Sophistication, glamour and great work ethic are what set Jo-Ann Strauss apart from other beauty queens. Almost ten years have passed since this Cape Town meisie was crowned Miss South Africa at the age of 19, and her career as a TV presenter and professional speaker has grown in leaps and bounds. Strauss’ stellar career took off when she became a presenter on the popular Afrikaans lifestyle show Pasella for four years, before joining Jeannie D and Michael Mol on Top Billing.

Her glamorous job has enabled her to travel around the world and attend star-studded events like the Sundance Film Festival and Elton John’s Fundraising concert in Vienna. Jo-Ann has interviewed mega-stars like Bono, Charlize Theron and George Clooney and modelled alongside the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Elle McPherson. Aside from presenting, Jo-Ann is in constant demand by companies and organisations to MC various corporate occasions, charity functions and fashion events.

Fashion wise, she’s graced the covers of most of South Africa’s top magazines, won the Duku Duku Award for “most stylish female presenter” in 2005 and received numerous nominations and awards for presenting.

Jo Ann is well known for her charity work having been involved in various corporate social investment projects and is a passionate campaigner for the alleviation of poverty, and the right of all individuals to education, health-care and housing.

What you may not know is that Jo-Ann is also an astute businesswoman. She’s a director in a broad-based BEE venture capital company called Partnership Investments and was appointed as a Director on the Western Cape Board of Ubuntu-Botho, a division of Sanlam.

We asked the dynamic Jo-Ann a few questions about her style!

Besides presenting, what else takes up your time?
Career wise, I'm doing my MBA (she's got a B.Comm in Law), I'm interested in business management and the operational aspect of media and celebrity. I sit on the board of Partnership Investments and the Partnership Foundation which is our corporate social investment arm. I also enjoy languages and challenges so I’m aiming to perfect my German this year.

What are your favourite things?
I love travelling, I really do. I'm lucky I have such a perfect travel partner. I recently went to a city called Cadiz in Spain. It was absolutely amazing because most of the people there don’t speak English. It's not a tourist town. We were at a restaurant there and the menu was just written in Spanish. It's nice not to constantly be in these tourist traps, you get to experience the place as it is, with people who are just living their own lives. I also love our Indian Ocean islands. While I’m typing this, I’m on Saint Anne in the Seychelles – truly beyond paradise!

What’s your favourite item of clothing?
At the moment I just bought these amazing boots from Castello – it's a shoe shop in Sandton. I think Nicole Scherzinger wears them in one of her music videos. I got a very similar pair with tassles. What’s your favourite name brand? Internationally, I love Country Road (Woolworths) because it’s made in the Southern Hemisphere and interprets trends and classics so well. Locally, I love Gideon. He is a fantastically creative soul and a dear friend. I also like Gavin Rajah and Kluk/CGDT.

What’s been your worst fashion buy to date?
Shoes that give me vertigo and that I cannot walk in.

What’s your top style tip?
Skinny jeans are very hard to wear. They'll still be around for a while. It's difficult because they bring a lot of attention to your legs. Balance it out with boots that have some volume to your bottom and slouch at your ankle.

Which fashion trends are you currently rocking?
At the moment, I'm enjoying the ankle boots that are coming in. They're a lot of fun. I bought a pair in Europe. I think they cost me R120. I bought another pair that were also very inexpensive; so you put them on and lace them around your ankle boots. I think ribbons are big.

As a presenter, do you get lots of free clothes?
Sometimes, yes. It is a perk of the job.

How would you describe your style? Are you a ‘jeans ‘n t-shirt’ kinda gal or are you always dressed to the nines...
It seriously varies from day to day. I love shoes and sometimes I plan my outfit from the bottom up. I love accessories and I love clever shopping. As I get to travel, I incorporate pieces from all over the world. At the moment I’m into kaftans in vintage Indian fabrics from Debbie Evans (Escape), she lives in SA, and the cutest bikinis from Blue Glue – they’re designed in Paris and made in Bali.

Is there a look that you dislike?
Initially I didn't like the jump-suit and then I went and found one that I like. Oh, and Crocs! That is one of my pet hates. I know that they're comfortable but they're definitely not for me!

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