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What to Wear for Interview

Mrs. Mississippi America 2017, Tiffany Stone, Mrs. Tennessee America 2017, Virginia May Mulrooney, pose with contestants before their interviews for the 2018 state pageants. Photo: Instagram
Mrs. Mississippi America 2017, Tiffany Stone, Mrs. Tennessee America 2017, Virginia May Mulrooney, pose with contestants before their interviews for the 2018 state pageants. Photo: Instagram

Interview is the first and arguably the most important part of the competition. The next 10 minutes when you walk into that interview room is the only one-on-one time you get with the judges. The first impression you make when you walk into that room could make or break your chances of taking home the crown.

The first impression you make when you walk into the room is crucial. One of the key factors in a nailing a first impression is your wardrobe.

Your interview wardrobe is different from your stage wardrobe. While it is true that your interview outfit, like the rest of your pageant wardrobe, gives you a chance to let your personality shine, going all out with sequins and bright colors meant for a talent outfit is probably not the best idea. (Read: What to Wear for Talent)

To ensure you pull together an interview look that is both professional and crown worthy, Pageant Planet’s latest course explores how to style your entire pageant wardrobe from top to bottom! With the help of some current titleholders’ Instagrams and a few experts from Pageant Planet’s Directory, you can build a wardrobe that would make even Miss Universe jealous!

Princess

Starting off with the tiny tots, Princess contestants should always keep one rule in mind: They need to look like kids! Contestants in this age division typically fall between the ages of three to seven. With that being said, interview provides an opportunity for these youngsters to get their first experience of a job interview setting with the understanding that they are just a kid. (Read: How to Teach Interview Etiquette for Princess Contestants)

With younger contestants, it is best to keep the look simple. Children can be distracted easily and the last thing you want if for them to be fiddling with their outfit in the interview room instead of paying attention to the judges!

A great example comes from Stella DiFilippo, a contestant for Future Little Miss Dale County 2018. For her interview, she sported this simple striped dress. With a fitted top and flared skirt, the silhouette of the dress has a “Princess” effect, perfect for this age division. To add some personality to a rather simple silhouette, a simple print like this striping adds a perfect touch of personality.

The oversized bow is a risk as it can be distracting to some judges. However, in this case, the bow is a hit! It is large, but by keeping it a neutral color and the hairstyle simple, the look is sweet and adorable, perfect for a first impression. (Read: How Much Say Should Your Princess Contestant Have in Her Wardrobe?)

Future Little Miss Dale County Contestant, Stella DiFilippo. Photo: Megan DiFilippo
Future Little Miss Dale County 2018 contestant, Stella DiFilippo. Photo: Megan DiFilippo

Two more great looks come from National American Miss Princess 2017-2018, Bailey Sheridan, and National American Miss Princess 2016-2017, Terri Lynlee Staggs.

Sheridan won the title of National America Miss Princess this year. However, before her big crowning moment, she had to get past the state pageant! When she interviewed for the National America Miss Florida Pageant, Sheridan sported this bright blue dress with a Peter Pan neckline.

A bright color like this is another fantastic option for Princess contestants. Since younger contestants can get away with prints in the interview room, there will surely be a lot. Choosing a solid bright color instead if a print can be a way to help a Princess contestant stand out. (Read: Top 10 Pageant Interview Questions for the Princess Division)

If you choose a solid colored interview dress for this division, make sure there are details to add interest to the look. Children have a lot of personality and spunk. They need a look to match. The Peter Pan neckline is an absolutely adorable detail that adds a sweetness to the look while drawing the attention to Sheridan’s face.

While she clearly already nailed her interview last year, National American Miss Princess 2016-2017, Terri Lynlee Staggs, wore this dress to the Florida state pageant, which could easily double as an interview dress in this division.

Staggs wore this beautiful mint dress with a subtle print. The layered skirt adds volume and bounce while a small belt at the waist adds the perfect amount of sparkle! (Read: Which Colors Win the Most Princess Pageants?)

National American Miss Princess 2017 2018 Bailey Sheridan with National American Miss Princess 2016-2017 Terri Lynlee Staggs before interview at National American Miss Florida. Photo: National American Miss Princess Facebook Page
National American Miss Princess 2017-2018, Bailey Sheridan, with National American Miss Princess 2016-2017, Terri Lynlee Staggs, before interview at National American Miss Florida. Photo: National American Miss Princess Facebook Page

Preteen

This is always an interesting group. Contestants in this age division are at a transition period where they can no longer adopt all the trends and behaviors of younger divisions but are still not old enough to fully embrace the title of “teenager.”

