Why You Don’t Need to Have a “Pageant” Gown to Be Successful in Your Pageant

Why You Don’t Need to Have a “Pageant” Gown to Be Successful in Your Pageant

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, economic setbacks, and being in a “find yourself” era, you do not always need the hottest (priciest) couture gown to feel like a queen in your next competition.

November 21, 2022
By Monito Power

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“Out with the old, in with the new” may be the essential thought when choosing or even designing your next competition gown, but does new and glamorous always have to mean top name brand designers and fancy Swarovski crystals? Does it necessarily mean it will “make your body look better”? Does new and glamorous even have to be new?

What may be considered as beautiful and breathtaking is quite frankly on a large spectrum. That is because beauty and success in the evening gown competition of a pageant extend further than the dress itself. So in this article, keep on reading to find out why the old saying first mentioned above is in contrast to today’s societal era because new and glamorous is so much more than what meets the eye.


Andreia Gibau walks on-stage in a red Sherri Hill gown during the Miss USA Formal Wear competition. (by Jessielyn Palumbo)

Step aside, new couture prom collections and bling! I sat down, (or more like sat down in my swivel chair to talk on Instagram DM,) with reigning Miss New York USA 2020, Andreia Gibau about the simple yet timeless Sherri Hill piece she wore at the national final of Miss USA. This dress had fans all over the world buzzing and screaming, and you might be surprised at what you’ll soon read.

Gibau said, “Well I knew the situation I was working with and I had to be very realistic with what would work for me, that I would still be happy in. I had a vision of me wearing a silk red gown with a slit, and when I went to go pick out my dress, as I was looking through the racks, I found what I had envisioned & decided to go with it!”

I then proceeded to ask her, “Do you know what year the gown was originally designed in? From what I understand, your gown didn’t look like one of the more recent Sherri’s we saw others wear, yet still stood out.” Gibau then answered, “Gosh, I don’t even know… I think the mid-2000s?!”

Crying laughing emojis ended that last response. I didn’t even think Sherri Hill is still selling designs from way back then! I then asked the Miss USA Top 10 finalist what her advice was for women competing, especially in this pandemic, to let them know that you don’t need the newest designer piece to feel happy on stage in what they wear, much like Andreia talked about herself.

To which the Cape Verdean immigrant responded with “As someone who’s worn a $15,000 gown and a $200 gown in my pageant career, I’ve learned that it’s not the [pageant] gown that is scored. It’s the woman in the gown. Don’t initially go for what’s the most expensive and eye-catching, go for what you feel the most beautiful in and what will let your inner light shine. Because that’s what’s scored. Think about the cuts and colors that will boost your inner confidence not overshadow it.” Naturally, I responded with a big “TELL ‘EM QUEEN!!”

Andreia Gibau Crowned Miss Earth United States 2017

Andreia’s story of finding a gown that let her inner beauty shine more is just one of countless stories. It comes to prove you truly don’t need the most expensive, brand new gown to feel good about who you are and what you stand for, and if you do, it should only be because it works perfectly for you in that sense of bringing your true and confident self out.

However, it’s not just Gibau who boldly took a turn to wear something unique that brought out her essence on the Miss USA stage. It’s also the first openly LGBTQ+ contestant, Rachel Slawson of Utah, who wore a power glam jumpsuit, and Indiana’s Alexis Lete, who went from couture to prom, so she could feel more like herself, all while saving thousands as she explains in an Instagram post.


So how can you truly walk away from reading this knowing that you don’t always need to have a $10,000 dress or the most viral Valdrin Sahiti piece of the month?

It truly is the woman in the dress, not the other way around. You can find major success in pageants once you learn that for the evening gown you wear, you wear it because you truly feel confident in it and that you can be your most authentic self walking in it. Not because other girls got their dresses from famous (and expensive) designers, not because the price tag is more than your monthly apartment rent, and certainly not because you think you’re supposed to wear a specific design that you see all over social media. It is because you look AND feel your best in it.

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