Jane Vandermeer and the art of holistic soulful styling
Jane Vandermeer and I have been friends for nearly 20 years. We met through a mutual supplier when we were both running similar businesses and we bonded over shared triumphs and frustrations. Jane has since worn many hats in many industries, but always with a fashion slant.
She’s a true entrepreneur and a gutsy lady boss without being overbearing, and she’s renowned for her tact and ability to read a room. She’s recently added the title of ‘stylist’ to her bow, and she’s launched her holistic styling service: Finesse Business and Style.
Jane applies a little bit of science and a little bit of self-love to her work, and although COVID has changed the way she works when it comes to styling, Jane has remained as positive as ever…
What does a week in your shoes look like ‘normally’ and what does it look like now?
‘Normal life’ life pre-Covid was a lot more interactive and I was kept busy with one of my most popular services – the Wardrobe Edit, which is all about ‘working and reinventing what women already own’. It’s human nature that we default back to the same outfit combinations (for most of us) so I usually (gently) challenge that too. I give my clients new ideas using what they already have and they’re usually surprised that what they already own is amazing – sometimes those few key pieces just need little alterations.
Now life is quite different. I do offer that service via Zoom, but it is a very different experience. It was always part of my plan to create a membership styling module so being in ‘lockdown’ has created that opportunity for me.
A wonderful benefit of ‘The Path to Effortless Style’ is that it’s a more affordable way for women to work with me, and they can learn with me in small groups via Zoom. As part of the Membership, each month I interview a wonderful Industry Expert and of course Julie Goodwin is one of those.
What rituals or habits are you practicing at the moment to find joy?
It’s the small steps I take every single day to keep myself ‘up and positive’. I have definitely ‘pulled back’ a lot and I really control what influences I allow into my world and mental space. I would rather watch or read something light, funny, or joyful than something heavy or negative too. Every day, I go for a walk whether I feel like it or not and I find the action of getting out into nature and out of my head very beneficial.
The ritual of ‘getting dressed’, which includes putting on perfume, helps too, and I have always found that if I make a bit of an effort, it lifts my spirits. Often on a Zoom call, I will put on high heels, just to lift my spirits and feel like ‘me’ even though no-one sees them. This is about me, not about the recipient, and getting dressed really does have a powerful impact. On the days that I don’t feel ‘up’ and I stay in super ‘home’ clothes, I notice that sometimes I can’t snap out of feeling blah.
I have also pulled back from attending extra Zoom calls, particularly at different stages of the lockdown here in Melbourne. Sometimes the whole Zoom conversation is consumed by what is or isn’t happening, so I find it better for my mental health to not be involved. Listening to someone rant or let off steam doesn’t help my mental health, particularly if it is a tricky day, so I am better off to put on some upbeat music and dance around!
What is ‘holistic soulful styling’ and what does it mean to you?
Holistic Soulful Styling to me means that my approach is not only my ‘science-based principles’ but I also teach women to love their bodies.
A beautiful comment by a client was, “I joined Jane’s membership to learn how to put clothes together and learn what suits my body as I really don’t know. What I didn’t expect was Jane seems to infuse self-love amongst all her teachings. I honestly have never really loved my body but now I am starting too.’
I also teach people ‘why’ different shapes, silhouettes, colours and fabrics suit their bodies. My philosophy has always been to truly empower women; to give them the tools they need, not just make them reliant on me and what I say (which of course would be more lucrative). My message is all about teaching, sharing tools and sharing principles which results in personal empowerment.
What I have found over the years of teaching and working with women is that it takes more than one session to get to the root of their insecurities. This is how my membership model helps to support women and helps them make real change for the long term. I liken it to going to a counsellor; one visit is great but real change requires more than that.
How does fashion help or empower you in times like these?
On days that are extra challenging, I will always gravitate to a colour that is flattering. I know that if I wear black (for instance) I always have people asking me if I am not well, so I very rarely wear black. I also feel that fashion has the power to transform us. If I am presenting, I put on something that I feel really authentic and confident in, and something that makes the most of my figure – hides the bits I don’t want you to focus on and draw attention to areas I do.
There’s nothing like wearing pieces that you’ve purchased on your travels too, whether it’s local or international travel. I’ve always travelled a lot in my career so if I pop on a piece or outfit from one of my adventures, it turns my day around and reminds me of happy times. I own bracelets that I wear on most days from my trip to Le Marais in Paris, and each time I look at them, they remind me of my adventures. I have a choice to either happily appreciate my pretty pieces or wallow in the fact that international travel seems a very long way off. My choice is to enjoy and appreciate the fact that I have had opportunities to travel and remind myself that hopefully, I will again.
What essential wardrobe staples should every woman have?
Definitely a jacket that makes the most of your silhouette. A fantastic jacket is worth its weight in gold! A great jacket can change your whole look very quickly.
A fun and interesting pair of shoes, ideally a showstopper. My pewter laser cut booties fit this description and I have had them for many years now and despite their age, they make every outfit extra special. They match everything and on top of that, they are comfortable.
At least one pair of jeans that work with your body shape. Again, jeans are an item that can carry you to many different occasions. They can also ‘date’ your look the easiest though, so they’re one item that I would encourage regular updating of.
A pretty dress that you feel great in, in a beautiful colour and/or print. Find a shape that suits yours body and feels flattering, so that it doesn’t matter what weight you are or you don’t feel the need to hold your tummy in.
Definitely a special scarf or three! A beautiful scarf can be worn in so many different ways and help change up your outfits with ease. A printed silk scarf lifts any plain item.
I have always been a fan of considered pieces that are authentic to your body, silhouette, shape and colourings, rather than, ‘every woman needs a white shirt and black pants’.
Personally, I have never owned a white shirt because white is not a great colour for me and traditional shirt shapes make me feel masculine, so, I always tailor my advice depending on the women I’m working with. Styling is personal and I don’t approach it with set rules because every woman is unique.
You have to pack a bag and you don’t know where you’re going. What do you pack?
My first thought was, ‘Yippee off to Italy!’ Then I thought, ‘Everyone has a different idea of happy travels!’ so even though I’m a seasoned traveler, I still like to have options when I travel.
My go-to list would be jeans or pants, flat-ish shoes and one pair of heels, a silk top, a feature jacket and a more casual jacket, two scarves, a knit, jewellery, a great book, and a notepad for me to draw my creative ideas.