With that being said, sticking to modest but trendy dresses and traditional pageant suits are your best bet. Preteens are still a bit too young for some of the more form-fitted dress styles and jumpsuits seen in older age divisions. (Read: What to Wear for Fun Fashion)

One example comes from Miss South Carolina Preteen United States 2017, Emma Marie Cook. For her national interview at Miss Preteen United States 2017, Cook chose this light bubblegum pink number.

The silhouette of the dress is perfect. A modest top gives way to a flowy bottom full of movement for when you strut into the interview room. Pink is also a great color choice, but the key in Cook pulling it off lies in the shade she chose.

A soft pink hue neutral enough to remain professional but gives this look a touch of sweetness essential in the Preteen category. A white belt and high collar provide contrast to define Cook’s body and draw attention to her face. (Read: What Colors NOT To Wear In Pageant Interview Based On Your Hair Color)

Emma Marie Cook, Miss South Carolina Preteen United States 2017 during the 2017 Miss Preteen United States Pageant. Photo: Goodwin Photography
Miss South Carolina Preteen United States 2017, Emma Marie Cook, during the 2017 Miss Preteen United States Pageant. Photo: Goodwin Photography

This next look, from pageant contestant Emma Cook, is a great example of using contrast to create a memorable wardrobe impression in the interview room. Using a combination of dark and bright colors is an alternative to prints, which are seen much less outside the Princess division. (Read: How To Pick The Best Preteen Interview Attire)

This navy blue interview dress is to-die-for. First off, the navy color looks amazing when paired with Cook’s pale skin and blonde hair. Using a bright pink color for contrast on the hem and waist adds a pop of personality to the look. The cap sleeve is the perfect sweet touch to add coverage and ensure she still looks her age.

Pageant contestant, Emma Cook. Photo: Pixton Design Group
Pageant contestant, Emma Cook. Photo: Pixton Design Group

Black and white is a go-to color combination for interview wardrobe regardless of the age division. USA National Miss DC Preteen 2018, Alena Roberts, nailed her national interview look playing on this trend.

Cook chose a charcoal dress for her interview. Now, given her darker complexion, the dress could have blended in with her skin tone. However, adding a white sweater on top adds a pop of color that draws the attention to her face. She coordinates with matching heels to bring her look together. (Read: How High is Too High for Preteen Contestant Heels?)

USA National Miss DC Preteen 2018, Alena Roberts, after her interview at the national pageant Photo: USA National Miss DC Preteen Instagram
USA National Miss DC Preteen 2018, Alena Roberts, after her interview at the national pageant Photo: USA National Miss DC Preteen Instagram

Teen

Teen interviews are where things start to get tough. A Teen interview is the real first chance you get to see what an actual interview will be like both in the professional world and the pageant world should you decided to compete as a Miss someday. (Read: Differences Between Teen and Miss Pageant Interview)

Remember, when choosing your interview outfit, it is important to do research on the system in which you are competing. There are some pageants who prefer a more modest interview look while others are more relaxed. Massachusetts Teen Belleza Latina 2017 clearly did her homework when she rocked this Mac Duggal dress before her interview for the national pageant.

Now, prints are not as common outside of the Princess division. However, with the nature of this Teen pageant, a fun print is totally acceptable. However, it is important to note why this print works.

As mentioned above, black and white is common color combination since it is both neutral and professional. Choosing to use a black and white print helps minimize a busy detail like this. In addition, keeping the print just on the skirt and going with a bright pop of color for the top keeps the attention on her face the entire time. A nude shoe and long curls are perfect for tying this look together. (Read: How to Dress for Pageant Interview as a Teen)

Massachusetts Teen Belleza Latina 2017 sports her MacDuggal dress before her interview for the national pageant. Photo: Instagram
Massachusetts Teen Belleza Latina 2017 sports her MacDuggal dress before her interview for the national pageant. Photo: Instagram

Miss Oklahoma Teen USA 2017, Baylee Ogle, also dawned this note-worthy look before her interview at the 2017 Miss Teen USA Pageant. First, the lilac color is perfect with her fiery red mane and pale skin tone. Purple is the 2018 color of the year! Plus, it represents royalty, perfect for any pageant contestant! (Read: How You Can Use the Meaning of Colors to Win Interview)

Second, bell sleeves have been making a comeback and for good reason! The detail adds volume and movement to dress that otherwise would not. This keeps the dress appropriate for a Teen.

