A SheTrusts Tale of Two Houses

As lived by Jennifer Holmes:

I live in West Hollywood, and he lives in Echo Park

Come to my neck of the woods, and you can walk within five minutes to some of the best high-end shopping and beauty care in the country with some of the finest dining establishments to be found anywhere.  West Hollywood is pretty and gentile without being snoozy or dull.  It's a great place to live if you like relaxed alfresco dining and lighthearted pretty-people-watching, or if you want to be able to bring your little doggie on flower-filled walks everywhere you go.

Go his way and its where low-budget necessity meets high-end creativity.  You can stroll down to a quaint local farmers market storefront, a wonderfully stocked Mexican-Salvadorian grocery, one of the best craft beer shops in town, a vegan health-food mecca, a south american pizza place, a huge southeast asian grocery, a great old school taco truck, and the city's best urban lake park, all close enough to walk to in very high heels should the urge hit.  Echo Park is a neighborhood in the throes of transition, and despite numerous write-ups decrying its unavoidable gentrification, when I walk around I see an astonishing array of people from all walks of life. To me, it represents a truly Angeleno neighborhood.

Dating in Los Angeles is notoriously difficult in the first place, and even once you've found your man the size of this city doesn't make it any easier to keep a relationship going.  For example, if you live in North Hollywood and you meet a Prince Charming who happens to be set up in Venice, you effectively have to decide if you are ready and willing to embark on a long-distance relationship.  And even with a mere eight driving miles separating our two homes, I've found that it takes a lot of planning to look feel put-together for work and evening when you're not sure which home you'll be waking up in the next day.

Most days I feel extremely lucky to live part-time between two of LA's greatest neighborhoods. They compliment one another so wonderfully, and in a way I feel as if I have a vacation home right here in the city. But it took a little while to figure it out so that I didn't have to wonder where on earth that specific sweater was, run my phone out of battery, or panic if I realized mid-day that I didn't have a dress outfit or that one pair of perfect heels I'd need to change into for a high-profile event that evening or the next.  For a long time, I compensated by always having too many things with me, moving them around like a sherpa.  "Ugh!" and "Oh crap! I forgot ____ !" soon became my most commonly uttered phrases.

Being comfortable evolved slowly, but eighteen months in I feel relaxed and prepared no matter where I am. I'm able to gracefully move from day to evening no matter what I have booked, and to always show up at work or for play in the right attire.

Knowing that I'm not the lone girl in this City of Angeles to be dealing with this dating dilemma, I've decided to share my words of wisdom in living between two houses.  So here goes: some of what I figured out so far.  Its taken some extra time and money to figure it out, but these habits and investments have become my Ten Commandments of staying sane and well-dressed while dating and working full-time in Los Angeles:

I still often wonder how all the other thousands (millions) of ladies out there have evolved into graceful, grown-up urban dating. But for me, this is what works, and it's finally easy and fun.

Good luck and happy dating! 

1. Two full sets of key beauty products.  Both houses are fully stocked with regular-sized versions of my key face, hair, and body care products.  Luckily, he was happy to cede a little real-estate on a bathroom shelf or two in trade for my comfort (or maybe it was to avoid listening to my frustrated complaining). The side benefit to this is that when I travel, I have a complete spare set to bring along, or use to refill travel-sized bottles.

1. Two full sets of key beauty products.  Both houses are fully stocked with regular-sized versions of my key face, hair, and body care products.  Luckily, he was happy to cede a little real-estate on a bathroom shelf or two in trade for my comfort (or maybe it was to avoid listening to my frustrated complaining). The side benefit to this is that when I travel, I have a complete spare set to bring along, or use to refill travel-sized bottles.

2. Duplicates of all basic key beauty equipment.  Two hair dryers, two curling irons, two round brushes, two wide-toothed combs, etc., one for each home.  Again, the second set was cobbled together out of my pre-existing travel set and a few strategic additions.  Having all of this at both places - and nicely organized in a couple clear bins (thank you Container Store) - has been invaluable to my sanity and to keeping his place respectfully tidy. Because let's face it, living out of a weekend bag with this kind of thing wears thin pretty fast.

