Swimsuits out, jumpsuits in at newly empowered Miss America 2.0

Beth Greenfield
Senior Editor
Miss Nebraska, Miss Idaho, and Miss District of Columbia were three of the many women who wore pants onstage at the Miss America competition on Sunday night. (Photo: Getty Images)

With swimsuits gone from the newly rebranded Miss America 2.0, there was a noteworthy style addition that seemed to take their place: pants, and lots of ’em.

Jumpsuits and pantsuits added points of empowerment throughout the Miss America 2019 final competition on Sunday night, as about 10 “candidates,” as they’re now called, eschewed dresses in favor of the updated styles for both the introductory and interview sections.

Miss Minnesota Michaelene Karlen wore a lacey jumpsuit. (Photo: Getty Images)

It was a noticeable shift, particularly since it appears that the last (and only?) time a Miss America contestant wore pants was in 2016, when Arianna Quan, Miss Michigan, wore a white lace jumpsuit during the preliminary competition, creating some buzz.

This time around, the pants — technically allowed at Miss America since 1993, believe it or not — caused a bit of a stir on Twitter.

Among those who wore pants at some point in the evening were Miss Nebraska (hot pink sparkly jumpsuit), Miss Pennsylvania, Miss Idaho (black pantsuit), Miss Massachusetts (peach jumpsuit, red power suit), Miss Tennessee (sparkly gold jumpsuit), Miss District of Columbia (black sparkly jumpsuit with sheer midriff), and Miss Minnesota (black lace jumpsuit).

Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras wore a red pantsuit onstage at Miss America 2019. Earlier in the evening she wore a peach jumpsuit. (Photo: Getty Images)

It was an appropriate year for the shift, since the Miss America Organization is in the midst of great change in the wake of a scandal over sexist emails that ended in the resignation of board members and former CEO Sam Haskell, making way for Gretchen Carlson , a powerful symbol of the #MeToo movement, to become board chair.

Miss Nebraska Jessica Lynn Shultis stood out in her sparkly fuchsia jumpsuit. (Photo: Getty Images)

In June, it was announced that the swimsuit competition would be dropped and that the women would no longer be judged “on their outward physical appearance.” Just after Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin was crowned Miss America 2019 on Sunday, she spoke about the changes at a press conference.

“I’m happy I didn’t have to [walk in a swimsuit] for this title tonight,” Franklin said, “because I’m more than that.”

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