Pageant Gown Colors

Pageant Gown Colors

When choosing a pageant gown color, a contestant needs to carefully balance how each possible gown choice flatters her skin tone and hair color, as well as how each color looks under pageant stage lights.

The Right Pageant Gown Color for Skin Tone

Teen World winners pageant gown colors
The 2012 Teen World winner and runners-up, show the wide range of pageant gown colors that can beautifully accentuate different skin tones (Photo courtesy of Teen World Competition).

Color analysis enables a contestant's wardrobers to understand the skin tones they are dealing with. Knowing that the girl's complexion has golden or blue undertones, or is ruddy or sallow, helps in the selection of colors and shades that are most flattering.

Keep in mind that colors come in an entire range of shades, each of which will behave differently on an individual. Take reds. One shade of red, perhaps an orange-red, could look awful on a contestant, while a wine red might make her look radiant. According to experts, any girl can wear any color, but the shade of that color must be correct for her hair and skin tones.

"I have found over the years that there isn't a woman who cannot wear all colors," observes Annette Gerhart. "It depends on the shade of that color and on her makeup. Of course, there are certain shades that will be more becoming, but find the right tone and you can wear any color."

That right shade will bring a healthy glow to the face, minimize shadows, make eyes and teeth appear bright, and flatter the hair coloring.

Don't Limited Yourself With Preconceived Ideas

Although hair color, both the girl's natural shade and any dyes or highlights, helps determine the most flattering gown colors, don't limit your early choices with preconceived ideas about what colors you're "supposed" to wear. "I don't think any hair color is limited," asserts Kathleen Munson, who has written several books on modeling. "I think you need to explore the possibilities and find what's best for you."

Pageant Gown Colors Winners Wore by Hair Color or Skin Tone

The right pageant gown color can fabulously play up a gorgeous hair color or skin tone. If you are blessed with a lovely darker skin tone, accent that beauty with a color that highlights your skin tones.  Similarly, if you have beautiful hair, use your gown color choice to focus attention on your hair.

The following is a list of the evening gown colors worn by major pageant winners, according to their hair color or skin tone:

Blondes:

White, black, pink, coral pink, mint green, baby blue, yellow, aqua/turquoise, red, beige, royal blue, and gold tones.

  • Example: We love the look of classic white gowns on blondes, as epitomized by Susan Akin, Miss America 1986, who was breathtaking in a fitted white beaded gown with fur cap sleeves.

Brunettes:

White, ivory, turquoise, pastel aqua, pink, peach, black, lilac, yellow, red, medium blues, beige/skin tone, magenta, bright green, gold lame, silver, floral print, and rain­bow chiffon.

Example: While we love white gowns, we adore brunettes in white gowns, as illustrated by several titleholders who we consider to epitomize white gowns worn perfectly:

  • Miss Earth 2011
  • Miss America 2009 Kati Stam
  • Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs
  • Miss America 1997 Tara Dawn Holland
  • Miss America 1988 Kaye Lani Rae Rafko
  • Miss Universe 1987 Cecilia Bolocco
Pageant Gowns - Miss Earth
Miss Earth 2011 Olga Álava of Ecuador shows how beautifully pure white flatters a lovely olive skin tone (photo courtesy of Miss Earth Pageant).

Women of Color / African-America / Asian / Bi-Racial / Dark Olive Skin Tone:

White, red, black, turquoise, gold lame, lilac, ice blue, peach, gold beading, silver beading.

  • Black: Miss America 1995, Kimberly Aiken, a woman of color with stunning facial features, wore a simple, elegant, black fitted gown with sheer sleeves - a choice that emphasized her beautiful face and refined image.
  • Red: Red is also a fabulous gown color on woman with darker skin tones as show by Miss Universe 2000 Lara Dutta (Miss India) and Rachel Smith, Miss USA 2007 (bi-racial), who accented their beautiful skin tones with a vibrant, but simple red gowns that let their showcased their beauty.
  • Yellow: Yellow is another color that we think is simply stunning on women with dark skin tones, as shown by Caressa Cameron, Miss America 2010 and Miss America 2004, Ericka Dunlap.
green pageant gown, Miss USA 2011
A contestant with gorgeous red hair like Alyssa Campanella, Miss USA 2011, can beautifully emphasize her hair color with a pageant gown color like deep green.

Redheads / Auburn:

White, Kelly to hunter greens, medium pastel aqua, turquoise, and black.

  • Example: Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campanello, a vibrant redhead, wore a bold jewel green sequin pageant gown.

Final Thoughts

To determine your best evening gown colors, be creative. Consider (but don't be held captive by) the results of color analysis, and experiment with dozens of colors, from those that already command your closet to those you've never tried before. Your evening gown is your portrait. Color yourself beautiful.

