Tracey Colvin

The Baltimore Sun

Loyola Marymount University professor Tracey Colvin credits her mother and grandmother with helping her develop her sense of style. The 31-year-old Owings Mills native did them both proud as she joined them for dinner at the Ruth's Chris Steak House in Pikesville. "I think we all absorb little pieces of our environment and patch them together to create a unique sense of style that expresses who we are. The women in my family are a huge part of who I am and how I express myself. My mother and grandmother are voices that I carry with me everywhere I go."

Age : 31

Residence: Los Angeles

Job : Professor of English at Loyola Marymount University and a doctoral student

Self-described style : "Eclectic, practical, bohemian."

The look : Turquoise rayon Yuka Platinum beaded knit dress. Three-tone metallic Michelle platform peep-toe D'Orsay pumps. Diamond band ring, diamond art deco ring and diamond stud earrings.

Where it came from : The dress, in Los Angeles. Her shoes, from The diamond band, from J. Brown Jewelers. The art deco ring is an heirloom that she was given by grandmother Arlene Gorm. And her earrings were gifts from her mom to celebrate Colvin getting her master's degree.

How important is fashion? : "I'd like to say 'not very' and part of me really believes that. But the truth is that everyone is a little motivated by aesthetics - their own and others. Whether we choose to admit it or not, we all want to feel beautiful. Women are inundated with images of 'perfection,' and that's a double-edged sword for most of us. It encourages us to be physically healthy, but it also promotes aesthetics that are intimidating, objectifying and almost impossible to attain."

Shopping : equals math : "Money is always a factor. I'm a doctoral student without a lot of expendable cash. Besides, I enjoy my little victories over big retailers. There's a sense of justice and satisfaction that comes with getting a fantastic bargain."

Bargain shopping has its price: "I'll buy something that doesn't really fit me that well just because it's on sale. Then it will sit in my closet for a year before I realize that the deal just wasn't worth it."

A little can look like a million: "I worked at Ross one summer when I was in high school. ... I learned an important lesson: It's no great feat to make a $10,000 dress look like a $10,000 dress - anyone can do that. Making a $10 shirt look like a million bucks is an accomplishment that takes confidence, creativity and skill."

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