When Know Your Style launched in New York City a super-stylish woman caught my eye. Keeping her in my peripheral vision, I drank champagne, worked the room and planned to make my way over to say hello. But it was busy and I was book-signing and before I could introduce myself, she was gone. Book launches are a bit like wedding parties; you try to speak to everyone and you can’t, you spend ages planning the event and can’t remember a thing afterwards. And like the bride, the author knows that it’s best to wear comfy shoes and comfy underwear.
Back home in the UK, the Know Your Style party photos went online and the intrigue continued. ‘WHO IS SHE?’ asked the comments box. It was then I decided to do some detective work via Instagram, to see if anyone recognised this gorgeous grey-haired woman with impeccable style. And lo, before long a message from her husband appeared, ‘That’s my stylish wife! Actually, that’s my only wife. And she loves your blog! And she’s the smartest school principal in NYC.’ It wasn’t long before her daughter materialized, ‘It’s my mom!! She’s going to love this!’ And then another follower informed me that, ‘She’s a real powerhouse in NYC public education leadership. A true advocate for the children. She’s as fierce as she is fashionable.’ Success. Over a thousand comments later and I had found Jacqui Getz.
Finally we made contact and had a lovely Transatlantic phone chat. I asked Jacqui about her career in education, her busy life and how she manages to do it all – and of course, about her discerning style:
TNMA: Hello at last! Please could you tell me a bit about yourself and your role in education?
JG: I am 57, the principal of a new school and my entire career has basically been working in the New York Department of Education in one form or another. I trained at the teachers college at Columbia University and met my husband there (he’s principal of a school in the Upper East Side). We have three daughters, two live in the city and one is away at college) I could retire in about five years, most people at this point in their career don’t start new schools but I couldn’t resist the challenge. It’s a huge project, the building is not finished so we are sharing a school at Union Square and the plan is to move over in July.
TNMA: What’s a typical day like?
JG: I get up at 4.30am and ride a stationary bike for half an hour to calm down for the day. I leave for work just after six (our first class is at 8.10am), get a coffee and get to school. Once I’m there I generally never leave the building – the kids follow me to the toilet! – I leave by 4.30pm to go to Physique 57 and take one or two workout classes. This is hugely important to me, I find it incredibly empowering and there is such camaraderie, it’s a very inclusive place. I’m usually home by 7 or 7.30pm and always have work to do, it’s endless but since my husband has the same job, it helps.
TNMA: How do you do it all?
JG: I make an inordinate amount of lists and have four notebooks on the go. I don’t think my family likes waking up to Post-It notes! I always work one full day at the weekend. Being busy makes me happy – and I always try to get six hours of sleep.
TNMA: And what does a school principal wear?
JG: I like to have fun getting dressed, I do it for me – turning 50 was liberating. I like to end an outfit with something unpredictable, an element of humour. I’m hanging with kids who are 10-14-years-old and so clearly we have to have something to talk about. My palette tends to be monochrome and I tend to go for a very straight silhouette, somewhat androgynous – or what you call Gentlewoman Style. I’m casual and wear jeans a lot, different silhouettes: boyfriend, skinny; I have a ton of Everlane sweaters and love to wear scarves and black boots in winter. I love Cuyana bags. It’s all about the details – the private detail, even if no-one knows, you know and it gives you confidence. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, I shop at Zara and COS and just mix and match and make it work. I plan outfits two weeks in advance and keep track of what I’ve worn.
TNMA: So what do you do when you’re not working?
JG: We stalk our daughters as much as possible. We have friends and family over. We go to a lot of Broadway plays and museums, walk around a lot and generally take advantage of living in the city. We always try to go off the beaten track. It’s like revisiting your closet, you have to do something different, to be surprised. It’s so wonderful living in New York and we tend to do everything through a lens of education and discuss how we can use this.
A special thank you to Denton Taylor for taking these photos. And I am very much looking forward to my next trip to NYC when I’m going to meet Jacqui in person for a guided tour of the Upper West Side. (Jacqui is on Instagram @thedetailsofstyle).