International Junior Miss Alabama Queens – Photo: IJM

Is it comfortable? Do you love it? Can you walk in it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have discovered your evening gown. Disclaimer: There is more to your gown than loving it and fitting in it. Your gown may not meet every requirement.

Finding a dress that you love and can walk comfortably in is crucial. Unfortunately, we often go straight for what we want without considering how appropriate it is. Every pageant girl must be aware of the pageant system she is competing in and what her age division expects. This information may be able to help.

Pageant Evening Gowns by Age Division

Baby – Toddler (Ages 0-5)

Sunburst Pageant's 2015 Baby Miss winner. Photo by: Sunburst Pageant
Sunburst Pageant’s 2015 Baby Miss winner. Photo by: Sunburst Pageant

Relish in the cuteness while it lasts. Those cupcake skirts won’t fit for long. Rhinestones, bright colors, cute socks, and matching headbands are universal for nearly every pageant at this age, even at small local pageants.

These “dresses” are typically two pieces made to look like one piece. It is easy to spend too much money on a baby or toddler dress, so set a budget for yourself before you have one custom-made or even look to purchase one off e-Bay. Those cupcake skirts really don’t fit for long.

Princess (Ages 6-8)

Lexington County Peach Festival Junior Miss winners. Photo by: Lexington County Peach Festival
Lexington County Peach Festival Junior Miss winners. Photo by: Lexington County Peach Festival

A lot of changes take place from the youngest age division to the Princess division, and I’m not just talking about that new snaggletooth grin. Once a contestant reaches this age, it is time to look for dresses that are a bit more mature, but still sweet and girly.

Choose a full-length gown with a full skirt to keep your little princess looking sweet and youthful. Choosing a gown of her favorite color will also help to spark some personality from her onstage.

PreTeen (Ages 9-12)

petite-miss-dress
Starling Ledbetter, Arkansas International Junior Miss Preteen 2015, modeling her evening gown. Photo by: Robyn Ledbetter

Every contestant should feel like a princess, especially when she can wear a ball gown, which is ideal for this age. At age twelve, you want to be careful that you don’t look too young or too mature. This is an important time where you need to have an idea of what is expected in this age division in the pageant system that you are competing in.

Once you get a feel for the system you are competing in, you have an idea of what to look for.

Teen (Ages 13-16)

Emily Bray, Miss High School America 2015, modeling her evening gown. Photo by:
Emily Bray, Miss High School America 2015, modeling her evening gown. Photo by:

To all you pageant parents out there, just let it be. Your daughter is going to look older than she really is because, well, she’s growing up. In the Teen age division, dresses are more form fitting and heels are higher.

Contestants at this age can avoid looking too old by wearing fun colors like pink and yellow and staying away from high dress slits and low-cut necklines.

Teens have a lot of freedom to be creative with their dress choice, as all styles can be appropriate if worn correctly (while taking into consideration what is expected in the pageant system).

Miss (Ages 17-24ish)

Photo by: www.rapler.com
2015 Miss Universe Top Five contestants represent their country and personality through their gown choice. Photo by: www.rapler.com

Transitioning from Teen to Miss can be intimidating for parents and contestants. Instead, see it as a new adventure — one that involves cultivating confidence. Miss contestants are self-assured and mature in more ways than one.

Don’t be afraid to take a risk with your evening gown. You are more capable of stepping outside the boundaries now than you ever have or ever will. Try the low-cut dress, the ten-pound beaded dress, or the dress with the long train. See what style of dress looks best on your body and makes you feel most confident about yourself.

Make your own statement, not anyone else’s. Your gown choice says more about you than you realize. You can be completely transparent and while still being covered up.

Mrs. (Age 21-forever)

Photo by: Mrs. Texas Organization
2015 Mrs. Texas International Top Six after crowning. Photo by: Mrs. Texas Organization

After prom, homecoming, and your wedding is behind you, there is still an occasion to wear an evening gown that doesn’t require crashing your child’s prom or getting remarried. There’s something much simpler… competing in a pageant!

When choosing a gown for a Mrs. pageant, search for a gown that you would wear to a ball or gala with your husband. That doesn’t mean you should let hubby choose (or your children either, if applicable).

This is your moment. You are a grown woman; you can pretty much do what you want. However, throwing it back to prom or the Miss pageants days may not be the best choice. Again, research the pageant you are competing in and decide for yourself what is comfortable for you and most flattering. Something a bit more modest, yet still form-fitting, is typically expected from a Mrs. contestant.

In addition to being aware of age appropriateness, don’t forget to consider the expectations of the pageant system that you are competing in. Some pageants systems are more conservative than others about gown choices, so check with the pageant director or past queens to see what style of gowns that they prefer.

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