How to Enter a Beauty Pageant Inexpensively
For several years, I was very “into” beauty pageants. No, I didn’t compete, but my oldest granddaughter, Lexi, and my niece, Madison, did. My three daughters had been in a couple of pageants when they were kids, and my middle daughter was in one as an adult. They never got the thrill from pageants, however, that Lexi and Madison did. As Lexi’s sponsor, I paid for just about everything that she needed in order to be competitive. We did a few natural pageants, face pageants, and low glitz events, but Lexi preferred high glitz pageants most of the time. I don’t know how it is where you live, but in the Deep South, glitz pageants are extremely competitive, and they can cost a small fortune – if you want to win. Pageants charge an entrance fee, but that’s the least of your money worries. You have to find the right dress for yourself or for your daughter, the right pageant shoes, the right jewelry, and even the right socks to wear with short pageant dresses. Then there’s the tanning, the hair, and the makeup. If the girl’s teeth aren’t perfect, buying a flipper will add significantly to your total expenses. There are some ways to save a few bucks, however. Below are some tips for how to enter a beauty pageant inexpensively. Remember that “inexpensive” and “cheap” are relative terms, though!
If you’re really into saving money, a glitz beauty pageant might not be for you. Depending on the pageant and on the competition, the contestants might be expected to present a perfect total package, from the top of her head to her toes. What’s the “perfect total package”? Let’s start at the top. Such a girl would probably be wearing a hair piece or wig, done in a pageant style. She might also have adornments in her hair. She’ll have appropriate earrings and a necklace or choker. Her facial makeup will be impeccable, and her teeth will be white and perfect. She’ll be wearing a gorgeous dress or gown that looks great on her. The color or shade will enhance her natural coloring, and the dress will be a perfect fit. Her fingernails will be neatly manicured. She’ll be wearing the right pageant shoes, and if they’re open toed, her toenails will be pedicured. Such a contestant will have tanned skin that displays a healthy glow.
All the details above cover just the physical appearance of the perfect contestant. That’s just part of competing, however. Contestants will also be expected to exude personality, grace, poise, and confidence. She’ll have to have a modeling routine and be able to execute it with apparent ease. She’ll have to learn to display a natural-looking smile the entire time she’s on stage, too. In addition, older girls might be expected to answer interview questions on stage.
What we’ve discussed so far covers only the beauty portion of a pageant. Many glitz pageants also have other categories. These might include outfit of choice, casual wear, costume wear, swimwear, and/or talent. You’ll need outfits for competing in these categories, and you might even need props. Many girls change their hair styles between the different events, too. They want to provide the judges with several different looks.
Pageant dresses – especially glitz pageant dresses – don’t come cheap. In highly competitive areas of the United States, most of the serious competitors wear custom made pageant gowns and dresses. The most popular seamstress in our area charges around $2,000-$2,500 for a high glitz dress, and she stays booked up.
Glitz pageant dresses for little girls are often more expensive than are pageant gowns for older girls. The younger girls usually wear short dresses with cupcake skirts and lots of Swarovski rhinestones. The stones themselves aren’t exactly cheap, especially when you consider the hundreds of rhinestones that might be on a dress. If you have to pay someone to decorate the dress, that’s not exactly cheap, either.
When you’re searching for competitive dresses, remember that the dress has to be right for your daughter. A dress that looks amazing on Suzie might not look so great on Mary. Choosing the right color is extremely important. For more about this, you can visit my blog on glitz pageants. Make sure the dress is a perfect fit, too. It should be snug, without being too tight. The waistline should fall at just the right place, too. Pay close attention to the length, as well. Long pageant gowns should just barely brush the floor, without being long enough to cause tripping. Short dresses should be at the girl’s fingertips in length, without showing her panties when she moves.
Save Money – on competing
If you refuse to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to compete in a pageant, you’ll do best to start with small local pageants. The entry fees are usually significantly less, and the competition probably won’t be as stiff. As such, the contestant won’t need to be as “perfect” as she would in a big national pageant.
Saving money is easier with non-glitz competitions. You might want to start out with natural or face pageants, where the little girls aren’t allowed to wear makeup, flippers, pageant hair, or glitz pageant dresses. The older girls might be allowed to wear just a little makeup. The girls don’t have to have complicated modeling routines, either, so you’ll save money on coaching.
Natural pageants were a heck of a lot easier on me – and on my pocketbook. Unfortunately, Lexi didn’t enjoy them nearly as much as she enjoyed doing glitz beauty pageants. I think part of this was because she fell hopelessly in love with her fancy dresses. We always had a hard time getting her to take her dress off after a pageant. She never wanted us to sell any of her pageant dresses, but we had to in order to be able to buy new ones.
Another way of saving money on competing in pageants is to enlist the aid of sponsors. Our business, Abee Services, usually sponsored Lexi. At most of her pageants, our business was announced on stage and listed in the program as a sponsor. This enabled us to use the sponsorship as an advertising expense, so we were able to take it as a tax deduction.
Cheap Pageant Dresses
Are there really cheap pageant dresses out there – ones that you might actually have a shot at winning with? Yes, but they’re hard to find. Most girls don’t keep their dresses forever. Obviously, younger girls outgrow theirs pretty quickly. Most girls like to change dresses fairly frequently, even when the dresses still fit. Most serious competitors don’t want the judges to see them in the same dress over and over. As a result, you can find used pageant dresses in pageant consignment shops, on Ebay, and on internet pageant boards.
Another option for cheap pageant dresses is to buy an unembellished dress and stone it yourself. Madison’s mom and I have done this numerous times, and our creations have received great scores from the judges. If you want to learn how to stone pageant dresses, click the link. It’s really not that hard, but you’ll need patience, a steady hand, and some creativity.
