As Accessories Director of ELLE magazine, Maria Dueñas Jacobs has legendary style and a keen eye for detail. Her beautiful Instagram feed is an irresistible collection of covetable accessories. I talked to the mother of three about what drives her style and how she balances her high-profile career with motherhood.
I love the way you style your wardrobe. Whether it is a chic piece of jewelry or a cleverly wrapped scarf, you make it look effortless. What is your style mantra?
I’m always comfortable no matter what I’m wearing (nearly always in flats, nothing too fussy) and although I aim to look effortless it’s always a bit planned. I appreciate women who try a bit when they get dressed. Nothing too involved but maybe just take that extra 10 minutes to try something a little more unexpected or add accessories that elevate your style.
Born in Madrid, you were raised in Miami, Florida—a city that is having a fashion renaissance at the moment. What influence did your upbringing have on your style?
I’m very proud to be Spanish and I feel very lucky to have grown up in Miami. Speaking Spanish and being raised around it (with a huge Cuban and international community) has been so important, but after over a decade in New York I now consider Manhattan my home. So much of my personal growth happened in New York—I met my husband, my children were born here, and I am endlessly inspired by the city’s energy and people.
Your job takes you from fashion shows to photo shoots, how did you get your start in fashion and what is your favorite part of it all?
I was one of those weird teenagers who say what they want to be when they grow up with conviction. I wanted to work in fashion—more specifically at a magazine. I used to read Vogue and ELLE cover to cover and test myself on identifying dresses, shoes, and bags by the designer and then check the credits to see if I was right. My favorite part of my job is meeting so many talented people: editors, designers, photographers, the list goes on.
You are exposed to so many great accessories, from shoes and bags to all manner of jewelry. Is there anything that you collect?
Collecting is definitely a hazard of my job. My favorite collections are my bags and jewelry. Someday, I will give them all to my three daughters—or at least that’s how I rationalize these ever-growing collections!
What is your most sentimental fashion accessory?
I attach meaning to all my pieces, which adds to their sentimental value. I’ve started a tradition where I gift my girls a piece of jewelry for their birthday. I write them a note from my husband and I and engrave the piece with their name and their age. Someday, when they are older I will give them the notes and jewelry and in the meantime I will keep them safe and help add a bit of wear.
I would love to know what your favorite AERIN accessories are this season?
The Weekender bag is so chic! And the Slide Sandal with Toe Loop.
As a working mom, I am always interested to hear how other women do it. You have three daughters, including infant twins. What is your secret to making it all work?
Accepting help is my #1 tip! With three kids under three, I quickly learned that there is no way to do everything on your own. I learned to be less of a micromanager and be okay with others (family, friends, nannies) helping out in any way possible. We try to keep a schedule and be organized but chaos is inevitable (and welcome). I often try to remind myself that I am in a very special time in my life, one that is fleeting because they grow up so fast. It’s a crazy house but also so wonderful.