Miss Oklahoma Teen USA 2017, Baylee Ogle, before her interview for Miss Teen USA 2017. Photo: Miss Oklahoma Teen USA Instagram
Miss Oklahoma Teen USA 2017, Baylee Ogle, before her interview for Miss Teen USA 2017. Photo: Miss Oklahoma Teen USA Instagram

Miss

Now the Miss interview, the interview for your dream national title like Miss America, Miss USA or Miss Earth United States.

“I would tell them to choose something they feel professional, sexy and classy in,” said Michelle Aguirre, a consultant for PR Pageant Coaches and former Miss Florida USA 2013. “At the end of the day. they are interviewing a job where we can get away with wearing a knee length dress with an open back, like mine back in the day.”

Aguirre won the title of Miss Florida USA in 2013. She went on to compete at the 2014 Miss USA Pageant. While she did not make the finals, Aguirre went on to serve her title beautifully. After crowning her successor, she joined the team at PR Pageant Coaches. She has worked with multiple clients including both Miss USA 2016 Deshauna Barber and Miss USA 2017 Kára McCullough.

Michelle Aguirre pictured with client Miss USA 2017, Kára McCullough. Photo: Michelle Aguirre
Michelle Aguirre pictured with client Miss USA 2017, Kára McCullough. Photo: Michelle Aguirre

“I honestly think that a contestant should choose what fits them best based on their bodies,” Aguirre said. “Everyone is different. Does it matter whether to choose one of those three (jumpsuit, dress, or traditional suit)? NO! As long as the girl in the interview outfit feels beautiful, she will feel comfortable and confident and kill that interview!”

The perfect fit is essential for a Miss interview! Miss California United States 2017, Elizabeth J. Cron, is living proof! The bright pink number is tailored to perfectly fit her body. The bright color is refreshing and pops against her California tan and blonde hair. Her statement necklace adds a little sparkle to the look while still remaining appropriate. (Read: 5 Signs Your Pageant Seamstress is an Expert)

Miss California United States 2017, Elizabeth J. Cron, before her interview at Miss United States. Photo: Mckenzie Rae Dresses
Miss California United States 2017, Elizabeth J. Cron, before her interview at Miss United States. Photo: Mckenzie Rae Dresses

Jumpsuits are another huge trend that has exploded onto the pageant interview scene. It is easy to see why. A properly fitted jumpsuit can make your bodies look miles long. Jumpsuits are also a fresh take on the traditional pantsuit.

This Fernando Wong jumpsuit worn by Miss Belize 2017, Rebecca Rath, is a perfect example. First, the fit is perfect, a key to pulling off any jumpsuit. The entire look is tailored to fit her without being too tight. (Read: How to Dress For Your Body Type in a Pageant Interview)

The asymmetrical neckline is pure genius. It draws the focus to her face while still showing off Rath’s killer arms. The sash nips in her waist and highlights her hourglass figure. The light blush color is super trendy for spring and summer and looks amazing with her skin tone. (Read: What to Wear for Swimsuit and Fitness)

Miss Belize Universe 2017, Rebecca Rath. Photo: Fernando Wong Instagram
Miss Belize Universe 2017, Rebecca Rath. Photo: Fernando Wong Instagram

Another trend surging in pageant interview is a wide pant combined with a blouse.

“I’m into jumpsuits and lately I have been a huge fan of high-waisted, flared-out white pants with a very light pale blue or light pale pink color,” Aguirre said. “These blouses are the ones with the attached bows. OBSESSED!!!”

One of Aguirre’s favorite examples of all time comes from Miss Massachusetts USA 2016, Whitney Sharpe. She nails every aspect of the trend. The white pant is perfectly tailored to fit her body. It is also lined so the pants are not see through, an important note in pulling off this trend. (Read: Top 10 Interview Outfits From Miss USA 2017)

Her blush blouse is professional but still youthful. It is important to find a blouse that is light and thin so it will tuck in neatly like Sharpe’s. A blouse that is too thick or ill-fitted with cause the pants to bulge, creating an unflattering look.

Another important factor in pulling on this trend is the shoe! Like Sharpe, your heels should be neutral and high enough that the pants just touch the ground. (Read: What Height Should Interview Heels be Based on Age Division?)

“Shoes, keep it simple,” Aguirre said. “Again, this is an interview, they should be looking at your face and listening to what you’re saying during your interview. Some states vary, but in Florida, for example, we have four minutes. Those four minutes are precious to us and I would not want a judge to be admiring my heels while I am trying to speak and WIN this job.”

