The One That Almost Didn’t Happen

Investment Piece: The One that almost didn't happen
Investment Piece: The one that almost didn't happen
Investment Piece: The One that Almost didn't happen

Have I mentioned that I like to tempt fate? Apparently I do. Last week was a bit crazy with all the family events (some of us had birthdays: Mom and me. And let’s not forget Mother’s Day!) So, I may have outlined everything, but left some work to the last minute.

You know. Like shooting the looks. And writing about the looks.
I pretend like I have things together at all times. Please know that is a lie.

This look? This look is the one that almost didn’t happen. Not because it’s all white, a risk at all times.
Not because the skirt is leather, a risk now that Mom’s house (TX) has decided it’s summer.

Seriously. It’s 95. Get it together spring!

Note: this skirt is almost the one that I replaced in this story about letting go.

This look almost didn’t happen as I couldn’t get the camera to charge. Then I did and got this look (which I love for any night out) shot.
This look almost didn’t happen as I couldn’t get my editing software to work. Then I did, and got them uploaded.

This look almost didn’t happen, but it did. (Thank you to all the champagne, cursing, and huffing that helped, or so I like to think.)

Investment Piece: The one that almost didn't happen
Investment Piece: The One that Almost didn't happen
Investment Piece: The One that Almost didn't happen
Investment Piece: The One that Almost didn't happen

This is the one that almost didn’t happen. But it did. So, let’s chat about it?

I like all white. It’s innocent and risky all at the same time (like an angel just waiting to spill on herself). Loves, you know me by now, as much as I like all white any outfit for me comes down to the details. In the one that didn’t happen? It’s the leather skirt (WITH POCKETS). The rose gold leather bra paired with a sheer white sweater (perfect for the summer, and you can wrap it any way that works). And these shoes. I have a thing for feathers. I have a thing for heels that are clear (they’re in this year). And I have a thing for things that pop.

The one that almost didn’t happen? Perfect for any special summer night. Or take a night and let this combo make it special. You know, make it happen.

My goal for the rest for the week is to not leave everything to the last minute. Wish me luck. Or stay along and see what exciting things happen?

The skirt is vintage and this sweater is a good 10 years old. Lucky you, I’ve found similar and these exact shoes (as well as some affordable options) are linked below). This did happen, and I have faith in you recreating it!

XO RA

Note: This post does contain some affiliate links. While that does not affect the price for you, I may earn commission from them. Thank you for your support!

Investment Piece: The one that almost didn't happen

Happy Mother’s Day

Investment Piece: Happy Mother's Day

I hope today is a day where all types of mother’s in your life get celebrated. I hope there’s champagne and love and rest. I’m off celebrating my mom, and we come back tomorrow with new content!

Also, I know today is hard for many people. If you’ve lost a mom, aren’t a mom and would like to be, or any other combination, I hope that today brings you peace and love. There are so many different types of moms, and so many different kinds of love. I’m wishing you the kind you need today.

Happy Mother’s Day!
XO RA

Birthdays and Sales!

Investment Piece: Birthdays and Sales!
Investment Piece: Birthdays and Sales!
Investment Piece: Birthdays and Sales
Investment Piece; Birthdays and sales
Investment Piece: Birthdays and Sales
Investment Piece: Mornings in LA
Investment Piece: Eclisped by Gold
Investment Piece: Days in LA

It’s still my birthday (ok, maybe not really). But I’m still celebrating my birthday. And since when it’s your birthday you can do whatever you like, I’m doing just that. I’m looking back at some of my favorite looks from this past year, and sharing them with you. And because, everyone should have some new for my birthday, I’ve linked some of my favorite sales pieces from the week below!

I hope you get champagne, love and new this weekend!

I’m still celebrating and I think you should be, too!

XO RA

Note: This post does contain some affiliate links. While that does not affect the price for you, I may earn commission from them. Thank you for your support.

Birthdays, Runways, and New

Investment Piece: Birthdays, Runways,and New

Loves! Today is the day! Well, maybe not THE day, but it’s my birthday, so it certainly counts as a day.
Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with their birthday as they get older? Like, I want to be celebrated and have an excuse for new shoes and champagne all day. BUT, making a big deal out of your day just seems weird.

