The world of pageants is an expensive one! Season after season, parents must purchase new dresses for their children who participate in pageants to wear as they walk across the stage and compete for the crown. While being on stage can be a wonderfully rewarding experience for both parents and children, purchasing pageant clothing can take a toll on your bank account. The most expensive aspect of taking part in pageants is certainly the dresses!
Children's Specialty Shops for Pageant Dresses
While there are many local brick and mortar stores that may be great resources for discounted pageant dresses, online specialty boutiques can greatly helping parents save money on pageant gowns.
Pageant Resale is an amazing online consignment resource targeted towards pageant gowns. You will be able to both buy and sell gowns that are in incredible condition. They carry children's sizes from 2T-16, with a wide range of styles to choose from. For dress buyers, the site offers very reasonable prices and the sellers must be approved in advance, so you always know your dress is coming from a credible place. If you decide to sell through pageant resale, you'll need to pay a listing fee to get your items on the site, but, unlike some consignment stores, this website does not take a percentage of the money you make when your dresses sell.
So Sweet Boutique
The So Sweet Boutique is a great place to turn to if you are looking to get your gown and pageant accessories and undergarments in one place, as they have everything for pageants. This online store offers a plethora of girls' dresses, but they specialize in discounted pageant dresses in size 18 months to girls' size 16. Even though the prices are heavily discounted, the store doesn't sacrifice quality. You can even have garment bags added to your order.
Pink Princess offers many on-trend options for your little girl, in sizes 0-22, that are very reasonably priced. The online boutique also offers free shipping and returns, in case something doesn't fit properly, an option not offered by most online stores. They have been in the children's clothing business for over a decade, so they have a knack for offering beautiful, kid-friendly pieces at a price point that parents can actually afford.
Other Places to Find Pageant Dress Deals
Shop for dresses at great prices and discounts at auction and sale sites.
Whether you are looking for new or previously worn frocks, eBay is a good place to look for pageant dresses. While the selection changes frequently, eBay often features beautiful pageant gowns for girls of all ages, even infants. The site allows for you to narrow your search to hone in on exactly what you need. Sometimes you can even find pieces that have never been worn and still have the tags on them. While the dresses don't all have the best images, you are able to open a line of communication with sellers to ask questions, all while saving quite a bit of money if you find a dress that meets your child's needs.
Zulily is an online daily deal website, where you must be a member to shop (membership is free). They will email you daily with the huge sales that they are offering and you will have a small window of time to make your purchase. While they don't specialize in pageant apparel, it is something that they feature quite frequently and parents can save upwards of 70% off of designer pageant gowns. You will find all size ranges here, but purchase early to make sure that the size you are looking for is in stock because Zulily's deals are while-they-last sales.
Shopping Strategies for Pageant Dress Deals
As long as you know where and when to shop, there are ways way to strategically plan your shopping trip and find the best deals.
- Consider renting: Children's clothing rental website Be Mini Couture is a great option for pageant dresses that you'll only use once. They offer a wide range of gorgeous designer dresses as rentals. You can cut costs dramatically when you rent instead of purchasing. Their dresses go up to girls' size 10. They also offer end-of-season sales where you can purchase rental dresses if you wish for a 70% discount.
- Set a budget: Have a very strategic budget in mind whenever you go dress shopping and stick to it! There's nothing worse than buying something you really can't afford that will only be worn one time.
- End-of season shopping: Instead of shopping at the beginning of pageant season, shop at the end of the season for next year. That is when dresses will be on sale with the deepest discounts.
- Buy affordable dresses in future sizes: Additionally, buy up a size so that you know the discounted dress will fit in the future. It can always be altered if your daughter doesn't have a growth spurt. If you find a good end-of-season or other sale and are stocking up, buy dresses in sizes you believe your child will be within six months, 12 months, and a year. Even one dress at a sale price in a size up from your daughter's current size can come in handy within just a few months.
- Ask for store inventory schedules: Don't miss a sale or end-of-season sale when you have the inventory schedule on hand! Locally owned stores and franchise locations are more than willing to share this information with you, especially if you've established a relationship with their team members.
