ASK SARAH: “Help for us busy gals that can’t get it together”


Hi friends,  Happy Friday!  I’m reinstating my ASK SARAH column, primarily because of this reader email, but also because I think I’ve learned so much these past few years (in some of the hardest ways) that I may have some serious challenge-induced thoughts to share.  OK, so I’m just going to get to it.  Here’s the email and my answer, after the jump: {photo: Pepito Mora}

Hi Sarah!

Your house and clothing are gorgeous, I’m sure you do well financially as a photographer and get discounts and freebies via the blog but I’m still left scratching my head as to how one can afford such a nice lifestyle? I don’t mean to imply in any way that you don’t work hard, obviously you do and you are very talented, and I love your blog. I only bring this up because you’re so honest and share so much with your readers. I’m frustrated, as I’m sure many readers are. I work hard, make six figures, and make good financial decisions yet there is no way I afford a lovely home in a nice location in Southern California, beautiful furnishings such as yours, vacations, and a gorgeous wardrobe. I know it’s too much to ask to share financials but perhaps an idea of how someone on a limited budget can have a slice. If I’m frustrated with a $130,000 salary, imagine how it is for folks making $50,000 or $30,000? I work well over full time and try to find time to exercise and cook healthy meals, so the usual suggestion to scour consignment stores for funky vintage furniture or used stylish clothing doesn’t work for folks that only have a few free hours on the weekends. How do you make it all work especially given the health challenges you have? I can barely manage to put a non-hideous outfit together each day, I pat myself on the back if I have time to put on mascara and fit in a workout, much less style my hair and weave a fabulous wall hanging. I know blogs don’t show the bad hair days and messy floors but on my best day my house and I don’t look as put together as you. Can you help folks like me out? And if you do take the time to read this, thank you for your time and your blog.

click to read yo

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

After last week’s post, one my dear, sweet readers left this in the comment section: THANKS FOR SHARING.  I’M WHERE YOU WERE BACK THEN.  WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CHANGE? WHAT WAS YOUR TURNING POINT?   

It struck a chord with me, it resonated deeply because I felt in those words such a strong yearning for something different. So my tender hearted and beautiful reader, here is my answer:

First and foremost, if you’re looking at the physical portion, which I suspect you may be- how did I go from looking like that to looking like this?  There’s no simple answer to that- it was years upon years of learning to value myself enough to eat foods that are healthy (and learning what that meant), it was my Crohn’s diagnosis, it was following my dreams (which, incidentally, involved packing up my car and moving 3,000 miles across the country to go to school to study photography).  It was having a college boyfriend break my heart over and over and over again, and not loving myself enough to put an end to it.  It was excessive amounts of drinking and drugs to try to escape.  There was no turning point, there was no diet- I tried a good many of them at one point or another in my desperate search.  {more after the jump}

click to read yo


Hi Sarah,  I absolutely love your blog and your style! I’d love your advice on a somewhat personal issue. You’ve written some really great posts on anxiety and the future and I thought you’d be a good person to turn to. I’m a 30-year-old woman and have been with my boyfriend for over 4 years. Lately, I’ve been feeling really anxious about marriage and having a baby. My boyfriend is fine with the way things are, but I’ve just been feeling like we have to make all these important life decisions and that he has all the time in the world to make them. I’m a planner, and I don’t like all the ambiguity about where we’re going to live, if we’re going to get married and if we even want children. Do you have any advice on how to handle this? I’m not even sure I want to get married or have kids, but I guess I just wish I could feel more laid back about our path. It feels like everyone else in the world is making these decisions and we’re just trucking along as is. Any advice you can offer would be so appreciated.  – Emily   {answer after the jump}

hi emily,  thanks for the kind words!  your email really couldn’t have come at a better time!  lou and i have been having some pretty heavy conversations about our future and it’s so completely overwhelming i can’t stand myself!  some people are fortunate enough to KNOW they want to get married, have kids, live in a certain city, etc.  but, like you, we struggle so much because we just don’t know.  and we’re reaching that point where we’re being forced to make some hard choices or we may not have choices to make, or at least may face many more challenges and risks.  

here’s what i can give you for advice though- make sure your boyfriend is at least open to the ideas of marriage and kids.  you have a few years still to figure it out, but you don’t want to wait a few years and find out that he really knew all along what he wanted and you have different dreams.  so really honest conversations about it are critical.  and i think he’ll be more open to chatting  about these things if you’re clear that these aren’t decisions you need to make now, but they’re things you have to at least talk about now!

similar to you i also feel unnerved by not knowing what the future will bring, but having lots of discussions about how we see our lives or the options we have takes some of the pressure off.  it helps me see that we’re on the same page (lost, but at least lost together!).  

once you’ve had those chats with him i think you’ll feel better, and the two of you may discover something in the process about what it is you envision for your lives together.  you’re smart to be thinking about this, it’s important to look down the road in order to craft the kind of life you want to have for yourself!  and you don’t want to wake up one day and realize you avoided the hard questions or didn’t spend the time really thinking about what you want.