So, this year? I’m celebrating me, in a low key way. You might find me at the pool with some rose (all day). Or at the shoe counter. Or treating myself to a nap. I may throw together a shindig, I may spend the evening reading. I’ve given myself my birthday off, so I’m excited to see where the day takes me.

As for life? Have I mentioned this week is always a bit nutty? Yesterday was mom’s birthday! We celebrated with some margaritas and some shopping. (The above pic was from Saturday when I celebrated Cinco and the Derby and had a great time).

Such a great time that my dear friend William won “Best Dressed” at the Derby Party!

Investment Piece: Birthdays, Runways, and New

Besides family and graduation and all sorts of events this week, I’ve been lucky enough to get to see some amazing runway shows this week!

Investment Piece: Runways, Birthdays, and New
Investment Piece: Birthdays, Runways, and New
Investment Piece: Birthday, Runways, and New

This is what I love about a great runway show, even if the style presented isn’t in line with yours, it’s inspirational. Most runway looks were designed for the runway, not real life. Does that mean you can’t wear a runway look in real life? Not at all. There are quite a few runway looks that I would rock. However, maybe over the top is a bit much for you. The question then becomes, what can you take away from the runway show? From accersories to feel to actual pieces, runways always let you imagine new ways to wear your clothes. What is fashion if it’s not fun? And on these runways I got a lot of inspiration that you will be seeing soon.

Investment Piece: Birthdays, Runways, and New

As for new? The above is what I’m thinking of buying myself for my birthday. Birthdays deserve new. And I love this piece that not only celebrates my birth month but reminds me to bet on myself. How’s that for a new year?

What are you doing today? You have my permission to take the day off and drink rose!

XO RA

Mom’s Style

I wrote this last year for my mom’s birthday, and this year, as I sat down to write another one, I realized I couldn’t say this any better. We’re off celebrating Mom, I hope your day is just as amazing and you love my mom’s tips! Xo RA

InvestmentPiece: Mom's Style

Loves! It’s my Momma’s birthday! If you haven’t caught on, my mom and I are close, and I can’t begin to describe how much I love her, and how appreciative I am for all she does for me. Mom is a CPA and teaches accounting, she’s our CFO, and while that’s completely different from her creative daughter who thinks shoes are a necessity (I mean I need shoes, I occasionally want to eat); Mom’s style has influenced me and helped me become the fashionista I am today. So, what did I learn from Mom’s style? Glad you asked!

Stay True to Your Style

No matter the trend or what “you’re supposed” to do, sticking to what you love and what works for you is something to be admired–and makes you look stunning! Mom is a big fan of navy. She is known for her love of navy suits, shoes, and bags. There are years when navy is “in” and years when we’ve had to search for navy for Mom. That doesn’t matter to Mom, even when the styles she loves aren’t in she sticks to them. There’s a classic-ness in that, a commitment. That’s not to say Mom doesn’t try new things, but I’ve learned that you don’t need to be a slave to trends, that sticking to things you love is something to be commended, and when you find something that fits you–hang onto it!

Proper Undergarments Matter

Mom and I have had a lot of events recently and at everyone Mom has mentioned that she thinks I might need a slip. (Side note: I have slips, I’m not great at wearing them) Here’s the thing though: Mom may have a point. Lining, slips, proper garments: our clothes fit better when we make sure these things are taken care of. Proper fit is important (Mom is big on that too) and to ensure that the fit flows, proper undergarments help. (And let’s be honest, no one likes the look of lines!)

Invest in Your Suit
Something Mom and I agree about whole heartedly? Your suit, be it an actual suit, jeans or yoga pants, is something to invest in. Mom, being an accountant, is a fan of actual suits and made it a point to invest in good ones each year. Now that she’s in a place where she’s good on suits, Mom is having fun filling her closet with tanks, tops and blouses (both classic and trendy) to wear with her suits. However, she’s always adamant that her suits are high quality, she checks seams and linings, that it’s where she spends her money. And loves, I agree–what you wear the most should be where you invest your money.

