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4 Pageant Evening Gown Mistakes That Tank Your Score

Shopping for your competition evening gown can be fun. You twirl in front of the mirror and everyone tells you how great you look. You get caught up in the moment, make your purchase, and leave with your new gown. A few weeks later you proudly model your gown on stage, and later you’re crushed when you realize your gown didn’t get a top score.

It’s important to take a strategic approach to all aspects of your competition, including your evening gown. Your gown is a tool that establishes your contestant brand and ability to be the titleholder. If you take an analytical approach you’re less likely to end up with a gown that doesn’t score.

So, make yourself a shopping checklist so you can avoid these 4 Pageant Evening Gown Mistakes That Tank Your Score.

1. Don’t Buy It Just Because It’s Expensive.

Contrary to popular belief, more money does not always mean more impact.  Great style is available at any price. To be stylish on any budget, you need to know how to describe your contestant visual brand. How do you do that? Think of 3 adjectives that describe the visual brand you’re trying to create. Do you want your pageant wardrobe to be beautiful, angelic, and romantic? Or is your preferred competition look classy, sophisticated and glamorous?

Identify your style before you start shopping. If you know what you’re looking for, you’re less likely to be persuaded by smooth sales talk or an over-the-top price tag. Look for gowns that could be described with the same 3 words that describe your visual brand.

If the gown passes the “3 words” test, evaluate the color, fit, and design lines of the gown. Analyze your gown critically, as if you’re judging another contestant in that gown.

And if you’re on a budget, don’t be embarrassed to tell your salesperson. Be honest about your limits and tell them you want to only see gowns within your budget. Any reputable pageant stylist will respect your wishes and show you gowns within your budget.

Big bucks don’t necessarily translate to a big score, but real style wins out every time!

2. Don’t Buy It Because Last Year’s Winner Wore Something Similar. 

Last year’s winner won because she projected a beautiful image that expressed who she is as a person. You want to project your own personal image – not a carbon copy of last year’s winner.  While it’s perfectly okay to notice trends – does the pageant prefer ball gowns or straight gowns – you want to wear something that reflects your own personality and sense of style.

If you try to win by looking like previous winners, you could end up in a Top 5 where everyone looks alike. Remember, you don’t want to blend it, you want to stand out.

3. Don’t Buy It Because Someone Else Likes It

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to fashion. If your pageant director, pageant coach, Mom, make-up artist, best friend, grandmother, or pet hamster happen to love the gown and you don’t, then don’t buy it!

If you’re not in love with your gown, it’s going to be hard to model it beautifully on stage. And you don’t want to wear a gown that everyone else liked, not win, and always wonder “what if”. Politely, but firmly, stand your ground and make sure you buy a gown that makes you feel like a winner!

4. Don’t Buy It If You Didn’t Do a Quality Check

When you’re investing in your competition wardrobe you need to know how it’s going to hold up during the rigors of pageant competition.  There are many designers who have beautiful gowns, but some of those beauties are created with inexpensive materials and sloppy construction.

Check the inside of the garment and look for the use of interfacing, boning to add structure and a quality lining.  Does the fabric wrinkle if you sit down? Is the dress see-thru? (Don’t laugh…once while watching a dress rehearsal at Miss USA the whole audience could see through the gown of one of the contestants.)

The inside of the gown will tell you whether or not it’s going to hold up throughout the pageant. By doing a little homework in the fitting room, you’ll leave the shop with a gown that’s able to keep up with you at your pageant.

There’s nothing that says “beauty queen” like a stunning gown on an impressive, accomplished contestant. Your gown is probably the most memorable and impactful item in your competition wardrobe. So, don’t get sucked in any of these common evening gown mistakes. Think it through, analyze your options, and make a smart – not emotional – choice.

You’re going to look FABulous!