They always say you can’t go home again, but I don’t quite buy that. My childhood home is long sold, but I feel like I’ve gone home lots of places: at my mom’s brownstone in New York, my best friend’s family farm outside New Orleans, my Auntie’s house in Trinidad, and funnily enough, at a large pageant host hotel in Anaheim. After 2+ weeks yearly for over a decade, you start to settle in.
When you’re in the same place, reuniting with the same people each year, it’s fun to have some sassy new stuff to wear. I was so glad to have Mary Olive & Co send me some adorable clothes for NAM Nationals week. I loved the heck out of this sassy polka dotted Sherri Hill two-piece dress.
I’m a big fan of the ornate pearl beading on the top, and it was surprisingly light and comfy to wear. I’m also a sucker for cutaway backs, and any dress with pockets is a smash hit with me. Especially running around at a pageant, I prefer to have the necessities on me rather than trying to keep up with a purse.
I styled myself super-fast after a long morning of clients and headed out to the courtyard to get some shots of this MacDuggal dress, also from Mary Olive & Co. It’s made of a thin scuba material with some good drape, and gives some serious shape. It would have a been a bit much for me in my competition years, as I’m a bit of a modest mouse, but I’m grown now and it was fun to wear.
One of our clients is a Stella & Dot vendor, so I got to raid her inventory and play dress up with all her gorgeous stuff. With this striking cobalt dress, I chose the Eva ear jackets, Zinnia split ring, and gold Becker cuff.
A few of our clients were free, between rehearsal and competition, so we invited them to come down to join me for a few pictures. They came out so stinking cute I could barely handle it.
As obsessed as I am with these pictures, they’re bittersweet- I’m terrible about taking pictures while I’m working, and I wish I had such cuteness captured with all of our girls! But twelve separate competition schedules overlapped with my coaching/styling master, so we could only sync up with a few clients. And with less than a tenth of our total clientele on site at this pageant, there are sooo many smiling faces missing.
I so wish we’d have opportunities to shoot with our entire entourage of girls at once! But then I remember how hard it is to herd pageant girls into group pictures, much less keep all sets of eyes open and on the camera, and I’m good with what we’ve got.
We’ve been working with most of these older girls since they were tiny, and having gotten to watch them grow, it makes me feel old as dirt sending my babies off to college and the real world. I’m also really honored that their parents have shared them with us for so many years, and I swear on earth this #squad keeps me young and hip, and certainly always laughing.
As a former national queen, each year I attend a few alumnae events the pageant hosts for us. As one of the eldest, the meetings are always fun- I love seeing our ranks and the girls grow from year to year. This year, the pageant had some big name judges, and were kind enough to arrange meet-and-greets for us. Like with former Miss USA, Nia Sanchez, who is even more stunning in person.
Mary Olive & Co sent me this sassy striped MacDuggal as well, and I mitchy-matched my lipstick to the bodice, and collected compliments on it all day, even after I swapped my heels for flats.
We also got to spend a little more time visiting with last year’s Miss America, Kira Kazantsev. I remember her from her competition days, and she’s become a firecracker of a woman and a fab role model for young girls.
I took the opportunity to tell her about some of my little ones, and their immense (and rightfully due) cases of hero worship. They were falling over themselves in excitement to see her on their panel, and I couldn’t help but share a few of the best stories.
This is the last of the pageant talk for a while, so if you’ve come across this post in search of pageant and image consulting, you should just email me directly- we’re returning to posts about Paris soon. But the older I get, the more sentimental… I guess I should count myself lucky to have so many things to be sappy about!