Don’t be Afraid to Accessorize

Mom is a more conservative dresser than I am, yes. However, Mom is not too conservative for a great accessory! I can’t remember a time when Mom didn’t leave the house without a scarf, jewelry, pins, or gloves. We do a high tea occasionally, and Mom is always on point with her hats (and gloves!). The lesson? You can always be playful, and the details are always a place to have fun!

While Mom and I may have different opinions about certain fashions, but my Mom has some amazing style, and I’m so grateful she taught me all she knows!

Have some champagne to celebrate!

XO RA

Designer Spotlight: Judith Leiber

Note: This article first appeared in the New York Times, here. I also loved this piece from the Wall Street Journal. I have always loved all things shiny, stories (the feel good kind) from the Holocaust, and fashion; Judith Leiber combines all those things! Enjoy! XO RA


Judith Leiber, 97, Dies; Turned Handbags Into Objets d’Art

Investment Piece: Designer Spotlight Judith Leiber

Judith Leiber, the handbag designer whose whimsical creations were prized as collectors’ pieces and frequently displayed as objets d’art, died on Saturday at her home in Springs, N.Y., a hamlet in East Hampton. She was 97.

Ms. Leiber died just hours after the death of her husband of 72 years, the painter, lithographer and sculptor Gerson Leiber, who was known as Gus. He also died at their home.

Both died of heart attacks, according to Jeffrey Sussman, their biographer and spokesman, and they were buried together on Monday.

In recent years the couple had mounted joint exhibitions of their work on Long Island and in Manhattan.

Investment Piece: Designer Spotlight: Judith Leiber

Stella Blum, the curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until 1983, once said that describing Judith Leiber as an accessory designer was “a little like calling Louis Comfort Tiffany a designer of lighting fixtures.”

Her handbags were often on view in museums and are in the permanent collections of a number of them, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution and the Chicago Historical Society. Ms. Leiber nevertheless demurred when Andy Warhol described her bags as works of art. “Truthfully, I don’t consider them art,” she said. “I’m an artisan.”

Although she designed luxurious handbags with discreet clasps and frames for daytime, she was best known for her imaginative and eye-catching evening creations, among them colorfully beaded bags in animal, flower, fruit and egg shapes, and bags shaped like boxes and shells with variations on antique Asian motifs.

Her classically shaped metal evening bags were built of cardboard and sent to Italy, where they were stamped in brass. The animal forms and more complex shapes began as sculptured wax models and were also sent to Italy to be copied in metal. Feet and ears were cast separately and soldered on; other parts and touches, like the head of a horse or the bow on a cat, were stamped in two halves and joined seamlessly.

The gold plating was done after the bags were returned to America. So was the encrusting of the bag in rhinestones and other beads.

A number of Ms. Leiber’s clients amassed scores, and in several cases hundreds, of her designs, despite price tags that reached well into four figures for each bag.

Investment Piece: Designer Spotlight: Judith Leiber

At major charity events, it was common for a woman who had left her Leiber evening bag on the table while she danced to find on her return that other guests had gathered around her table to admire it. Occasionally a bag would disappear, returned only when admirers had finished passing it around.

“Sensuous and tactile, they ask to be picked up,” said Dorothy Twining Globus, a former director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology and curator of exhibitions at the Museum of Arts and Design.

Most of Ms. Leiber’s evening bags, particularly the glittering metal creations, were designed to hold a bare minimum of necessities. She allowed that lipstick, a handkerchief and a $100 bill might possibly fit. A $100 bill? Not small change, she admitted, but not unreasonable for a Leiber bag owner. As for carrying such necessities as eyeglasses, keys and a few other odds and ends, she would ask, “What’s an escort for?”

Ms. Leiber created five collections a year, in all about 100 designs. She said she was inspired by paintings, museum pieces, artifacts and nature. One of her most popular bags was shaped like a snail; another, an example of the commonplace made uncommon, was fashioned from an antique quilt and enhanced with bits of colored glitter.

