An Interview With Jenna Lyons
Lyons is J.Crew’s creative director and head of women’s design.
The trickiest part about choosing a pair of shorts is finding the right length. I don’t usually reveal a lot of thigh, but I’ve found that midrange shorts make my legs look their best. Shorts can be incredibly sexy or incredibly wrong—it all depends on knowing your options.
• Measure right. There are three standard lengths of shorts: short (two- to three-inch inseam), midrange (three- to five-inch inseam), and Bermudas (11- to 13-inch inseam). Those are the three most attractive places for shorts to hit a woman’s leg; there’s also a style with a seven-inch inseam, but those don’t really flatter anyone. Unless you are in amazing shape, stay away from short-shorts. Midrange shorts are the most universally flattering—look for a pair that’s neither skintight nor baggy. Bermudas, which are slimmer and more tailored this season, cover the most but can be tricky because they’re formfitting. All shorts should fit comfortably on your hip bones.
• Stiffen up. The biggest mistake is to go for a fabric that’s too loose. With washed silk or parachute fabric, you’ll have a harder time finding the right top, and it’s much more challenging to make your butt look good. Try material that has more structure, like linen-cotton or silk-cotton blends. I like neutrals and bright, solid colors like intense orange, but I would steer clear of large patterns. They tend to accentuate areas you probably want to downplay.
• Top it off. Look for tops that offer contrast—a loose shirt works best with tailored, fitted shorts. The only exception is Bermudas; they look great with a long, lean top. I find that halter tops never work with shorts; together, they reveal too much. Look for colors and textures that contrast, as well—hot pink shorts with a beige top, or chambray shorts with a cashmere T-shirt.
• Stand firm. Unless you’re going for the complete Daisy Duke look, avoid platform wedges or stripper pumps. I think it looks so much sweeter and more elegant to wear a pair of flats during the day and low heels in the evening.
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