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St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Meet Laurie Cohen: Synagogue staffer and style guru


As a teen growing up in St. Louis, Laurie Cohen remembers how excited she was when she got to visit family in New York and her uncle would take her to apparel houses in Manhattan’s garment center. There, she would scan the racks of sample dresses, skirts and pants, selecting her favorites. Talk about a kid in a candy store.

“He would send me boxes of samples (clothing) when I was in college,” she said. “My college roommates and me — we’d all go crazy when the boxes came.”

Today, at age 71, Cohen is very much a fashionista who still gets excited mixing and matching outfits and figuring out which accessories best complement them. She’s also something of a fashion guru to several younger co-workers at Congregation B’nai Amoona, where they have helped her start and maintain an Instagram account. 

According to B’nai Amoona’s Vickie Shuchart, “what started out as a funny idea has become one of our daily to-dos. We do a ’fit check, discuss the day’s photo location and who she’s wearing and tagging her in the post.”

Cohen’s Insta account, @stylinbylaurie, isn’t likely to hit influencer status anytime soon — she currently has 57 followers — but that’s not the point. Collaborating on the account — and taking daily fashion pics — have built fellowship and friendship, and a congenial workplace.

“I’m doing this for fun, and it’s definitely been that,” said Cohen, who works as an administrative assistant to B’nai Amoona Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham and Cantor Sharon Nathanson. “And it’s definitely been great for all of us camaraderie-wise.”

On the day we met at the synagogue, Cohen was wearing a black-and-white print sleeveless jersey dress that skimmed the knee, with a lightweight turquoise open cardigan and black leather crisscross sandals — perfectly appropriate for the office. She demonstrated how she would “dress down” the outfit for a casual outing by losing the cardigan and trading the black sandals for gold flipflops. She also would tone down her jewelry from dressier gold and turquoise bracelets to a stack of beaded ones.

Cohen claims she’s an “equal-opportunity shopper,” and plays no favorites. Nordstrom, Marshall’s, Loft, J. Crew, Target, Amazon — she’s been there, shopped that. 

“I don’t really shop a lot, but I have a lot that’s built up,” explained Cohen, who is married with two adult daughters and belongs to B’nai Amoona. “I mix old with new, and I like to accessorize, so that changes up how an outfit looks. I just really like looking put together.”

Those are the exact words Tanya Spivey, shulcloud database and web manager/supervisor at B’nai Amoona used to describe Cohen’s style: “put together.” Spivey, 38, was the one who suggested that Cohen start an Instagram account in the first place.

“I just want to shop Laurie’s closet,” she said. “She’s shown me how to change jewelry from day to night, and the power of a shawl. We work in a building that’s as temperamental as it can be (when it comes to temperature), and Laurie always has a shawl that matches her outfit perfectly.”

Another colleague, Samantha “Sam” Zucker, 27, who is B’nai Amoona’s graphic designer and communications coordinator, said she has had to “step up her game” working alongside Cohen.

“Seeing her outfits every day is a lot of fun, we all look forward to it. She’s always so stylin,’ ” said Zucker. “She’s really found a cool niche — how to make style age appropriate, work appropriate, evening appropriate. She does it all.”

When it comes to summer wardrobe staples, Cohen suggests “a good white T-shirt and other colored T-shirts that you can mix and match with a skort or white pants.”

“Then you wear some cute jewelry to liven it up,” she continued, adding that keeping a summer look simple is often the way to go. 

Shuchart, 50, director of strategic operations at B’nai Amoona, said that in the last six months, she can think of at least three dresses that she bought after seeing Cohen wearing them.

“She is my fashion inspiration. Not a day goes by that one of us doesn’t say, ‘Now, where are those shoes from?’ or ‘Laurie, are those pants new?’

“I recently ran into Laurie at Creve Coeur Lake and as we ran aways along the path, she starts huffing and puffing as she tells me the story of the skort she’s wearing. It’s a recent Costco find and mid-run we discuss if she can pull it off at work over the summer.” 

If anyone can, it’s likely Cohen. At least, according to, her fashion faithful.

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About the Contributor
Ellen Futterman
Ellen Futterman, Editor-in-Chief
A native of Westbury, New York, Ellen Futterman broke into the world of big city journalism as a general assignment reporter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in the latter part of the 20th century. Deciding that Tinsel Town was not exciting enough for her, she moved on to that hub of glamour and sophistication, Belleville, Ill., where she became a feature writer, columnist and food editor for the Belleville News-Democrat. A year later the St. Louis Post-Dispatch scooped her up, neither guessing at the full range of her talents, nor the extent of her shoe collection. She went on to work at the Post-Dispatch for 25 years, during which time she covered hard news, education, features, investigative projects, profiles, sports, entertainment, fashion, interiors, business, travel and movies. She won numerous major local and national awards for her reporting on "Women Who Kill" and on a four-part series about teen-age pregnancy, 'Children Having Children.'" Among her many jobs at the newspaper, Ellen was a columnist for three years, Arts and Entertainment Editor, Critic-at-large and Daily Features (Everyday) Editor. She invented two sections from scratch, one of which recently morphed from Get Out, begun in 1995, to GO. In January of 2009, Ellen joined the St. Louis Jewish Light as its editor, where she is responsible for overseeing editorial operations, including managing both staff members and freelancers. Under her tutelage, the Light has won 16 Rockower Awards — considered the Jewish Pulitzer’s — including two personally for Excellence in Commentary for her weekly News & Schmooze column. She also is the communications content editor for the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis. Ellen and her husband, Jeff Burkett, a middle school principal, live in Olivette and have three children. Ellen can be reached at 314-743-3669 or at [email protected].