The women who carried Leiber bags included first ladies, queens and princesses, and celebrities like Greta Garbo, Claudette Colbert, Diana Ross and Joan Sutherland. Queen Elizabeth II was presented with a bag during a visit to California, and Raisa Gorbachev, the wife of the Soviet leader, received one from Barbara Bush.

Mrs. Bush carried a Leiber design at her husband’s inaugural ceremony. She also had one of the Leiber metal bags shaped, with slight variation, to resemble Millie, her springer spaniel. It was later duplicated and sold for $2,500. Other first ladies were customers as well: Nancy Reagan ordered white satin Leiber bags for both her husband’s inaugural balls, and Hillary Clinton had a bag modeled after Socks, the family cat.

Investment Piece: Designer Spotlight: Judith Leiber

But even the first ladies couldn’t compete in patriotism with a Texan who was invited to one of the Clinton inaugurations and ordered a bag beaded with the stars and stripes on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other.

Many of Ms. Leiber’s customers used the bags for aesthetic purposes as well as practical ones. Some displayed them in a vitrine or étagère, and one Los Angeles matron invited her friends, their Leiber bags and their husbands to a dinner party. When they arrived, she took all their bags and lined them up on a mirror, flanked with votive candles, running down the center of the dining table. It was a table decoration not soon forgotten.

Ms. Leiber maintained that a story of a husband who had given his wife 14 Leiber bags in seven years and wanted them back as part of a divorce settlement was not apocryphal. “I could retire on your Leiber bag collection,” he reportedly said. The wife kept the bags.

Investment Piece: Designer Spotlight: Judith Leiber

Ms. Leiber was born Judith Marianne Peto in Budapest on Jan. 11, 1921. Her parents, Emil and Helen Peto, hoped that she would become a chemist and repeat the success of a relative who had developed a complexion cream. In 1939, she was sent to England to pursue scientific studies, but World War II intervened and her theoretical cosmetics empire vanished.

“Hitler put me in the handbag business,” Ms. Leiber said.
Back in Budapest, Ms. Leiber, who was Jewish, enrolled in an artisan guild, which still accepted Jews, although fascism was on the ascent in Hungary. Her training began with sweeping the floors and cooking the glue. By the time she had completed her guild training, first as an apprentice and finally as a master, the war was raging.

She knew all the stages of handbag manufacture, but there was no place to use this knowledge because Jews were being sent to concentration camps. She and other family members escaped that fate when they were pressed into service sewing army uniforms. She also began a small handbag business at home, using whatever materials she could find, and after the war sold some to American soldiers stationed in Hungary.

Mr. Leiber was an Army Signal Corps sergeant in postwar Budapest when he and Ms. Leiber met. He was working as a radio operator maintaining contact between Vienna and Budapest. They married in 1946 and the next year left for New York, Mr. Leiber’s hometown.

Investment Piece: Designer Spotlight: Judith Leiber

With her training, Ms. Leiber had no difficulty finding work in her adopted country. She became part of what she called “strudel assembly lines” at a number of handbag manufacturers until 1963, when her husband decided that they should open their own business.

They began in a small loft. “I knew from the beginning what I was going to do,” Ms. Leiber said. “I was going to make the best.” She designed and supervised the manufacture of her bags, and Mr. Leiber looked after the business end.

Ms. Leiber’s sister, Eva Ecker, died in 2015. No immediate family members survive.

Investment Piece: Designer Spotlight: Judith Leiber

In time, Ms. Leiber’s designs were rarely sold from handbag departments. They were generally featured in specially created Leiber sections and boutiques in major department and specialty stores, both in this country and abroad.

Ms. Leiber received most of the fashion industry’s major prizes. She was given a Coty Fashion Award in 1973 and the Neiman Marcus Winged Statue for Excellence in Design in 1980. She was voted accessories designer of the year in 1994 by the Council of Fashion Designers.

The Leibers sold their business in 1993, for a reported $16 million, to Time Products, a British firm in the watch distribution business. Ms. Leiber remained the firm’s designer until 1997.

