How to Dress for a Pageant Interview

The pageant interview is arguably the most critical competition in the entire pageant. The interview is the first phase of the competition, which means your first appearance in front of the judges and your first chance to make a memorable impression on them – hopefully for all the right reasons.

While the bulk of a pageant interview is a judgment on the content of your answers to the judges’ questions, your body language, and tone when you deliver your answers, no one can deny that your appearance and confidence are also being taken into account consideration.

First Impressions are Vital to Success

The pageant interview is the first time the judges see you in person. This is likely one of the most significant first impressions you’ll make in your lifetime, so you need to really make it count.

How you dress for your pageant interview will show the judges that you’re confident and put together. A clean, classy, and chic outfit paired with the right hairstyle, clean-looking makeup, and perfect accessories will help you exude the level of class and confidence that will get you recognized.   

In addition to making a clean-cut and confident first impression, it’s helpful to be sure that your appearance is on-brand with your personality. This consistency will help you more easily convey who you are – inside and out – and most importantly, it will show that you understand who you are.

Consider the Pageant Brand

Speaking of being on-brand, there are actually two brands that you should identify and coordinate with. In addition to your own personal brand, there’s the pageant’s brand to take into consideration. Each pageant has a specific brand, which is typically whatever people think about when they think of the pageant (we’ll dive deeper into that in the next section).

For example, when people think about the Miss America pageant, they think about the “girl next door” – someone who is pretty, sweet, down-to-earth, and likable. On the other hand, when people think about the Miss USA pageant, they think of fashion-forward model types who are tall, glamourous, and stylish.

If you miss the mark with the pageant’s brand, your appearance may come off as inappropriate or out of place, and this fashion faux pas can cost you the entire interview. Here are a few of the most common underlying pageant themes and some tips for each.


If the pageant’s brand is conservative, stay away from short skirts, low-cut tops, and sky-high heels, even if you look great in those styles.


If the pageant has a reputation for embracing cutting-edge, modern styles, it may be wise to work with a stylist to make sure you get your look on point. You want to appear interesting without being over-the-top with your fashion choices.


Some pageants have a brand of elegance. If you enter yourself into one that has an elegant brand, you’ll want to avoid any risqué or super-modern couture looks. Stick with timeless pieces that exude classic elegance.

If you’re unsure how to pinpoint your pageant’s brand, read on for some guidance.

How to Find the Pageant Brand

To find your pageant’s brand, start by stepping outside your head and taking an objective look at it. One of the best ways to do this is to get on the pageant’s social media pages like Instagram and Facebook and look for behind-the-scenes photos from previous years. Pay close attention to what the contestants wore for the interview.

You can also check out the social media pages of the current titleholder to get an idea of her style and see what she wore in the previous year’s interview. Do the same for the top five to ten contestants and see what they wore as well.

Match the Dress to Your Style and Figure

Now that you understand how to match your pageant interview dress to your brand and the pageant’s brand, narrow your options further by considering which dresses match your personality and compliment your figure best. Here are some inspirational ideas to help steer you in the right direction.


Choose a fitted, off-the-shoulder dress for a sophisticated pageant look that can help you show off your personal style. Turn up the sophisticated feel by pairing the dress with closed-toe pumps and crystal stud earrings.

Updated Classic

An updated classic look is perfect for pageants with a more conservative brand. Look for a crew neckline dress that falls just above the knee. Amp up the elegance with a pair of simple pearl earrings and nude pumps.

Head-to-Toe Color

You can create a powerful and chic interview look by choosing one color and wearing it from head to toe. However, for a head-to-toe color ensemble to be successful, the hues must match perfectly. Go with a neutral color like blush or rose gold for conservative pageants, dark tones like maroon or navy for elegant pageants, and bold colors like blue or purple for modern pageants. 

A-Line Skirt

A-line cocktail dresses are super cute and comfortable, but they aren’t always pageant-appropriate. If you want to go for a similar look, find a dress with a subtle A-line overskirt. Add a pop of color to the look with bright earrings, and keep your legs looking long and lean with a pair of chic pumps.


If you’re a person who loves to wear some bling and you really want to include that aspect of your personality in your interview outfit without being too over-the-top, a simple solution is to wear a fitted dress with a beaded belt. Pair it with some hanging pearl or crystal earrings, and keep it chic with nude pumps.

No matter which pageant you’re entering, the overall message to take away from this guide is to have an excellent understanding of yourself and your pageant’s brand and dress the part. It’s all about striking a balance between unique personal style and fitting the theme of the competition. You want to be recognized and remembered for all the right reasons. Follow the tips above, and you will be. Good luck!

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