Wednesday 23 May 2018

Stylist Laura Nolan Horgan: ' I have proper OCD...Even my underwear drawer is segregated by colour'

Laura Nolan Horgan (30) is a stylist, blogger and former creative director of the womenswear label Fran & Jane. She lives in Dublin with her husband, Ronan, and their children - Elizabeth (2) and four-month-old Hugo

Stylist and blogger Laura Nolan Horgan. Photo: Gerry Mooney.
Stylist and blogger Laura Nolan Horgan. Photo: Gerry Mooney.

Ciara Dwyer

We haven't set an alarm in about two years, not since the little ones came along. There's no need. Elizabeth will be two in May, and Hugo has just turned four months. Both of the kids are up at the same time. Ronan, my husband, is out the door by 7am, so he's not much help. He works in finance. After plenty of training, we finally got the kids into shape. They both go down at 7pm and wake at 7am. The difference that a night's sleep makes is amazing.

Sometimes I'm up 15 minutes before the kids. I get Hugo's bottle ready and lay out their clothes. Then, all I need to do when I'm with them, is tidy up after them. I have proper OCD when it comes to the house being tidy. I'm the neatest person you'll ever meet. When I was growing up, I used to think that my mum was insane that way, and now I'm 10 times worse than her. I can't believe it. I'm just constantly tidying away. Everything has to have its place. Even my underwear drawer is segregated by colour. You'd like to think that I'd let it go with the kids, but all their clothes are colour coordinated and organised by style and size too. It's pretty crazy.

I think all of this comes from my years in the fashion business with Fran & Jane, the womenswear brand which I co-owned with mum, along with the wholesale manufacturing and some of the retail sites. I was the creative director. We were quite a large company with a very small team. I had to be extremely efficient for work and it suited me. We closed the manufacturing arm of Fran & Jane last year because we were working our asses off for absolutely nothing. It was too difficult competing with the high-street shops. They were tough times. It was such a pity, but also, my circumstances had changed. I had a baby and I was pregnant for a second time. I went back to work 12 days after having my first baby, and that was after a C-section. But I knew that I couldn't do it second time around. Becoming a mother puts everything in perspective. I had to get real. I'm all for working mums and for your independence, but there was zero balance in my life when we were running Fran & Jane. But after I made the decision to stop, I went from having 500 emails a day for work to none.

I thought I was going to love it, but I hated it. I missed the buzz and the stress and the creativity. That's when I decided to set up a new business. Now I do a wardrobe detox and personal-shopping service. I worked on the shop floor of Fran & Jane quite often, so I have a good understanding of the customer. And I have a natural eye for dressing people. It's my passion.

In the mornings, I have a lady who comes in to mind the kids. When she arrives, Elizabeth has her breakfast and I start to get myself ready. I have a mini-rail in my room and every Sunday, I select my outfits for the week. I started to do this post-children. Before that, I used to love deciding what I was going to wear in the morning, but those days are gone.

Each working day is different. I can do either a detox or a personal-shopping service, but ideally I like to do both in the one day. The full day - eight hours with me - costs €500. First thing I do is empty out the wardrobe and scrutinise everything. That gives me a real insight into the person's style. So many people's wardrobes are jam-packed and they don't have a clue what's in them. Even if they don't do the personal-shopping bit, the detox alone is great because I'm able to re-style and redesign people's wardrobes with what they have already. The good thing about getting rid of clothes is that some items can be sold and the rest are given to charity shops.

Then we hit the shops in the afternoon. Even if the client doesn't buy anything, I push them out of their comfort zone by getting them to try on different outfits. I know every inch of every shop out there, and I'm a thrifty shopper. I don't think that buying expensive clothes is essential. I focus on what works within the person's budget.

I started this business when I was pregnant, and now a sideline of it is post-baby styling for people going back to work. The thoughts of trying to be stylish again can be tricky. I give them a fresh look by re-styling what they have, and set them up again. The biggest problem with Irish women's style is that we don't live in a tropical climate, and yet they are obsessed with really bright clothes and busy prints. People walk past clean lines because they think it looks boring.

To dress simply is really classy, but it's the most difficult thing to do. Irish people need to follow the Spanish and the Italians. They have the classic look down to a tee. I have a lot of male clients, and they are so easy. They don't go shopping. Instead, they prefer to send me off with a budget and their measurements. Men struggle with their weekend wear. They rarely have nice knits and none of them have good belts. I send them photos showing them how to put their outfits together.

After a day's work, I make sure that I'm home for 6pm. My favourite time is bedtime with the two little munchkins. They have their bath and their bottles. Then my husband is home at 6.30pm, and we all hop into the bed to read stories. I love that hour so much. I actually struggle putting them to bed because I want it to last longer. Then my husband and I have our dinner. I'd love to say that I read a good book before I go to sleep - I used to eat books - but since the kids, I haven't read much. I'm in bed by 9pm. The minute I hit the pillow, I'm out for the count.

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