International Junior Miss Princess 2017, Ava Colindres. Photo: International Junior Miss website/Photographic Vision by Heather Orawsky
Sugar and spice and everything nice; that's what Princess contestants are made of! Cute and sweet with a touch of sass, these fearless and sometimes feisty little ladies can, honestly, either be a dream or nightmare to wardrobe. However, avoiding a wardrobe nightmare with her actually isn't too difficult. It's all about establishing boundaries and compromise with a dash of sugar coating early on! Read below to learn how much say your Princess should have in her wardrobe.
First things first Let's discuss the very basics of Princess pageantry before we talk about actually getting the wardrobe from the retailer to her closet. As a parent or guardian, you have to do your background work before even entering your little doll into something like this. Do your research on the pageant system. Talk to other moms and the directors. Understand the expectations of the contestants, along with what the requirements are for competitions, payments, travel, wardrobe, hair and makeup. Many systems do not allow makeup in this age group, which typically is compromised of girls ages three or four to five or six. (Read: 5 Rules For Applying Makeup On A Princess Contestant) Look up photos from the prior year's competitions. Check out what the Princesses who were crowned or placed highly wore. Once you have a firm understanding of the requirements of the system, it's time to get started. (Read: Top 10 Pageant Interview Questions For The Princess Division)
USA National Jr Princess 2017, Morgan Meek, being fabulous in NYC Times Square. Photo: usanationaljrprincess Instagram
Where to start Unfortunately, the fairy godmother isn't going to show up with a wand in hand and pumpkin at foot to zap a dress worthy of Cinderella onto your little one the night of the pageant. That leaves the job up to you, super mom! The challenging thing about Princess wardrobe is that if you live in an area similar to mine, there are few dress shops that actually carry little girl's pageant dresses in stock. Many have to be ordered. That can make things tricky. Princesses can get finicky. If I had a quarter for every time I've heard statements like "the sequins are too itchy," and "but I don't like yellow! I don't want to wear it," to "the crinoline is tickling me," I would be rich by now. Personally, I cannot justify spending top dollar on custom gowns in the sometimes picky Princess age group, but that's just me. Besides, it really needs to be about the girl in the dress, not the dress itself. At this age and level, and considering this may be one of her first pageants, sometimes consignment really is the best option. Double that with the fact that Princesses are usually growing at a rapid pace, a brand new expensive dress won't fit in a few months anyway and loses its value after it has been worn and altered. (Read: Top 5 Best Pageant Resale Sites) If consignment won't work, check out all of our fabulous retailers in the directory and they will take great care of ordering her something fit for a queen! The points to remember when perusing items is to keep it fresh, young, fun, appropriate and comfortable in a color palette agreeable to her hair and skin tone. She should look like a Princess at all times, not a Preteen or Teen. (Read: What Princess Contestants Should Wear For Pageant Talent) "It's important for a girl, of any age, to feel comfortable and confident in her wardrobe," said Mary Swenson, pageant coach and owner of Confidence & Poise, LLC. "However, as the adult in the situation, it is important to research the rules of the particular pageant you are participating in and stay within those parameters. With younger girls, I suggest finding some options that you know will be appropriate. Then ask her for her input from there. If you know a color that makes her pop and feel fabulous, stick with those!"
Some of the National Elite Pageants 2017 titleholders at YMCA Operation Backpack. Photo: National Elite Pageants Facebook
Shop 'til you drop Whatever outlet you choose for purchasing her wardrobe, start first by going online – without her. List on a piece of paper the items you need in each category of competition and the colors and styles you feel complement her best. (Read: 5 Tips To Pick The Perfect Pageant Gown For Kids) Screenshot and/or save bookmarks of the things you really like, leaving at least a handful of options for her to share her opinion on and look over. Save them and prepare yourself for the big reveal. Narrowing the choices This is where the boundaries, compromise and, to be honest, some sugar coating come into play. Remind her that you are super excited and supportive of her pageant adventure, and that you're here to help her make the best choices but that you want "her to choose" the wardrobe. Really, we all know you've pre-selected it for her with items you like, you're just making her think she picked it all! It's a major win-win for everyone! At this age, they are trying desperately to gain independence and control in the high-speed world around them, and doing it this way helps give her that step towards being a confident young lady.
National American Miss Pennsylvania Princess 2017, Madelyn Thomas. Photo: National American Miss Facebook
The finishing touches Once you have all of the outfits in hand, take her out shopping to accessorize the outfits for a fun girls day. Remember the incredible bond that moms and daughters can form while competing in pageants. This is one of those experiences she won't forget! (Read: 12 Things Every Pageant Mom Does) Bring the outfits along into the stores and let her have some fun picking out accessories. Give her some guidelines and let her look around and give her feedback. Fill up the shopping cart and have her help swipe the credit card. Again, this is the opportunity for her to establish some ownership towards her wardrobe and pride in what she's wearing. She'll transfer that to some much-needed confidence on stage. She'll be proud of what she's wearing because she picked it out with the one person she adores most: you! (Read: 10 Signs That You Are In The Presence Of A Pageant Mom)
USA National Princess 2017, Reagan Rhodes. Photo: USA National Miss website
Going Forward At this age, Princess contestants just aren't ready to make big girl decisions about their wardrobe. Give her some options and make her feel part of the process. Allow her the chance to have a say in her accessories and she'll take ownership in her pageant competition journey. If you're new to the game and still not sure how to start, let us help you! Pageant Planet also offers one-on-one coaching and mock interviews with packages starting at just $19 a month and a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can't go wrong! May the odds be ever in your favor!
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