Miss Mississippi shows off pageant attire

By Sherry Lucas/The Clarion-Ledger

VICKSBURG — Anna Tadlock may be the first Miss Mississippi to tell pageant officials she wanted to pack light for the Miss America Pageant.

“I’m more of a minimalist,” she said.

The reigning queen is decisive and knows what she wants. On that list: the Miss America crown.

Tadlock already has plenty to go under it — elegant and snazzy styles were showcased this past week for a couple hundred supporters at the Vicksburg City Auditorium.

Later this month in Las Vegas, she’ll be among 53 contestants — 50 state title winners, plus representatives from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — vying for the Miss America title. Held at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the pageant’s finals will be broadcast at 7 p.m. CST Jan. 30 on TLC.

Tadlock’s wardrobe for Miss America alternately twinkles under the lights, hugs her trim physique or floats like a dream. Sometimes, the clothes do all three.

“I think it does a lot to just express my sense of style,” said Tadlock. “I love anything that has a Grace Kelly feel. … I like clothes that have a lot of color.

“I love classic lines, and I love clean lines, … but I also like that one element of something unexpected in everything that I wear.”

That might be the hot pink belt with matching rhinestones on a silk leopard print cocktail dress, the gold-accented lace overlay on an ice blue strapless dress or a striking, original piece of jewelry from Art and Soul in Vicksburg.

Tadlock, 23, of Brandon is a 2008 graduate of Mississippi State University, and a debt-free one, thanks to pageant scholarship money — more than $20,000 to date. She’d like to pursue a master’s degree in English with the goal of teaching college English. She’s pocketed about 75 percent of what graduate school will cost, and hopes to accumulate more at the Miss America level.

Time management — balancing Miss Mississippi appearances with Miss America prep — has been her big challenge.

“You become really, really good and successful at it by the time you’re ready to go,” she said.

Tadlock has worked hard on interview and talent — key components in the national competition.

“Obviously with 53 contestants, something has to set you aside,” said David Blackledge, chairman of the board and executive director of the Miss Mississippi Pageant. “She’s ready. She’ll tell you that.”

Tadlock’s personal platform is the importance of musical education. The pageant’s national platform is the Children’s Miracle Network.

Stubborn, tenderhearted, feisty, family oriented and highly opinionated are words Tadlock uses to describe herself.

“I laugh a lot,” she said. “My mother always said that I’m very dedicated and that … I was always the steel magnolia in the bunch.

“So I’d like to consider myself the steel magnolia from the Magnolia State. If there were a title for that, then I think I would have it.”

That sentiment gains form in a turquoise necklace with a sculptured magnolia for her interview outfit — a fitted A-line dress in winter white that fits her like a glove.

Some other head-turners: a citrine jersey knit with brown leather belt and boots; winter white slacks and coat over a sleeveless snow leopard print top; a midnight blue one-shoulder evening gown with a fitted bodice and trumpet skirt; an accordion-pleated gown with a dramatic back view; a black chiffon strapless gown adorned with crystals.

After all the clothes were modeled, they were to be packed and labeled, “down to the last tube of lipstick and the last earring,” Tadlock said.

“Everything gets packed after today into the trunks, and gives me some breathing room, a period of about a week and a half until I leave, to just sort of relax and fine-tune any last-minute prep work that I have to do.”

She flies out of Jackson on Jan. 21. Packed along with all her cool clothes and high heels will be two pieces of advice she considers the best.

From her father, Tommy, with whom she shares a love of running: “Whether you win or not, it’s not about that final moment. It’s about all those moments in-between. Make the best out of the moments in-between.”

And from her mother, Felicia: “Stick to your guns, no matter what.”