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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What to Wear for Pageant Photos

Your pageant headshot is exceptionally important - this is how the judges will recognize you! You must look like your headshot and if there is a program book, there is no excuse for you to not have a headshot in the program book.

Some pageants say that 'school photos are fine' and yes, while that is 'fine', you want to stand out at your pageant. You want to be the clear stand out and your pageant photo can help with that. Here are a few suggestions (we turn to Miss America level headshots as our example):

1.  Fabrics and Necklines
Choose silky fabrics over cotton - you want the images to be fresh, not give a worn look like cotton might.

Also, when selecting attire for different shots, look for different necklines in each shot. Do not shoot 5 shots in a round collar - what if you end up realizing (after the shoot) that you do not look best in a round collar? It is better to be safe than sorry and plan ahead by bringing varied necklines to the shoot.

2. Colors
Solid colors are a best, always. Stay away from patterns, prints, logos, etc that could be distracting in the photo - nothing should take away from you!

Bright colors are better than light colors - they will do more for your complexion and skin tone.

3. Hairstyles
Style your hair based on your image. Consistency wins - you cannot be all glammed up in the photo with an up-do then walk into interview portraying a "little girl" image. Which are you? Decide on your consistent image and you can nail this component of the photo.

4. Body parts
A headshot is just that, a shot of your head. Think of a good headshot as bust and up. Hands underneath the chin, 3/4 of your  body etc change the shot. If you ate doing a headshot, let it be a headshot. If it is a full body shot, let it be a full body shot.

5. Jewelry
Jewelry should compliment you, not be the star of the photo. I highly suggest a good pair of attractive earrings for each outfit. Necklaces can be tricky, but if done right, then can help the photo pop.
Notice the attractive jewelry in Miss Florida's headshot.

6. Background
Plain color backgrounds are standard because you do not want the background to distract from you. Some photographers do their shots outside etc but do not forget that you want the focus to be on you. That tree in the background etc could become the star of your photo...
Do not let other objects be the star of your photo or distract from you!

7. Posing
This not the time for your perfect posture or head position. If your face is straight on to the camera, it will look like you took a mugshot for jail! That's why your school photographers always ask you to 'lower your chin' or 'tilt your head just a bit more' - things look different on camera! Practice your head tilts and different poses before heading into your shoot - and NO, the 'pretty feet' pose is NOT an acceptable pose. Have some fun and loosen up!

Notice the small tilt in Mallory's head

This is from a Red Carpet event! 
Notice how the lack of a head tilt makes this look like Mr. Costner's mugshot!

And PLEASE, make sure that you have ALL of your body parts in your pose! A photographer cannot add an arm etc once the photo is taken...
Notice the missing arm...?

8. Photoshop
You are not a plastic doll. You are a natural, real human being and your photo should reflect that. Do not go bonkers on the photoshopping! Remember, the photo should always look like you on that stage - judges should be able to recognize you instantaneously after looking at your photo. Unless you are in a glitz pageant that calls for such photos, photos should look like you. Minor photoshopping is allowed, but don't overdo it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How to choose the right competition gown

One of the key components to any pageant is the evening gown/formal wear. If you're competing in a modern day pageant, like NAM/IJM/USA Ambassador/USA/MAO/International/MAC etc, the rules for gowns tend to be about the same:

  • Length: Floor length gowns are best. One or two of the pageants say that you do not necessarily need a 'floor length gown' to win, but when was the last time you saw a cocktail dress win a national pageant? My point exactly. 
    • Rule of thumb: a quarter inch off of the ground is long enough. Seriously, have someone get down on the ground and assess this - can we see your shoes when you walk? If so, the dress is too short.
    • Some pageants do NOT allow trains on gowns. If they do, rule of thumb is 16-22 inches.
      • Preteens and younger should avoid trains at all costs.
        • Notice: the designer does NOT include a train in the younger girl dress design.
  • Age-Appropriateness: did you know that you could be docked points (lose points) if the gown is not age-appropriate? 
    • Pre-teens and younger should have straps - spaghetti or halter are ok (make sure straps are wide enough)
    • Junior teens and older do not necessarily need straps, but they are welcome
    • Preteens and younger should NOT have tight, form-fitting, mermaid/trumpet style gowns
    • Junior teens and older can have form-fitting styles (many junior teens are still in ballgowns, check the trend within your system)
    • Pre-teens and younger should not expose their chest at all (avoid nude illusion as well)
    • Junior teens and older can have more of a sweetheart neckline, exposing a bit of the chest area
    • Nude illusion fabric is an entirely different fabric - this will depend on the pageant system and style of the gown.
  • Color: choose a color that best reflects your personality and overall sense of style. For example, red is much more bold than baby pink. Your gown should reflect who you are, not who you are trying to be. 
  • Glitz/Rhinestones: do not overdo it with the rhinestones/bling. You want to be the main attraction in your gown, not the rhinestones.
  • Jewelry: 
    • Pre-teens and under are most safe with post style earrings (again, check the trend within your system to be sure)
      • Example: 
    • Junior teens and older can wear dangle earrings
      • Example: 

If you are unsure of your gown choice, you should be able to check with your pageant coach. Let me be honest and say that the staff in the bridal stores or pageant stores are not necessarily the best help because they do not know YOU personally - remember, this is your personal presentation in formal wear. The gown should reflect the best you and you should feel that you are at your personal best while in the gown. And, hopefully, your pageant coach has had experience competing in various pageant systems and can help you chose what that system is looking for as well. 

And I am always available to advise you! Send me a text message or an email before you go shopping so I know you are headed out and then send me pics as you try things on. I want to help you make the best choices!

With your success in mind,
Victory and Team BV