Meet Missy Neville and Gwyn Prentice, co-founders of Helen Jon, the acclaimed swimwear and resort wear brand that counts Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and Kendall Jenner as fans. These universally flattering and super comfortable suits are gamechangers and guest editor Christy Wright chats with Gwyn and Missy on how they styled their new Cougar sandals on their recent vacation...
Your brand is rooted in family. Tell us about that and the name “Helen Jon.”
Gwyn: Helen was my great aunt, but she was more like a grandmother to me. She didn’t have kids of her own, so my sister and I were like her grandchildren. She doted on us and we were always so happy when we were with her.
Missy: Jon is a term of endearment my father would use for my sister and me when we were children. In Farsi, it’s actually “Joon” which means, “soul, spirit, life,” but when said after a first name, it means “dear.”
How would you describe Helen Jon?
Gwyn: It’s a swimwear and resort wear brand that fits beautifully, is made of soft fabrics and lasts; styles are classic but also modern with a touch of bohemian. Fit is of the utmost importance. Our goal is to make swimwear and resort wear that fits a woman’s body in a way that gives her confidence.
Missy, you chose the Pool Party Sandal in Berry-Merlot.
I love this bright pink and wore it beachside in Mustique with my Beach Cabana suit. Pool Party is the perfect sandal to wear around water and a pop of colour always makes me happy!
Gwyn, why did you choose the Sven LUXMOTION Clog in Sand?
I live in Florida and we get a lot of rain, so I always need water-friendly shoes with closed toes. The fact that Sven slips on is amazing since I can put them on quickly – with four kids, everything I do has to be quick!
A lot of your prints and bright hues feel confident – what inspires them?
Missy: I love interior design and have always created my own interiors, so selecting prints is one of my favourite parts of the design process. I firmly believe we are deeply affected by colour and that our prints set the tone for each line we develop.
Prints aside, what’s the most important thing when buying a swimsuit?Missy: The quality of the fit is top of mind, always! It’s also important to think about when you’ll be wearing it and what mood you’re after. On a tropical vacation, I tend to choose much brighter colours and bolder prints.
Our new Soprato LUXMOTION water-friendly slide is already a best-seller. What’s your best-selling swimsuit?
Gwyn: Our tortoise halter bikini top and tortoise bikini bottom are probably the most popular. They have a traditional fit, but with the tortoise hardware, still feel different from other bikinis. Women don’t want to feel like they’re wearing just any suit.
Speaking of that, what swimsuits and coverups do you think fit the Cougar profile?
Gwyn: The fatigue-texture tortoise bikini top and tortoise bottom, the white-texture bandeau one-piece and the black tortoise one-piece are all a good fit with Cougar – classic, yet unique. For cover-ups, the white French terry jogger and hoodie are great – comfortable, wearable in many different situations and with a fun touch of dip-dye ties.
You both chose black sandals - the Nina and Naomi. Why black?
Gwyn: Black goes with pretty much anything! Also, it doesn’t show dirt, which is a major plus. I’ll wear mine with our shorts and joggers.
Missy: I talk a big colour game, but my friends know that, nine times out of ten, I’m wearing black. I love its sophistication and always feel chic when wearing it head-to-toe.
Any “dos” and “don’ts” for trying on swimwear?
Missy: Move around in the suit and make sure you feel comfortable. Is it supportive enough? Does it feel like a suit you won’t be thinking about too much once you have it on? That’s the suit you want! Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes you have to try several suits on to get the one you love.
We love your Millie Dress-Beach Cabana Cover-up. What Cougar sandal do you think works best with it?
Gwyn: I think the Naomi in Oyster is perfect!
Missy: I love the Berry-Merlot Pool Party with this print. But I also think the Pool Party Slides in Coral would be super cute.
Gwyn, what will you pair with your Naomi in Oyster?Our Sofia Tunic and South Seas Caftan. It goes with almost anything!
Missy, what will you pair with your patent Prato in Vanilla?
Everything! It’s the kind of sandal you can wear with almost anything and it’s comfortable enough to wear all day long.
Why do you think Cougar is a great fit for Helen Jon?
Missy: Cougar is rooted in heritage, without compromising style, comfort or durability. Cougar allows women to be comfortable, while being active. I would like to think that is how someone might describe Helen Jon too.