There are two situations in which I hang out with Lauren Smith Brody, Executive Editor of Glamour. We’re either chatting while chasing our kids around a playdate or party, or we’re quickly catching up in her office when I go in to help out on Glam Belleza Latina. What I love most about Lauren? She’s exactly the same person in both situations. As a mom of two boys, Will, 6, and Teddy, 3, and a key editor with a huge responsibility at one of the country’s glossiest magazines, she never loses her cool, which just makes her so cool. Her grip on reality, love for her kids and passion for all things beauty and fashion make even her most frazzled moments seem like barely a blip. She’ll be the first to tell you she’s not a supermom, but I beg to differ. So how does she keep it all together? Of course I had to ask for her best working mom tips…
PI: What fashion pieces do you always keep in the office?
Lauren: I just counted, and I have seven (!) pairs of shoes under my desk right now. I walk Will to school in the morning, so I’ll often just change into heels when I get in. I love love love my Loeffler Randall Charlotte D’Orsay Pumps, $325 (shown below). I buy at least a couple of pairs each season. The quality is excellent, and the prices aren’t outrageous. I usually buy something fun that might only work for a year or two, and something classic I can wear for years, like the heels I have on today. I’ve also started keeping a small evening bag in my closet at work for occasional nighttime events when a big work bag just looks wrong.
PI: What are your wardrobe staples for work?
Lauren: I’m a big fan of one-step dressing: dresses. I just bought this Red Valentino Scallop Knit Dress, $239, and I have a bunch from Tibi and Phillip Lim that I wear as many seasons as humanly possible. This Tibi Raffia Organza Dress, $575 and Phillip Lim Sleeveless Dress With Chiffon Yoke Insert and Pleated Skirt, $695, are great examples. I’m short waisted with long legs, so I love a drop-waist to balance things out. My weight goes up and down a little bit, but I’ve found that the silhouettes that look best on me never change, so when I find something in one of my go-to shapes, I buy it. This works especially well for online shopping. If you know your brand, size, and silhouette, you can’t go wrong. I love fashion, but I hate to spend a whole sunny Saturday afternoon shopping and away from my kids. And everyone in my office will tell you that I wear this one little thin Zara Leather Biker Jacket, $269, WAY too often, but I swear it goes with everything. Also people tend to describe me as “sweet” so I like that it toughens my look up a bit. I’ll mix it with lace, with pastels, with jeans (of course), over a black cocktail dress. I don’t look great in blazers, so for me, it’s a bit of a cheat but it serves the same purpose.
PI: What do you wear on the weekend?
Lauren: Jeans, jeans, jeans, obviously. I’m due to go shopping because I’ve been rotating the same three pairs of Resin denim (now out of business) for a couple of years now. I also love Sandro’s more casual sweaters and tops, like this Sandro Eveil Lame Detail Top, $315 (shown below). I’m 36 now, and while I love nothing more than yoga pants and tank tops, I don’t like to bum around in workout clothes. Even for casual pieces, I like nice fabrics that are going to hold up and not look cheap. At the same time, you’ll never catch me in something on the weekend that I can’t take to the playground. I’m short (5′ 3″), so while I love pattern mixing and trying out fun color combinations, I have to dial it back sometimes so I don’t look overwhelmed by my clothes. I lean on accessories instead. My sister is always finding me the most amazing vintage earrings at the Brooklyn Flea — clear lucite hoops, little bumble bee studs. I’ve got a couple of top-handle bags from the 50’s and 60’s that were my grandmother’s. I just love them to pieces, mostly because I love having a little bit of her with me still, and they remind me to tell my kids stories about how wonderful she was.
PI: Summer is here, finally! What’s your poolside attire for running after kids and feeling confident in a bathing suit?
Lauren: I am a firm believer that the bigger the accessories the more petite you look! So I just got an enormous straw hat! I also really love cover-ups like this Milly Buzios V-Neck Tunic, $295. They’re definitely an upgrade from the cut-offs I used to live in with my bathing suit, but we spend a lot of time poolside with the kids these days, so it’s worth it to me.
PI: When you are dead tired, zombie-like exhausted, but you still have a million things to cross off your list, what are your tricks to making it to the end of the day?
Lauren: Coffee! Diet Coke! Sugar! Sorry, just being honest. A quick walk around the office really helps too. I try to tackle the most daunting task on my list first. This is really challenging—and I’m not a person who comes by discipline naturally—but it works. You get that one beast of a thing done, and everything else then just flies. Oh! And I have a five-minute rule. If some task interrupts me but it will only take five minutes or less, I just do it right then and there. That really cuts down on the psychic weight of a long to-do list.
PI: What are your beauty tricks to not look exhausted when you can barely put one foot in front of the other?
