Fit to Be Fashionably Tied

Kara Laricks knows what it means to have a dream. She also knows that sometimes you have to chase that dream and tie it down until it submits.

As a self-proclaimed “good kid” growing up in Overland Park, Laricks did her homework and earned good grades. Internally though, her thoughts were elsewhere—she had an insatiable passion for fashion. Choosing her outfits in advance for any outing or event and contemplating which ribbons looked best with her softball uniform were what truly filled her mind during the day. But Laricks’ passion for fashion remained a hobby, and she graduated college, going on to teach fourth graders. After five years of educating 10-year-olds, Laricks decided to go and wrangle her dream.

And did she. Laricks recently showed up in living rooms across the nation as a contestant on the premiere season of NBC’s design reality competition, “Fashion Star.” With her undeniably unique look and unabashed love for collared tie accessories, Laricks has finally carved out a name for herself in the super competitive world of fashion—and who knows what’s next?

435 South magazine recently caught up with this Johnson County native as she continues her journey from Midwestern educator to worldwide fashion star.

Kara Laricks
photos © 2012 NBCUNIVERSAL, INC.

435 South: You are from Overland Park, but now live in New York City. Talk a little about the journey that transported you to the Big Apple.
Kara Laricks:
I have lived on the Lower East Side of NYC for nearly four years. I graduated from the Academy of Art in San Francisco with a Master’s degree in fashion design and showed my graduate collection at Bryant Park during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City in 2008. I knew this is where I needed to be in order to pursue my career in fashion.

435: An androgynous, menswear style seems to be your forte and fits you like a glove. What is your advice to Kansas City women looking to develop their own signature look?
Buy basics you are comfortable in—a great black tee, interesting black pants, a crisp white shirt, an A-line black dress. Then, allow your style imagination to run wild. Take a risk by adding a tie, scarf or jacket. Experiment with your hair and/or makeup—you’ll be surprised at the compliments you receive. And if someone gives you a hard time, it’s probably because they wish they could be as bold and brave as you are!

435: In a recent episode of “Fashion Star,” your women’s suit design was purchased by Saks Fifth Avenue and is now available to millions of people. That must have been a surreal moment. To what do you attribute your success?
I was a sponge during my time on “Fashion Star” and soaked in every bit of expertise from both the mentors and the buyers. But truthfully, I believe a deep down confidence in my vision got me through week to week.

435: A true success story wouldn’t be as good without a few bumps along the road. Tell us about a time you felt like giving up on your dream—and why you didn’t.
When I first moved to New York in 2008, there were NO jobs available in the fashion industry—I interned for free for months. I was hired as an assistant designer only to be laid off a year later. I remember sitting (unemployed) in Times Square thinking, “What the heck have I done?” However, giving up was never an option. So, I began designing my own line of accessories—Collar, Stand + Tie. And the rest is history …

435: So the collared tie is your signature accessory. Is there a story to how this came about?
I am constantly inspired by menswear elements. The Collar, Stand + Tie represents the quintessential menswear elements upon which most of my designs are based.

435: You are a former fourth grade school teacher. If one of your students called you today to ask advice on how to make their dreams come true, what advice would you offer?
Stay focused, determined, curious, passionate and kind. Believe in your vision and others will, too.

You can currently purchase Kara Laricks’ winning “Fashion Star” style at Saks Fifth Avenue, or you can purchase her fabulous accessories at Collar, Stand + Tie at


Kara Laricks’ style file

Here are some of Kara Laricks’ fashion inspirations and go-to pieces.
Watch: I love Nixon watches—the right one can make an entire outfit.
Movie: “Valentino: The Last Emperor”
Favorite Designer: Yohji Yamamoto
Music to get inspired with: The Smiths, although some Lady Gaga always gets me going!
Must-have accessory or piece of clothing for summer: A Collar, Stand + Tie, of course, paired with a white V-neck tee and sweet trouser shorts.
Technology: iPhone — for the Emoji app alone!
Current song: “212” by Azealia Banks and “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye
Piece of furniture: Does a sewing machine on my kitchen table count?

Categories: Fashion