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).


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51 thoughts on “Jacqui Getz New York high school principal and mystery woman from the Know Your Style book launch

  1. Just perfect post Alyson for International Women’s Day today. I just tried sending you an email with photo to your info address. It bounced right back with an error message.
    Despite best wishes for Women’s Day to all readers of this blog on all continents.
    Picture was the cover of an art book ;
    L’Autre Moitie de l’avant-garde 1910 / 1940 by Lea Vergine. I bought this text in Paris in March 1983. Title in English reads The Other Half of the Avant Guard. Still something which needs focusing on in this year of Centenary of first tranche of Women’s Suffrage here. Only those over 30; married and property owners in the first instance.

    Speaking of forgotten women artists I was in Manchester near your old Uni on Tuesday. We ate lunch in a very cool cafe near MMU, which the Manchester Modernists told me is joking called Micky Mouse Uni locally. This must have been Manchester Poly ex Manchester College of Art. To anyone in the area I recommend the Anthony Burgess cafe for the delicious purple vegan gluten free soup I had. Red cabbage and lentils and something to try at home. Very near Uni glass buildings and opposite the red brick chimney and industrial warehouses of the Dunlop factory. A famous English brand of tires and other rubber goods.

    Returning to your real woman of a certain age who is a teacher in Manhattan. I really like her confident style with the cropped grey hair prominent eyewear bright red lips red manicure and lots of jewellery. A perfect role model and example of how good someone can look and not spending a fortune on clothes and revisiting ones closet. I note also that she does a lot of exercise to energise herself for a demanding job and lifestyle. Exactly what you and other contributors have been advocating for health well being and stress busting at once.

    1. Agnes
      I think that jacket may be Ralph Lauren. Very light and not bulky, holds the shape well. I have a similar one into its third year.

  2. What a great looking woman Jacqui is! Her style is specific and exquisite. She’s making me feel so inspired this morning to find and be my best me.

    Her multiple daily workout sessions are inspiring, too.

    Clearly, she understands that every day is The Show, not a dress rehearsal.

    Go, Jacqui! And thanks, Alyson, for tracking her down and introducing her to your readers.

  3. Jacqui looks fantastic and sounds like she has a really full life – what an inspiration!
    I really enjoyed reading about her, thanks.

  4. Love every part of the answer to “What does a school principal wear?” I’m inspired by 50 being liberating, adding a sense of humor, giving them something to talk about, planning outfits two weeks in advance AND being a serious woman who also takes getting dressed seriously. Jacqui, thank you for sharing yourself on That’s Not My Age and Alyson for tracking her down!

  5. YEAH! So pleased you ‘found’ her. She’s inspiring and so comfortable in her own skin. Love it. Those wide-wale olive green cords are HEAVEN!!

  6. Love this post – style just oozes from the pictures. She doesn’t look young, just great. An absolute inspiration.

  7. No wonder she caught your eye from across the room! She’s definitely a woman who knows her own style, and it’s chic and unique. Love it when women feel self confident enough to break out of the cookie cutter mold.

  8. What a great post! Thanks for pointing out an inspiring woman’s style by putting that style in the context of a rich, full life, a meaningful career passionately engaged in but also balanced by family life, fitness activities, interesting leisure pursuits. Stellar!

  9. Not if hell had me would I be out of bed at 4.30am, unless I had to be at the airport for a plane to somewhere exotic……just saying!

  10. She has a lot of lessons for us.
    If you want success, work hard. Yes there are some sacrifices.
    Think of others to have a truly rewarding life. The sacrifices are worth it then.
    Keep organized.
    Stay healthy in an active way… whatever your genetic predisposition.
    And then there’s that style!

  11. I’m one of lucky parents who has a child at Jacqi’s school. Her style – smart, now, thoughtful – is who she is with our children as well! I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of Jacqui’s world. It is a great place to learn and have fun.

  12. What a great post. I was smiling from ear to ear when I finished it. What a great woman – love her. I trained as a teacher & taught for a few years many years ago & so was delighted to read of her advocacy & love for education. I also was a amused at her saying she “stalked” her children – I could feel so much love in that word, sounds like a wonderful family. Not sure I could keep up with her energy levels, though! PS I think she looks stylish & fabulous.

  13. Jacqui has been my best friend for over 30 years. She is inspiring , talented ,driven ,funny and beautiful! So glad that you did this fabulous piece on this special day for women around the world !!

  14. I spotted her on your blog post, too. Took a screen shot of the photo, printed it out and taped it inside my closet door! Could that be called cyber-stalking? Husband, family, high powered job that she loves and she still finds time for fashion and workouts—some lessons to be learned there.