The perfect evening gown will combine the best color and style for the contestant's hair color, skin tones, and complex­ion, make her look her prettiest under harsh stage lights, fit flawlessly, and convey the image of a winner to judges. The right gown can make the difference between winning and losing, so don't settle for just a pretty gown.

Aim for perfection.

Final Thoughts

To determine your best evening gown colors, be creative. Consider (but don't be held captive by) the results of color analysis, and experiment with dozens of colors, from those that already command your closet to those you've never tried before. Your evening gown is your portrait. Color yourself beautiful.

The perfect evening gown will combine the best color and style for the contestant's hair color, skin tones, and complexion, make her look her prettiest under harsh stage lights, fit flawlessly, and convey the image of a winner to judges.

For example, Jeri Ryan, Miss Illinois, chose a pageant gown in a perfect shade of royal blue that flattered her skin tone and hair color, while looking fabulous under stage lights. She dazzled the judges and placed in the final five at the 1990 Miss America pageant.

The right gown can make the difference between winning and losing, so don't settle for just a pretty gown. Aim for perfection.


Pageant Gown Colors Under Stage Lighting

Jeri Ryan, Miss Illinois, blue pageant gown at Miss America
Jeri Ryan, Miss Illinois, chose a pageant gown in a perfect shade of royal blue that flattered her skin tone and hair color, while looking fabulous under stage lights. She placed in the final five at the 1990 Miss America pageant.

Stage Lighting Can Dramatically Change How a Gown Looks on You Onstage

Avoid the shock of discovering that your beautiful pageant gown looks awful on you on the pageant stage! In addition to considering what type of gown best reflects her personality and creates a winning image, a pageant contestant must also evaluate what evening gown styles, fabrics, and colors are most flattering to her figure shape, height, hair color and style, and skin tones under stark stage lights.

The objective isn’t to find the most eye-catching gown but the gown that makes the young woman look her most beautiful. An evening gown should enhance a young woman's beauty by complementing her unique skin tones and hair coloring.

Unfortunately, even without the complications of stage lighting, colors can be unpredictable, affecting complexions and hair colors in surprising ways. "Colors either cast a yellow shade or a pink shade onto the face," explains pageant clothing designer Beverly McGinn. "If you've got a yellow-based shade, it's going to yellow your makeup instead of keeping you nice and bright. Some colors can make [contestants] look very sallow. Other colors will cast a green shade onto their face. The color goes right back onto the face. So we color-code."

One of the factors a contestant should keep in mind is how her gown color will look under stage lights. "It's amazing the difference stage lighting makes on a gown," says Kati Fish. "Because of the fabrics gowns are made from today, rich crepe silks and chiffons, the difference between regular lighting and stage flood lighting is like night and day. It can almost make them look like two different gowns."

Intense stage lighting can not only alter how gown colors look onstage, it can change how those colors affect a contestant's skin tones and hair color. "Stage lighting can actually change the way a color looks on your skin," Kati explains. Under stage lights the wrong colors can be unflattering: turning dyed-blond hair brassy, casting yellow, green, or grayish tints onto the face, or draining color from a fair complexion.

"Your lighting and choice of color are important," says pageant consultant Kathleen Munson. "They can kill as well as enhance. On warm-toned skin, pinks can be really bad. If you've got very cool tones, peaches can look bad. Anything with a bit of green or yellow will take on that quality onstage, which very few skin tones can survive." Clearly, the appearance of a fabric color under stage lights can greatly affect how a young woman looks-and scores-in the evening gown competition.

Test Possible Gown Choices Under Stage Lighting

To help contestants evaluate possible gown colors, experts recommend testing gowns under mock stage lights to see how each color will appear onstage. Many pageant shops offer state-of-the-art "lighting rooms" equipped with lighting systems to test wardrobing. "It's really important that you know what that color is going to look like when you get onstage," says Fish. "You want to know exactly how you are going to be perceived by the judges."

Even film stars go to great lengths to ensure that their formalwear is flattering onstage. According to Parade magazine, for her appearance at an Academy awards ceremony, Barbra Streisand tested the same gown in different colors on-camera before deciding on her attire. (After testing black, white, and dusty rose, she opted for the rose.) As Streisand's painstaking efforts demonstrate, image-conscious women find their most flattering colors before they step onstage in front of millions of armchair critics.

To look your very best in competition, pretest your gown's fabric color under stage lighting. The perfect pageant gown will combine the best color and style for the contestant's hair color, skin tones, and complexion, make her look her prettiest under harsh stage lights, fit flawlessly, and convey the image of a winner to judges. The right gown can make the difference between winning and los­ing, so don't settle for just a pretty gown. Aim for perfection.

Pageant Gown Designers  | Pageant Gowns: View by State

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