cashmere sweater or denim jacket with something sparkly or plucky. This recent dress worn by her was amazing, and I can imagine her throwing some denim or a cashmere cardigan over it. Here’s a less spendy version with less bling but good Kate Moss ’90s vibes.

A tux. Or at the very least, a perfect tux jacket. I love this one from Emerson Fry. It’s a seasonless linen that is perfect.

Mixed prints. Jenna always mixes it up with everything from marabou feathers and denim to leopard print and stripes. It’s all about confidence, and mixed prints are a staple of her iconic tenure at J.Crew. Go for a leopard coat like this one. 

The Jenna effect is all about that classy quirk combining all the good stuff we love about easygoing American style. So take everything you own and put it through a Jenna filter. Chances are you’ve got loads in your closet to help pull this look off, or hit the internet before Jenna-era J.Crew sells out on eBay soon, if not already. XO

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *