By Rachel Debling And Colleen McConnell (@CrystalSuit)
After months of preparation, shunning yourself from all social activities outside of the gym and dedicating yourself to a diet that makes prison food look like a buffet spread at the Mandarin, you’ve finally got your physique looking exactly as you imagined. You’re dialed in, amped up, and ready to stun in the comparison line-up at your next show — but, much like a starlet the week before a red carpet event, what to wear?
A fitness competitor must dress the part, not only to catch the eyes of judges and audience members while posing, but also to ensure their muscular development is highlighted in the most complimentary manner. Those who are entering a new category or competing for the first time may be left in the dark as to what they should be wearing come the day of their show. We contacted Colleen McConnell of The Crystal Suit to shed some light on this most head scratching of competition questions.
Buying Off The Rack
Many people assume that suits you find in department stores or specialty bathing suit stores are generally the same as those that you see blinging in the spotlights on stage. However, proceed at your own risk. “It’s totally up to the individual, but if you are going to do it, do it right!” says McConnell, adding that you get out of competing what you put in. “If you are serious, you wouldn’t bypass professional tanning, throw out a meal plan the week before your show, or opt out of posing classes.” Also, keep in mind that professional seamstresses who specialize in fitness attire are most likely aware of what will look best on you and exactly what you need for your category. And keep in mind: if you’ve ever admired professionals on stage, all of their eye-catching looks are custom made and formed directly to their body.
Custom Makes Perfect
On that note, much like a wedding dress or tux, you can always count on having the best results from a professional who can tailor your suit to your shape. This will also help to ensure that the suit coverage is acceptable for your association, says McConnell, and when working with someone who has fitness athlete experience, you can trust that you will receive your suit at the agreed-upon date — which is obviously very important.
The Topic Of Cost
Everyone knows that if you are looking for quality, you need to pay a little bit more. Bikinis off the rack can cost anywhere from $50 to $100, which may seem like a deal, but think about all you are missing out on — namely the individual service and collaboration you get with a professional. If you are already sweating about the amount of money you’ve spent on your journey to the fitness stage, however, take heart. “There is no need to spend thousands of dollars on suits,” explains McConnell, whose suits sell for $250 and up. Plus, a professional like McConnell will help you work within your budget to meet your needs and expectations. “The Crystal Suit also offers future upgrades to our clients’ suits so that they can add later, if they have a limited budget to stick to,” she notes.
As with wedding dresses, there is also the option to buy a secondhand suit, but consider how it will look on your body and feel under the hot lights. “Every body is different — even if you have the exact same measurements as the original owner, it may not work,” McConnell says. With that in mind, you can get used suits altered — just make sure you allow yourself plenty of time prior to the show in order to have it taken in or let out.
Pride In The Process
One of the biggest benefits of going to a pro is that you are getting something one-of-a-kind, made especially for you. “One of my favourite Crystal Suit pieces was worn by our sponsored athlete Jill Bunny at the Arnold this past March, where she won her class,” McConnell remembers. “I swear, as soon as she stepped on stage, my phone blew up with messages and requests for something similar.” This goes for guys, too — every little bit helps in setting you apart from the other athletes on stage, so no matter which suit route you go, make sure you are proud of it and confident enough to walk like a winner when you take that stage!
Colleen McConnell is the owner of The Crystal Suit, which has been providing VIP service and top-quality competition suits to athletes for over five years.