In a 2011 Fox Business News article, Dorothy Poteat, director of Southern Elite Pageants, notes that she's seen parents drop $3,500 or more in preparations for one big pageant day. Pursuing a crown usually requires a toddler's parents or sponsors to invest in a formal dress, additional outfits, as well as the appropriate accessories to convince a panel of judges that she's the fairest of all participants. The pageant's philosophical standpoint can also influence how a toddler should dress for the pageant.
Glitz pageants are the most glamorous type of pageants in the industry and tend to grab most of the media's attention. Toddlers who perform in these pageants typically wear ruffled, tulle "cupcake" dresses often adorned with rhinestones and pearls. The dresses come in bold hues like hot pink and electric blue. The tots also wear formal white shoes and ruffled socks that complement the dress. Parents generally don't hold back when it comes to hair and makeup either. The tots often wear hair pieces to complete their highly styled hairdos. Tanning is also part of the look -- and makeup is the norm for tots in a glitz competition.
Glitz pageants sometimes cause public backlash because some parents feel that the pageants overly sexualize young girls. Natural pageants might disallow makeup on the toddlers -- and instead of the frilly, expensive dresses encourage the tots to wear their "Sunday best."
The casual wear part of the pageant is exactly just that -- a chance for tots to wear something without all the frills. For casual wear, dresses or pants are appropriate. Girls might wear halter tops with skirts in summery prints, or pants and a top that might reflect the winter season. Hair bows or hats might complete the look. While the choices are really endless, the outfits still need to grab the judges' attention and make a little girl stand out among the other contestants.
Many pageants offer mini-competitions within the main competition and award prizes, such as a talent award, to give kids a better chance of winning a title. In a talent competition, the girls might wear dance wear -- or perhaps a celebrity lookalike costume. Some pageants also include swimwear competitions and other themed competitions, like western wear or winter wear, so the girls need appropriate costumes to compete. It's also not unusual for a pageant to have an "outfit of choice" category -- and award a prize for the most creative ensemble.