When we decided to put Lexi in her first pageant, I searched high and low for cheap pageant dresses. Madison’s mom, Sandi, helped me. I knew hardly anything about pageantry at the time, but she was already an old pro. She found us a dress on Ebay that she thought would be suitable, but it had no stones on it. Lexi’s first pageant was glitz, so we knew we had to do some serious stoning. I paid just $50 for the dress, and Sandi ordered rhinestones for it. Lexi went up against ten little girls, and there were several pageant divas in her division. When my granddaughter won prettiest dress, I almost fell off my chair! I was even more in shock when she was announced as the pageant winner.
Another way to get cheap pageant dresses is to find a great bodice and pay a pageant seamstress to make a skirt to attach to the top portion of the dress. We’ve done this a couple of times, and we were very pleased with the results.
You might want to compete without buying a dress at all. If that’s the case, find an individual or a store that rents dresses. Rental fees around here usually range from $50 to $100. That might sound like a lot of money, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying your own pageant gowns or dresses. I think this is a great option for the first pageant or two, when you’re uncertain about how the girl will do in competitions and whether or not she’ll enjoy pageantry.
How To Save Money – on entry fees
Fees for competitions generally range from $75 to over $1,000. The pageants on the cheaper end of the scale are usually small local pageants, while those at the other end are larger nationals. The high entry fee probably includes all the pageant events, including beauty, outfit of choice, swimwear, and optional. It’s also important to beginners to understand that the prizes are often in direct relation to the entry fees. More expensive beauty pageants usually offer more expensive prizes for the winners.
There are a couple of ways to save money on entry fees. Some pageants have a webpage that encourages potential entrants to post on their forums. They often waive entry fees for a set number of girls by randomly selecting the names of those who have posted on the page. In some cases, fees aren’t completely waived, but a discount is offered. For example, if your name is selected, you might have to pay only half of the regular fee for entering the pageant.
Makeup pros can charge up to $150, which usually includes hair styling, too. When we first started out with competitions, I was really concerned with saving money. I wasn’t sure at first if pageantry was something Lexi would want to stick with, so I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on what she needed to compete.
We were lucky with makeup. Lexi’s other grandmother, Angie, is a makeup artist at a local department store. She did Lexi’s makeup for free for the first few pageants. By the way, Lexi was victorious in almost all of those events – without professional makeup, pageant hair, or an expensive dress.
You need to understand that pageant makeup for glitz competitions will usually look “overdone” offstage. When the girls are in normal lighting, the makeup will probably appear excessive to you. Onstage, however, you’ll have a different impression. Stage lighting is extremely bright, and the lights tend to “fade” the makeup somewhat.
You’ve probably seen the big “pageant hair” in glitz pageants. These hair styles are usually accomplished by a professional pageant stylist and usually involve hair pieces, wigs, or both. If you have your makeup done at the pageant, the same person usually does your hair, too. A hair and makeup person usually charges around $50 for smaller pageants, but at a larger pageant, the cost can triple.
Not all glitz beauty pageants go in for big “pageant hair.” I’ve seen a few simpler hair styles win some pretty big competitions. One girl who consistently won wore a bob, and another big winner wore sort of a Barbie flip. She had thick hair, and it was teased a bit at the crown, sprayed, and curled at the ends.
If you think you’ll need pageant hair but need to be saving money, buy used hair pieces or wigs. Make sure they’re made from real human hair. Go to a wig site and match the girl’s hair color to the shades on the color wheel. Once you find your match, write down the number. Go on Ebay or the pageant boards and find used wigs or falls in that color number. Don’t worry – the hair is washable.
To get some ideas for hair styles for beauty pageants, go to the website of the event you’ll be entering. Look at the photographs of previous winners. That will give you a good idea of what the judges will be expecting.
Most competitors in high glitz pageants use sunless tanning to even out skin tones and to provide a glow. Oftentimes, girls who aren’t tanned look very pale on stage, due to the lighting. Sunless tanning is pretty much a must for Caucasian girls in big high glitz pageants. Many Hispanic and Asian girls use tanner or bronzer, too. They do it more for the “glow” than for the color. My niece is from China, and she always tanned before a pageant.
You can have your daughter spray tanned, or you can have sunless tanning lotion applied by an expert. Many hair and makeup people do tanning, too. A cheaper option is to do it yourself and save money. If you can find an instant bronzer or tanner, use it. If not, use a good quality sunless tanner the day before the beauty pageant. The girl should bathe and exfoliate first. Don’t apply the tanner until the skin is completely dry. Apply a thin, even coat and go easy over the elbows, knees, and ankles. Don’t tan the face – use makeup there, instead.
Pageant pictures might be one place where you don’t want to cut corners. In many pageants, the photos the contestants enter are very important. They usually figure into the overall score, and the pics provide the judges with their first impressions of a contestant. Remember – you can make a first impression only once. If you’re serious about competing in glitz pageants, consider pageant pictures as an investment. Depending on the age of the contestant, the same pics might be used for quite some time.
Find out if the event you want to enter prefers glitz or natural photos. Some allow both types of pictures to be entered. If that’s the case, take advantage of the situation and enter at least one of each type of photo. Use a different “look” in each. Use a professional pageant photographer – not just a regular professional photographer. The guy who took some great shots at your wedding might not be familiar with pageant photos. Most glitz photos are greatly enhanced, while natural photos aren’t. Take some photo toppers and other adornments with you to the photo shoot. In many cases, photographers who specialize in pics for glitz pageants will also have some items on hand for you to use. For more pageant tips, click the link to my site.