Investment Piece: Designer Spotlight: Judith Leiber

In recent years, retrospective exhibitions in New York have showcased the talents of both Leibers. (Some of Mr. Leiber’s work is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.) In 2016 the Flomenhaft Gallery in Manhattan presented a joint exhibition, “The Artist & Artisan”; another, “Brilliant Partners,” was seen last year at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook. Also last year, the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan gave Ms. Leiber a one-woman show, “Judith Leiber: Crafting a New York Story.”

Throughout her career, Ms. Leiber was often asked if she ever carried handbags other than her own. She had a standard reply.

“I either carry my own or a paper bag,” she would say, “and I won’t carry a paper bag, so you figure it out.”

Investment Piece: Designer Spotlight:

Some Judith Leiber bags I love (and some of my choices are affordable!):

You can find your own Judith Leiber bag here as well:

90% off luxury consignment

Note: This post does contain affiliate links. While that does not affect the price for you, I may earn commission from them. Thank you for your support.

for Mom

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I promise there is so much exciting, new content headed your way. Birthday weeks are always a little crazy, and always make me a little nostalgic. I can’t help but look back at some of my old looks, and my old celebrations. This post is from a few years ago. I had worn this sheer dress with just a body suit to a fashion event. And though my momma loves me, she doesn’t always love the fashion risks I take. So, that year, for her birthday, I knew that I had to style this dress the way she’d love it!
As I wrote:
My mom is my biggest fan and helper (she’s actually CFO of this little venture). She’s always has my back, always supports me, always is willing to help. And she’s not the biggest fan of all the sheer that I sometimes wear. So, today is a big birthday for her–and in her honor–here in me, with a sheer dress, but with a full slip (the way that she likes it!). And I have to admit–it’s not bad this way either!

Happy Birthday Mom!! Love you!

And the things is: I still love this dress. I’ve worn it both ways-risky and not, as well as over swimsuits. I even have thrown it over cutoffs. Sheer is versatile, let me be the first to tell you! So, even thought this post was shot years ago, this look feels current to me. And I’m still looking to treat Mom for her birthday, so it seems appropriate to repost it. Thank you for indulging me!

And I hope everyone has a great Monday! XO RA

Details:
Dress: Reformation, sold out online, contact them love@thereformation.com or similar here
worn with a full slip
Shoes: LAMB, old, similar here

I’ve updated the shopping options here (for you and your momma!):

XO RA

Note: This post does contain affiliate links. While that does not affect the price for you, I may earn commission from them. Thank you for your support!

Sunday Chronicles : Giveaways and Celebrations

Investment Piece: Fashion Gives Back

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Blog Birthday giveaways! Vintage Dresses and Product of a Strong Female shirts. We’re still contacting the winners, so please be patient with us! (I’m also hoping the winners will share pics of them in their new goodies!)

As for things, does anyone else have a crazy busy May?

For me, May is full of family birthdays (and friends who are like family). My mom’s birthday is this week (as is mine), and it seems that there is an event EVERY NIGHT. I just scheduled myself a night off as it’s the 6th and I’m already so tired that I don’t know how to make it to my birthday.

So, the question becomes, how do we recharge ourselves in the middle of a crazy month?

Friends have been asking me about plans for my birthday, and what I keep thinking about is that taking care of yourself is a from of celebrating yourself. I’m seeing nights in and nights out in my future. Bubble baths and days by the pool and rose. Maybe some new shoes? Maybe a great read?

I know that the best way to be my best self is to give myself the things I need: workouts, sleep, veggies, and some fun. And maybe some wine for good measure. That’s the only way to enjoy all these things that fill up May is balance the fun with care.

How do you care for yourself? What does it look like when you celebrate yourself and take time for yourself?

I want to hear your tips and tricks and suggestions!

In the meantime, I’ll be celebrating all the things, relaxing, and trying to take care of myself with all the things.

Wishing us all a week of celebrations and care, and of course, amazing shoes!

XO RA

Going Green

Investment Piece, fashion blogger, water works, high fashion, kenzo,vintage, CA, TX
Investment Piece: Going Green
Investment Piece, fashion blogger, high fashion, kenzo, vintage, waterworks, CA, TX

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you’re just so tired that everything seems a little draining? I’ve had that kind of week. How cool is it that I was so wiped that I went to bed at 9p last night? Yes, the rumors are true, I’m a cool kid.

