Sunday, January 20, 2008

How to Get Started in Pageants Part II- Wardrobe Tips

I just sent an email to a potential new contestant who had a lot of questions, mostly about wardrobe. So I figured I may as well share some of it here too and add some photos for reference (click each thumbnail to enlarge). I realize much of this is vague, but it’s a place to start...

Here is what you need to get started:

* an evening gown
* a swimsuit (most do wear two pieces, but nothing’s worse than a girl who should be in a one piece… so wear what looks best on your body.)
* an interview suit or “outfit”
* a talent outfit
* a professional talent accompaniment (two minute max- try
Musical Creations)
* a good headshot that actually looks like you
* a community service issue or “platform” that you already have experience with and a passion for
* $100 for the Children’s Miracle Network

Every local is different; some may require an additional outfit for the opening number, others just ask you wear your interview outfit or gown.

Miss America is changing right now and trying to get away from the pageant stereotype. I highly suggest you watch TLC’s show Miss America Reality Check. Although, the show emphasized what we’ve been told all along- wear garments that accentuate your best features in colors that compliment your skin tone and hair color. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or buy certain brands, especially when you’re just starting. Just make sure your gown is long enough; nothing screams inexperience more than when you can see a contestant’s shoes.

[Below: the winning gowns of Miss America 06 Jennifer Berry, Miss America 07 Lauren Nelson, Miss Ohio 06 Melanie Murphy and Miss Ohio 07 Roberta Camp.]

There are expensive “pageant swimsuit” sites I could give you, but you can also find good suits off the rack or online. Bright and/or dark, solid colors are best for almost everyone. The tricky part is finding bottoms that aren’t too skimpy, also try on multiple styles to figure out what looks best on you. IE: halter vs. bra top style… Wear strappy tan or clear stiletto heels; a thin heel is very important so you don’t “clunk” across the stage. Unless you’re wearing a black gown, you can often wear the same heels for swimsuit, gown and maybe even talent if you’re not dancing. When I did MAO, I’d have different shoes for everything, then I did Miss Ohio USA where you were required to use the same pair for the opening and swimsuit, and strongly encouraged to use them for gown too… I realized how much easier it was! Both in terms of packing and breaking in what you’re onstage in.

[Below: the winning swimsuits of Miss America 06 Jennifer Berry (in a suit sponsored by Speedo), Miss America 07 Lauren Nelson (in a suit sponsored by Venus), Miss Ohio 06 Melanie Murphy (in a designer pageant suit) and Miss Ohio 07 Roberta Camp (in a suit off-the-rack). * Take a close look at all their heels.]

Interview is where things are really tricky. There is a push for Miss America to become much more contemporary, but in the interview room many women still wear stuffy, old suits… I personally love the trendy, yet businesslike looks you can find at stores like Bebe and Express, or you can find nice, safe suits at any department store. Remember, it’s 2008, women can wear pants! The important thing is that it fits well. A boxy, oversized blazer, or skirt that’s too tight make horrible first impressions.

[Above, Miss America 06 Jennifer Berry and Miss America 07 Lauren Nelson at appearances.]

[Right, the Miss Ohio 06 and 07 Top 5s prior to onstage question. *Again, note the use of tan heels instead of trying to match colors.]

Obviously you should watch Miss America next Saturday, and there are usually online photo albums that show what the nonfinalists wore and what all the national contestants wore for their interviews. You never want to replicate anyone, but you can get inspirations and gain an understanding of what is acceptable and what seems to be competitive.

[Below: the winning talent presentations of Miss America 06 Jennifer Berry, Miss America 07 Lauren Nelson, Miss Ohio 06 Melanie Murphy and Miss Ohio 07 Roberta Camp.]

If you find online stores that accept returns, you may get great deals. Or, if you’re willing to share your size, there are always current and former contestants looking to sell pieces of their wardrobe. Don’t count out your own friends or family; someone you know may have something you could borrow… maybe not an evening gown, but perhaps a fabulous swimsuit or great outfit that could work for interview.

There is a good amount of paperwork required, so contact the local you’re interested in with plenty of time to get the paperwork filled out, notarized and sent back in. The judges see your platform sheet and resume so make sure you have multiple people proof read them for sense and spelling errors, also make sure you’re wording and formatting efficiently so you can share the maximum amount of information.

Most importantly, be able to answer this- why did you enter this pageant?

CLICK HERE for How to Get Started in Pageants (Part I)


  1. How about paperwork....hem hem...cause I definatly need your help with revisions!


  2. LOL... I think I still have yours in an email somewhere. I'll take a look and email you about it. Or, we should finally, actually have lunch at the mall on one of your breaks. Text me or something and let me know what you work this week. :)


  3. get post, Abby! I'm still busy with work and don't have much time to write in mine, but I always make time to read ur blog!


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