Miss Massachusetts USA 2016, Whitney Sharpe, after her for Miss USA 2016. Photo: Michelle Aguirre
Miss Massachusetts USA 2016, Whitney Sharpe, after her interview for Miss USA 2016. Photo: Michelle Aguirre

Mrs./Ms.

Now there is the Mrs. and Ms. interview. As older contestants with experience in the workforce and possibly a family, these interviews can be among the toughest in the pageant world. (Read: How to Pick the Best Ms and Mrs Interview Outfits)

The key to a Mrs. or Ms. interview look is to always keep it classy! As an older contestant, lots of cleavage or super short hemlines are no more.

“Depending on the system that you were in, you want a color that looks well on you since you were being judged on facial beauty in interview,” said Wendi Russo, CEO and Founder of Crowning Success. “You want a conservative length because you are a Mrs. or Ms. and you may be sitting down, which also will shorten your dress a bit. Nothing low cut in my opinion, and nothing that looks like you were going to a cocktail party. I recommend a fitted outfit that is not busy and does not have print.”

Russo has been in the pageantry industry since 2007. While she coaches all age divisions, Russo specializes in coaching Mrs. contestants. Russo is also a former Mrs. competitor herself, having placed first runner-up at both Mrs. America and Mrs. United States.

 

Pageant Coach, Wendi Russo. Photo: Georgina Vaughan
Pageant Coach, Wendi Russo. Photo: Georgina Vaughan

One great example of a Mrs. Interview outfit comes from Mrs. Syracuse America 2018, Patti Gomez-Michalkow. Red is always a bold color choice for interview. It is a power color that says, “Look at me!” The key to pulling off red in interview is to have the personality to carry it. (Read: Top 10 Red Pageant Dresses of 2017)

The fit of the dress is also perfect. Her body looks amazing. The simple cap sleeve adds a modest touch while the v-neckline is not crazy low. Clearly, Gomez-Michalkow has more than enough spunk to pull off this fiery color. She went on to win the title of Mrs. New York America 2017.

Mrs. Syracuse 2018, Patti Gomez-Michalkow, before her interview for Mrs. New York America 2018. Photo: Shepard Photography
Mrs. Syracuse America 2018, Patti Gomez-Michalkow, before her interview for Mrs. New York America 2018. Photo: Shepard Photography

Mrs. Jefferson County United States 2018, Catherine Kung, also produced a winning look at the 2018 Mrs. Kentucky America Pageant. Normally, all black is a no-no for a Mrs. interview. However, there are exceptions to every rule.

Kung’s look works for a few reasons. First, I cannot stress enough the importance of a great fit. Kung’s figure looks incredible.

The second key to her look lies in the wrist detailing. The wrist cuffs are very ornate and a large feature of the dress. With such a statement detail, choosing a color other than black takes away from this detail as the two would clash.

Lastly, her hairstyle is a fantastic choice. This high updo screams of modern Audrey Hepburn. In addition, the style worked for Kung on stage as well as in swimsuit and evening gown. The look helped her walk away as third runner-up. (Read: What Are the Best Pageant Evening Gowns for Each Age Division)

Mrs Jefferson County 2018 Catherine Kung after her interview for Mrs. Kentucky United States 2018. Photo: Goodwin Photography
Mrs. Jefferson County United States 2018, Catherine Kung, after her interview for Mrs. Kentucky United States 2018. Photo: Goodwin Photography

Mrs. of the America’s 2018, Charity Majors, provided another great example while she was competing for the title of Mrs. World! This skirt and blouse combination is a revamp of a trend from pageant’s past. White bottoms are always a fashion statement. An A-line skirt flatters Majors’ figure while the buttons add a fresh, cool touch.

Her simple, black, off-the-shoulder top is the perfect choice considering the skirt focus of the outfit. The addition of the straps near her neck adds a tiny bit of coverage to make this look perfect for a Mrs. or Ms. interview!

Mrs. of the America's 2018, Charity Majors. Photo: Instagram
Mrs. of the America’s 2018, Charity Majors. Photo: Instagram

Interview is one of the most critical parts of a pageant. It is your chance to show the judges the real you and why you deserve the title. Part of a successful interview includes nailing your interview wardrobe.

There are many different pageants and, as a result, many different interview looks. If you are having trouble putting together your wardrobe for your next pageant, Pageant Planet’s Directory can help you find a coach or stylist to help with all your wardrobe needs.

What are some tips you have for nailing your interview look? Comment or drop some pictures below!

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