Lives of Style: Katie Jarman 

Katie Jarman’s got the kind of beauty Breck featured in their ads: natural, easy, real. Bone-deep good looks without artificiality. Approachable pulchritude.

She’s got you smiling before you enter the front steps. "Hello," she reaches a hand out, proffering a beaming grin, "I’m Katie."

Warm, friendly, bright, family-centric, energetic, she engenders loyalty among a super cadre of friends. A problem-solver, you get the feeling she can navigate through life’s hurdles with feeling, grace and aplomb — and a great attitude.

It’s a busy life. Besides her husband — Jarman Travel Inc. CEO Claude, who gained fame as a 12-year-old actor inThe Yearling, which won two Academy Awards in 1946 — there’s a brood of seven: twin 12-year-old daughters Charlotte and Sarah, and five stepchildren, including Vanessa Getty, a world-class beauty, socialite and model who is married to Bill Getty, and finally, a beloved dog, Domino, found by Vanessa when she was involved with a charity rescuing animals.

Katie was born in Red Bank, N.J., but grew up in Orinda, and graduated from UC Berkeley. She worked in The City, beginning her career at Shaklee, then Broderbund Software and finally Bank of America ("where I belonged") for 10 years.

She met Claude through her friend Wendy Paskin Jordan, who felt the pair would be a match, and, at 29, took on a new husband and five step-children.

"Everyone had the best interests of the kids first," Katie said. "We still do."

The couple just celebrated their 20th anniversary with pals Yurie and Carl Pascarella ("Yurie and Carl were married on the same day, in the same year: October 4, 1986") and 14 of their mutual friends on a weeklong sojourn to London and Paris, featuring a special visit to the Duke of Marlborough’s palace, Blenheim, and a private tour of the Louvre.

Katie, who sits on the board of the Opera Guild, has also co-chaired a past Opera Ball and Fashion Show and is involved with the Children’s Theatre Association of San Francisco, bringing live theatre to school children and the public.

Katie maintains that the Jarmans’ Marin residence, which the couple has owned for 10 years, is "what Claude calls ‘a Marin ranch on steroids.’ We bought it, remodeled it extensively. We’re still remodeling."

The spacious, split-level contemporary with superior front-row views of Mount Tamalpais is an oasis and a nexus of family activities. Broad decks and multi-level gardens spill out onto colorful plantings and an open hillside that welcomes outdoor entertaining.

Muted greensfor the family room, rich terra cotta and burgundy in the formal rooms fill the abode with light and vivacity.

Katie, the linchpin, manages to look elegant and relaxed as she balances it all — with beauty, humor and a sense of joy.

Keys to Katie Jarman’s style

STYLE PHILOSOPHY: I like to think of myself as someone with relaxed elegant style. More simplicity in well-made clothes that are comfortable.

STYLE SECRETS: I mix really inexpensive things with really good items. I keep things for a long time. It’s more important to me to have fewer and better things. I mix it all with everyday living.

GOT STYLE FROM: My mom was so New England preppie. I grew up liking clothes. From junior high school on I was reading magazines, watching people. Looking at people. Why do they look good? After my marriage, I continued to observe and try new looks for myself.

COMFORT VS. STYLE: I choose comfort. Can’t wear shoes that hurt.

COLOR VS. TEXTURE: Color

FAVORITE COLOR: Turquoise. Pink. All kinds of red. Jewel tones.

WHAT DOES COLOR SAY TO YOU? I think when I wear pink, I feel pretty. It complements my skin. Mellows it out.

MUST-HAVES: My family — my husband Claude, my twin 12-year-old daughters Charlotte and Sarah and my five stepchildren. My dog Domino. My van. I have a Toyota Sienna that has every feature you can possibly want. It’s my office on wheels.

SECRET CACHE OF: I have a lot of photos, family photos. My mother passed away two years ago. She was related to President John Tyler, named after him. Lots of emotion there. Those photos represent her family — my family.

MOST BELOVED OBJECT: Myhusband bought me some South Sea pearls. Six years ago my sister-in-law was helpful in getting these Laura Pearce pearls.

WHAT PEOPLE WOULDN’T KNOW ABOUT ME:

1. I love to sleep. Sleeping to me is like the most incredible experience.

2. I’m very thrifty.

3. I don’t like waste. I stop at the side of the road and pick up trash. On a walk with my dog, I pick up trash.

WOULD NEVER: I’m very claustrophobic. I don’t do anything where I would be enclosed.

FAVORITE DESIGNERS: I love Prada. My favorite. I like Vera Wang for gowns. Charles Chang-Lima.

MOST UNUSUAL THING ABOUT ME: I can figure out how to do a lot of things. I’m very resourceful. I share my good sources with my friends. I want to keep helping people.

HOT TIP: Check local bulletin boards for resources. You can find amazing people who are just starting their businesses.

elaurence@examiner.com
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