Raise your hand if you have one or more closets in your house dedicated to pageant wardrobe…I know you just did! Keeping this special wardrobe secure, clean and organized is a high priority for pageant contestants, given the amount of time, energy and funds put into the collection.
I’m tempted show you photos of the disorganized chaos that is currently my home’s pageant closet, but I’ll leave it up to the imagination: racks of dresses, boxes of shoes, accessories and plastic totes are spilling over and stacked higher than my 5’5” frame can reach. Judging from the various items that are either too small or dated, I really need to get in there and organize. Maybe tomorrow…
Regardless of your closet’s disarray, it’s actually pretty easy to sell your pageant wardrobe and make some money in the process! Read below to discover my step-by-step guide to help you pad your wallet for the next pageant season.
How to Make Money Reselling Your Pageant Wardrobe
Sift, sort and scour
First thing’s first: you’ve got to get in that closet to sift through the entire wardrobe. This is where you discover that crumpled up tap costume you wore in a prelim five years ago. If you haven’t missed it, that’s a piece that can definitely go up for sale. (Read: Why Your Pageant Wardrobe Needs a Spring Cleaning)
Sort through all of your items and figure out what you have for inventory. I typically categorize it in three sections based on the condition and style of the item. Start three piles: one for items you’d like to share with friends, a second for items that could be donated to a worthy cause (such as a charity pageant) and a third pile for items that are viable for sale. (Read: Former Miss USA Sells Iconic Dress For Charity)
Scour the rest of your house for items you may have missed. Think shoes, accessories, hair pieces, crown boxes, etc. As long as it is in good condition, don’t discount it from being saleable. After all, one person’s junk is another person’s treasure!
Assess each item
What I’ve found from reselling items is that you have to be incredibly thorough in your descriptions of each item. If you fail to do so, you will be inundated with questions via private messages, emails or texts, depending on the medium in which you choose to sell (more on that later)! And then you have to keep relaying the same info over and over and over again. Save yourself a headache and just give everyone all the info ahead of time.
When I say all the info, I mean: photos, description of the gown, color, designer, style number, size, measurements, condition, payment options, special attributes and of course, the price and shipping fee. This may seem like a lot to list about each dress, but I promise it will save you headaches in the long run. (Read: Top 3 Prom/Pageant Shopping Myths)
“It’s important to be realistic about your price, and it’s important to be patient,” said Paula Leach, an experienced pageant mom who resells many of her daughter’s pageant items. “Some things sell right away and others take a while.”
To start the process, I make a big pile in my office of what I want to sell. I go through one by one and start by inspecting the gown for flaws. Then, I lay it flat and take accurate measurements at the bust, waist, hip, length, hollow to hem, sleeves if any, etc. You can get the stock measurements too, but if it’s been taken in by a seamstress, make sure you reflect that in the listing! (Read: 5 Signs You Pageant Seamstress Is An Expert)
I then inspect the tag for a designer and style number. Based on all of this information, I type out a description of the dress with as much info as I know about the item. I use Microsoft Word so I can easily copy/paste the description into sale sites.
The next step is photos. Good photos are the key ingredient to a successful sale. If there are flaws, make sure you take up-close photographs and accurately describe them in the description so that you are an honest seller. Unfortunately, there are some resellers out there who aren’t. Don’t be that person!
Take photos of the front and back and do a few up close shots of any adornments or special features. If you have someone to model it, that is also a plus, so people can see how it fits. I’ve also seen some sellers post videos of the dress on stage. This helps people visualize what it looks like under the lights and how it moves.
You can take photos a step further by researching on Google Images to see if you can find stock photos. If you chose to use them to help sell your dress, only use them as supplements to the actual photos of your item and disclose in the description which photos are stock.
Market your collection
There are so many platforms to choose from to sell your wardrobe! Back in my heyday, all we really had was eBay. Where you choose to sell is entirely up to you.
Finally, some popular Facebook resale groups include Tween and Up Pageant Consignment II; The Glass Slipper Pageant Resale Shop; Jovani, MacDuggal, Sherri Hill, Tony Bowls, La Femme- Pageant Resale; and NAM/MAC Pageant Clothing for Sale. There are tons more out there, you just have to browse around and see what best fits your needs. Many groups have guidelines or rules for posting, so be sure to pay attention to those or both you and your posts stand to get deleted. (Read: Top 5 Pageant Resale Sites)
Websites and apps are likely going to charge you a listing and/or selling fee. Make sure you are aware of those before you get started. The nice thing about the Facebook groups is that it is free. You just have to use discretion on who you sell to or buy from, and how you exchange money.
Use discretion if listing items on multiple platforms. Always include the phrase “cross-posted” or POMS (posted on multiple sites) so people understand that you may have received an offer elsewhere before he or she spotted the post.
Be checking your notifications while you have items for sale. Although your aim as a seller is to be thorough, sometimes people have questions that are not covered in the item description. Responding in a timely, professional manner will help establish your credibility as a trusted seller.
Keep a written record of your communication with buyers. Also keep a screenshot of your listing online. If there are ever disputes down the road, you have proof of sale and communication.
I advise to only accept PayPal as a form of payment so there is no exchange of personal banking or credit card information. In addition, it’s always a smart practice to only accept funds as “goods and services” as opposed to from “friends and family.” The latter option gets you out of paying a small PayPal fee but does not allow for buyer or seller disputes. Unfortunately, there are scam artists on the pageant resale boards, no matter how much you think you know or trust someone.
Create an invoice via PayPal and send it to the buyer’s email. Include a detailed description of the good they have purchased, including shipping price/details. Don’t let them just send the money to your email. If they choose “friends and family,” you both lose that seller and buyer protection factor.
Delete your postings as soon as you do sell them so people don’t keep asking if the item is still available. This means you have to keep track of your postings. The easiest thing to do is use your Microsoft Word document with all the descriptions and record where you posted each dress. If you posted in Facebook groups, you can also search by your name and the listings should pop up. (Read: 7 Lessons Learned for Selling and Renting Your Pageant Wardrobe)
Selling your pageant wardrobe can be a bit tedious and time-consuming. However, when done correctly, you can put money into your pocket pretty quickly! Just think of the new replacement items you could buy with all your extra cash!
Take the extra time to be a detailed, responsible and courteous seller. Your buyers and the entire pageant community will thank you!
May the odds be ever in your favor!