What do I do when I have weeks that just drain me? Go green. Get to the water. And since I can’t always get to ocean, I get to any water I can. These pictures were taken by one of my loves, Megan Weaver, in the water gardens in downtown Fort Worth. While not the ocean, the sound of the water soothes my soul and reenerginzes me.

As for going green? Let’s chat about this dress!

Investment Piece, waterworks, Fashionblogger, high fashion, kenzo, vintage, CA, TX
Investment Piece: Going Green
Investment Piece, fashion blogger, kenzo, vintage, high fashion, waterworks, CA, TX

Pastels may show up every spring but when they look as good as this green dress, can you really be mad about that? This perfect sage green and the pink screams spring (and we know I love a great juxtaposition, hence the gladiator sandals).

I got this dress on Etsy- vintage Kenzo. I love the green color, but also the timeless cut- and the details. Those sleeves, that belt. They say that being outside, in the green, is good for you. Does that count for green dresses’ too? Asking for me.

Full confession? I’ve had this dress for a bit. Ok, over a year. And these pictures weren’t taken this week. But, when I need to feel as free as I did when we took them-running in waterfalls and all–I relive the memory. And, just maybe, go green in this dress.

How do you deal when you’re drained?

The dress is vintage and the shoes are from many years ago, but I’ve linked similar items for your shopping pleasure.

Xo RA

Investment Piece: Going Green

I Can’t Seperate My Anxiety from my Obession with Fashion and Beauty

Investment Piece: ANXIETY

Note: This is a repost from Fashoinista, you can see the original here. The author is Maura Brannigan and when I read it I fell in love. Many of us suffer with anxiety and depression. I’m not immune to that. My anxiety can make many things difficult, and there are times when planning my outfits gives me peace. I related to this article and I hope you do too! XO RA

When I was in fourth grade, I realized I could not, for lack of a better phrase, see shit. It occurred to me abruptly, in the middle of a math lesson. My table was in the mid-back of the classroom, and as my teacher was doing whatever she was doing on the overhead projector, I began panicking when things I should have been able to read appeared blurry, like someone had sneakily slid Vaseline over my eyeballs at recess. My tiny body felt hot and immobile, suddenly much too big for its chair; if I willed myself just so, I wondered, could I drop through the linoleum and leave a searing hole in my place? At least that way, none of my classmates would have to see me in the inevitable, which I knew to be glasses.

Sure enough: I emerged from LensCrafters several days later, bummed about my newfound ailment but also absolutely amazed at the detail I could now see. (“Leaves!” I remember announcing to my dad as we left the store. “They look like that?!”)

I see now that this was, probably, one of my earlier panic attacks. There were other incidents, too, like my first day of kindergarten when I sat alone, my social anxiety revving up while I silently, maniacally brainstormed conversation topics I could present to my new peers. My anxiety has always been there. It sits on my shoulder, alerts me that something is off and then vacates the building. It is very flighty. But it has legs.

Like so many people with anxiety, or with depression, or with any number of mood disorders, I find my security in plans. I’ve never met a list I didn’t just devour. And as with so many others, my anxiety is often triggered when I’m thrown off schedule. When I sense my symptoms — sometimes mental, like a weird, morose dread, or sometimes physical, like shortness of breath or stomach knots — I take comfort in pattern. Much has been said in recent years about how elaborate beauty routines, sometimes Korean ones, can help fight depression. I get that wholly.

When I was younger (and there was also much less visibility surrounding mental health), I deduced on my own that if I could regulate every last element of what was happening on the outside of my body, it could have lasting effects on what was going on inside that makes me want to barrel through floors. Even today, my obsession with the fashion and beauty industries is inextricably linked to my expectation that looking nice, looking exactly what I want to look like, will leave me, finally, feeling at ease.

