You don’t need to work in the fashion industry to learn from Jeanne Beker; her expansive career, during which she’s worn many (oh-so-stylish) hats, is inspiring to all women (and men!) trying to carve their own path. She is the definition of “trailblazer,” a creative force that knows no boundaries, and above all, a damn hard worker. Beker’s latest incarnation is Style Editor of The Shopping Channel, in which she will also act as the host of Style Matters with Jeanne Beker.
Between finding out why style matters and learning her current life motto, we had the privilege of picking one of the best brains in the biz.
She Does The City: What excites you most about your new role with The Shopping Channel?
Jeanne Beker: The prospect of connecting with all kinds of real women right across the country who love fashion but may not always be confident about the question of style–what it means, how to get it, and how to strut it. I’ve also learned so much by osmosis–after spending three decades in fashion’s trenches. I can’t wait to share my insights, my stories, and my point of view with the women who grew up watching me!
What can we expect from Style Matters with Jeanne Beker?
It’s a show that’s anchored live from the studio–often feeling like a style talk show. We will also have lots of texture in the show, including segments that have been recorded in the field. I’m also hoping to take live questions on occasion, and there will always be the opportunity to shop!
How does one connect with their “inner editor”?
One has to silence all those outside voices telling you what’s right for you or what you “must have,” and really listen to the voice within. Get to know yourself–what YOU are comfortable with, what YOU think you look good in. Think about the style statements that you want to make. Try on lots of different sorts of garments, in different combinations, to figure out what does and doesn’t suit you. Great style starts with comfort and confidence, and it should be a personal expression of who you are. I’ll be there to help you make choices, but ultimately, your “edit” is up to you!
You’ve seen the fashion industry in Canada grow and change over several decades. Where are we at now?
We’re starting to make our voices heard on the international stage, but still taking baby steps. You really do need a heck of a megaphone to cut through all the noise that’s out there. We’re capable of great quality and great modernity in terms of design. But the biggest challenge we face is getting support from retailers, especially here at home. The Internet has certainly provided new and exciting distribution streams, but it’s still frighteningly tough to compete with the big US and European brands that have such huge marking budgets. That being said, this country has been a great breeding ground for some amazing talent. I’d tell a foreign magazine to get over here ASAP and explore for themselves some of the unique products and design direction that Canada has to offer. In a big international sea of “sameness,” there are some cool Canadian labels that really do stand out.
So, why does style matter?
Because style is about individual self-expression, not only in terms of the way we look, but the way we move through the world. Style and fashion humanize us. After all, we’re the only living creatures on the planet who get dressed! Style certainly won’t cure the world’s ills, but it sure can make us feel a lot better about ourselves, and each other.
What three tips can you offer young, ambitious women just beginning their careers?
Be fearless. Be tenacious. And stand up for yourself.
Got a current life motto?
Leap. The net will appear.
Do you still have pieces of clothing in your closet from your early days at CityTV?
I’m sure I have a few things, but one sensational garment I’ve kept from the 80s is a white, rhinestone-studded, strapless organza Wayne Clarke evening dress that my dear, late friend, Toller Cranston (the legendary Olympic skater and artist) bought me to wear to the Genie Awards one year. We walked the red carpet together and I was so proud! It was my first designer dress and I felt incredibly glam in it! Toller was unquestionably a great style mentor of mine. We just lost him this past January, and I miss him more than words can say.
Style Matters with Jeanne Beker airs Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on The Shopping Channel