A farm girl from Seymour, Indiana, Katie Stam wasn’t your typical pageant pick. Nevertheless, she bought the bikini, found her evening gown, packed some false eyelashes and knelt to have the 2009 Miss America crown pinned to her head. In one night, an Indianapolis college student became royalty and those eyelashes became the beauty trick she would swear by for years to come.
Now a wife and mother of two (with a third on the way,) she still finds herself on the Miss Indiana stage to speak to contestants, represent the organization and remember her own year of service. While getting ready for the evening’s gala and pageant events, she shared her style secrets, beauty favorites and the everyday life of a retired Miss America.
The farm girl and the Beetlejuice dress
“Before Miss America, I had an interest in fashion and I knew what I liked, but I’m a farm girl from southern Indiana and so fashion wasn’t really an element in my life. Michael (Stam’s business manager) loves to tease me about what I wore before I met him. My wardrobe then, as he calls it, was Pre-Michael Syndrome or PMS. There are several things from those years that I still keep, one being a dress I wore to a high school winter dance. It’s red and black striped like Beetlejuice and I have it in a dress-up bin for my daughters to play with one day. Michael can’t believe I actually spent money on that dress, but that’s always been my style. I gravitate to what’s different and unique and outlandish.”
The making of a beauty queen
“Then becoming Miss America overnight, anytime I was in New York or L.A. I was getting followed by paparazzi and I definitely learned about fashion and style by being thrown in the deep end. There was one morning when I had my hair up in a ponytail, no makeup, and a ball cap and I was walking down the street to Starbucks. I walked in and every single person in that Starbucks was dressed to the nines like they were going to walk the red carpet. In that moment I realized if someone recognizes me, this isn’t good. I’m always representing Miss America. Now seven years removed from being Miss America, I’ve learned so much about hair and makeup, picking up some things along the way from working with different makeup artists and paying attention to what worked best for me. If I’m in a time crunch going out, slipping on a dress and running out the door is easy, so I make sure that my hair and makeup are always done.”
It took three bucks and a bit of sparkle
“Just the other day I posted an Instagram throwback to my time competing with side-by-side pictures of me in my swimsuit and me in my evening gown. The story behind those pictures is that I bought my swimsuit at Value City Department Store and my dress from a bridal shop. I didn’t know where you bought a swimsuit for competitions so I found this suit off-season, on the clearance rack for $3.18. When I showed it to my family they said it didn’t look like a pageant suit, it needed something sparkly. So I legitimately took a clip on earring, snapped it on the middle of the top of the suit and called it a day. For my evening gown I tried on a few bridesmaids dresses and I was in between two: this beautiful, strapless, gunmetal dress and this neon green, polka dot, mullet dress. I chose the first one.”
When Miss America becomes mom
“I am expecting my third child so that was a huge factor in choosing what to wear tonight because let’s face it – there’s not a lot of really cute maternity clothes out there. I also have a hard time investing in maternity clothes because you only wear it for a short time and if it’s an evening gown, it’s too expensive to wear for one night and then put it in the back of your closet for the rest of your life. During my very first pregnancy, we drove to a competition in Mississippi and talk about a challenge needing nine different gowns for the week at 8 1/2 months pregnant. I would like to think the clothes I gravitate towards now are more timeless pieces. I don’t try to follow trends, I just try to find things I feel comfortable in and feel beautiful in. I am cost effective – can I say that instead of cheap? Being a mom, that’s the first thing I think about. On a day just with my kids? Yoga pants, for sure.”
Follow Katie on Instagram.