Miss USA Cheslie Kryst Talks Overcoming Career Challenges & the 5 Beauty Products She Can't Live Without
Cheslie Kryst is a savvy, smart, and eternally stylish trial attorney who made history as one of three black contestants to dominate the 2019 Miss USA pageant. Kryst was crowned as the oldest Miss USA to hold the title and has since become the personification of #blackgirlmagic.
After graduating from law school, Kryst became licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and South Carolina and has been navigating her way through the courtrooms while slaying it in the style department. In her spare time, she inspires others to dress for success with her fashion blog White Collar Glam. Modern Brown Girl had the opportunity to speak with Krsyt before her Miss USA crowning and learned about her career highs and low and the beauty essentials she cannot live without.
What was your inspiration for starting a blog chronicling your work style?
I’ve wanted to start a blog for women's business attire for a while. I remember going to trial competitions and interviews and always wondering what to wear and what was appropriate. It took some time to figure it out, but I finally learned. I wanted to be able to share my experience with similarly-situated women.
How do you manage the balancing act between your full-time jobs, managing your blog, and competing in pageants?
A hope and a prayer, LOL! It can be tough, but I’ve developed a routine that has helped me to grow my brand, personally and professionally.
What have been your biggest career disappointments and how did you overcome them?
I graduated from law school in May 2017, but one of my greatest disappointments as a law student happened when I placed second in a trial competition. I wanted to win and, to be honest, I thought I would. I was on the trial team for my school, but I wanted to do this separate competition on my own to prove to myself that I could do it. In the finals, I was matched against a strong competitor. She beat me. I was incredibly disappointed and discouraged, especially because the trial team I was on had our regional competition scheduled the following week. Luckily, my loss motivated me to work harder than I ever had and the team I was on ended up going on to win regionals and, a few weeks later, won a national championship.
What advice would you give to young women looking to pursue a career in law?
Intern somewhere in the area in which you're interested. If you don't love it, don't do it. Law school is rewarding but it's also too stressful and expensive to go through if you aren't certain that you love it.
What have been some of your biggest challenges in the courtroom?
Learning everything I didn't learn in law school has been challenging. Law school teaches you how to think, but it doesn't (and really, can't) teach you about everything you're going to encounter. Little things like figuring out which local rules apply where, how to get a hearing scheduled, learning about software used in discovery, all of these things were new to me. Thankfully, I work for an incredible firm with a phenomenal team of attorneys, paralegals, legal secretaries, and more, who ensure that I am always well informed and well prepared to handle each new challenge that confronts me.
Where do you find day-to-day style inspiration?
Honestly, my blog inspires me. I look at it and critique it constantly. If I look through my most recent posts and realize that they seem bland and colorless, I'll work to infuse more color into my wardrobe. Sometimes I feel like I see too many separates and not enough dresses. I'll respond by wearing more dresses and shopping online for more to add to my closet. It really is a passion of mine and where I draw inspiration.
Who are your beauty & style role models?
Olivia Pope. I know she's a fictional character, but the stylist for Scandal, Lyn Paolo, really nailed it. Pope is stylish without being trendy. She's elegant and feminine, never overdone or too sexy. You can tell that she's powerful and her clothes provide presence but aren't distracting.
What are some tips you have for women who don't have a lot of time to get ready for work in the morning, but want to look stylish?
First, donate or throw away all of your clothes that aren't stylish. It's better to have five outfits that look good and that you wear all the time than to have five good outfits and five bad outfits. In the latter example, you may have twice as many outfits, but half of them suck.
Second, have a go-to routine for hair, clothes, and makeup. If I'm in a rush, my hair is in a bun. Period. No questions asked, no thinking, it's going into a bun. I generally don't wear makeup to work, but when I do, I know I'll be putting on either a quick five-minute face or a longer 20-minute work makeup version that I don't stray away from. I also have a go-to work outfit. The combination I wear the most is pants, a blouse, and a blazer. I make sure that one of them has a cute detail or pattern on it and I throw on some of my favorite earrings. Done.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Stop worrying about what "they" think. "They" is a horrible group of people who never do anything but always have something to say about what you're doing. Ignore them. Do what feels authentic and what you believe in.
What are 5 beauty products you can’t live without?
Images Provided by: Cheslie Kryst & @chesliekryst