Miss LSU Through the Ages
Elisabeth Popov, Dillon Hoglen, Madison Morgan, and Mollie Nelson
Since the mid 1900s, LSU has hosted many beauty contest and pageants. Through the years, what is known today as the Miss LSU pageant has gone through many name changes. Not only has the title changed over the years, but the pageants head shots, swimsuits, and evening gowns have evolved based on the popular style during that time. Each pageant had its own unique style that differs from the fashion in pageants today.
In 1962, the Miss LSU pageant was known as Miss Darling. Twenty-five contestants competed to win the title of Miss Darling, but Linda Sue Simmons took home the crown, as seen in Figure 2: Miss Darling 1962. Miss Darling was based on personality and beauty. The fashion back in 1962 consisted mostly of long sleeve and knee length dresses with gloves to create a formal and conservative look.
Figure 3, Mary Easterwood is pictured wearing a white short- sleeve dress past the knees and white gloves. Another contestant, Judy Coday, is pictured in Figure 4 wearing a two-piece dress suit with a collar and six large buttons down the middle.
In 1970, style in the pageant life changed dramatically in just eight years. This time, Miss Darling was known as a court rather than a pageant. Only five female LSU students were chosen to be on the Miss Darling court based on their beauty and personality. In the 1970’s, women began to wear shorter clothing and grow out their hair. Some pictures even began to print in color. The styles that did not change were the suits with large buttons down the middle and the curled tips of the hair. As seen in Figure 4: Miss Darling LSU Patty, the winner of Miss Darling 1970 is shown reading a book while wearing a bright green short sleeve coat on top a simple white long sleeve t-shirt. Havard also wore a black flowy mini skirt with brown strappy sandals and a black floppy hat. Her outfit represents how the style in the 1970’s was still conservative but more relaxed than in the 1960’s. Pictured in Figure 5, the contestants wore dresses and suits above the knee which included buttons and accessories such as jewelry and ties. Based in figure 5, these outfits were worn in the Spring based on their bright colors and the flowers blooming in the photo.
Miss Darling was later named Miss LSU in 1986 when Ona Carson took home the crown. In 1986, Carson took the stage to crown the 1987 Miss LSU, Jeanne Burns. The Miss LSU pageant in 1987 differed tremendously from Miss Darling in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Miss LSU became a larger pageant with more contestants who competed in multiple portions. Contestants competed in a swimsuit, talent, and evening gown competition. As time went on, women’s clothing became more relaxed so women began to wear more revealing clothing. Each contestant was required to wear a one-piece swimsuit so show off their fit figure, as seen in Figure 8. Contestants were also required to wear a long formal evening gown which highlighted their beauty and style. Most gowns in the 1980’s were made with beads, jewels, shoulder pads, and fringe. As you can see in Figure 7, the winner Jeanne Burns, wore a white beaded gown with shoulder pads and a large slit on the left leg that goes high up her thigh. The contestants would accessorize with large diamond earrings and get their hair done in a perm. Contestants also competed in the talent portion where they chose an outfit to fit their talent. In Figure 8, the 4th runner up, Barbara Keating, took the stage to sing a song for the talent potion. Miss LSU was sponsored by Phi Mu sorority where all proceeds would be donated to their philanthropy, Project HOPE.
Not much had changed from the 1980’s to the 1990’s in the pageant world. Miss LSU still held the evening gown, talent, and swimsuit portion. Miss LSU in 1995 included the interview section, where contestants were judged on their personality, poise and composure. Therefore, this pageant included three different wardrobe changes. As you can see in figure 12, some evening gowns began to look slimmer and more fitting, while some evening gowns still had shoulder pads. Some dresses were simple and slimming, some dresses are beaded and jeweled on the whole dress, and some dresses include the 80’s style of shoulder pads. For the talent portion, most women changed out of their evening gowns and into a shorter more revealing dress, or a sparkly dress as seen in figure 10. Usually contestants matched their talent outfit to their personality and talent to stand out. Not much style in swimwear had changed from 1987 to 1995. As seen in figure 11, contestants still wore a one-piece swimsuit during the swimwear competition. For this year’s Miss LSU, each portion of the pageant was awarded a winner who would take home a $1000 scholarship, but the Miss LSU 1995 winner overall was Rachel Cobb. This year’s Miss LSU continued the tradition to be hosted by Phi Mu sorority and donated all proceeds to their Philanthropy.
