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I Lived Like Jenna Lyons (Birth-Control Glasses Included)

Pigs in blankets and sequins

12.29.16
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MR Diets
MR Diets

The letter “J” on my keyboard is jammed due to a piece of food lodged under it (it sounds like a crouton is being smashed each time I hit the key), which makes typing out “Jenna Lyons” and the company under her sartorial reign, J.Crew, less than fluid. It’s the kind of thing that would normally drive me insane, to have to punch a key harder than the rest. Yet as I write this, I am taking an uncharacteristic pleasure in the obstacle, relishing in the trick-J’s peccadillo. It feels authentic and lived-in, as though this particular spot on my keyboard is worn from years of signing-off emails with Jenna’s name. A technological patina. I wonder if the real Jenna would think it chic.

I tried the Jenna Lyons Diet for one week. It was an exercise that helped to quell my anxieties regarding anything that isn’t neat and in its place. Because nothing in my life ever is, I believe “put together” to be the ultimate compliment. Jenna, meanwhile, is so put-together that she adds one elegantly disheveled element to each look, just to mess it up. She’s made this a major cornerstone of her and the J.Crew brand’s modern aesthetic.

“There has to be something that’s a bit undone,” she once said to Into the Gloss of the way J.Crew approaches sexiness. “You can’t have perfect hair, and clothes, and makeup — you need an element of imperfection to make you feel like there’s a person behind it all.” It’s what makes her brand of glamour feel actually doable.

In what was a well-timed series of days just before New York City emptied out for the holidays, I dressed like Jenna Lyons in this one-thing-off manner every chance I could get. I wore sequins with mohair (and a parka) to the office, a Canadian tuxedo + feathered plume dress + turtleneck to a party (festive sweat) and I did the no-bra under blazer thing (as worn with ripped jeans).

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A while ago, GQ published a list of Jenna’s 10 essentials, which lead me to realize that she and I have so much in common (rose gold signet rings; Man Repeller on Instagram; Uber — obsessive checker of my rating; bespoke white shirts — the cornerstone of my personal brand).

We differ in some areas. For example, she has mastered the look of Moscot Mensch glasses whereas they make me look like the love child of Groucho Marx and my senior year of college graduation advisor. When I saw that she listed Nike Air Force 1s, I was thrown. Those were cool in my high school, but I guess I didn’t like how they looked with Juicy sweats. But then, I drifted into a reverie: I borrowed a pair of Nike Dunk Sky Hi sneakers from my friend Elyse four years ago for a “lax bro” Halloween costume (I’m short and wanted height). I never gave them back, so I wore them on the first day of this diet.

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^ Me in the sneakers with a J.Crew blazer and a shearling that I stole to copy her office chair’s pink shearling.

Everyone was very confused, but “I am Jenna Lyons today” proved to be an excellent excuse for the shoe choice.

My favorite thing about Jenna is that she and I share a mutual respect for the same culinary delicacy. “I love a pig in a blanket,” she told Bon Appétit. “I horde them.” I used this to really up my intake quota at Christmas parties, another instance where the “I’m Jenna Lyons” excuse came in handy. And where the “I’m half-Jewish” thing didn’t quite hold.

Another excuse: Per Domino’s tour of Jenna’s old Brooklyn brownstone, she “obsessively sprayed” the fixtures in her bathroom with ocean water so that the brass would appear “as seasoned as the herringbone floor.” My friend came to visit the week of my Jenna diet and I used this to explain why everything in my apartment seemed to be falling apart.

Friend: “Your paint is peeling.”

Me: “Shh. It’s called a patina.

In that same Bon Appétit article, Jenna said that she eats a Cobb salad every day from Westville. They don’t put an egg in theirs (which is not a Cobb salad, Westville) so her assistant brings her one. This piece of insight came just as I was about to eat Leandra out of hunger, so I, too, ordered a Cobb.

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In addition to Westville’s disregard for the protein components of a true Cobb, its Cobb comes in a foil takeout container. Eating from it give me this weird flashback to when I had braces and would touch a paperclip to them by accident and get that blood taste(??). So I ordered it from Spring Street Natural instead. Like Jenna, I ate it in a meeting and felt guilty about it. (While I seem to have assimilated to adult culture and the general human race, I’ve yet to eat a salad without shoveling it into my mouth as though it were snow that I had to remove from the driveway and chuck into the yard, the yard being my gullet. I bet that was fun for everyone.)

