It’s no question that this year’s incoming WNBA rookie class has the skills, athleticism and passion to compete at the highest level. But that’s not all that comes with the high-profile job.
Recognizing the importance of professional dress and appearance off the court, the WNBA Players Association and the WNBA teamed up to provide the talented group of young woman with the tools they need to present themselves as professionals when they step off the hardwood. As part of the four-day Rookie Transition Program, which concluded with the WNBA Draft at ESPN in Bristol, Conn., a team of fashion stylists and hair/make-up experts provided the ladies with a wealth of knowledge and personal attention to help prepare them for their new careers.
“I want these ladies to understand that they are entering into a world of professionalism and should take every opportunity to present themselves seriously. Our wardrobe is the first thing people look at besides our face, and your attire gauges how seriously people take you,” said stylist Rachel Johnson, owner of Thomas Faison.
Johnson kicked off the special event by focusing on what the WNBA up and comers would “need in their wardrobe arsenal to look like well quaffed, smart, professional women.”
“Every woman should have a pants suit, skirt suit, sheath, pencil skirt, white blouse and a trench coat in her closet,” said Johnson. “I recommend investing in classic, professional pieces, and spending less money on trendy pieces. And when you make your transition and start your new life, your tailor is your new best friend.”
After learning a number of how-to’s and what-not-to-do’s in the areas of wardrobe, shoes, accessories, makeup application, hair styling and even undergarments, it was time to apply what they learned.
From manicures to make-up applications, bra fittings and more, each lady had the opportunity to work one-on-one with the stylists to prepare for their Draft day look.
“You think you know how to dress as a professional, but this is really eye-opening. I feel like I’m ready to take on the world…this session was very beneficial,” said guard Natalie Novosel out of Notre Dame, selected eighth overall by the Washington Mystics. “The stylists helped me understand how to better flatter my figure, which was very helpful. As athletes, we don’t have a lot of time, but I’ve gained a better appreciation of how little touches can make such a big difference in improving our appearances.”
Adding a nip here and a tuck there, the stylists worked for hours to pull together each lady’s Draft day look and prepare them for the television cameras.
“I’m like a sponge taking all of this in,” said center Lynetta Kizer out of Maryland who was drafted by the Tulsa Shock. “This session taught me how to dress professionally, while still showing my personality and keeping my look the ‘real me.’ At the court, I come to compete and I don’t think much about my appearance. But now that I’m in a professional environment, it is something I need to think about.”
A tremendous success, the WNBA hopefuls left their fashion seminar with the confidence, know-how and tools to take their appearances as seriously as their balling.
“As a professional athlete, your body is a marketable entity,” added Johnson. “These ladies are walking brands and need to understand the impact their attire and appearance has on that.”
And perhaps forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike from Stanford, selected first overall by the Los Angeles Sparks, summed it up best:
“When you look good, you feel good,” she said. “When you like how you look, it’s easier to go out there and succeed.”
And by the looks of it, these ladies are ready for the challenge.