A Passion for Fashion


Calling all Fashionistas  (and even those who want to be but aren’t quite sure how to get there), this post is for you!  I’m stepping away from my emotional- uplifting- therapuetic-you’re-really-doing-great-at-this-motherhood-thing post to introduce a different side of your resident Mommy/ Therapist/ Contributor:  The Fashionista.  Now, this is a self-proclaimed title so if you don’t like my style or you have a fashion/design degree then just amuse me for a minute while you read on…

Mrs. Spade gets a lot of things right in my book and I think this quote is one of them.

I don’t know about you, but I love dressing up.  Especially in this season of toddler-hood that I find myself in, it is truly a luxury to get dressed up, have someplace to go, and not have yesterday’s lunch stuck to the back of my pants.  For me, that comes mostly in the days that I go into the office.  You may remember me blogging through my return to work in this post   I wrote that back in July and since then I have grown very accustomed to my dual roles.  In fact there are some really great things about it.  For one, my work is extremely fulfilling.  I love being a therapist and never take for granted that I am so uniquely privileged to share the journeys of complete strangers in such an intimate way.   There are lots of other great things about my job in a very professional sense but somewhere (pretty near the top) of the list of reasons why it’s OK to work outside of the home is because it gives me the ability to dress up!

Putting an outfit together is like art.  It is simply another way that I can express myself, and just like an artist paints on a beautiful canvas, I can express myself through the clothes I wear. Fashion doesn’t have to be about emaciated models or uber-priced clothing. There is a very healthy way to enhance our own body image by dressing well for our bodies.

And because I can’t totally step away from my usual point of view, I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to make fashion fun and appropriate if you have young daughters.  I have written about this before, with some helpful tips and you can read about that here.

OK, back to the clothes.  Now, when I challenged myself to do a post like this it meant I had to take those self-indulgent photos of myself while holding my iphone in front of me.  I apologize for the silly-ness of that and the poor quality of the photos.  My inspiration comes from a lot of places: the runway, Pinterest, color combinations, and the J.Crew catalog.  Oh how I love the Crew.  Once I have a color palate I tend to add on the glam.

For instance:

Hello Bright Pencil Skirts!  Neon is most certainly a trend this spring and if you can incorporate it somehow into your wardrobe I encourage it…in pieces.  TIP #1: You want to pick one thing on trend and utilize in a pop.  If you aren’t ready to bust out a bright orange or pink skirt then do it subtly with a belt or bangle. With both of these outfits my tops are more low key than the skirt.  There is some pattern, but it doesn’t have to compete or overpower the statement piece.

 The next step is accessorizing.  Tip #2: Fashion Jewelery is a great place to save money! Invest in pieces you will wear forever, don’t spend a lot of money on accessories because they tend to be more short-lived.  They change more often than a great pair of pants or well made skirt will.  Right now gold and bangles are all the rage and I am embracing it to the max.  I love arm candy and it is an easy, non-committal way to add some punch to your wardrobe.  Most of my accessories (in jewelery form) come from Target.  Yup, good ole Tar-get.  I can buy numerous bracelets for the price of one at a larger higher end store.  I will say that I do splurge on jewelry from J.Crew every once in a while.  It tends to be less trendy and can last from season to season.

Here is a great example of accessories making an otherwise boring outfit fashionable and up to date.  These are grey trousers with a yellow sweater.  Not too exciting right?  Add some leopard print heels and we have a party!  I also have a black sparkle belt on, a statement necklace and my bracelets.  This outfit is still pretty conservative for the work place because for the most part the shoes are covered by the pants, but I get to embrace my inner-fashionista because I didn’t go with a neutral.

If you aren’t headed into the office, this look can still work for you.  Just swap out the trousers for jeans and the leopard print heels for leopard print flats and you are ready for the library, a walk around the zoo, the grocery store, the car-pool pick up line or just to wow your husband when he returns home from work! Tip #3: If you are looking to update your wardrobe start with one trendy piece that you know you won’t be afraid to wear and build from there.  Shoes are a great place to start.

So let’s talk about the mom-wardrobe for a minute shall we?  I only work in the office two days a week and while those days are most certainly the easiest days to glam it up, I also love to get my fashion on out of the office.  These two looks are regular old days for me.  (Can you see my laundry baskets beckoning to me?)  The look on the right is an example of (Tip #4): adding on the layers to make a statement.  I started with jeans and a button down.  Then I added a simple t-shirt over the button down and then finished with a great jacket (Ann Taylor Loft) and a bright red flat- (J.Crew here)

On the left you will see another trend: (Tip #5): color blocking.  Two bright complementary colors and not much else.  If you are going to go bold like this, pair it with a neutral shoe and limit your accessories.  You will automatically look fashionable because you are in bright colors.  Beware though, not all colors go together.  Before you go throwing all your solid color pieces together, think about that color combination in another medium- would they look good together on a throw pillow or curtain?  Even stationary or wrapping paper patterns provide good insight as to what colors look good together.  Start taking note and replicating it with your clothes.  If you are afraid to start, start with navy.  It isn’t black, but it is neutral enough to ease you in gently.  Still need some help?  Here’s a hint: Navy looks great with Kelly green or hot pink.

Tip #6: Once you find a style/store/brand you love and know looks good on you, stick with it and invest there.  I know my sizes at J.Crew and watch the sales so I can stock up on my forever pieces.  Lined pants, superbly tailored skirts, well made blouses, etc.  I don’t have time to do this with numerous stores so I stick with one and go with it.  Tip #7: Sign up for the store’s e-mail list.  You will receive notifications when things go on sale and often before they are listed in the stores.  Many stores have special days where additional discounts are given for card-members or frequent shoppers and there are often times “secret” on-line sales that are only available to those on the e-mail list.  This is how I get a lot of my J.Crew pieces.  For instance, that bright pink pencil skirt up there retails for $128 but I got it for more than half off thanks to it already being discounted and the additional 30% off given in that secret sale that I was notified by via e-mail.

Tip #8: Reproduce what you like. I found these images on the far left of each picture via Pinterest and loved the look.  I happened to have simillar pieces to make each look my own and did just that.   If you see something you like, go to your own closet first and try to replicate it.  Tip #9: Sometimes shopping your own closet with fresh eyes is the best way to get started! 

Finally, getting dressed in the morning should be fun!  If you dread your walk to the closet each day then ask yourself what your expectations are for your body, and yourself.  If your internal playlist is negative self-talk then you won’t ever think you look good in anything.  Tip #10: Start telling yourself how wonderfully made you really are and redefine your expectations to a more realistic standard.  You are worth more than the size of your jeans.

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Tracy Carson is a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor, a wife to her Prince Charming whom she has been married to for 10 years and a Mom of two precious boys, 5 and 3. Tracy has a passion for helping women feel beautiful inside and out and works hard in her faith based counseling practice, Professional Counseling Associates, (www.pcaaz.com) specializing in the treatment of women’s issues: especially anxiety, development, and eating disorders and counts it a privilege to come alongside of women as they overcome the stress that can come with new life transitions. When Tracy is not in her professional role, you can probably find her out running or trying to figure out how to incorporate the newest fashion trends into her wardrobe. Follow her on twitter @tkcarson


  1. Amazing style, you look great! I have to admit I noticed how much I liked your outfit in the group shots, of course all the moms look great but I definitely noticed how on trend you were! Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is so fun, Tracy – my favorite part is just enjoying fashion because you love it and it makes you feel good – makes me want to play along! (do yoga pants and a ponytail count? 😉 )

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