Pageantry is notorious for being expensive, but it does not have to be unaffordable. I would tell anyone to never let cost get in the way of entering a pageant; there ARE options! Here are some tips that I have learned throughout my years of pageantry that made competing more affordable for me:
#1 – Research different pageants and the requirements beforehand.
Different pageants have various areas of competition, which can add wardrobe costs for each category. There may be required events during competition weekend such as dinners, charity events or media appearances that you may also need an outfit for or to pay a separate fee to attend.
1.2 – Look into how many days your pageant will span, whether or not accommodations are included in your fees and anything else that might be an additional expense (required ticket sales, an AD page, embroidered sash, etc).
#2 – Plan early.
Many pageants will offer discounts for early submissions and typically you can put a down payment to secure your early bird price (if offered). Make sure to book any travel as soon as you are confirmed to compete. I personally like to book flights with Southwest since they are flexible with changes and cancelations.
#3 – Fundraise.
The idea of asking for others for money might be daunting, but many girls have covered 100% of their expenses via fundraising. I find the most simple way to fundraise is to buy an AD page in your pageant’s program book and charge local businesses $50-$100 for their logo to be published on your page. Start with places that you or your family has done business with (hair salons, dentists, car dealerships, etc).
3.2 – Dani Walker, a former Miss MT USA covers sponsorships more in depth on her YouTube channel here.
#4 – Shop online sales.
A lot of pageant and prom shops will put gowns on sale at the end of every season. Start looking for your evening gown early so that you have options. Once you find the one you love, copy and paste the name and style number (example Jovani 4247) into Google to make sure you’re getting the lowest price available. Google will populate all of the stores that carry that style. Don’t be afraid to buy a bigger size if its on sale because you have the option to have it altered.
#5 – Shop second hand.
I have saved THE MOST money with this tip. There are many apps and sites that provide access to used clothing and evening gowns. You can get your entire wardrobe for a fraction of retail price with this method as well as sell your old wardrobe to get some money back. I recommend sticking with the apps and websites specifically for buying and selling. If you purchase off Facebook or Craigslist you are at risk for scammers, so always be conscious.
5.2 My favorite apps for buying/selling used clothing are: Poshmark, Queenly, Mercari and Tradesy. (I will put affiliate codes at the bottom!)
#6 – Consider DIYing your alterations.
Craft stores carry hemming tape that makes hemming as easy as folding and ironing. Safety pins also can provide a quick fix: safety pin the inside of a garment to create a new “seam” on a part that might be a little too loose. I wouldn’t recommend making any cuts or major alterations, but there are small things that are definitely doable to avoid a seamstress fee.
#7 – Purchase accessories from Ebay and Amazon.
Purchase directly from the source, China. Ebay is an awesome resource to find affordable costume jewelry. Search, “rhinestone earrings” or “red rhinestone necklace” and go wild! Set your search to outside of the US to find the really cheap stuff. You can find very pretty pieces for prices as low as .99 cents! Just make sure to give yourself plenty of time because overseas shipping can take 2-3 weeks.
#8 – Something Borrowed.
Pretty simple and straightforward, ask your friends if they have a cocktail dress that you can borrow or a nice blouse for your interview. You would be surprised at how helpful it could be just to ask around your friend group.
#9 – Book headshots with photographers who are building their business.
Nice photos do NOT have to be expensive! Search locally for a photographer that is starting their business or studying photography in school. There are also professional photo editors on sites such as Fiverr.com that can edit your proofs to give them that extra “oomph” (fees as low as $5 per photo).
#10 – Makeup counters are your friends.
My favorite makeup hack is taking advantage of the makeup application policies at places like Sephora and MAC. Most makeup counters will do full-face makeup applications if you purchase between $50-75 worth of product. Not only are you getting your makeup professionally done for a reasonable price, but you’re also walking away with product that you will use in the future!
#11 – Alternates for coaching.
There are resources online where you can hire someone to conduct a mock job interview, which is very similar to your pageant interview. Submit your contestant profile instead of submitting a resume. This is an affordable way to get feedback on your professionalism, answers, and use of wording to get your point across. Again, my favorite resource for something like this is Fiverr.com
*** Please be sure to consult with your parent before speaking with a stranger online. ***
There are other “hacks” to save money in the pageant world, but these are all methods that have personally worked for me. I hope that these tips can be utilized and shared, because is it never a bad idea to save a buck! There are so many systems, both with local and state pageants; find the one that is best for you and for your budget. Always reach out to the directors if you’re having issues with covering fees, sometimes they have supplement programs or even rewards for referrals!
Here are my affiliate links for some of the resources that I spoke about above! By using these links/codes you can get a discount or credit for your first purchase!
- Poshmark: Take $10 off your first purchase with code JORDYNLYNN at signup (app)
- Mercari: Take $10 off your first purchase https://merc.li/PGyv7sb (click from mobile device) (app)
- Queenly: Take $15 off your first purchase with code 3P9AFL5G at signup (app)
(All apps and sites listed in this post are unaffiliated with me and I am only expressing my personal opinions.)
Did you love this article or do you have any money saving pageant tricks to share? Please comment below or let me know @JordynChessmore on Instagram!