  15. Thank you ! A fabulous woman in every way. I love her style, I tend to wear similar clothes in my every-day life, and feel inspired to wear my jewels more often after seeing this post and how great they look with an androginous look. I also love what she said about having your private style even when no-one sees it. Sometimes I think what a waste getting properly dressed to go to the supermarket, when I won’t take my coat off,but no, I’ll know if I’m a mess underneath !

  16. I love this post! Amazing amount of energy. Lots of things to learn – exercise = energy and also the importance of a fab accessory. Interested that Jacqui plans her outfits out in advance – I am thinking that is more and more the key

  17. great post and an inspiring woman. i cant help noticing what great shape she’s in, in every photo. i have to say being in shape or out of shape makes all the difference to whether or not i want to wear the wardrobe full of clothes i have that i love, or whether they hang unused as i want to hide in whatever draws least attention. i dont have a routine or a commitment as strict as jacqui’s to exercise, my work makes it very difficult to stay in shape. i always eat healthily and maintain my weight, but i find the older i get the squishier i get, so exercise is essential. my take away from this post is make that effort, double that effort, get back in shape, stay in shape, then i can wear what i want and enjoy doing so.

  18. Oh I absolutely love Jacqui! So glad you did some detective work and tracked her down. She has such fabulous style. Very inspiring. I’m heading over to Instagram to follow her!

  19. Yuppers to all the above. Jacqui is bright and shining in all regards. Thanks for tracking her down and brightening my day. I, too, am in love with her mini quilted jacket. If you can find the maker you would make many of us happy. Many thanks for this post.

    1. Hello Barbara, I asked Jacqui about the down jacket but turns out it is part of the ‘skirted coat’. It’s by an Italian label called Hache and she bought it in NYC a couple of years ago.

  20. I LOVE her style, so chic! A true inspiration, I plan to borrow her idea of planning outfits two weeks in advance 😉

  21. Love this! Love your blog. 4:30am hey? I will stop moaning about getting up at 5:15 – but seriously it’s good to know there are earlier risers.

  22. I second comments above about Dressing for Oneself first, laying out and trying on outfits ahead ( see Alyson book and advice on this in Know your Style) and being able to fit into and wear the clothes one already has with confidence.
    I do regular exercise for health, controlling the discomfort of increasing Osteoarthritis but also for the sense of wellbeing it provides along with better posture and a toned body. Bigger than it was in my prime thirty years ago but muscles rather than flabby.

    Recently I undertook my second dry January of being alcohol free. This has extended into February and now March. I have the small occasionally half glass of wine at social occasions. But the revelation has been the impact on the thickened waist which sit-up didn’t seem to fix. There is definitely a metabolic correlation with losing alcohol calories while keeping the same healthy diet. I’m inches slimmer and can do up the waistband of trousers I was on the verge of giving away. A win win situation I am sharing here. I plan to keep going.
    Jaqui in the photographs looks radiant confident and slim. A splendid example to us all. Alyson thanks for tracking her down and featuring her in the Real Woman series of posts.

  23. I think Jacqui really is ‘shining and bright’ as an earlier comment had it, and has that je ne sais quoi of someone happy with their style. She clearly wears her clothes, rather than them wearing her. So often all it takes is a long, hard look at what is already in the wardrobe and just putting things together differently, rather than adding randomly to what one has.

    I would love to know where the camouflage jacket comes from…

  24. What a wonderful, wonderful woman! Wow, the world is a better place thanks to her. AND so stylish too. Really inspiring… (PS I virtually never comment on stories, but this has moved & inspired me so much)

  25. Thank you, Alyson, for introducing us to Jacqui Getz. She radiates vitality and good health — an inspiring woman in accomplishment as well as style — and plenty of both! And thank you, Jacqui, for your passion for public education. We hear so many negative things about this, and it’s uplifting to see schools that are working for children.

  26. What inspires me about this woman is that she looks fabulous without looking overly ostentatious and she is not a fashion person so you know that these are her clothes and that is the way she wears them. This is attainable by people who dress themselves on their incomes. Love it.

  27. This reminds me of two librarians (not young) in our small town library. Every time i would take my kids, which was weekly, they were always dressed so chic and fun with a hint of vintage and cute hairstyles too. It really inspired me, just like this lovely lady! Thanks for sharing her story!

  28. Wow! What a fabulous person! Love her dedication to children’s education and her sense of style. Thanks for sharing!
    She is an asset to to NYC.

  29. I know her…. she is OUR principal, and both of my children love her because she always around the school with her positive attitude and her beautiful smile.
    She is the best, and yes, she is always “dress to kill“… her outfits are impeccable and her style is unique and powerful. We are super lucky to have her at 75 Morton.

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