The second annual Best of the Pine Belt Best Dressed

Here we are again. The Best of the Pine Belt Awards Show Best Dressed list. That was a mouthful. I’ll work on a better name before 2018 rolls around.

After my gold dress last year, I had no idea how I would find anything better than that. Seriously. My mom did good picking that one out. This year, I was on my own. I perused website after website and just couldn’t find anything that I loved that wasn’t $500. I was about to give up and go out of town, but I decided to give our local businesses one more shot. I won’t tell you where I got my dress, because I don’t like to promote any particular businesses, but I will tell you the story that got me to my dress.

I was browsing the racks when a lady came up and asked me what I was looking for in my dress. I gave her a brief description – red, slinky and sparkly without being too revealing. It is a work event, after all. I never told her my name, but I did tell her where I worked and for what event I needed the dress. She was very honest in telling me that she didn’t have what I was looking to buy. I thanked her and went back to work.

About an hour later, my office line rang. It was the lady from the store, asking if I was the one who was just in there. I told her I was, confused about how and why she had tracked me down. She told me she had found the perfect dress for me. Another girl put it on layaway a few week earlier, but decided right after I left the store that she didn’t want to purchase it. So, the owner looked me up with only the knowledge of where I work to tell me she wanted to text me pictures of the gown. She was right. It was perfect. I bought it the next day. Moral of the story – shop local, y’all. I know the first place I’ll be going next year when it’s time to outdo the red dress.

With the rainy weather, I was worried people might decide to dress down for the event this year. It was pretty gross outside. But my fears were for naught. Hundreds of people showed up, and they all looked fantastic. It was hard to narrow it down to just 10 for this list, but I think I did pretty good. Here it is...


1. Cory and Jace Ferraez. Y’all, what’s better than one incredible handsome and dapper man? Two incredibly handsome and dapper men. Not many people can pull off a navy blue tux, but Cory Ferraez does it with ease. There is a reason he was one of our 2016 Dapper Dozen, and this is it. Every time I see him, he looks like he could be in a magazine shoot. Add in twin brother, Jace, who is only distinguishable from Cory by his well-groomed facial hair, and you have one best-dressed duo.


2. Michelle Hopson. This  ballgown was a ray of much-needed sunshine in the middle of a very dark and dreary day. Michelle looked like a Disney princess come to life in this elegant, but slightly sexy (hello, keyhole neckline!) yellow confection. The delicate pastel beading at the waist gave it a little extra punch without overdoing it. I have no idea what her shoes looked like, but kudos to her for keeping her jewelry simple and letting that dress speak for itself.


3. Joe Paul. Joe Paul is the cutest. Let’s all just agree on that. I saw him at a recent USM baseball game, and he was even cuter in his yellow and gold attire. But he takes it up a notch in his suit. I’m a sucker for a good print, especially if it makes you look twice. From a distance, his jacket just looks grey, but get closer and you can see the houndstooth pattern. It’s a nice little surprise that makes him stand out from the crowd.


4. Sam Craft. Full disclosure... I knew what Sam’s dress looked like before the show. Her grandmother, Susan Light, came into our office to buy tickets to the show and showed us pictures of the dress. I am in love with the illusion neckline. Until you get right next to her, it appears to be strapless, but the thin mesh neckline allows the lace to creep higher up than a typical strapless dress. She confessed that it came with a detachable train, which she smartly left at home, far away from the wet streets.


5. Katie Dixon. I feel like Katie could show up in a garbage bag and still look fabulous. Do you see that girl’s arms? I’d kill to be that toned. But, I also hate to work out and love pizza, so I’m probably not getting her body anytime soon. Anyway, her dress is simply perfect on her. The short skirt underneath the sheer tulle makes her appear taller, and the halter neckline shows off those arms. And no, Katie’s outfit wouldn’t be complete without her signature stack of bracelets. 


6. Seymour. You have to love a mascot who dresses for the part, which Seymour did in a white button down, black jacket and Southern Miss tie. To The Top indeed, Seymour. Also, my child will be furious that I hung out with Seymour without him, so no one show him this. Thanks.


7. Ember Ahua. There were not a lot of bright colors on the ladies of the red carpet this year. I noticed a lot of black. So when I caught Ember’s dress out of the corner of my eye, I raced right over to her. That red is to die for, and the color looks great on her. My favorite part of her outfit, though, was her lipstick. It looks like a basic red in the photo, but she actually had her lips dusted in red glitter. I am in love.


8. John Neal. If there is one man who knows how to stand out in a crowd, it’s John Neal. I love how fearless he is with his clothing. Put that red and black blazer with matching shoes on anyone else, and they would probably look ridiculous. Put it on John, and it just looks right.


9. Sarah Myers. Sarah was on my honorable mention list last year. When I saw her walk in the room in that amazing floral dress, I immediately knew she was getting bumped up to the main list. I couldn’t tell you how exactly how tall she is, but she towers over my 5’5” frame, which is why she so effortlessly pulls off that tea-length dress.


In addition, I have my honorable mention list. I’d put 100 people on here if I could, but I only have one page. So, here are my “runners up,” if you will...

• Terry Jordan, as always.

• Kim Bradley. Go to the event pages and check out his blazer. It takes a confident man to wear that and rock it. Good for you, Mr. Bradley.

• Susan Slaughter. She is pure class and sophistication. There’s nothing else to say.

• Catherine Bass. The pink tips of her hair matched her gorgeous glittery skirt.

• Staci Cox. She made her dress. That alone is impressive enough to end up on this list. Not to mention, it was cute, flirty and fit her perfectly.


So there you have it – my personal opinion of the best of the best. But let’s be honest, everyone looked great, which was quite a feat considering the nasty weather.


Emily Hall is the Fashion editor for Signature Magazine. Her one piece of advice is to ALWAYS get your dress hemmed. She did not hem this one and is lucky she didn’t fall on her face at some point.