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  • Amber Justmann

Dress for Success (Chick Style)

Sorry boys but this conversation is for girls ONLY. It’ll be boring anyway, ya know, make-up, shopping, shoes, icky stuff, so go ahead and run along and I’m sure one of the 3P men will write to you about something soon enough.


K good they’re gone :)


It is DUE time for us to have a serious pow wow about clothes! I mean, what else? While I’ve been seeing a lot of well-composed ladies out there lately, this is going out to all the little girls who were like me and didn’t quite understand how to dress for competition. I am not kidding you when I say I was a train wreck and a half when it came to my first tournament outfit. Picture this: 14 year old, awkward, frizzy me with a banana clip in my hair, rouge and brown lipstick, a navy blue cotton blazer, orange lace undershirt, black floor length polyester skirt, black stockings, and brown clogs.






So in light of my tragic past, I am going to take you step by step through how to get tournament ready from head to toe:

Hair: The most important part of a professional, tournament ready hairdo is that it is neat and out of your face. Your hair should never be a reason why your audience cannot see your eyes or expressions so don’t let it. I would even go so far as to say no ponytails because when it’s whipping around behind you, it’s stealing everyone’s attention from you and all the sudden I have no idea what your piece is about but I know you’d be great in a Garnier commercial. Bobby pins should be your best friend and confidant once you step off the bus owing to the fact that they will keep your bangs off your forehead, hair off your neck, and make sure the whole shebang stays together and in place through a performance. If your hair is adorable but will get caught in your lip-gloss halfway through your super awesome teched out humor, you’ve got to try something else.

Make-up and Nails: Simple and elegant is the way to go. Natural shades on all accounts are your best bets. When looking at eye shadow, stay away from bright blues and try to think more browns and creams, and avoid glitter in lipsticks and glosses (your lips should not reflect light in your round like a disco ball). Other than that, just make sure you don’t overdo the blush or cake on foundation and you’ll look lovely. If you’re not much of a makeup person, don’t be scared to go to a counter at a store and ask someone there what you should do. I used to work at Clinique myself and I am telling you, they are there to help you learn how to do this sort of thing. If your nails don’t have a clear or French polish on them they better be clean! If you walk into a room with chipped, neon polish you can bet your butt that’s exactly what I’ll be staring at the entire time. Why do you want me looking at your hands at a speech competition anyway?!

Accessories: Close. Toed. Shoes. My dears, I’m sure you have lovely feet, and in fact, outside of a tournament you can talk to me about them and show them off all you want, but in a round, toes covered. I personally think heels should be a staple but if you do wear flats, they need to be equally as professional. No slippers or bare feet between rounds, heels or flats at all times. Make sure your shoes match your suit and try to stray from bows, sequins, glitter, and multi colored pumps as much as possible. Jewelry should be minimal if present at all. I am a firm believer in pearl studs with a simple pearl necklace or a silver chain with a small pendant. Leave your rings, bracelets, and nose rings at home for this one, girls (I myself always simply took out my nose stud on tournament days). Oh and purses. Small but still important factor. Please bring something professional. I personally always carried largeish black purse that matched my shoes, carried everything I needed, and didn't look obnoxious walking into a round.

Suits: And I do mean suits. Yes people can pull off an occasional dress but other than Miss. Lavere in 2008, I haven’t seen someone do it well. Pant and skirt suits should be where you live. I would suggest the jacket and bottom match and are one solid color (though a good pinstripe can always be an exception). A black suit is a classic suit and will always be effective, though a good colored number isn’t a bad a idea either as I myself went through a grey and peach suit back in my day. However, with colored suit comes GREAT responsibility. Where you can wear pretty much any colored tank or button up shirt with a black suit, you must make sure that with a colored suit that whatever shirt you find will compliment your suit AND your shoes (I’m not sure I’ve ever written a girly-er sentence). I know a lot of people don’t have the spare cash to throw at a suit from Macys but I’ll tell you my secret and say I got all of mine from Ross and Goodwill. Shhh!!

With all this in mind, remember, your job is not done when you leave the house in the morning. After a bus ride, three prelim rounds, and who knows what kind of weather you’re having, chances are your hair is probably a bit amiss and your makeup may not be all there. Make sure you have some makeup, bobby pins, safety pins, clear nail polish and such in your bag in case you need touch ups or find a run in your panty hose.



All of that on paper looks pretty darn superficial, but let me tell you why it’s 1. Not. And 2. Important.

Break all of that down. Now, what does all of that translate to? Go to a tournament looking clean, simple, and professional. I am going to take the liberty to go into detail as to why this all matters because I think the importance of all of this goes deeper than trying to aviod mismatching a navy blue blazer with a black skirt.

It's the day of a tournament. You just spent how many hours, sacrificed how many things, and stayed after school rehearsing how many times to work on what? Your performance. Now why in God’s name would you want to go to this tournament and let people pay attention to anything BUT the performance you have sacrificed so much for?? The purpose to dressing like a professional is to show people you care about yourself and therefore care about your work. Don’t let anyone question whether or not they want to spend ten minutes listening to you. You walk in dressed like you take yourself seriously and perform like you are taking yourself seriously and people won’t have a choice but to listen to you.

Never sell yourself short.

Come to win, play to win, dress to win.

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