Friday, May 9, 2014

Pageantry on a Budget

This post is one that I originally shared via my old blog last year. Saving money never goes out of style, so I thought I'd share it here as well!

I don't remember exactly who said it, but I have heard of the idea that "Pageants are a rich girl's sport." Well...I beg to differ. The Miss America Organization is the world's leading provider of scholarships for young women. Competing shouldn't just be easy for "rich girls." It has to be accessible for all young women.

Pageants, inevitably, will cost you some money (unless you have absolutely fabulous sponsors who are willing to cover all of your costs). Going into most pageants, you have to expect the following expenses:

  • Interview Outfit (including shoes & accessories)
  • Swimsuit (including shoes & accessories)
  • Evening Gown (including shoes & accessories)
  • Talent Wardrobe (including shoes & accessories as needed)
  • Opening Number Outfit (including shoes & accessories)
  • Beauty Products (hair care, skin care, makeup, tanning, etc.)
  • Travel Costs (gas, food, hotel, etc.)
Of course, these are negotiable. Some opening number outfits are incredibly simple--I've had the option to wear jeans before! Sometimes you won't need to travel very far. You might have a sponsor for your tanning. The most important thing to remember about these expenses is that you never have to pay full cost. I rarely have. How? Here are my favorite money saving tips:
  1. Interview Outfit  Chances are you already have something interview appropriate in your closet! For my first pageant, I wore a simple sheath dress that I already had purchased for interning while in college. It was gray, but I jazzed it up with a fun necklace. Most dresses that you would wear to work can be worn in the interview room, so search your closet before hitting the store! If you do need a new interview outfit, check the sale racks at your local Lord & Taylor. They have many modern and trendy dresses that aren't too over the top, and they have amazing coupons!
  2. Swimsuit   Ladies, the swimsuits that the girls wore at Miss America this year were from Walmart! Let that sink in for a minute. While I love custom swimsuits (and I am fortunate enough to have a beautiful Kandice Pelletier number that she generously sponsored for me as Miss Westchester), you can definitely find a great swimsuit on a budget. For my first pageant, I purchased a Victoria's Secret Miraculous bikini top, and a Target bikini bottom. With fabric glue and beautiful golden beads, I was able to "bedazzle" the straps of my suit and some small hardware pieces on the bottom. It looked great on stage, and I still wear it to the beach!
  3. Evening Gown   While is a fabulous place to find gently used gown, I've recently turned to eBay to purchase pageant must-haves. You can save thousands of dollars by purchasing a dress on eBay--I'm not exaggerating at all. I was able to purchase my latest gown for $1000 off the retail cost. You may not find something each time you search, but it is always worth a try. You're also able to filter by brand and size, which is helpful. Be sure to always check the item description before bidding--sometimes dresses have been altered from their original size, and you want to make sure it will fit you.
It really is possible to compete in a pageant while on a budget. Just remember--the judges aren't instructed to judge you based on the cost of your wardrobe. True story: I won Miss Westchester wearing a borrowed interview dress, an opening number dress from eBay, and an evening gown from an inexpensive prom collection! The judges are looking at the girl in all of these outfits, not the outfits themselves. Find pieces that best reflect your personality, that you wear with poise and grace, and that don't break the bank. 

What are some of your favorite ways to save money while preparing for a pageant? I can't wait to hear them!

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