Yes, Copying Past Winners’ Pageant Gowns Can Work
We’ve made the case for NOT copying a previous winner’s pageant gown. But, a case can also be made that copying can work– if done correctly. Sometimes carefully and strategically copying previous pageant winners’ gowns can work beautifully.
There are certain classic designs and colors that national and international pageant winners have worn with consistent success. Studying those gown styles and color combinations and emulating them can help you select a gown that is unique to you, but possesses the proven traits of previous winners’ gowns.
While we generally advise contestants to avoid wearing a gown that closely resembles the immediate past winner in her pageant system. Obviously, such blatant copying just makes you look like a copycat and will backfire. However, if a successful gown style was worn several years back or by a winner in a different pageant system, it can most often be worn without risk of looking like a copycat.
For example, the following pageant gown styles are highly successful in pageant evening gown competitions and have been recycled with great success by other contestants…
- White lace fitted gown with long sleeves: Worn by Miss America 1973, Terry Meeuswen, and recycled by Miss America 2009, Kati Stam.
- White fitted gown with spaghetti straps, rhinestone straps or fur cap sleeves: First worn by Susan Akin, Miss America 1986, then recycled in slightly modified styles by Amelia Vega, Miss Universe 2003, and Natalie Glebova, Miss Universe 2005.
- Red strapless or one-shoulder style gown: Worn by Dorothy Benham 1976 and recycled well by Miss Universe 1995 Chelsi Smith, Miss Universe 2000, Lara Dutta, Stefania Fernandez, Miss Universe 2009 and Ximena Navarette, Miss Universe 2010.
- Classic, simple, mostly unadorned black gown: Worn by Lupita Jones, Miss Universe 1991, then again successfully by Miss USA 1994, Lu Parker, Nicole Johnson, Miss America 19991, Miss America 2001,
Katie Harmon, and Chelsea Cooley, Miss USA 2005.
- Yellow strapless gown: Worn by Miss America 2004, Ericka Dunlap, and also successfully worn by Dayana Mendoza is Miss Universe 2008, Miss US International 2009, Miss Universe 2011, Leila Lopes, and in a similar modified style by Miss America 2010, Caressa Cameron.
- Black gown with beaded bodice: Worn by Miss World 2004, Unnur Birna Vilhjálmsdóttir, and again by Miss America 2007, Lauren Nelson.
- The strapless black velvet gown: Worn by Miss USA 1990, Carol Gist, this stunning gown was recycled by Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields.
While we do not recommend copying any gown worn by a recent pageant winner in the system in which you are competing — there are cases where major pageant winners have managed to successfully copy earlier pageant winners in other systems with great success.