- Go straight to the clearance and sale sections: Look at discounted and clearance sections on your favorite pageant websites. Many sites like Girls Dress Line offer weekly deals or discounts for dresses they have too many of or they are retiring. At some stores, like Sophia's Style, you can find clearance deals of up to 75 percent off pageant dresses. You may even find lower-than-advertised deals once you start looking through clearance and discontinued styles.
- Stock up: Whenever you come across a great sale, stock up on pageant dresses. Of course, do this only as long as you know your little one will continue to compete in pageants. Having a few extra dresses on hand will keep you from having to overspend at the last minute before an event.
- Look overseas: There are numerous online stores that pop-up with some the most affordable dress deals in the world through resellers on eBay and Etsy. Some Etsy sellers even make the dresses to order at affordable prices, like Little Gracious. Just be sure to read the sizing dimensions prior to purchase because many of the overseas sellers use size names similar to ours like "large" but the measurements differ greatly from the United States and Europe. You'll also want to read reviews to ensure the dresses will be of good quality and look carefully at shipping times since they can be significantly longer than US-based retailers.
- Take advantage of coupons: Online and brick and mortar stores often offer coupon codes for first time purchasers, email list sign-ups, and purchases of a certain value. If you don't see a coupon on the website, check out their social media platforms for inside information. For example Pink Princess offers 10% off your order if you sign up for their email list, Dillard's and Macy's are known for coupon codes, and Blush Kids gives $15 off for social media follows.
- Visit wholesaler websites: There are numerous online wholesalers willing to sell girls' pageant dresses in low quantities. You can even purchase just one dress from retailers like DHgate.com and 27dress.com. Although you save more money in buying several at once, even the price for one dress is lower than those you see at some retailers.
- Look for stores with lay away: Although not available at all stores, many, including such as Children's Dress Shop, Girligirl Boutique, and Pageant Designs, offer lay away programs. Sometimes pageant shops may even offer special financing or payment programs that are not advertised, so it's a good idea to check, as payments over time can be easier on your budget than paying for the full cost of the dress at once.
Tips for Cutting Pageant Dress Costs
Elements like fabric, added embellishments, clothing construction, etc. that make the overall cost of a pageant dress quickly add up. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to help cut those costs!
- DIY embellishments: Choose a dress that is less extravagant and more on the plain side to keep costs low. Then, stop into one of your favorite craft stores such as Michael's and choose embellishments such as glitter, rhinestones, etc. and sew or hot glue gun them to the dress yourself.
- Use your sewing skills: Instead of buying a dress, work together and sew one yourself at home. There are many beautiful, inexpensive fabrics that you can find at places such as your local Joann fabric store, along with patterns and guidance for constructing your own gown.
- Enlist the help of a seamstress: The most difficult part of a dress is the creation of the bodice. Find a bodice you like at a low price or from a thrift store. Then reinvent it with a new skirt. An area seamstress or even a close friend can make a skirt for your low-cost pageant dress.
- Swap with other moms: Network with other moms who compete in the pageants with your daughter and see if you can all get together on a set date and time to exchange no-longer-needed dresses. Each mom can bring her child's old dresses from home and take part in a dress swap!
- Use classified ads: Use your local newspaper, area Facebook swip swap groups, or online classified advertising website to sell your daughter's unworn dresses to someone else who would want to re-use them. Apply the money you make toward the next pageant dress. In turn, if this is your daughter's first pageant, use classified and swip swap groups to find your daughter's next dress.
- Try a pageant dress exchange program: A dress exchange program like Pageant Hollywood allows you to send in your dresses (as long as they are still stylish) and get one of your choice in exchange. This option is great but can't be used every time; they do have a waiting list and can't guarantee they will have a dress in your size or preferred colors. (The organization also accepts donations for those less fortunate so dresses you'll never use again are also accepted). There are groups on Facebook you can also join for dress exchanges.
- Save on accessories: Because of the brightness and boldness of most dresses, accessories tend to be less elaborate. Save on accessories by buying at thrift stores or consignment shops. Accessories are an aspect of pageants you can DIY depending on your skill level!
Pageant Dress Memories
Overall, your little girl is going to walk away from her pageant experience with very vivid memories of the dresses she wore because they help make her time on stage even more special. She will also remember the special time she had shopping for her dresses with you. What she isn't likely to remember is the price tag. Use these tips as a guide to help cut costs and focus on making the memories sparkle without spending more than you can afford!