The degree to which I go about planning is methodical at one end of the spectrum and neurotic at the other. There was the year that “The Parent Trap” was released on VHS, and my 10-year-old brain became so embarrassingly infatuated with Hallie Parker that I took pen-to-paper notes on her wardrobe each time I watched. There was my first day of seventh grade in which, after a summer of intensive mood-boarding, I showed up to school in a truly wild, 1970s-inspired ensemble complete with bell bottoms and brown suede boots. My efforts backfired, and I was snickered at with such gusto that I felt I had no choice but to change into my gym clothes. (I wasn’t so much upset, per se, as I was frustrated that my classmates didn’t yet know how to appreciate a proper “lewk.”) There was the month-long stretch — I was, maybe, 15 — when I decided having Pantene Pro-V commercial hair would eliminate all my adolescent woes. When I realized that it did not and it would not, I felt like I had been stabbed in the back by that very shampoo bottle.

My relationship with fashion and beauty products has helped me cope. And over the years, I’ve accumulated a collection of stuff — skin-care, aromatherapy, supplements, whatever — that I’ve turned to time and again to make me feel in control.

Most of that regimen has some physiological benefit, as I’ve learned through years and years of product testing. Bedtime is my scariest time; it can take what is essentially witchcraft to get me asleep. I keep a lavender sachet on my bedside table, which I let sit on my chest for a few minutes when I first climb into bed. I love a pillow spray, as well, the most effective variety of which I’ve found to be the mega-popular Deep Sleep Pillow Spray with lavender, vetiver and camomile from This Works. The hype is not misplaced; after several months of use, the brand’s name holds up.

Mornings, though, are easy. I began taking Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb popular in Ayurvedic medicine, with my breakfast about two years ago, per the recommendation of my doctor. (Obviously, supplements aren’t for everyone, and you should always check with your own doctor before starting them.) Both Google and my doctor say that Ashwagandha helps lower cortisol, balance thyroid hormones and combat stress. I say that, yes, it does do that, but I don’t know if it’s the placebo of taking, doing, planning that helps more.

Last winter posed a new kind of challenge. None of my regular tricks seemed to do what I needed them to do. Neither did the calendar-planning, nor the additional pages of lists I scribbled in an attempt to coax myself into stillness. I felt lost, and disheartened, and guilty for feeling any of it. I felt guilty for being rattled when I knew so many others had it much worse than I did. I felt guilty for comparing my own anxiety to that of others, when my mental health was mine and mine alone. I felt guilty for saying no to my closest friends in an attempt to prioritize “self-care,” a hot new phrase I felt guilty for not knowing if I was practicing correctly. I felt guilty for being a selfish partner, and I felt guilty that my boyfriend had to see me as a person I myself didn’t recognize.

Some evenings, I would come home and immediately lie down on the kitchen floor, not bothering to take off my coat or scarf or hat. If my partner was home, he and our dog would join, three warm bodies sardined between the stove and sink. That guilt, of feeling him planking next to me when I knew that he, too, didn’t know how to help me, was worst of all.

I would get up, eventually. And soon, it became days, then weeks, then months, since my last time on the kitchen floor. I just kept doing what I knew worked: letting objects, like hand lotion that smells like my mom, work their material, aspirational magic, and healing from the outside in. An advertiser’s dream.

I feel guilty for that, too. Fashion and beauty products are, of course, just “things.” But we all know “things” can also carry real, emotional weight and become so much more. Why should I judge myself for what I find and have always found to be constructive?

Even so, I’m trying to learn how to loosen the reins, as they say, so that I don’t immediately slip into “flight” mode when confronted with the unexpected. I’m trying to learn how to let anxiety simply beat through me, and how to treat it with the same compassion I might bestow on a loved one, or as I’m also learning, on myself.

Right now, I’m working on my own wellness practice, like meditation — I enjoy the “Calm” app — and 4-7-8 breathing. But I’ve found that the very best thing I can do for myself is to stare my anxiety, and the guilt that comes with it, straight in the face — not to embalm it in lavender or distract it with 18 tabs of suede mules that, in some strange way, might make each hard day feel more navigable. Absolutely everything changed when I began accepting my anxiety for what it is, not trying to fix it like something I could tend with a Band-Aid — how one might fix a fourth-grade astigmatism with a pair of glasses from LensCrafters.