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Contestants’ Wardrobes Vary In Expense And Glitter

September 15, 1987

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ The wardrobe for Miss South Carolina, Nancy Evelyn Humphries, is so extensive that it was sent to the Miss America Pageant in a truck.

Miss New Jersey, Robin Ann Lange, says she didn’t have to spend a lot of money on her wardrobe ″because I can put things together that look expensive but aren’t.″

All 51 pageant contestants’ wardrobes generally are worth thousands of dollars, but some have spent many more thousands than others.

The costs have left more than one contestant perplexed: ″If this is a scholarship pageant, we shouldn’t be spending a lot of money. That’s not what’s important here,″ said Miss Florida, Jennifer Ann Sauder.

Miss Washington Sharon Kay Dean said her state pageant ″tends to put its money into the scholarship instead of the wardrobe.″

Still, every contestant looks as if she stepped off the pages of Vogue, sporting chic leather skirts and slacks and party dresses made of lame and silk, many with fur trim.

To start each contestant off, one national sponsor donates a $1,000 cash clothing award to every state. Following suit, many local merchants donate outfits for interviews and day-to-day events during pageant week.

To supplement it all, some state pageants and family members provide contestants with an unlimited checkbook for clothes. Many raise the money through fund-raisers such as picnics and cocktail parties.

For instance, the swimsuits for Miss Oregon, Tamara Fazzolari, were donated by Jantzen, which is based in Oregon. Miss Pennsylvania, Katerina Sitaras, has a cousin who is a fashion designer and ″gave me quite a bit to wear.″

However, Miss North Carolina, Lori Wrenn Boggs, says she has many of the same clothes she used for her state pageant. Miss Massachusetts, Aura Lee McCarthy, a budding lawyer, ″tried to buy things that would go both ways - suits for the pageant and for the office.″

Miss Nevada, Stacie James, said, ″I went out and walked the streets″ looking for donations from merchants to match her state wardrobe award, while Miss Idaho, Holly Hill, is renting her evening gowns.

The wardrobes concentrate mostly on fall outfits, even though the pageant was born as a way to extend this resort’s summer season to after Labor Day. And Miss Illinois, Cindi Hodgkins, noted one fashion taboo: ″You’re not supposed to wear white shoes after Labor Day.″

All the contestants are allowed to have a say-so in their outfits, but need final approval from state pageant officials. Some acknowledge radical changes from their normal lifestyles.

Miss New York, Alice Knisley, a collector of antique clothing, said, ″Ordinarily I wear a lot of black - we tend to do that in New York.″

″My favorite item at home is an oversized tuxedo jacket and baggy pants,″ she said as she sat wearing a delicate peach suit with tiny pearls sewn around the neckline. ″I’ll admit, though, that it’s fun to dress like this.″

And if she wins?

″I guess I’ll have to learn to dress like this every day,″ she said.

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