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Pageants teach many valuable life lessons, one of which is budgeting. Since I didn’t have access to a bottomless budget when I was competing, I had to learn when to save or splurge. The skill of budgeting made sure that my money went far. Here are the things that you should save or splurge on for your pageant.
Makeup products: SAVE
If you’ve ever shopped at Sephora or Ulta, you know the bill can add up quickly. Use discretion when shopping for your makeup. You do not need a makeup bag full of designer labels. It’s possible to find dupes for many high end makeup brands. There are few things that are worth the price, when it comes to make up and they will vary person-to-person. For example I have oily skin and discoloration, so I spend the majority of my makeup budget on a great foundation. I save money on things like mascara, blush, or eyebrow pencil.
Fake tanning: SAVE
Although a custom spray tan is nice, it’s not necessary. When I competed in pageants I used booth spray tans for competitions, which were less than half the price of a custom tan. As years progressed I found self tanners that I preferred to use, like the Bondi Sands ultra dark tan applied with their glove. I like it because it is just as dark as the St. Tropez self tanner, but it’s half the price. It also has a soft beachy coconut scent, which I prefer to a synthetic tan smell.
Hair and Makeup artists: SPLURGE
The quality of your hair and makeup artist matters. In my blog post 7 things I wish I knew before competing in pageants I go into more detail about this. But essentially it all boils down to this, hair and makeup can make or break your score. YES! It really is that big of a deal. It may just be the game changer you didn’t know you need that has prevented you from advancing into a semi-final or top five.
Evening gown: SAVE/SPLURGE
The amount of money you spend on a gown depends on the pageant you enter. If you are competing for a small local or fair pageant, it’s not necessary to purchase a new Sherri Hill couture gown. But, if you are competing for your dream national title, then you should put more of your budget towards your evening gown. The quality of your gown, and how it looks on you, comes more into play for larger titles or more popular organizations. When you begin a pageant journey that involves a local, state/regional and national competition, try to save where you can, so you’ll have extra money to splurge for nationals/internationals. I highly encourage you to purchase gowns resale, when possible. You will get more for your money. These are my favorite places to purchase resale gowns and wardrobe.
Interview outfit: SAVE
If you have excess money in your pageant budget, then feel free to splurge on this. But, most of the time, you can save money on interview attire. This is definitely a wardrobe piece that you can purchase resale. Too many contestants, waste time searching for the perfect interview outfit, when they should instead spend that time practicing their interview skills. Few pageants score interview outfits, and when they do, they let you know that it’s a scoring component. With that said, choose an outfit that looks professional, in a color you love, that’s age appropriate and altered to perfection. Then get to practicing!!
While it’s possible to buy a custom swimsuit for a competition, it’s not necessary. Venus swimsuits are plain, padded, and perfect for swimsuit competitions. If you cannot find a great swimsuit that you love, go with a Venus swimsuit. They’re also very affordable. Remember, the most expensive swimsuit in the world won’t improve your swimsuit score, but walking coaching and personal training can. Invest your money there, instead of in a custom suit.
Athletic wear: SPLURGE
The only reason this is a splurge is because it is difficult to find teen appropriate athletic or active wear in a bright color. Overall, quality athletic wear that stands out on stage is difficult to find. As a result, the best active wear is often pricey because it comes from a high end athletic wear designer that offers more colors, fits and styles. When the cost of athletic wear inevitably decreases, as more designers hit the market, this can be something you can save on, in the future.
Hair color and cut: SPLURGE
I’ve witnessed so many contestants with terribly damaged hair, in the wrong style or color, for them. Whether you’re a brunette that looks better blonde, or a blonde who needs to tone her hair, you need assistance from a quality stylist. It’s truly amazing what beautiful hair can do for a contestant. The best color and cut for your face and skin tone can transform your entire look for the better. Don’t search for deals on hair, find a stylist that does beautiful work and cares about the health of your hair.
It’s no surprise that shoes are expensive, which is why I urge you to save on them. There’s two main ways to do this. Either invest in 2-3 expensive styles that you can wear with any outfit, or purchase lower quality shoes at a higher quantity. I love a clean closet, so I’m very particular about the shoes I purchase. This is why I rarely buy shoes. But, when I do, I only buy high end or designer brands from resellers. I do this because I know that a well constructed shoe can last a lifetime. When I purchase shoes, my intention is to keep them until the sole wears out. At which point, I will pay a small price to have the shoe resoled. My favorite place to buy designer resale shoes is on The Real Real.
Pageant headshots: SPLURGE
Much like hair and makeup, headshots are a make or break part of pageant competition. Poor pageant headshots can communicate to judges that you’re a newbie, who may not be ready for the next level of competition. On the other hand, incredible headshots will immediately capture the attention of judges. They can help you to standout or become memorable. They are worth the cost. For some more pageant headshot tips, check out this blog post.
Non-competition outfits: SAVE
First, let me explain what I mean by non-competition outfits. Any thing that you wear to an event that is not scored is a non-competition outfit. This could be a rehearsal outfit, themed party, or even a pageant orientation. While, I always encourage you to look your most stylish, it is not necessary to break the bank on this type of wardrobe. You can always purchase these pieces resale, thrifted or on sale.
Pageant coaching: SPLURGE
Although pageant coaching is a splurge, it is one that will save you money in the long run. It wasn’t until my 7th and final year, pursuing a USA state title, that I decided to seek outside help. I attended the Beauty Brand Believe Expo, where I was able to listen to pageant judges and coaches speak. I also booked a hair and makeup lesson with Austin Ryde, because I needed to improve my skills. That was the year that things finally clicked for me, and I was able to win Miss Montana USA. The six other years I competed for the state title, I did everything on my own, but I needed a little more outside perspective in order to be my best on stage. This is why I offer pageant coaching. I know, from personal experience, that it can make a world of difference. My only wish is that I pursued outside help sooner, so that I could have reached my goal, years earlier.