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Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Winning Gown

Lauren Percy, Miss New Hampshire 2017 and her court. Photo: Katrina Bernard Photography
Lauren Percy, Miss New Hampshire 2017 and her court. Photo: Katrina Bernard Photography

Choosing your pageant gowns is one of the most exciting responsibilities of preparing for a pageant. However, it can get very expensive and time-consuming, so I’ve compiled a few tips for you before you start your search for the perfect gown.

Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Winning Gown

1. Think outside the box

It’s always wise to set a budget for each pageant, and there are various places where you can find beautiful gowns. Some of the overlooked places are consignment shops. (Read: How to Find Your Dream Gown Within Your Budget)

Most pageant participants will wear a gown once and sell it. Sometimes they consign their previous pageant items, which can result in a great bargain for you, but it does require a bit more time to go through each store’s inventory.

Shop a variety of stores before you make your final decision, however, consignment shops are a great way to save money on an expensive item. If you shop online, make sure you have your exact measurements to ensure the best possible fit. Most online retailers have a strict return policy with pageant gowns.

2. Choose the right color

If you’ve never had a color consultation, I highly suggest you get one. They can be done online or in person to help you determine which season you fall into based on your skin tone, eye color and hair color. The results will let you know what colors look best on you, choosing from a pallet of 30 colors. (Read: What Your Evening Gown Color Says About You)

You never want to choose a gown color based upon what other pageant participants are wearing, what your best friend thinks or by trying to play it safe with a neutral color. You want to wear colors that make you stand out – not the gown.

For example, if you are an Autumn, and you want to wear a red gown, the reds that look best on you are more earth-tone reds such as tomato, orange-red, terracotta or mahogany. A slight difference in the Hue of the color can make all the difference. You want the judges to notice you.

3. Choose the right design for your body type

You may find a gown online or in a magazine that you’d love to try on, however, even though it’s beautiful, it may not be the best fit. Make sure you try on all gowns before a full-length mirror, preferably multiple mirrors. This way, you can see the cut of the gown and how it looks from the front, side view and back. When choosing the gown always be honest with yourself; if there’s one thing that looks off to you, it will look off on stage.

4. Be pageant-appropriate

Keep the pageant in mind when choosing your gown. If it’s a glitz pageant, you want to make sure you wear a glitz gown, and if it’s a natural pageant, wear a more toned-down design. You never want to go over the top, as this could result in a deduction of points for you.

5. Choose accessories wisely

Accessories can make or break an outfit. Earrings, necklaces and bracelets can come in a set to complement your gown, but it’s best to minimalize. Wear the earrings with the necklace or with the bracelet, not both; less is more. Your accessories should complement your gown, not overpower it. (Shop: Pageant Jewelry)

Consignment shops are another great resource for accessories. Typically, they are worn once, so you can get a great bargain.

Once you find that perfect gown and accessories make sure your shoes finish the look. Pageant shoes should be comfortable, fit well, be easy for you to walk in, turn in and not detract from your overall look.

With these tips, you’ll be on your way to finding your winning gown in no time! Best of luck!

Which dress do you like better?

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