I first met Jacqui Stafford when I was a beauty editor at Cosmopolitan and she covered fashion and beauty for Shape. At press events, it was easy to gravitate towards her sparkling personality and unedited humour—all with a British accent, which makes her even more glam. That’s why she’s so good on TV. Jacqui left the glossy world of print a few years ago to strike out on her own. Now she has a buzzing personal styling business called Style Me Jacqui!, a fabulous blog, as well as a book, The Wow Factor: Insider Style Secrets for Every Body and Every Budget. She is also a regular host on QVC. Wow Factor is right! She managed to make all that happen while raising her daughter Charlotte, whom she adopted as a single mom. “Motherhood became non-negotiable for me. I was in the delivery room and I took her home seven days later in a little sling. She’s my Christmas present to myself,” says Jacqui. Charlotte is now 5½ years old and the most stylish Kindergartener I’ve ever met. Here’s some of Jacqui’s working mom wisdom and style advice.
PI: What would you tell a working mom who wants to start her own company or take an equally time-demanding job?
Jacqui: Get rid of any guilt that you ever had. Our parents raised us doing whatever they did and I’m sure that they didn’t feel guilty about not being there every 10 seconds. No mommy guilt! The most productive mommy is a happy mommy. Also, make sure you have enough “me” time. When you’re starting a business, when you have a child, when you have a relationship, when you have friends, when you have a social life, it is extremely hard to carve out “me” time. When the fact is that you just might need a night in with a fabulous bubbly bath and a really crappy magazine.
PI: What does a workday look like for you and how do you work Charlotte into it?
Jacqui: I have no set schedule at all. Every single day is different because I work with so many different clients. I might be styling a private client, doing a TV show, going to QVC, meeting with a brand about their new product line—every day is different. For consistency, I always try to have breakfast with Charlotte to start off the day. Also, I make sure that I never ever, ever, ever miss a school event or performance of any kind. The other thing I try and do, but it’s very hard and often I don’t do it, but I really try and put down my iPhone while I’m engaging with her. I actually put it in another room. Every evening we have, “Tell me about your day.” It starts with “I woke up this morning and …” It’s really funny and we do it in French.
PI: What’s your perfect power lunch outfit?
Jacqui: Invest in a great blazer that you can throw on over a dress, wear with a skirt and blouse, or use it to dress up skinny jeans. Blazers are really useful because they work with absolutely everything. I love Hugo Boss blazers—you can’t get any better fabric. Go for a small slim lapel because it’s less dated than the wider lapel. Don’t go for a double-breasted style because they look horrible on everybody, especially if you’re bigger busted. It’s got to have some nice curvature at the waistline and you want it to hit it just at the top of the thigh. Anything shorter will look boxy. It doesn’t have to be black. Charcoal, navy, chocolate are also great and they work season after season. And always roll the sleeves up! You’ll look a little less polished, but kind of cute and trendy.
PI: What’s your favorite weekend wear?
Jacqui: That’s actually the biggest question I get from really busy mums. I basically wear the same uniform and just mix it up with a different top. First, find a plain pair of jeans that you love, live and die in. Right now, I love DL1961 Emma Legging Jeans because they have great stretch. Get two pairs and hem one pair for heels, the other one for flats. Wear it with a loose fitting blouson that you don’t have to worry about having tucked in. It should hit right at the top of the thigh, which is universally flattering for most women. Pair it with either a wedge, which is more comfortable than a heel, or a ballet flat. It really serves as a uniform that you don’t have to think about. A silky blouse, jeans and cute little flats or a wedge and then you’re good to go, put your hair up and easy.
PI: Now spill your beauty must-haves for when you’re in a rush.
Jacqui: I love the Olay CC Cream. I always, always, always have a lip gloss, because it instantly makes your lips look fuller. I love Chanel Glossimer because it lasts forever. Make Up For Ever Concealer Pencil can be used a concealer, but I you can also wear it on the inner rim of your eyes. It makes your eyes look really, really bright, that’s it. My favorite mascara is Maybelline Volum’ Express.
PI: Ok, last question. Does Charlotte understand how fun your job is? Or is there anything she hates?
Jacqui: She watches me on QVC and always wants whatever I’m selling. The other day she said, “But mommy, I wanted the yellow watch!” I don’t know what she hates about my job, but she always likes it when I come back from traveling because I always bring her a present. I do the Steve Harvey show a lot, which is in Chicago. Every time I come back, she knows that she gets a present. I bring back all these fluffy animals that you get at the airport. I’m big into bribery!