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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

WNBA Draft Fashion Has Come a Long Way From ‘Most Athletic Accountants’ Era

  • Former draftees say they had to comply with a strict business dress code.
  • Caitlin Clark wore Prada on Monday, the first time the designer has styled a NBA or WNBA draftee.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

WNBA draft picks walked the orange carpet at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Monday night styled by Prada, Jason Wu, and Vogue’s fashion editor Naomi Elizée. No. 7 pick Angel Reese, wearing a backless silver dress with a hood and low v-neck, “looked as if she had taken a side road on her way to the Met Gala,” the New York Times wrote. Cameron Brink wore a one-shoulder black and white gown with a high slit, while Rickea Jackson showed off two looks, starting in a bold red suit before changing to a sparkling silver one.

The fashion show highlighted the players’ personalities and made the draft about more than basketball. But players and fans on social media treating the WNBA Draft like a miniature Oscars red carpet hasn’t always been the case. For years, the league instilled a strict business dress code, former draftees say. And looking back now, the group photos are a bit cringey.

“We were looking like some of the most athletic accountants you’ve ever seen,” 2012 No. 3 pick Devereaux Peters tells Front Office Sports.

Peters headed to the draft after surpassing 1,000 points at Notre Dame, and says she didn’t know what to wear for the “very, very, very strict dress code.” A fellow 2012 draftee, Samantha Prahalis, was even forced to put on stockings under her dress, Peters says. (Photos from draft night indeed show Prahalis wearing stockings.) 

Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports

Reese and Jackson wore Peters’ favorite looks of the night. “I am really excited to just see some actual fashion,” she says. “That was not a thing for us, so it’s really cool to see how that’s evolved.”

Sydney Colson of the Las Vegas Aces, a 2011 draft pick, chimed in on social media Monday night: “It’s super emotional to see these WNBA draftees no longer have to wear business casual clothing at the draft,” she posted along with a teary-eyed emoji. Colson engaged with fans, including one who joked that an old draft group photo looked like a “student council meeting.”

Peters, who saw her last WNBA action in 2018, says she’s excited to see how some of the rookies transition into the league. That’s been a common chorus among veteran players in recent weeks, with renowned trash-talker Diana Taurasi saying “reality is coming” for Clark. Breanna Stewart filmed a commercial for the league where she ate “Rookie-O’s” for breakfast.

The buzz around the draft is exciting because it’s the result of decades of WNBA players fighting for coverage, salaries, exposure, and sponsorship, Peters says.

“I feel like a proud parent to be honest. It’s just really cool to see them getting this attention in a way that we’ve wanted it to be for a very, very long time,” Peters says.

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