Lauren: Well that would be concealer. I’m a bit of a concealer aficionado. Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer, $70, is my gold standard, but lately I’m also really liking the new Marc Jacobs Beauty Re(Marc)able Full Cover Concealer, $32. I break the rules and always choose a shade that’s technically too light. Then when I put on blush, I blend it up a little high to avoid that white-raccoon eyed look. I also find that when work gets crazy, a bath before bed really helps. Once a week, even if all I want to do is go to sleep, I’ll take a hot, hot, hot bath, and it really makes me sleep so much more deeply, and the steam just sort of wipes all the tired off of my face, too. We just renovated our apartment and splurged on a claw-foot tub. Its mere existence makes me so happy. Citrus scents help too. I love Antica Farmacista Le Emulsioni Corpo Vellutanti Body Moisturizer in Prosecco,$25. Fun fact: It used to be called “Champagne” until someone wised up and realized that, duh, it was supposed to sound Italian.
PI: What are your go-to beauty products that are always in your desk drawer or purse?
Lauren: I don’t wear foundation—yet—but I think that’s going to change in the next couple of years. I’m a concealer-only girl at the moment. For blush, I love Stila Convertible Color in Petunia, $25. My cheeks tend to get dry, so I love how creamy this is. And rubbing it on gets my circulation going, too. I also love Clinque Cheek Pop in Peach Pop, $21. For lipstick, I love anything by Dior, like Dior Addict Lipstick in #643. Also really love Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Moisturizing Lipstick in Red Door Red, $25. I don’t wear lipstick every day, but when I do, I’ll wear anything from apricot to brick red. Black mascara, always. I am not loyal to any brand in particular, but I do like Estée Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Waterproof Lash Multiplying Volume Mascara, $24. On eyes, I save shadow for special days, but I always wear eyeliner. Liners with a little sparkle really wake you up without looking tacky. Lately I’m loving this Pixi Endless Silky Eye-Pen in Sage/Gold, $12, that I got out of the beauty closet at work. I also love this Vincent Longo Creme Gel Liner in Flamenco, $25. My daytime moisturizer is Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15, $21. At night, I remove my makeup with Koh Gen Do Oriental Plants Cleansing Cream, $51, another Glamour beauty closet special that I’m now totally addicted to and will have to actually buy—it’s really moisturizing but not oily. Then I switch up my moisturizer depending on how my skin is feeling. I like Tarte Maracuja Oil,$46, or good old Olay, $13.And my colleague Nancy hilariously had her Amazon Prime order of a whole flat of Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm, $3, delivered to me by accident…so she let me keep some and now I’m addicted to that too.
PI: Time management is one of the most challenging parts of being a working mom. How do you maintain quality family time in your busiest work moments?
Lauren: Honestly, I have a thousand suggestions. Work/life balance is one of my favorite things to talk about, and I’m lucky to work with so many women at various stages of their careers and personal lives, all of whom seem to find their own special recipe for making it work. There is one thing that the most happily successful people I’ve known — both women and men — seem to have in common, and that’s perspective. I try to remember that I am in it all for the long game (both parenting and my career). I will inevitably have good hours and bad hours of each, good days and bad days, even good months and bad months. But things tend to balance out when you look back on a six-month stretch. And any time they haven’t, that’s been a big sign that something needs adjusting. My other advice is more concrete:
• I try to put down my phone when I walk in the door at night and then not pick it up again until the kids are in bed. I adopted this one from my colleague Wendy Naugle. I fail at it most nights, but even having a breakable rule is better than no rule at all for me!
• On the weekends, my husband and I try to find quality family time in really ordinary moments. Otherwise you just end up going to work exhausted on Monday morning. We try to do at least one special thing all together the four of us (going for dim sum, or sailing little boats on the pond in Central Park), but even little basic errands can be fun if you look at the world from a kid’s perspective. We say hi to every dog on the street, we notice what the moon looks like at night. My mom, who lives in Atlanta, is awesome at this… She writes the kids each a letter every week and includes clippings from the Sunday newspaper with coupons and stuff and makes up all these crazy tasks and games for them to do. It’s a good lesson to me that not every child activity has to require spending $50 at a pottery painting place!
• I also do tend to do some work at home at night. To me, it’s just so worth it. If I can get some copy read, or do research for a project, or answer a bunch of emails, I start the next day feeling ahead of the game. And then I don’t freak out if I need to call the pediatrician or run out to a parent/teacher conference in the middle of the work day.
• Everyone says you have to marry a great guy who supports your career and I totally lucked out in that department. But I think you also have to LET him do stuff around the house…even things that you enjoy or that you think you might be better at. I’m still working on this one!