Jenna Fucking Lyons
Jenna Fucking Lyons

Jenna Lyons On Shopping With Her Teenage Son & The Best Thing About Being Over 50

The RHONY star and ultimate cool girl icon talks sharing the holidays with an ex and raising a kid who’s even more amazing than she is.

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One thing that is not going to happen during a meet and greet with Jenna Lyons is that Jenna Fucking Lyons (JFL, obviously) is not going to let you take a terrible photo. I discovered this pleasing fact at the Hotel Chelsea, where I’d been invited to the holiday soiree Lyons hosted for Klarna, an e-commerce payment and shopping platform. Lyons had just finished delivering a gracious welcome speech, during which she shared some items from the shoppable gift guide she had curated (holding up a $1,950 Prada crystal mini pouch, she said, “I know you all want this. I’m sorry!”) when I found myself next to a decidedly empty — me-sized?! — spot beside her in the photo-opp line. I seized my moment.

Lyons was clad in a bedazzled Khaite blazer, very excellent, very JFL jeans (good enough for the reunion, good enough for us!), and, obviously, her signature red lip. (It’s this, she told the crowd. “Now you don’t have to DM me and ask me what it is. This stuff does not come off, not at all.” We took notes.) I had worn my brand-new silver pencil skirt and sky-high silver boots for the occasion, but the festive disco-ball effect might have been slighted dampened by the fact that I also clutched a large shopping bag, a glass of wine, several dirty napkins, an empty wooden skewer, and my overly stuffed crossbody. “Hello!” I cried, dazzled by the ring lights and Lyons’ gorgeous face.

“Hello!” said Lyons warmly. “You have a lot going on here,” she added kindly, gesturing to my general person. “Let’s get rid of all this.” Next thing I knew I’d stripped off my stupid items so that I could pose unencumbered for my 20 seconds of Jenna Lyons-adjacent glory.

Behold, our photo together:

Nary a chewed-on skewer nor dirty napkin in sight.

In addition to being a generous art director of even passing photo-opp snapshots and a spokesperson for Klarna, Lyons is the standout star* of the rebooted Real Housewives of New York, founder and CEO of lash brand LoveSeen, an interior designer, and the ultimate living embodiment of cool girl style. She’s also a mom to 17-year-old Beckett, who, she tells me on Zoom a couple of days after the party, is an excellent and discerning shopper, among other amazing qualities.

April Daniels Hussar: It was so great to meet you at the event the other night. I was one of the first, and possibly the most awkward, people who took pictures with you.

Jenna Fucking Lyons: No, no, no. You did not qualify as the most awkward.

No? OK. I just lost all my cool, but that’s OK. It must happen a lot with you.

I know. I’m telling you, there are people ahead of you in line for that. Don’t worry. The thing is, it’s much cooler and easier when someone actually knows that they’re a little bit uncomfortable, where you can actually just be honest and talk about it. It’s weird when people are just standing there and they stare at you, which has happened to me many times.

I am so intrigued by the AI shopping element of Klarna. Have you actually used it?

I tried it, and it’s remarkable! You can take a picture of something and then it will serve up the actual item that you’re looking for and then a few options if it can’t find it. That’s really helpful because I’m a hunter and pecker, and I usually search by image search.

[My son] is so thoughtful in his approach to things, and he’s just more sophisticated than I ever was when I was his age, and that’s pretty cool and also really surprising.

And then the other thing I think that is great — I order a lot of clothes. I don’t know about you, but shoes and bathing suits and jeans — honestly, I’ll order three or four sizes in different versions. And so they have something where you can actually just, you purchase them, but you don’t have to pay until... you have 30 days to pay. What’s it called? “Try Before You Buy.”

Do you like to shop with your son? Is he a good shopper?

I feel like I should never shop without him! He’s so discerning, and he also cares more about my pocketbook than I do. He’s always the one who’s like, “Mom, it’s too expensive.” And I’m like, “Right.” And he has a great eye! The number of times I’ve put something on and he’ll say to me, “Go back and…” He really cares about proportion and the way something looks and he wants it to be quality. He’s like, “Are you going to wear this more than once?” It’s really cute. He also understands how things should be tailored. I walked out in a jacket the other day, and he’s like, “It looks tight in the shoulders.” And I was like, “You’re right. It really is.”

Have you talked to him at all about credit card debt or making smart choices with your budget?

This is the most ironic conversation ever because he is the one who talks to me. He’s always talking to me about being really careful with my choices and telling me to send something back if he thinks it’s too expensive. But we have started talking about finances. He’s had two meetings with an investment banker who takes care of me, just to start to think about how to plan for the future. And he has Apple Pay on his phone, and we go through and try to understand how much he’s been paying. He’s like, “I want an actual card that’s mine so I can see my own account.” And I was like, “Great!” I love that that’s how he’s thinking about it. So ironically, this is a little bit of a role reversal. He’s more like the adult in this particular situation.

