Contestants Need to Avoid Mistakes When They Chose Their Evening Gown
Mistakes in the choice of a pageant gown eliminate contestants by revealing to judges which girls don’t have the qualities necessary to be an effective titleholder: good judgment, taste, modesty, or common sense.
“I think intelligence plays a part,” says Vernon DeSear, who supervised the selection of many Miss Florida pageant wardrobes for national competition. “You have to use your mind and consider what you are portraying about yourself with your gown.”
“If a girl comes out in a dress that is cut down to her navel,” DeSear continues, “that should tell us something about her. What type of girl wants to get up in front of the nation in a dress cut down to here? If the girl does not have a good figure but she wears a skin-tight dress, the judges will wonder, ‘Why did she pick this dress?’ Two things will come to mind. Either somebody dictated that she had to wear this dress because they wanted her to wear it, or she has no idea of what taste is or what looks good on her. So, clothes do come into it.”
Mistakes with your pageant gown can cost you the crown
There is no question that mistakes in their choice of her pageant gown can cost an otherwise promising contestant the crown. Pageant gown expert Zola Keller, of South Florida’s Zola Keller boutique, recalls a state titleholder whose gown glitches had previously prevented the judges from awarding her the crown. “She was a gorgeous girl, her body was phenomenal, and she spent a fortune on her wardrobe. But it was all wrong! She spent like eight thousand dollars on a Bob Mackie, but it was an ‘Elvira’ dress-big black sleeves, slit to the navel. It was just wrong. It wasn’t like she skimped, but she just had no advice.”
When she lost, the young woman asked the director where she had gone wrong. “The first thing they told her was ‘wardrobe’!” She came to Zola for help. “Her problem was that she was ‘too much,’ so I toned her down-and she won.” Don’t cost yourself the crown with “image” errors.
Your Pageant Gown Must Fit Your Body Correctly
One of the most common technical mistakes is a pageant gown that fits poorly. The gown should be altered to lay flat against the body, especially around the bodice and waist. There should be no wrinkles or puckers evident as a contestant walks.
“You want it to look like it was made just for you,” says Annette Gerhart, of Pennsylvania’s The Cinderella Shoppe, “not that you just grabbed it off the rack and said, ‘Okay, let’s go to this pageant and get rolling.’ And there are some girls who look like that. As judges, you see some of the most god awful dresses that ever hit a stage, dragging and sagging and lagging behind!”
The Gown’s Length Needs to Be Perfect
Another frequent pageant gown gaffe is a too-short hemline that makes the contestant look like she’s outgrown her gown. “It depends on whether the dress is full or straight, but the basic rule is just to let that hem kiss the top of the toe,” Gerhart explains. “You don’t want it to touch the floor. It’s got to be the right length.” A ‘high-water’ hemline looks amateurish, while a too-long hemline can trip a young lady onstage. Wear the same shoes at fittings to achieve the right hem length for competition.
When a girl has achieved a winning look, her pageant gown’s image and technical qualities will blend so smoothly and professionally that judges won’t find an excuse to deduct points. “You can look at her onstage, and not see anything that is out of place that takes away from the contestant,” explains Robin Elliott-Bear. “You’re just going to see a pretty girl in a pretty dress.”
The Features of a Losing Pageant Gown
- overpowers its wearer
- too-short hem
- poor fit
- plunging neckline or excessive cleavage
- skin-tight gown on an imperfect figure
- slinky beaded gown on a preteen
- clutter: excess ruffles and bows after the teens
- gaudy colors (red and black sequins, rainbow sequins)
- wide hoop skirt when they’re out of fashion
- distracting shoes or jewelry
The Features of a Winning Pageant Gown
- the right image for the pageant
- right for the girl’s personal style
- flattering style for her figure
- flattering color for her hair and skin tones
- neckline that complements her facial shape
- a gorgeous back view
- perfect fit and correct hem length
- beautifully accessorized
Remember, if even one judge reacts negatively to your gown, the points that he or she deducts can mean the difference between your making the top ten or not, or your being the winner — or not. Don’t give a judge an excuse to lower your score. Avoid point-losing pageant gown mistakes.