Gaux Girl - Jane Keltner de Valle

2019-08-02

The glossy luster of “magazine editor” as career choice predated some of the more 21st century titles social society has come to venerate — and the glamorous veneer hasn’t gone away. Editors are professional arbiters of style, tastemakers, and trend-callers or, simply put, the original influencers. That clout explains why some of the most well-known names — like industry vet Jane Keltner de Valle — have developed a must-follow cachet.

Before becoming the style director at Architectural Digest, Jane’s CV was populated with major fashion-world names: ELLE, Glamour, and Teen Vogue all saw her rise through their ranks. It was at the latter where she met and worked for the woman who recruited her to AD (proof positive that finding a mentor who can chart your career growth might pay off in spades).

We caught up with Jane to find out about the transition from fashion to home, how her signature style directs the way she shops, and the advice she'd give someone looking to find a fulfilling mentor relationship.

Has the experience of working at fashion magazines and an interior-focused title changed the way you define personal style?

I view personal style as something that’s holistic. It extends far beyond one's wardrobe. How you decorate your home. How you entertain and set a table. How you interact with the world around you. Those whose style I most admire embrace this with total confidence, elegance, and flair.

Do you consider yourself someone who has a style “uniform”? If so, what is it and how did you develop it? Does it make shopping or getting dressed easier?

You will pretty much always find me in either a skirt with a knit pullover or a dress. It’s been my uniform for probably the last 15 years. I find it most flattering on my body, and it definitely takes some of the guesswork out of getting dressed in the morning, which when you’re trying to get the kids out the door for school and then to the office is helpful. But I’m definitely still on Net-a-Porter and other sites a few times a week looking at what’s new. That quest for refining or expanding your look never goes away.

You’ve spoken about the importance of being open to new experiences professionally. How  can women quiet that inner voice saying "you can't do that role - you don't have the right experience."

I think there's no better time than now to break outside of whatever box you might feel you're in. It's such an old-fashioned mentality to think that you can only do one thing or that you can't do more than one thing well. I've always had multiple interests and passions, and I feel grateful that this is a moment when our society is coming around to embracing the fact that one doesn't have to follow a linear path to find success or fulfillment. I think women especially are the ultimate multitaskers, and as such are really good at fulfilling multiple roles at once. And I’m a firm believer that with each new thing you take on, you are expanding, informing and enriching, not restricting, what you bring to the table. 

You’ve found a wonderful mentor in Amy Astley: How would you advise people to go about finding a mentor or nurturing the relationship?

I was lucky to meet Amy early in my career when she hired me at Teen Vogue. I've always admired the fact that she's so authentic as a person. There are different kinds of mentors of course, but for me it was important to find people around me who demonstrated that you can be successful in both work and family life; that they aren’t mutually exclusive. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone you were mentoring?

Be the best version of you, not the second best version of someone else. You always want to carve your own path and not just try to emulate someone else's. 

What does being a girl on the gaux mean to you?

Family, work, travel, adventure, fun. In other words, having your cake and eating it too. 

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Photos by Kirsten Francis for Margaux

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