Since I have a competition coming up this Saturday, I thought this would be an appropriate time to talk about how I prepare for a contest. Obligatory disclaimer - Everyone has their own ways to prepare, this is just mine. :)
To back it up a step, there are actually a few things I consider before deciding to enter a contest. Where is the contest being held? Does it work in my schedule? It there a cause/group tied to the event? Do I support that cause? The first of these are pretty clear - location and timing. If you can't even get to the event, there is no point in continuing further. If you can, is it the type of event you want to participate in. For me, I prefer contests tied to classic car shows and geared towards classic pinup style. There are 1,000s of contests out there - there is something for everyone.
When I have said yes to the first set of criteria, I can take a look further before submitting my application for the contest. What's the criteria for entering and judging? What are the steps involved in the contest? Just like the cause or group tied to the event, lots of events have many different judging criteria. If you like the criteria involved and think you fit within their requirements - go for it! Also, make sure you are okay with all the different sections of the judging. I tend to like the straight forward contests, anything with a talent portion is instantly off the table - at least until I can come up with my talent.
NOW, that we've decided to enter the competition - let's discuss preparing. I'm going to bypass the "how do I get there? Where do I stay (if it's out of town)?" conversation as that is pretty standard.
DOING YOUR RESEARCH
Okay, so we are in! Now, what do we know about this contest? I do my research. If I'm not familiar with the actual event, I research. I research the judges (this will be important later) and I make sure I am very familiar with the judging criteria. Also, it doesn't hurt to check out who your competition is. Lots of girls start to become familiar because you've seen them at other events and/or you become friends. Everyone has a style and different personality and that can be helpful in your preparing as well.
WHAT TO WEAR!
Every competition has a category of judging that is based solely on appearance - it's a beauty pageant. So what you wear is going to be important. In researching your judging criteria and the goals of the competition, you should already have an idea about what they are looking for. Also, consider your surroundings - is it outside? It this winter? Is it a fancy event? Is it family friendly? All of these things will help you narrow down your attire. Then consider the judges - what do you think will make you stand out for the judges. ALSO, you want to inject your own personality into this. Some girls come up with a whole outfit concept - car mechanic, traveling girl with luggage, etc. Does that work with you? For me, I tend to gravitate towards classic vintage looks and then work with that to fit the theme. BOTTOM LINE: Stick with what you are comfortable in and your comfort will allow your personality to will shine through during the competition!
PREPPING FOR JUDGING
Alright, so we've done our research and picked out our outfit. Now what? Now we prepare for the competition. You already should know who the judges are and what they will be looking for. That usually includes if there will be a question and answer portion of the competition. Competitions may ask things like "what is your favorite classic car?", "Who's your favorite pinup?", "What's your favorite dress style - swing or wiggle?", etc. You should know the answers to questions like this - especially the car questions if it's at a car show. So be ready! Sometimes, the host of the competition will let you know ahead of time what questions will be asked so you can be prepared. Sometimes, you have to answer on the fly. Either way - just be yourself. These questions should reflect who you ARE, NOT what you think the judges want you to be.
TIME FOR COMPETITION
We've done all the leg work. We are here at the competition and are ready to go. I like to check in with the competition earlier rather than later, so I have some time to walk around the event. Walk around and say hi to people. Check out the cars if it's a car show - basically make yourself available to people at the event. Often, those people are the ones that will come to watch the contest and while the judging may not require audience participation, the judges will still notice if lots of attendees like you. ENJOY YOUR TIME AT THE EVENT! The people in this vintage community are awesome. Ask them about their cars - they know A LOT! Look at the great merchandise and get to know the other girls. This is for fun after all right??
Hopefully this gave you a bit of an idea about the prep work involved in competitions. I'm off this week for the Blue Ribbon Beer Run Pinup Contest. Fingers crossed!