Pageant gowns with cut-outs, high slits and lace… oh my!


Evening gown trends seen at 2012 USA state pageants

The 2012 USA state beauty pageants verdict is in. Pageant Gowns with cut-outs and high slits are here to stay, as are oh-so-feminine lace and glamorous off the shoulder gowns.


We always expect some level of sass in the Miss divisions, but we saw many teens flaunting their slender figures in stunning cut-out evening gowns. And when we talk about cut-outs, it literally means a cut out piece of the garment itself. This trend dishes out a whole lot of sexy so here’s how to pull it off.

Highlight the body part you love. As with any part of your wardrobe, you want to accentuate your best assets. Got killer abs? Both Miss Idaho USA 2012 Erna Palic, in a white and pale blue Tony Bowls, and Miss Illinois Teen USA 2012 Alexandra Plotz, in a purple satin gown from BriZan Couture, opted for side cut-outs. Not afraid to show a little cleavage? Pick a gown with a keyhole at the bustline.

Stay classy. Go for a pageant dress that flatters your body shape and shows a peek of skin in one particular area. All-over cut-outs are a risky option not worth taking. You can also achieve the look of a cutout evening gown thanks to the popularity of sheer fabrics and illusion panels on the pageant stage. This is just as sultry and will not expose any skin. Remember to keep the rest of your look simple; stay away from bold jewelry, patterned shoes and prints.

High slits

As they say, “if you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Slits embedded in the left, right or even down the middle of an evening gown allow the dress to slightly reveal your legs while you’re moving. Year after year, slits have acted as scene stealers on the pageant stage—here are some details to consider when determining if this is the look for you.

Confidence, confidence, confidence. If you dare to bare, this trend is just for you. But going too high can work against you— your thighs should be the limit. High slits should be worn keeping elegance intact. Keep your accessories to a minimum. A gorgeous pair of earrings and a bracelet will do just fine as you don’t want too many elements competing for attention. All eyes will be on your legs—which is the point, isn’t it?

Select a color for your evening gown that will work with your natural coloring — the slit will open against your leg so you want to consider how the color of the skirt will work against your skin color. Miss Florida USA 2012 Karina Brez got it right in a pink satin gown that complimented her toned, bronze legs. Practicing posing in a way that appropriately highlights both the slit and your gorgeous stems. Have a girlfriend take some photos so that you are aware of the overall effect.

One shoulder Lace

Lace is synonymous with femininity and we loved seeing lace gowns on the pageant stage this season. One shoulder necklines added a modern touch to this trend; one of my favorite evening gowns of the year was a silver metallic lace and beaded Terani gown worn by Miss Iowa USA 2012 Rebecca Hodge. She looked fashion forward yet classic. Take a cue from her and make the lace the star, not just an added detail of your evening gown.

High heels are a must for looking your best in a lace dress—we recommend a simple nude shoe. Distracting details and or contrasting colors can easily clash with your dress and take away from it.

You cannot go wrong with pairing this look with your basic rhinestone pageant earrings. Pearl accessories are a classic accompaniment in the bridal world but steer clear of them for your next competition.

Red off the shoulder

Talk about red hot! Louisiana USA 2012 sister queens Erin Edmiston and Marlee Henry took the pageant stage by storm in similar off the shoulder frocks in this show-stopping hue. A sparkly broach-like detail at the bust added interest to Erin’s gown while Marlee opted for red and pink embellishments to complete her youthful teen look.

Sporting a red gown is all about attitude; don’t let the dress wear you! Stand tall, walk with confidence and shoot the judges and audience your best smile. No matter what your size, the color red conveys a strong personality and screams “I’m ready to take on the world.” That being said, off the shoulder dresses look best on taller contestants. Because the neckline of these gowns pass across the chest, shorter women may appear even shorter on stage.

Take great consideration when deciding on your hairstyle; Erin’s hair was tucked behind one side as her voluminous curls cascaded down the other and Marlee’s loose half up do framed her face while still showing off the dress. If you plan on wearing an off the shoulder gown, just make sure your arms are in tip top shape. And for a finishing touch, dust your neck and shoulders with a bronzer or highlighting powder.

Have a favorite look from the USA state pageants? Let us know in the comments below.