2. Duplicates of all basic key beauty equipment.  Two hair dryers, two curling irons, two round brushes, two wide-toothed combs, etc., one for each home.  Again, the second set was cobbled together out of my pre-existing travel set and a few strategic additions.  Having all of this at both places - and nicely organized in a couple clear bins (thank you Container Store) - has been invaluable to my sanity and to keeping his place respectfully tidy. Because let's face it, living out of a weekend bag with this kind of thing wears thin pretty fast.

3. Portable makeup.  I keep a capsule makeup and nail care cases in my work bag, so that I have the basics with me no matter where I am. My full set lives at home, in a nice portable bag I can bring along if I need to. I'm careful to keep it out of the car on hot days.

3. Portable makeup.  I keep a capsule makeup and nail care cases in my work bag, so that I have the basics with me no matter where I am. My full set lives at home, in a nice portable bag I can bring along if I need to. I'm careful to keep it out of the car on hot days.

4. Portable meds and supplements. I keep a pill box in my work bag at all times and restock it from home, so that I always have enough supplements and medications to last a couple days. I also keep my prescriptions on file at pharmacies located in both neighborhoods, so that I won't find myself in a pinch if something unexpected comes up.

4. Portable meds and supplements. I keep a pill box in my work bag at all times and restock it from home, so that I always have enough supplements and medications to last a couple days. I also keep my prescriptions on file at pharmacies located in both neighborhoods, so that I won't find myself in a pinch if something unexpected comes up.

5. Lots of chargers, with rules. All of my portable technology devices - and I have a lot - have at least two wall chargers plus a car set.  One wall set is permanently plugged in at home, and the other lives in my work bag for use both at work and at his.  It's been months since I've found myself without the equipment needed to charge something, but early on it happened a lot. Having multiples with rules means I don't have to worry if I change evening plans part-way through the day, and keeping it down to a strict system of what stays put and what moves around means I never run out of juice.

5. Lots of chargers, with rules. All of my portable technology devices - and I have a lot - have at least two wall chargers plus a car set.  One wall set is permanently plugged in at home, and the other lives in my work bag for use both at work and at his.  It's been months since I've found myself without the equipment needed to charge something, but early on it happened a lot. Having multiples with rules means I don't have to worry if I change evening plans part-way through the day, and keeping it down to a strict system of what stays put and what moves around means I never run out of juice.

6. Two capsule wardrobes. After months of frustration and lugging around half-closets of clothes to cover whatever might arise, I finally got up the nerve to ask if I could have a little real estate in one of his closets.  I took about twelve hangers' worth of "capsule" wardrobe items over, stocked a little storage cube with some folding things like sweaters, socks, and undies, and made sure I still had at least an equivalent wardrobe at home to use for days when I woke up there.  I have an inbuilt tendency to accumulate similar items (two flowy blue dress tops, one with a pattern and one without), so I didn't even have to buy any new clothes accomplish this.  It's been an invaluable exercise in knowing what's important and what's extra, to style and combine classic items that really weren't being worn enough anyway, and in to live a bit more simply yet still look good. Investment pieces like leather jackets still tend to travel with me. Items that stay at his are washed there or dry cleaned nearby, and vice versa.  When the wrong things migrate to the wrong home, they are brought back where they belong next trip. It's much easier to carry around one hanger to restock than seven or more "just in case".