Unlike Jenna, no one brought me my own hard-boiled egg. Everyone did, however, compliment my now-perfected Jenna side-part.

In that Into the Gloss article I mentioned earlier, Jenna Lyons said she approaches aging “with ice cream and a martini.” Not up for a game of gastrointestinal Russian roulette, I skipped this particular combo. (Ice cream makes me sick and I drink martinis with less skill than I eat salads.) Still, I thought it was an important takeaway. Like a ball skirt with a sweatshirt, these two things weren’t intended to go together, but Jenna Lyons has a way of pairing the unexpected. I obsessively sprayed some salt water on a pig in a blanket and called it a day.

Photos by Krista Anna Lewis; Amelia wearing Moscot “Mensch” glasses throughout.

You know what else tastes good? The J.Crew diet.

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  • MG

    Can you share a few examples of your bespoke white shirts svp?

  • Grace B

    I looooooooooooove this.

  • Leandra Medine

    Guys, she was dazzling, truly dazzling the day that she wore that sequined skirt with the knee high boots

    • Amelia Diamond

      dazzling!!!

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    “peccadillo” is a cool ass word and i will be using it non stop here on out.

    • i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: man repeller is single-handedly expanding my vocabulary and i’m not mad about it

  • tmm16

    This is amazing. I just reread that Jenna Lyons article on Into the Gloss a few days ago because I needed a little career inspiration. Your looks of her are so spot on. Livin’ for those glasses and velvet Zara blazer/wrap thing (saw it on Insta and now I kinda wanna buy it! Dammit MR!)

    • Andrea Raymer

      I second the Velvet Blazer/wrap thing. I really only want to wear velvet for the rest of the winter.

      • tmm16

        I’ve bought 4 velvet things in the past 3 days (all were from Zara). I think I have a problem…

        • Senka

          My first reaction to velvet was: hell no! I thought I was skipping that one. Now I live in black velvet Zara blazer, and am even thinking about a pair of shoes.

    • Zooey P

      I haven’t even looked at the pictures or read this article yet (zoomed to comment section first) and I already know I want this “blazer wrap thing” you speak of….

  • The last sentence: 🤦🏻‍♀️
    Just kidding! Amelia, I’d say you nailed it!!! And the velvet blazer is soooo faaaabulous, I NEED it.

  • Alexia

    I love Jenna Lyons, but JCrew is suffering a bit lately. It’s been said before, but they need to bring back the quality classics. Seems like they’ve been trying lately, as I’ve noticed a lot of their shoes are being made in Italy again. I hope the brand survives, as I live in their printed skirts and simple long sleeve tees.

    • Adrianna

      I still wear the shirts I bought in a J Crew Outlet in 2004. You would never guess those tees were that old. I was sad to see the majority of the items are now polyester.

    • Meg S

      I’m so happy their shoes are being made in Italy again. I’ve never bought glitter ballet flats so fast in my life.

  • Jenna

    I am crying laughing 😂😂😂- thank you for making 2016 a bit lighter !!!! You totally nailed it – you did me better than I can !!! Come visit me and we can do a job swap !!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️👏👏👏

    • Amelia Diamond

      Thank you for making my entire 2016 AND 2017!!! You say the word! We’ll have a shearling throw ready for your chair at MR!

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    Amelia, you look quite fantastic in a side part (or any hair part, that is).

  • Adrianna

    Um your kitchen looks HUGE!

    • Amelia Diamond

      It’s a pretty good sized kitchen for NYC! I don’t cook so I keep clothes in there.

  • Hurley Winkler

    From now on, I will forever use the phrase “gastrointestinal Russian roulette.” Amelia, pleasepleaseplease write a book.

  • “The love child of Groucho Marx” is pretty much how I feel about Jenna’s glasses, so I’d say you nailed it. 😀

  • Jessica

    ahahah hilarious! and you DO look like her! I always wanted to know wether one could achieve the lyons look… and you excel at it.

  • Honestly, this is funny as hell! From start to finish I am smiling ear to ear. May you forever indulge in pigs in a blanket and not have to wrestle with the concern about pork. LOL- thanks for the giggle. And I love that she responded and enjoyed it as well.

  • Hahaha loved this piece! Your outfits were so spot-on!