does anyone else have any advice for emily?  all thoughts are welcome and appreciated!  xx- sarah 

photo of my friend elizabeth’s daughter via jose villa

ask sarah: what are your closet staples?

question: Hi Sarah,  I recently lost a bunch of weight and need to invest in a closet makeover.  Can you recommend some basics that I can start with and build off of?  I’m fairly casual, but want to look put together and would love some ideas on where to start.  Thank you!  – Best, Erica

answer: hi erica,  i’m happy to help!  i’ve put together a list of what i consider closet staples, with options below in the links for most of the items.  these pieces all provide a great neutral base, and you can play around with your accessories while you build up your closet since those are generally more affordable!  think: scarves, hats, shoes, lipstick, jewelry, etc.  hope you love what i’ve put together for you! xx- sarah


1. Panama Hat  1  //  2  //  3 //  4

2. Chambray Shirt  1  //  2  //  3  //  4

3. Grey Tank 1  //  2  //  3  //  4

4. White Jeans 1  //  2  //  3  //  4

5. Striped Tee 1  //  2  //  3  //  4

6. Blue Skinny Jeans 1  //  2  //  3  //  4

7. Military Inspired Jacket 1  //  2  //  3  //  4

8. Black Skinny Jeans 1  //  2  //  3  //  4 

9. Classic Black Bag 1  //  2  //  3  //  4

10. Tortoise Sunnies 1  //  2  //  3  //  4

11. Sandals 1  //  2  //  3  //  4 


QUESTION: Hi Sarah! I always adore your fashion posts, so I’d love it if you’d help me out with a little conundrum – I love wearing dresses & skirts in the spring and summer, but since I’m often out and about into the night, I like to layer. I’m ridiculously short (5′) so blazers tend to look silly on me with dresses, but I’m quickly tiring of only adding a cardigan on top. Any creative ways to broaden my layer horizons? Thanks! xo, Anni

ANSWER: hi anni!  i’ve put together some options… mostly of the cropped variety.  you can almost never go wrong with throwing a denim cropped jacket over a dress, but even that needs mixing up every now and then.  so i’ve given you some other options too!  i love the juxtaposition of feminine dresses with army jackets, so there are a couple of those options (and if you’re 5′ throw on some heels when you’re out and about for the night and you can get away with a longer jacket!).  i also included a motorcycle jacket and a less traditional blazer (i think the super short crop would make it workable on your petite frame!) and, if you’re still looking for more options i’ve added some extras in the links below! hope you love!  xx- sarah

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10


today’s ask sarah question came from my friend lucy, an australian living in germany who is just about as entertaining and fun as they come. i adore her!  so, here we go….

QUESTION: I am going to a wedding in Bali in October, I need a dress – and I have no idea what’s good. The reason I am stumped  is that it will be tropical, like humid/ hot – and you just can’t do silky numbers in those conditions. I know you love shopping, and vicariously is good for your wallet. Got any good recommendations? Holla. Your mate, Lucy

ANSWER: oh darling lucy, i  do love shopping for other people.  you know me well!  here’s what I rounded up for you.  three looks, all perfectly suited to the tropics ( i do not worry about silky dresses so long as they’re sleeveless!) when i think about bali i think of bright colors, palm trees and warm breezes.  and weddings are the perfect excuse to look your most fabulous.  without further ado…

this is my first option for you.  the shoes are an investment (but also really versatile so can be worn for years to come) and the rest is all very wallet friendly.  i’d wear this with hair down in loose waves and a bright coral lip (like this).  the blue would make your eyes pop, the dress would flatter your curves, the shoes would give you some height/length and you’d look perfectly, effortlessly, tropical-lucy fabulous.  

SHOP THIS LOOK: dress: asos, cuff: luv aj, shoes: DVF, bag: zara  more after the jump!

next up we’ve got a mara hoffman number.  because no one does pattern better, do they?  and bright colors, pattern, and a super mini SCREAM bali.  i’d wear that topshop bracelet on my forearm, and then a chunky gold watch and a couple of bangles on the other arm (similar to these but i’d pick them up at forever 21 or claire’s).  again with this i see you in loose, beachy waves and a bright lip (hot pink!) 

SHOP THIS LOOK: dress: mara hoffman, shoes: asos, bracelet: topshop, bag: clare vivier

and lastly, if you’re looking for length, there’s this neutral and neon number.  which i can totally picture blowing in the tropical breeze and looking killer with your tan.  ugh, this is making me so jealous!  i’d bust out the hot pink lipstick for this and add in a forearm cuff as well (in my dream world, this one but in real life i’d probably go with the topshot bracelet in look one).  allrightthen lucy, happy wedding in bali, you have enough fun to make up for all of us who aren’t so fortunate to have friends getting married in the tropics this year.  enjoy every minute of it!  xx- sarah

SHOP THIS LOOK: dress: bcbg, shoes: asos, bracelet: adia kabur, bag: asos