Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Controversy in the Interview Room... but not over abortion or the war!

Okay, well maybe the word “controversy” is too strong, but since this photo of Miss Virginia, Hannah Kiefer, surfaced on the internet this evening there has been opinionated discussion about this, her interview outfit. [Click to enlarge; origin unknown.]

Two days ago in my “wardrobe tips” I touched on the fact that the image of Miss America is changing, especially in the interview room. At the local and state level most contestants are still doing what is safe, but I love that Miss Virginia dressed outside of the box for her Miss America interview.

On the national message baord, no one dislikes the outfit, but three debates emerged: Is it really fashion forward? Is sleeveless appropriate in January? And is she wearing panty hose?

All are stupid really; because the most important questions are did she look great? Yes. And did she feel great in it? She seemed to in the picture.

As for the stupid debates, naysayers have asserted that it’s just a stuffy knit dress that an older woman might wear to a fundraiser. Yes, I agree that it’s a classic style, and therefore works on stylish women of all types. Change the gold accessories to silver and I’d wear it all day long!

Next, some feel it’s not seasonal. I disagree; it’s not like it’s spaghetti straps, and red is a year round color! How unfortunate would it have been if she had settled for an outfit she didn’t love as much just because she thought she had to wear sleeves in January. I think part of what Miss America: Reality Check tried to teach us is that sticking to rules like that is what is holding pageants back. You have to admit, pageant wardrobes tend to follow a lot of rules! As a contestant, I found they helped me feel like I was doing things right. BUT all the rules have created what’s called the “pageant patty” image which pageant civilians can not identify with.

Finally, this debacle about panty hose has been brewing for several months and it honestly has me confused! While I am certain that colored stockings were very trendy this fall, many on the pageant net declare they wouldn’t be caught dead in hose. Despite what you call them - panty hose, stockings, nylons - do you think they're in, or out?

I consider myself rather fashionable but I had no idea that many feel hosiery is “out” until I read it on a message board. Of course, we've all heard it argued that it’s tacky to wear hose with sandals, but I didn’t realize wearing them in any way was considered old fashion.
Bare legs, they say, are sexier and more youthful.

I disagree; again, you should do what makes YOU feel best. Why would someone go bare legged if they’re not confident with the way their legs look?! I am pro-hose in three situations: #1. When my legs aren’t tanned or freshly shaved. (Some argue there are self-tanners. True. But I say hose are cheapers, easier and faster. Especially in cooler months, which brings us to #2... ) #2. For warmth, especially when I’m going to a venue that is likely air conditioned. #3. When even the most seamless thong would show a line. I personally prefer sheer hose that aren’t obvious and I own a couple pair of toe-less hose to wear with peep-toed heels and some sandals.

CLICK HERE for a fashion blog that has a ton of comments discussing the issue (from non-pageant points of view). It's even the topic of THIS year old business news article, "Pantyhose Regaining Footing After Losing Legs."

(I’ve always advised other contestants not to wear them in an opening number, as to not put lines on their stomach for swimsuit, but to always wear them with evening gown (if the gown allows) because they create a smooth line, help you hold your stomach in and they make you feel more elegant as you glide or strut across the stage, as opposed to clammy bare skin under your beautiful, expensive gown!)

As for Miss Virginia, some are using her to win the anti-hosier argument. I find that absurd! You can not tell from this picture! Perhaps she’s wearing a sheer pair. This is truly one of the dumbest arguments I’ve encountered in the pageant world, and that’s saying a lot!

Back to the general suit versus interview outfit issue, as I already said, I am all for a realistic, professional yet trendy outfit. Of the four business suits I wore while competing in the MAO system, I have only gotten use out of one of them outside of the pageant world. On the other hand, the two outfits I interviewed in at Miss Ohio USA have been further worn at everything from job interviews to holiday parties and casual events.

I love all of my Miss Ohio (America) suits, but the fact is that a lime green silk skirt suit, and another we affectionately call the “snow princess suit” do not have a function in the real world. They were perfect for the pageants, at the time, but I am excited for current and future contestants who can hopefully spend their money on items that will be practical in other parts of their lives.


  1. Abby - I really enjoy reading your blog and think you often have good points. That being said, I think you go about your polls in a way that doesn't really get true results. As a professional in the comm. world, I see that you lead your readers prior to asking the questions. For example, in this poll, people like your blog, they read it, often agree with you and are voting how you wish for them to vote (most likely). And that's fine as this is not a scientific deal - I'm just saying that if you really are looking for a straight answer - leave the question and post your thoughts on the matter after the votes are in. Get where I'm coming from? Not a criticism - just an observation and pointer on polls. Have a great day!

  2. That’s a really great point.

    There have been poll results that have surprised me, and I think my readers are free thinkers; but in the future I’ll definitely take your suggestion and plan my entries better and post the poll first.

    As for this entry, I did move the poll above my opinions, but there have already been 16 votes, so we’ll see if it now swings the other direction…

    I am receiving above average hits, perhaps from Miss America fans from across the country finding my blog while they Google for info from Vegas this week, so perhaps this poll will get more votes than normal too! :)

    Thanks again for your input. Also, if anyone has a suggestion for a poll topic, drop me a line.


  3. Love this post! This is so true. I have been criticized for going hoseless on stage on the boards which shall remain nameless:) I don't see what the big deal is. As for out of the box and not pageant patty like, when I wear my orange suit, I'm going to wear my orange shoes!:P Thank you, Miss Virginia, for giving me the confidence!:)

  4. Love this discussion of general business suit or interview outfit to wear to the judges' private meeting. It's quite timely and crystallizes what's going on at the moment. Per Sam Haskell's suggstion for state reps not to wear suits for interview, some states shook things up a bit in Vegas.
    Virginia's interview look took the lead and was a smash triumph. Observers love deconstructing her red interview dress. No doubt, the trendy, modern interview outfit works for her.
    I've connections to a 2008 state representative. She followed Haskell's directive, eschewing the suit. Her interview outfit was unbelieveable and extraordinary. Indescribable. Some felt it was the most powerful part of her pageant wardrobe.
    I got goosebumps when I saw photos of Miss Texas in interview. She looked fantastic. Her black suit wasn't as revolutionary as Virginia's, yet the BLACK set off her blonde hair. Amazing.
    Just before the pageant, I added Miss New Hampshire to my projected top 15. I had heard last minute positive NH buzz. She didn't make the cut. Viewing photos from Vegas, I think her traditional "bank teller in Boston" look was lackluster. Had she worn a dreamy confection, she might've had the judge's attention right out of the gate.
    No doubt, the Haskell-approved non-traditional outfit seems a trend diminishing the Powersuit.


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