6. Two capsule wardrobes. After months of frustration and lugging around half-closets of clothes to cover whatever might arise, I finally got up the nerve to ask if I could have a little real estate in one of his closets.  I took about twelve hangers' worth of "capsule" wardrobe items over, stocked a little storage cube with some folding things like sweaters, socks, and undies, and made sure I still had at least an equivalent wardrobe at home to use for days when I woke up there.  I have an inbuilt tendency to accumulate similar items (two flowy blue dress tops, one with a pattern and one without), so I didn't even have to buy any new clothes accomplish this.  It's been an invaluable exercise in knowing what's important and what's extra, to style and combine classic items that really weren't being worn enough anyway, and in to live a bit more simply yet still look good. Investment pieces like leather jackets still tend to travel with me. Items that stay at his are washed there or dry cleaned nearby, and vice versa.  When the wrong things migrate to the wrong home, they are brought back where they belong next trip. It's much easier to carry around one hanger to restock than seven or more "just in case".

7. Shoes. Unlike the clothes, I do keep a few pairs of shoes and evening bags in my trunk more-or-less permanently, thanks again to storage boxes from the Container Store.  I always have a couple pairs of sandals, flats, and heels along, so that if something comes up I don't get stuck without the right footwear or handbag. I also keep sneakers and one pair of sandals at his permanently. I am careful not to leave my nicest shoes baking in the car, and also seek out inexpensive but good looking non-leather versions of things that I won't mind damaging accidentally - such as nude pleather flats from NineWest or Target. These are also handy to have around in case of rain (which always pops up at the most unusual and inconvenient times here in LA).

7. Shoes. Unlike the clothes, I do keep a few pairs of shoes and evening bags in my trunk more-or-less permanently, thanks again to storage boxes from the Container Store.  I always have a couple pairs of sandals, flats, and heels along, so that if something comes up I don't get stuck without the right footwear or handbag. I also keep sneakers and one pair of sandals at his permanently. I am careful not to leave my nicest shoes baking in the car, and also seek out inexpensive but good looking non-leather versions of things that I won't mind damaging accidentally - such as nude pleather flats from NineWest or Target. These are also handy to have around in case of rain (which always pops up at the most unusual and inconvenient times here in LA).

8. Accessories. For the most part, I have narrowed down my accessories to one nice necklace and a couple great pairs of earrings I wear pretty much every day. But on days in which I must pack some extra punch, I have a beautiful leather two-tiered travel jewelry box by Henri Bendel (that earned a SheTrusts Trust It! rating) which I stock with extras to bring along when I know I have something more demanding coming up.

8. Accessories. For the most part, I have narrowed down my accessories to one nice necklace and a couple great pairs of earrings I wear pretty much every day. But on days in which I must pack some extra punch, I have a beautiful leather two-tiered travel jewelry box by Henri Bendel (that earned a SheTrusts Trust It! rating) which I stock with extras to bring along when I know I have something more demanding coming up.

9. Technology.  It's just a part of my day-to-day now to always have my personal notebook computer and my tablet with me, along with my phone. Having all this ads a little more weight, but I never find myself without something important when I need it.  I keep almost everything important stored in the cloud through genius programs and apps such as Dropbox and Evernote, so I don't ever have to worry about access or data loss if there's a hardware malfunction. And on the heels of running around for months with armloads of "just in case" clothes, a little computer bag seems like a pretty easy alternative.

9. Technology.  It's just a part of my day-to-day now to always have my personal notebook computer and my tablet with me, along with my phone. Having all this ads a little more weight, but I never find myself without something important when I need it.  I keep almost everything important stored in the cloud through genius programs and apps such as Dropbox and Evernote, so I don't ever have to worry about access or data loss if there's a hardware malfunction. And on the heels of running around for months with armloads of "just in case" clothes, a little computer bag seems like a pretty easy alternative.

10. Keys. We each have a set of one another's home keys - which means if our schedules get off due to Dodger Stadium traffic or an accident on the 101, one of us doesn't get stuck outside waiting or unable to lock up when heading off to an important meeting.

10. Keys. We each have a set of one another's home keys - which means if our schedules get off due to Dodger Stadium traffic or an accident on the 101, one of us doesn't get stuck outside waiting or unable to lock up when heading off to an important meeting.