A rigidly austere school principal Jacqui Getz is not. She leads the charge at the West Village's new middle school, 75 Morton, in jeans, tailored blazers, and lots of layered jewelry. But it's her short pixie cut and artful mixing that makes Getz's style even more noteworthy.
Getz, 58, started her 30-year career in education with a degree from Columbia University's Teacher's College, where she met her husband (who is also a Manhattan school principal). Before that, though, she studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology for two years. Her eye for design is clear in the pieces she selects, and also in her thoughtful approach to fashion. She believes that style is less about money and more about confidence, joy, energy, curiosity, and solving a puzzle — which explains her zeal for putting outfits together up to two weeks in advance, then playfully switching and tweaking them to adjust to last-minute changes in schedule and weather.
Getz counts accessible shops like Cos and Zara as mainstays, peppering in unique accessories and thoughtfully purchased investment pieces. But mostly, she approaches dressing with the same progressive and empowering energy she fosters in her school.
What piece instantly makes you feel more confident and why?
A great jacket or coat. Preferably a long, pinstriped jacket, or a very old camel coat I have had for years. I love jackets or coats that are the invitations, that speak to something underneath, but also do the job of presenting my style.
How do you define your personal style?
Streamlined, monochrome, and classic, but with an added and unexpected accessory. I wear lots of bracelets, always.
How has your style played a role in your career? Has it opened or closed doors for you? Has it evolved as a result?
I wish it counted in the NYC public school education system! But oddly, it actually has a bit. I am often interacting with families, and my style seems to make them happy, or some combination of impressed and calm. I think they see my style as reflecting confidence and professionalism, but also that it's accessible and interesting. Go figure.
I just like trim, easy, non-fussy outfits.
What fashion category do you feel is lacking? What would you like to see more of?
I am so involved in finding what I like that I cannot name a category. I find what I need and have a clear idea of what I am looking for, and I usually find it.
What is your daily uniform?
I wear jeans, mainly skinny styles, three days every week. When I'm not in jeans, I'm wearing J. Crew black pants or jumpsuits. I pair my bottoms with a blazer, a (hopefully) interesting blouse, white tee, or a chunky turtleneck sweater. For footwear, I typically wear tall boots or pumps, and then I accessorize with lots of bracelets and scarves.
What style item do you covet the most? A category, a designer, a specific item? Or what item do you always gravitate toward? What item do you own multiple versions of? Why?
The right jeans, hands down. I wear them a lot, and with high boots and a close-fitting top or sweater... the combination to me is just perfection. I hate big and blousy silhouettes, and I cannot wear big garments with short hair and my frame.
If money were no object, what is one outrageous luxury item you would invest in and why?
I honestly cannot decide, but probably everything from Dior's navy and gray pleated collection from last year. That would work!
Can you recall an outfit you have worn that was iconic for you — either you wore it for a momentous occasion or it signified a turning point in your life or style? What inspired it/how did it happen?
This sounds so boring but honestly, a white T-shirt and the right jeans and black pumps. I just like trim, easy, non-fussy outfits. I wear it with a long wool pinstripe jacket and feel ready for anything.
Which item in your closet is your most beloved/have you owned for the longest and why?
Many years ago, over 20, I bought a camel coat at Saks Fifth Avenue. There used to be twin sisters there who were saleswomen in the coat department whom I bought it from. The coat is cashmere and wool; it has no lining and no back slit, with patch pockets. It's a very typical car coat silhouette from the '50s. I have never found another like it, and it is wide and lovely and dreamy. I can put it over anything and it is just right.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.