If your list of fashion inspiration has changed slightly since kids came along, you’re certainly not alone. If you also happen to have fashion director and stylist Elle Strauss at the top of your Instagram-stalk list now that you’re a mum, you aren’t alone there, either...
Elle is one of those quintessentially stylish women that make getting dressed look easy – so it’s refreshing to hear that she too puts outfits together with practicality and motherhood in mind rather than too much planning. “My zero planned outfit generally reflects the day – whether I’m on a shoot or working in an office. I’m definitely wearing more denim and maxi dresses now I’m in LA and not at Condé Nast. I am also conscious of not being too casual because I’m no longer in NYC – I have way too many clothes NOT to wear them!” As a freelancer and mother to two girls – Honor, 7, and Imogen, 2 – no two days are ever the same, so flexibility is key in terms of her approach to motherhood, fashion and work. Her words of wisdom for tackling the daily juggle – “It always works out in the end and it does get easier” – are a gentle reminder to go with the flow, no matter how many plans go out the window due to a toddler meltdown. Read on for more of Elle’s honest and relatable accounts of motherhood, how she landed in LA via London and New York, and what her typical “mum-uniform” essentials are… Photography: Julie Adams | Hair and makeup: Helen Robertson/Celestine using René Furterer/Supergoop! | Words: Marisa Remond | Go to www.elle-strauss.com
Elle wears Dôen dress, $334
Describe yourself in three words
Social, creative, decisive.
What does a typical morning in your household look like?
We’re up bright and early with a toddler and a seven-year-old. Breakfast, coffee and more coffee. If my husband is here (he’s a photographer and travels a lot) he drops the girls off at school/nursery and I’ve been recently (since moving to LA) forcing myself (if I’m not working) to go for a run. I’m not exactly an exercise person but I have to say it really does help you start the day off!
How do you juggle being a mum of two girls with your freelance work as a fashion stylist?
Ha ha, I literally have no idea. There’s no real master plan but we do have a wonderful nanny, Rosa, who is luckily super flexible and James and I just make up the rest. It always works out in the end.
What do you find most challenging about motherhood and how do you tackle it?
I think at times it all just feels rather overwhelming. Trying to juggle everything and then get out of the house, and make the lunches and make sure everyone’s washed and dressed and then your seven-year-old suddenly decides she doesn’t like her shoes… you feel like you’re head’s going to explode. During those moments I literally just sit down, take a deep breath and tell myself “it’s ok to be late,” because it really isn’t a big deal, no one’s going to die and the worst thing that’s going to happen is that you’ll be late!
Elle wears Dôen dress, $317
What do you find most joyous about motherhood?
Those special little moments when they surprise you. Like my two-year-old, Imogen randomly counting to 10 in the bath (clearly a genius!), or Honor, aged seven, asking my mum how her next door neighbour is doing. Those little moments make everything worthwhile – like it’s ok, I’m doing an ok job at this motherhood thing!
What’s the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood, and what sort of advice do you now pass on to expecting or new mums?
Ziplock bags, to store everything. My friend Anne Keane (contributing fashion editor at Goop) passed on that amazing piece of advice to me. They literally become your best friend, specifically the time Honor’s nappy exploded all over me, on an international flight to London. Thanks to Anne’s advice, I had a trusty ziplock containing a spare pair of clothes for Honor and a pair of leggings for me! Lifesaver. My advice to new mums is that “everything is a phase, and it will get easier – I promise!” I remember in the early days, with Honor, I was convinced everything that happened was there to stay and that I just had to accept it, but you work through it and so does your baby, and then it gets EASIER.
Your career path has been diverse, exciting and inspirational - can you talk us through your fashion industry journey and how you’ve ended up in LA?
Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say! My career started off in London, England in the magazine industry working at Elle, GQ, The Face and Company Magazine. For as long as I can remember I’ve been obsessed with magazines. I met my husband, photographer James Dimmock, on a shoot (for The Face) and then he was always off working in America. After a while, the conversation turned to “why don’t we try to move to NYC?”, I was looking for a new challenge and James already had a green card, so we thought “why not!”. I secured a New York agent – to sponsor my visa- and off we went! After a year I was offered the role of Senior Fashion Editor at Lucky magazine, Conde Nast. From there I went to Shopbop as the Fashion Director and then was lured back to Conde Nast, as the Fashion Director of Brides. After 11 years in New York, the decision to move to LA was largely based around the kids and the fact that since moving to NYC, James has spent more time working in LA than NYC and I was also looking for a new challenge and we both wanted better weather! There’s only so many freezing blizzards that you can push a stroller through! Although I won’t lie, I still miss NYC, but LA is wonderful. I’ve also been loving work and the freedom of freelance. I’ve been consulting and styling (represented by The Wall Group) for lots of brands including the wonderful Anine Bing and fab VS Pink.
