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How to Choose the Winning Gown

The evening gown competition has been a tradition in the pageant industry for as long as we can remember. Each year we hold our breaths as we watch the world’s most intricately designed gowns grace the stage of major pageants like Miss Universe, Miss Earth, or Miss World. These show-stopping gowns often inspire trends for years to come on the red carpet, at proms, and even at other pageants. If you have ever been inside a pageant gown boutique, you know that the endless racks of gowns can be a bit overwhelming and it can be hard to make a choice. But, the age old question that has so many pageant contestants stumped? How do you choose THE winning gown?

How to Know When You Have Found Your Winning Gown?

Some of the most iconic gowns like Olivia Jordan’s winning Miss USA gown or Zozibini Tunzi’s winning Miss Universe gown were chosen with the intent to make a statement on stage. In order to find your winning gown, you cannot expect to walk into your local dress shop on a random afternoon and find “the one”. Finding the perfect gown for your pageant takes planning and a lot of thought before you even walk into the store. The following tips will help you be prepared for the process of searching for the perfect gown that will make you stand out on stage:

  • Imagine Your Crowning Moment: This sounds corny but I promise it really works. When you picture the crown being placed on your head, try to imagine what you are wearing. What color is the gown? What is the silhouette? Does it have beading? Envisioning your moment may help you steer your brain in the right direction of what kind of gown you will feel your most confident in.

  • Know What Works For You: To find your winning gown, you need to find a gown that is the right color and shape for you. Of course we can look at the magnificence of Catriona Gray’s Lava Gown, but if red is not a color that suits your skin tone, you probably should choose something different. Knowing what colors best fit your skin tone and what silhouettes are best for your body type will be key in selecting a gown that makes you look and feel confident on stage.

  • Have a Budget: I would love to be able to afford a Michael Cinco gown, but with my student loans that is just not in the cards for me. So, as financially savvy queens we learn to “ball on a budget”! Take a realistic look at how much you can afford and stick to that budget. When you know what you are looking for you can find a beautiful gown in any price range. Besides, it is not about the dress, but the girl wearing it! Fun fact: Did you know that Miss Pennsylvania USA 2021’s winning state gown was a gown she thrifted for less than $50?

  • Choose a Gown That Makes You Happy: Between coaches, parents, and the many other voices that will undoubtedly have an opinion about what you should wear on stage, remember that your opinion matters the most. After all, you are the one that has to wear it. Of course you should always listen to other opinions, but when a girl feels happy and confident in a dress, it shines on stage.

Choosing a winning gown is only the beginning of preparing for the crown. For more pageant tips, check back for our weekly blog posts! We look forward to being a part of your pageant journey.

Image from Nick Verreos of Miss Universe 2019 Top Five in Evening Gown


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