In 2006, the Miss LSU pageant included a swimsuit, evening gown, and interview portion of the contest. Since the 1990’s, the talent portion has been replaced with the interview portion. The winner of the 2006 pageant was Rachel Smith, shown in figure 9 being crowned by the former queen, Katherine Ellard. During the swimsuit portion, all of the contestants wore two piece swimsuits unlike the past Miss LSU pageants. The girls were required to wear a floor length evening gown. Most of the gowns consisted of a silk overlay embedded with rhinestones. As the years went on, the dresses began to be more revealing, with deeper cuts in the front and tighter fitting gowns. In the past, the Miss LSU crowns were significantly smaller than they are to this day. Crowns are much taller and embellished with more rhinestones than before. The 2006 pageant photos were also in color rather than black and white in 1995. This advantage allows us to see up close details from the contestants. As shown in figure 10, you can see the bold, blue eye shadow that the winner is wearing to match her dress. Contestants would also receive a spray tan at local beauty shops to make their skin glow and to look healthier. Tans also help shape the body to look slimmer, so most contestants get one before the pageant to enhance their looks.
Since 1998, the Sigma chapter of Delta Zeta has hosted the Miss LSU pageant every spring to raise money for their local and national philanthropy. On March 18th, 2018 Olivia Rackley was crowned the current Miss LSU. It is easy to see from the human eye how the outfits and looks of the contestants have changed. The swimsuits changed from a classic one piece to many different styles of a two piece. The modern-day swimsuit consists of a revealing bikini to show off the contestants curvy and fit body. This year’s swim suit competition winner was Paige Goff, a Louisiana local wearing a bright pink two piece, which was way different than the swimsuit shown in the 1987 competition. The modern-day headshots have drastically changed over the years. Headshots now are seen in color with a solid white background, pictured in figure 16. Contestants have grown out their hair and wear a natural glam makeup look. The dresses and outfits now show much more skin than in previous completions, with revealing swimsuits and dresses that are either crop top or include a slit in the bottom half. Miss LSU is a program that crates a positive experience for all contestants to show their skills in health, fitness, beauty, and personal interview. Over the decades, the style of contestants in Miss LSU has drastically changed from swimsuits to evening gowns, but their fashion has always found a way to make a statement and show off their beauty no matter the year.
Figure 1: Miss LSU Contestants. https://misslsuusapageant.com/. 2018.
Figure 2: Miss Darling 1962. Gumbo Yearbook 1962.
Figure 3: Miss Darling Contestant Mary Easterwood. Gumbo Yearbook 1962.
Figure 4: Miss Darling Contestant Judy Coday. Gumbo Yearbook 1962.
Figure 5: Miss Darling LSU Patty Havard. Gumbo Yearbook 1970.
Figure 6: Miss Darling Contestants. Gumbo Yearbook 1970.
Figure 7: The 1987 Miss LSU Pageant Court. Gumbo Yearbook 1987.
Figure 8: Miss LSU 1987 Jeanne Burns. Gumbo Yearbook 1987.
Figure 9: 4th Runner Up Barbara Keating Takes the Stage During the Talent Portion. Gumbo Yearbook 1987.
Figure 10: Iris Fagundo Lights Up the Stage with her Glittery Evening Gown. Gumbo Yearbook 1995.
Figure 11: Blythe Landry Smiles at the Judges as she Models in the Bathing Suit Competition. Gumbo Yearbook 1995.
Figure 12: The Eight Participants Await the Judges’ Final Decision. Gumbo Yearbook 1995.
Figure 13: Katherine Ellard Crowning Rachel Smith. Gumbo Yearbook 2006
Figure 14: Rachel Smith Pictured After Winning the Miss LSU Pageant. https://misslsuusapageant.com/. 2018.
Figure 15: Paige Goff Swimsuit Competition Winner. https://misslsuusapageant.com/. 2018.
Figure 16: Current Miss LSU Olivia Rackley. https://misslsuusapageant.com/. 2018.
Figure 17: Olivia Rackley Crowned Winner. https://misslsuusapageant.com/. 2018.
Figure 18: Christina Black Shown in More Revealing Dress. https://misslsuusapageant.com/. 2018.
“Gumbo Yearbook, Class of 1962” (1962). Gumbo Yearbook. 62. Web. Accessed 16 April. 2018.
“Gumbo Yearbook, Class of 1970” (1970). Gumbo Yearbook. 70. Web. Accessed 16 April. 2018.
“Gumbo Yearbook, Class of 1987” (1997). Gumbo Yearbook. 87. Web. Accessed 16 April. 2018.
“Gumbo Yearbook, Class of 1995” (1995). Gumbo Yearbook. 95. Web. Accessed 18 April. 2018.
“Gumbo Yearbook, Class of 2006” (2006). Gumbo Yearbook. 06. Web. Accessed 20 April. 2018.
MissLSUUSApageant. Web. Accessed 22 April. 2018.