Styled by Abdiel Gonzalez
Photography by Dan Austin
Hair and Makeup by Amanda Fernandez of Reborn Blowdry Bar and Barber
Locations: The Terrace and Cob & Pen
Power suiting, the season’s color trends, and a Q&A with Miss Florida
There’s a certain aura that a suit puts into the air. Intentional or not, it either says “fear me” or evokes the same butterflies you get when you see your favorite superhero suit up. From the beginning, this wardrobe must-have was reserved for men and seen as the ultimate show of dominance and masculinity. It took the iconic Coco Chanel, a pioneer in fashion and business in the 1920s, to liberate women from the societal constraints of corsets and dresses, and gave them the everyday women’s uniform: a lightweight blazer and skirt.
The emergence of the power suit in the workplace was originally intended as a gender neutralizer for career women in the 1940s made popular on the silver screen by Hollywood stars like Katharine Hepburn. As women entering the corporate world began to boom in the 1980s, it became less of a blend-in moment and more about making a statement of capability and authority. This professional staple quickly evolved from the linebacker shoulder pads and knee-length skirts to lighter-weight fabrics, body-conscious silhouettes, and statement prints.
Today, the idea of the power suit is just that: an idea of the past. Women don’t need to mold into a “masculine” silhouette to assert authority and success, but can play with this androgynous style for fun and variety. For a while, the suit was off limits everywhere else but the four walls of the office. Now we’re seeing pop stars like Rihanna performing regularly in menswear, making the power suit a fun and desirable streetwear option for modern-day sartorialists.
In this Style feature, we thought it would be fun to style the beautiful Miss Florida, Taylor Tyson, in modern-day suiting and menswear to juxtapose her usual dresses and pageant glam. So take a peek of some of this season’s color and silhouette trends as we get to know a bit more about Miss Florida herself, too.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I’m from Jupiter and graduated summa cum laude from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in political science. Before winning the title of Miss Florida, I was accepted to seven law schools where I planned on studying criminal law.
How did you first get involved with the Miss America organization? What piqued your interest?
I became involved in this organization when I was 12 years old. As a classically trained pianist, I was searching for more opportunities to share my passion for performing. When I realized that I could showcase my training in the arts while earning scholarship money, I was hooked!
“As Miss Florida, I strive to present an image of strength and capability while still embracing my femininity.”
What were your thoughts on the Miss America revamp this past year?
I love that the message behind Miss America 2.0 is substance, not superficiality; impact, not image. As a woman who strives to empower other women, it’s vital that we place priority on the right kind of assets. Education, hard work, selflessness, and good values are virtues that we should all emphasize over the pressure to meet beauty standards.
Tell us a bit about your Social Impact Initiative and why you decided to dedicate your time to this cause.
My social impact initiative, “Rise Up: Empowering Women to Lead and Succeed,” is all about equipping girls with the tools they need to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. I’ve spent years working closely with youth, whether it’s through tutoring, volunteering, or mentorship. In a world where social media is rampant and women still face discrimination, I feel it’s crucial that girls have empowered role models to look up to.
What was one of your most memorable moments while participating in Miss America?
During the final show on ABC, I walked onstage to perform my talent in front of millions watching on television, feet away from celebrity judges like Randy Jackson. Adrenaline was rushing through my body as Ellery Jones, Miss Colorado, finished her spoken-word performance. As we passed each other onstage, she smiled and whispered, “Love you, Taylor” and I said, “Love you, Ellery.” In those few seconds, I was able to focus my energy on the emotion I felt stronger than all others — gratitude. I will never forget that moment, because in all the chaos of a live telecast, what mattered most was the friendships that were made.
How would you describe your personal style?
I like to wear classic pieces that have vintage inspiration. My childhood obsession with Marlo Thomas in That Girl is responsible for my love of mod. As Miss Florida, I strive to present an image of strength and capability while still embracing my femininity.
What was your favorite outfit from this shoot?
I am obsessed with the red power suit. The silk blouse gave me major ’70s vibes, and the oversized belt always makes a waist look snatched! Aside from the individual pieces, I love that it makes a strong statement and commands attention.
Where do you draw fashion inspiration?
A mixture of music, movies, and Instagram. I admire women like Monica Bellucci and Sophia Loren whose style is romantic and feminine, along with Kristen Stewart and Emma Watson who both dress with an edge and command authority. The cool style of models like Elsa Hosk and Bella Hadid are the reason I spend way too much time scrolling through Instagram!
What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
My best purchase ever is a book of Stevie Smith’s poetry I take with me almost everywhere — that and an Arcade Fire album could keep me happy all day. The worst purchase was one I made recently: a pair of magnetic eyelashes. Let me save you eight dollars; they don’t work.
Where are your go-to Lakeland spots?
I can’t get through the day without a good cup of coffee (or two), and my favorite spot for a latte is Black & Brew. For one-of-a-kind jewelry and gifts, I love Gaines Jewelers. At Miss Florida, my mom surprised me with a beautiful pair of periwinkle earrings from Gaines. For good luck, I wore them in my Miss America interview. And since I’m a sucker for good cornbread, one of my favorite spots to eat is MOJO Federal.
If you could travel back in time, what would you tell 12-year-old Taylor?
I would tell her that a lot of life is a long-term game, and that the hard work and sacrifices I made when I was younger (practicing piano seven hours a day, for example) would one day pay off. Sometimes sacrifice is a difficult concept to understand when you’re young, but I believe that God uses our gifts in amazing ways we can’t foresee when we work diligently towards our potential.
“In a world where social media is rampant and women still face discrimination, I feel it’s crucial that girls have empowered role models to look up to.”
What are some of your future goals?
I am eager to begin law school and receive my JD/LLM in criminal or international law. My father is an attorney, and I watched him constantly represent people who needed a hero. For that reason, I view law as a tool to give a voice to the unheard. Combining my passions for law, politics, and entertainment, I hope to one day be a legal analyst on broadcast news.
What would be on the gag reel of your life?
Thankfully, Instagram has allowed me to actually keep a running gag reel of my life, on my story highlights @officiallytaylortyson. But one moment that you won’t find on there is having an awkward conversation with someone at a recent appearance. I was wearing my crown and banner, and a woman approached me and told me I wasn’t the real Miss Florida. Since I didn’t have my phone with me, I found myself having a hard time proving that I did, in fact, just return home from Miss America. Upon Googling me, she held up a photo of me next to my face to compare. She eventually ceded that I was probably Miss Florida and took a selfie with me!