Pageant Week Wardrobe Tips

Here are a few pageant week/weekend wardrobe tips that are tried and true, and proven winners!

1. Stick to Bright Solids! We cannot stress this enough. Look at the picture on the right. You see a sea of busy patterns and colors, but who sticks out? The girl in solid lime green. We circled her for you, but did we really need to? Nope! She could have been posed anywhere in this group and you would have noticed her first because her outfit doesn't confuse the eye and blend into the "static" of all the conflicting patterns and colors. Just make sure you choose colors that complement your hair and skin tone.

2. Stick with Clean Lines and "Unfussy" Designs: Distracting ruffles, too-big-sleeves, hemlines that hit in the wrong places, plunging necklines. Again, we're going to take a look at the girl in lime green. She's wearing a classic fit and flare silhouette, which looks good on pretty much everyone, but more importantly, you notice the girl wearing the dress! Coco Chanel once said, "Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably the remember the woman." It's perfectly fine to have an interesting elements in your wardrobe, but too many interesting elements in the same outfit could be distracting leaving people noticing your dress and not you. This is most crucial for interview!

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3. Make Sure Your  Outfit is Appropriate for the Activity: First and foremost, jeans are never, ever appropriate to wear during pageant week/weekend. Ever. Do not even pack them in your suitcase! While the girl in the black jeans above meets our requirement to stick with solids, and even though she appears to be on an outdoors activity with the rest of the contestants, her outfit is inappropriate because as a contestant in a pageant, she is essentially interviewing for a job. A job for which she would be required to be the face of an organization and represent its brand for an entire year, which is a very important job! You will want to put your best foot - and outfit - forward at every opportunity to show that you are the right person for that job and that you deserve it. So, do not even take jeans to the pageant unless the organization asks you to. Lunch is generally a lower key event, so a lovely day dress like Miss Lime Green's dress above is 100% appropriate for lunch or any day time event. Save your fancier outfits and anything "blingy" for evening events as appropriate. There is the saying, "You'd rather be overdressed than underdressed," which is definitely the case for rehearsals, for example, but that isn't always the case in every situation! No sequins at a soccer game; rhinestones at the hospital (unless its your crown, of course); no plunging necklines at dinner (you'll be leaning over your plate to eat food and no one wants to see your cleavage fall out); nothing too tight for activities that require sitting because you don't want to be uncomfortable for hours, nor do you want to risk splitting your seams (the horror!), no long trains at cocktail parties for the safety of your dress and others, we could go on for days! Use your common sense. No matter how badly you might want to wear a specific outfit, ask yourself: "Is this appropriate for (insert activity or event here)?" "Does it make sense to wear this outfit for said event/activity?" "Would this outfit better serve me at another event/activity?" "Am I okay with this outfit being potentially damaged by wearing it in a not-very-ideal-situation?" You'll come to the right conclusion. Which leads us to our next important tip...

4. Get the Pageant Week/Weekend Itinerary and Match Your Wardrobe to It: To avoid wardrobing quagmires, we recommend that you get your hands on your pageant itinerary, some safety pins, Post-It Notes and a non-bleeding pen, and get to work. Each activity or event on the itinerary will likely need a separate outfit, so you will want to identify appropriate outfits for each event and label them as such. We like to take a pad of Post-Its and write each activity/event down on separate pages and stick them the to the wall next to our pageant closets. Using the strategies in Tip #3 above, pull outfits and pin the Post-Its to the inside labels of the outfits and set them aside until you don't have any Post-Its left. Once you've done that, reassess! You may have a scheduled appearance at a hospital in the morning and then go straight to rehearsals from there. As such, you'll want to make sure that the outfit and shoes that you choose for that appearance are easy to move in and make sense for moving around a hospital room as well as on stage. 

5. Do Not Wear Sweats/Yoga Pants/Track Suits/Hair Rollers, Etc. to Rehearsals: In Tips 3 and 4, we talked about dressing appropriately for the event/activity, but we did not cover a little thought-about activity during pageant week/weekend at which you can find yourself caught a little off guard: Rehearsals. Remember when we talked about how when you're at a pageant, you're basically at a week/weekend-long job interview for your dream job? This means you need to "look the part" the entire weekend. Wearing sweats, yoga pants, sneakers (unless you're instructed to do so for the purposes of fitness wear competition practice), hair rollers, etc. is a no-no! Most pageant don't require elaborate opening numbers (think Miss Congeniality), so you don't have to look like you're prepared for a barre class or Zumba. Nor should you look like Frenchie's friends from the "Beauty School Drop-Out" scene in Grease.  Leave the rollers in your dressing room! You might be asking, "WHY?? I'm not being judged." No, you're not being judged, but when you look the part, you FEEL the part and that confidence will translate into higher scores. It's also worth mentioning that if you look the part, others who don't might subconsciously not feel as good about themselves, which could translate into lower scores. Pageantry is just as much as a "mind game" as it is anything else. So, look great at rehearsals!

 

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6. Do Not Wear Ratty, Damaged Shoes: Broken in shoes are actually fine for stagewear if they're the shoes you're most comfortable walking in for competition. Lord knows, walking gracefully is hard enough and adding new, un-broken in shoes can be treacherous. We're talking about for any outfit that people will see up close, and we are talking about damaged shoes. Shoes are literally the foundation of a great outfit. We're not saying you need to go out and buy a new shoe wardrobe for each pageant, what we're saying is TAKE CARE OF YOUR SHOES. Whenever possible, buy the best quality leather shoes you can afford and stick with classic styles. Why? Because you can take leather shoes to a cobbler (yes, like the man in the nursery rhyme - they exist and it's a real vocation) to be polished, buffed, recolored and resoled. You cannot do that with cheap shoes. Look at the shoes on the right. See how the heels of her shoes are positively eaten up? DO NOT WEAR shoes that look like this for any part of pageant week/weekend - not even on stage - because they are distracting and ruin your look! Throw them out and buy new if a cobbler is unable to fix them.
 
Budget is always a concern when it comes to pageants, so we always say make a good and realistic investment in shoes because you will spend more in the end on multiple pairs of cheap shoes over the course of several years. Never ruin a great outfit by wearing worn shoes! As for what we mean by "classic styles," a nude, strappy sandal (avoid too many straps and criss-crossy styles) or a sleek, almond toe pump without clunky, chunky or blocky heels will generally stay in style for years to come. Universal neutrals include nude, black, matte gold and matte silver. You can wear these colors with nearly any outfit. However, we do understand the desire to wear a "statement shoe" from time to time! Stick with classic styles, avoid too-tall wedges with platforms if you're planning to play with color. We love a simple white dress with fuchsia earrings and shoes! It's all about balance! We also love a monotone look in jewel tones! Rock that look! But, please be sure that your shoes are worthy of the attention they are going to get!
QUESTIONS? Reach out to us on our Contact page! We are always happy to answer questions!
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