Harriett Lake's wardrobe lives on in a coffee-table book


October 5, 2018

"Too Much is Not Enough" gives readers a snapshot of the grand dame of fashion.

Fashion guru Coco Chanel famously said, "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off." This wasn't anywhere close to what Harriett Lake thought. Her fashion style was "once you get dressed, put on one thing more." In everything from clothing to charitable giving, Lake's philosophy, biography and wardrobe (or a portion of it) are captured in "Too Much is Not Enough: The History of Harriett's Closet," a just released coffee-table book written by Kristina Tollefson and Jodi Ozimek.

Tollefson, a UCF associate professor and costume designer for Theatre UCF, knew Lake for more than 11 years. Her love of vintage clothing is what drew her to Lake, and after perusing Lake's wardrobe, Tollefson knew a book would be in the making.

"Too Much is Not Enough: The History in Harriett's Closet" is much more than a picture book of Lake's wardrobe. As Tollefson rummaged through that famous closet, Lake would tell her about the outfits. Lake was what one might call an organized hoarder of anything fashionable. She occasionally confessed to Tollefson that she might have had a problem. With more than a combined total of 7,000 outfits, hats and shoes, she knew the where's and why's of every outfit she bought. Listening to Lake tell about her ensembles, Tollefson would get a history lesson of Lake's life-her upbringing in Miami and her childhood friends, Fern and Pearl, who inspired her love of fashion; her time served in the Marines (which explains her love of vibrant colors after wearing the drab khaki-colored uniform); and the social scene in Central Florida.

The book brings to light how Lake's life influenced her wardrobe. For example, as a child, there was this red coat she wanted, but her family couldn't afford it. When she finally could afford that red coat, she never could have enough of them.

Lake's earliest piece is an original suit-navy and red plaid jacket and plain skirt-bought when she got out of the Marines for $25-an astronomical price at the time.

Lake was involved in the whole creative process from start to almost finish. With her guidance and approval, Tollefson started on the journey of creating this 550-page book that displays more than 200 outfits-a mere five percent of the entire collection.

"She couldn't see the book because her vision was not good, so I read the book to her," Tollefson said. "She approved of everything."

Tollefson desperately hoped to release the book before Lake passed away. Ironically, Lake died the day Tollefson sent the manuscript to the publisher.

Co-writer Ozimek, who lives in Michigan, met Tollefson while studying at Purdue University. The two women worked in tandem long distance to write the story line. Local photographer Tony Firriolo choreographed and shot all the pictures of Lake's favorite ensembles. Shelley Lake photographed the well-known cover shot of Lake in white fur and the large George Burns-styled glasses.

"The first chapter explains why we wrote this book," said Tollefson. "The second chapter is Harriett's biography and sets up the structure of the book."

The remaining chapters are stories from Lake's life centering on each outfit. Wonderful quotes from Lake spice the pages. "I'm trying to keep a low profile and yet my clothes don't allow that, I guess," she quipped on one page splashed with bright orange and striking yellow ensembles.

"Harriett's clothing is not just a possession. It is an extension of her vibrant and benevolent personality, and her love and devotion to her clothing is contagious," wrote Tollefson and Ozimek in the opening pages.

"Too Much is Not Enough: The History in Harriett's Closet" is available on amazon.com for $95. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Orlando Museum of Art and the Orange County Regional History Center if purchased at these locations.


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