You’ve maintained such a unique and fun sense of style throughout motherhood - what are your secrets to planning and styling outfits each day?
Ha ha, zero planning. But my zero planned outfit generally reflects the day – whether I’m on a shoot or working in an office. I’m definitely wearing more denim and maxi dresses now I’m in LA and not at Conde Nast. I am also conscious of not being too casual because I’m no longer in NYC – I have way too many clothes NOT to wear them!
Where are some of your favourite places and brands to shop for yourself and your kids?
I love the Rose Bowl – like any stylist, you never fail to pick up a bargain. I really like Platform in Culver City with Bird Brooklyn, who stock my faves like Rachel Comey and Shaina Mote. Brands I love are a real mix including, Loewe, Proenza, Rebecca Taylor, LA-based Dôen (for the dreamiest of dresses), Joseph, M Patmos (her cashmere is delicious), Ferragamo (I have too many bags), Acne, Clare V., Breelayne, Celine, Topshop. Also my friend’s new line Valiánte, which I wore for the shoot. I mean I could go on all day! For the kids, I love JuniperBaby.com – they have an amazing selection. Wild and gorgeous in the UK, Maisonette.com and Zara.
Your fashion work has spanned print, digital and beyond - is it hard to stay relevant as a stylist in such a constantly changing landscape?
Oh gosh, well I think regardless of the platform, you should work constantly to remain relevant and the hard part makes it worthwhile. If it was too easy everyone would be doing it.
Can you tell us about your childhood - where did you grow up, do you have siblings…?
I grew up just outside London in a little town called Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. I have one younger sister (by 15mths) called Zoe, who lives between France (in the Alps) and New Zealand, with her husband Toby and baby son, Indi. We both grew up with a lovely mum and dad – attending a local all-girls day school. I’m still close friends with my girlfriends from senior school. My mum was a dancer, and always incredibly stylish, in an understated way – I like to think I got my love for fashion from her and also my grandma. My Grandmother could open a shop with her shoe collection. My mum is now retired so she has lots of time to come and visit us and is hands down the best Grandma my kids could ask for. ‘Mema’ as we call her, is pretty much a permanent fixture in LA and has already visited us three times since we moved in July – much to my husband’s delight!
Elle wears Rebecca Taylor dress, $650; Imogen wears Scamp & Dude sweatshirt, $65; Scamp & Dude leggings, $51
Motherhood is all-consuming, how do you fit in time for yourself, your husband and friends?
We squeeze in date night randomly, although not nearly enough. But we’re both pretty good at disappearing for a massage (him) or a facial (me), and we give each other a lot of freedom. A lot of our mutual friends also moved from NYC and our kids are all friends, so obviously that’s rather convenient! We all hang out for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and NYE.
What’s your approach to health and wellbeing - do you exercise, meditate, cook?
Oh gosh, well my New Years’ Eve resolution was to get better at this. I’m attempting to run daily and do yoga as much as possible. I find yoga amazing for my head, when I get into a routine. Healthy eating, I like to think we do regularly, although I have a dreadful sweet tooth and Cadburys choccie always seems to find it’s way into our lives!
Do you have or believe in a type of “mum uniform” i.e. something to wear most days that requires little thinking but still looks good?
I’m not sure if it’s a uniform specifically for mums but I love a simple black long-sleeved top from Joseph, high waisted Levis’ or Citizens of Humanity jeans, Gucci loafers, gold hooped earrings and black cat eye Dior sunnies.
If you had to wear only one brand for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably Joseph, although I’d love to say Celine, if my bank account would allow it.
How do you handle feeling overwhelmed and/or stressed?
Yoga and red wine.
What’s the first thing you do once the kids are in bed at night?
Make a cup of tea or pour a glass of red.
Elle wears BreeLayne dress, $2,360
Finish this sentence - motherhood is…
Magical and challenging all at the same time.
Elle’s Little List of Loves:
Toteme Japanese liquid eyeliner from K Palette TheRealReal.com The Crown Season 2 Gjusta goods ceramics Anine Bing’s Lingerie Spinelli Kilcollin rings Manicures at Olive and June Spotify – I’m very very late to the party Backyard bowls – for smoothies Scamp and Dude for the kids Gardening Ella SPF from Shen-beauty.com Anything from @shoppe_by_ai and french.us in Calabasas