I am starting the wardrobe blog series on the big question, "Do I need to spend a lot on my wardrobe to win my pageant?"
I want to share a judging experience I had with National American Miss. One of my years as a judge was one contestant that stood out above the rest with a stellar interview - very relaxed, intelligent, and genuine. When she was on stage in evening gown she was natural, confident, and poised, but her dress was 100%, not a pageant dress. She came out in a red column dress with zero bling that showed her shoes when she walked. The dress didn't matter though because who she was onstage and in that interview room was what won the pageant. All of us judges stood to applaud her when she was crowned and a few of us had some tears from her humble reaction. She went on to Nationals and placed in the top 5, won another state title, and placed top 10 at Nationals, and so on.
This isn't to say wardrobe doesn't matter at all. Typically at locals and some state pageants, judges know that wardrobe can change for the next level of competition, but the girl's personality, values, and who she is at her core, cannot be changed. You can teach a girl how to polish her public speaking skills, how to walk gracefully, and help give her confidence in knowing who she is and sharing that with others, but who she is at her core cannot be changed. That is something that judges can see and will always pick up on.
I hate to see contestants spend an insane amount of money on their wardrobe with the assumption it will make them win their pageant. Typically contestants like this spend too much time concerned about their wardrobe than they do preparing, which usually leads to a struggle in the interview room. Notice how Ronelle said, "It doesn't matter how much they cost or who designs it. What matters is how you feel when you wear it."? This is so true! When you feel amazing in what you put on, you shine.
So where can you find deals on wardrobe? For starters there are countless resale groups on Facebook that you can join (just start searching "Pageant Resale"). Thanks to technology we have amazing apps like Queenly and Poshmark to find great deals for preowned wardrobe too. If you live in a state with great thrift stores I guarantee you can find something that you feel amazing in for your interview and quite possibly a beautiful gown. Two amazing pageant ladies to check out for inspiration with thrift finds are pageant expert Dani Walker and Elizabeth Sartuche the reigning Miss Orange County.
My biggest advice when buying on an app or a Facebook resell group though is to know your measurements. If that means going into a local seamstress and getting properly measured, please do it! Pair this with asking the appropriate questions before purchasing will save you potential headaches. You want to ask questions like, "What are the waist, hip, and bust measurements?" and "What is the length of the gown" OR "How tall are you and what heel height do you have on in this photo?". If you don't ask these questions you are taking a risk in assuming that a size 4 is the same with all designers and that the item hasn't been altered to fit the seller best which means it might be too small for you/your daughter. Also ask if there are any rips, tears, or stains. You can also purchase your check-in, orientation, and interview outfits from places like Amazon, ASOS, Zara, SHEIN, Lavish Alice, NY & Co, etc.
With that being said, you can win your pageant without breaking the bank. Have fun with your wardrobe and make sure you feel confident in it.