I’m just thinking about when I went off to college and had no idea how to do anything financially, and I got a credit card in the mail and immediately spent it on, like, fancy tights, and I paid off that $500 for 10 years probably.

Yeah, I mean, credit card debt. I only have an Amex, and I pay it off every month because when I was very young I got myself into trouble. Not crazy trouble but trouble enough to realize that I don’t really want to live like that. My mom didn’t really talk to me about money, either.

What are your holiday plans with Beckett?

We are going to Mexico. A very good friend of mine has a compound down there. My family’s going down, and her family’s going to be there, and my girlfriend’s going to surf and I’m going to read and lay in the sun.

“And then there’s this situation which I cannot handle the cuteness,” Lyons captioned this Instagram shot a few month ago, and we must agree: extreme levels of cuteness here. Jenna Lyons Instagram

How is it having to share holidays with your ex? Do you have any advice for people who are approaching their first holiday season having to share custody?

It’s not easy. I do think, since we’re talking about gift lists, that the world of Google spreadsheets has been actually remarkable, because my son will make a spreadsheet for us and just tell us what he’s interested in. In the very beginning when we were first separated, there was a lot of duplication of requests and gifts and returning, and so it really has helped to kind of have a centralized list where he can just say “Here’s the things that are on my list,” and then we can work through it. It’s been great.

I invested so much of my consciousness for so long in what other people thought of me and how other people thought I looked.

What would you say is the best thing or the most surprising thing about having a teenager?

Their smell.

Which is that, the most surprising or the best?

Probably the most surprising. I’m always amazed. I walk in his room and I’m like, “Wow, I have a teenage boy!”

What is also most surprising to me is that I am constantly amazed at how sophisticated he is. I don’t think I was that much of an adult when I was 17. Kids now have so much more access, and they’re more worldly because they can see a much bigger world. My world was so small when I was growing up. Anything he wants to know, he can look up and research and find in two seconds. He’s so thoughtful in his approach to things, and he’s just more sophisticated than I ever was when I was his age, and that’s pretty cool and also really surprising.

How did he feel about you being a reality TV star?

He hasn’t watched the show. Even if he’s in a scene, he’s like, “Whatever, I don’t care.” I think he likes the commotion and the people in the house. I think he enjoys the process. He doesn’t care about the show specifically, but I had done another show previously, and he loved watching and being part of it. He likes people saying “Oh, I know who your mom is.” I think he feels pride in that because people say to him, “I like your mom.” So I think for him it’s a win-win. He cares about me and he wants to make sure that I’m taken care of and I’m enjoying myself.

All right, I am personally invested in the answer to this question: What’s the best thing about being older than 50?

I mean the sort of “I don’t give a fuck.”

Is it real? Does that really happen?

Yeah, it does. I think that I invested so much of my consciousness for so long in what other people thought of me and how other people thought I looked. And it’s so funny because I remember when I used to get deliveries to my house and I would open the door and the delivery guy would be like, “Whoa.” And it always made me feel good and that doesn’t happen anymore. They don’t care. Or driving in a car and a guy would be pulling up and they’d be like, “Hey,” beep beep. Now they drive in the car and they’re like, “Go.” When you realize that you’re sort of not objectified in that way and that’s not where you’re getting your sense of self and you don’t need that kind of attention, actually, it’s somewhat liberating.

Yeah. It’s strange because you’re like, “I don’t want to be objectified!” but then when it goes away, you’re kind of... it is a strange thing.

“Hey, what about me?”

It really makes you process a lot of stuff, for sure. Are there any fashion trends that you take credit for?

I can’t take credit for anything! I mean, I don’t think I started it, but the big glasses and the red lip will be the thing that I’m probably known for. I did not start a red lip or glasses trend, let’s be clear, but that has become somewhat my calling card.

JFL goes the distance for a great photo with another party guest.Slaven Vlasic, Getty

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten as a mom?

One of the most important things I learned from my son, actually. When I was a kid, I had a parent who said, “Because I said so.” So if I was angry, I would send Beckett away and say, “Look, go to your room.” And that sort of shuts down the conversation, so the best advice he ever gave me was like, “I’m going to tell you how I feel, and I want you to do the same, but I want to talk it through because I need to understand.” And I was like, “You know what, that’s totally fair.” He’s like, “When you say ‘just because I said so,’ that doesn’t help me understand what you’re after and what you want and why you want me to do something or not do something.” And I’m like, “You are 100% right.”

There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling confused and not clear about why someone is mad at you, or why what you’ve done is incorrect or should be different, or any of those things. And so he really drove that point home and it was really helpful.

I love that. He sounds like a really amazing person.

He is far cooler and brilliant than I will ever be. He’s just the best.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

*Of course I love you 4ever too Jessel

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