Your Style: Madeline Van Ert

Madeline Van Ert

Motto:"A girl needs the right wardrobe to save the world."

Otherwise known as Miss Rochester 2015, Madeline Van Ert is a spokeswoman for the city and her passions, including arts education and opportunities for children.

A Mayo High School graduate and now a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, Van Ert says she is thrilled to be representing Rochester everywhere she goes.

With music an essential part of her background — including a musical family and dance — Van Ert is recognized for starting Fine Arts for Kids, the community service program offering free piano, dance and visual arts lessons to grade school children.

This dedication to community service was taken one step further, outside of Rochester, where she has volunteered in many capacities, when Van Eck traveled to Guatemala, where she taught music in an orphanage.


Please tell us a little about your style.

Classic chic. Beautiful, well-tailored quality fabrics, with an easy wearability. I love dresses!

Sources of inspiration?

I really admire some of the old-fashioned style icons — Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel. I see a lot of beauty and artistic presence in their choices.

Does your style carry on family traditions?

I think creativity, for sure. But we are all definitely artistic and demonstrative in our own ways.

Has your style changed with your stages in life?

I can remember my mom saying something about being excited for middle school to end … I admit I was influenced by Abercrombie marketing. Life experience certainly influences my choices. I like to think style is an evolution, but I have some pieces that will remain staples.


Would you give us an idea of what you wear for more professional engagements, more casual?

I love dresses! Just give me a reason! In a casual setting, I am most likely in jeans, my loved and lived-in Woolrich boots, SmartWool socks, a comfortable tee and sweater.

What is the most essential component in your wardrobe?

Cashmere travel wrap. I love it for cold movie theaters, airplanes, restaurants, fall walks. It's my constant companion!.

What should every well-dressed woman have in her wardrobe?

Oh, definitely five easy pieces. Little black dress, good quality black leggings, scarf/wrap, white oxford, Gap tee. Shoes: heels and ballet flats. Accessories: two lengths of pearls and a clean, well-made handbag.

Do you have a priceless sentimental piece?

I have a mosaic daisy locket from the 1920s that was a gift from my parents.


What are your favorite accessories?

Are shoes an accessory? Because I love them. I think you can tell a lot about a person's intentions by the shoes that they wear for an adventure. Right now, I'm partial to anything that will keep my feet firmly on the ground and my toes warm, but I love playing around with accent colors, and heels since I'm only 5-foot-six.

Do you include or think of perfume as part of your style?

I'm not big into perfume. I find it can be overwhelming in many settings. However, I do wear Marc Jacobs Honey.

Is there something in your wardrobe people would find surprising?

Well, I do have a pair of steel-toed work boots and old Levis that I wear on mission trips. A girl needs the right wardrobe to save the world.

Favorite colors to wear? And any you avoid?

I wear a lot of plum, grey and black. But I can't think of a color I stay away from.


Preferred season in terms of clothing?

Isn't it the season ahead? I always look forward to what's coming next.

Thoughts on Rochester's style?

I think Rochester is at once diverse and conservative. I'm thankful for the influence of the many visitors to the city; it is so fascinating to be able to look around and see so many different stories.

Parting words for readers?

Wear what you feel beautiful in! Look for pieces that bring you joy, and the rest will follow. Always invest in quality — you'll find you come back to your favorites time and again. As Miss Rochester, it is my only hope that I could inspire women and girls to wear what they feel the most beautiful in. When you dress yourself, it should be FOR yourself more than anything.

Anne Murphy is a Rochester freelance writer who has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years.

Do you know somebody who's got special style? Send nominations to or call Life section editor Jeff Pieters at 507-285-7748.


Madeline Van Ert

What To Read Next
Get Local