Lifestyle, Organization, Pageants

How to Choose Your Next Pageant

We all know the big (pageant) systems like Miss America, Miss Universe, and Miss World, but research will show the overwhelming number of pageants out there. How do you know which system is best for you?

There are way too many pageant systems to count and all of them have something different to offer. These go beyond the crown & sash, evening gown, interview, and swimsuit. You’ll find the most complete pageant directory on Pageant Planet, but I also love a good Instagram search. I’ve compiled some of my own deal-breakers that helped me narrow down my top picks after my research was done!

Download the FREE Pageant System Comparison Chart to track your research and narrow down your options! You can follow along on this downloadable PDF.

Age Divisions

Each pageant has age divisions that you may or may not qualify for. The Miss division is the most common division ranging in age from 18 to 29 depending on the system. If you age out of the Miss division for your favorite pageant, research to see if they have a Ms division that you qualify for. Many Ms divisions accept women who have children and/or have been married. The same goes for the Mrs division.

Determine the division you qualify for in each pageant and whether you want to compete for that division in those systems. Be sure to research whether the prize package or opportunities change based on the division winners. We’ll talk more about prizes later!

Competition Level

Are the pageants you’re researching local, state-wide, regional, national, or international? You can easily find smaller systems that host competitions up to the international level, starting at the state or national level. On the contrary, you may have to compete for a local title before working your way up to a national title.

Do you want to compete at the local level or go straight to a state or national pageant? Each level up affects the fees, time commitment, and experience required to increase your chances of winning. So take this one into major consideration.

Competition Date

Most pageants host their competition around the same time each year. For example, you can always expect Miss USA to take place in May and Miss Universe to take place in December. When will your potential pageant take place?

Does this conflict with a school or work commitment? Does this provide enough time for you to prepare after another annual event such as a family vacation? Are you willing to compete during a holiday?

This area is also an important consideration but can easily be missed.


Depending on the competition level and luck, you may not have to travel far. Alternatively, it could be a cross country trek. Some systems move their location often, while others wait a few years or never change. You may have to research the last few years for each pageant system to figure this out.

Keep in mind how the pageant location will affect your overall expenses. For example, traveling far for a state pageant will require transportation expenses, lodging, and meals that may normally be covered by your fees at a national pageant.


This is probably one of the biggest contributing factors in determining the pageant you want to commit to along with the competition level. For example, Miss Earth USA appoints regional titleholders, who pay a national entry fee, whereas state titleholders who competed may have a lower fee that’s partially covered by their state director. So, it may be in your best interest to compete at the state level and apply your monetary earnings to your national competition. Additionally, local sponsors can help you better prepare for the next level of competition.

Alternatively, local & state pageant fees and other expenses can rack up fast! If you happen to win your title at this level, additional expenses will stack on top of those at the national and international levels. This area will require a bit more research and questioning to truly determine what your expenses will look like whether you start at the local or national levels.

Fees can sometimes be an abstract concept if you’re not careful to ask what it covers. It’s typical for pageant fees to simply cover staffing and production costs. However, you need to confirm this before it’s too late. Some systems may cover lodging, meals, and gifts with your fees. Not all fees are created equally!

Areas of Competition

Another huge factor in choosing your pageant system includes the areas of competition. You may be researching a system that has three and then another could have five! This changes your entire approach to wardrobe and budgeting for competition outfits.

You also want to reflect on what areas of competition you will enjoy and flourish in. If you’re not comfortable being in a swimsuit on stage, you may need to consider pageants that only require fitness wear. You can almost always bet on there being an interview and evening gown part of the competition.

Let’s say you really want to showcase your talent. You’ll need to find competitions with a talent portion. Keep in mind that certain pageant systems, like International Junior Miss, have optional competitions (including talent) that require payment to participate. Optional competitions do not affect your overall score for consideration in the title.

Areas of competition can make or break your pageant experience, so you’ll want to think long and hard about what you really want. Don’t forget to look for and note the percentage of each area of competition to your overall score as well. Once you have that all determined, it’ll be easy to narrow down your top picks.

Highlighted Prizes

This is the last major thing to consider when starting a new pageant system. Of course, every girl (and guy) wants the crown and sash. It’s the ultimate indicator of your hard work and achievement! So, make note of what your potential crown and sash look like! There are potentially other amazing prizes such as a crown carrying box, flowers, luggage, modeling contracts, wardrobe, travel expenses paid, a publicist, and more!

This can be at any level of competition ranging from local to national and international levels. Well supported state pageants secure great sponsorships to help their titleholders prep for the next level of competition or to reward the new titleholders.

Think about what you’re willing to prepare and compete for when you take a look at the prize packages. However, don’t let that be a huge driving force as prize packages change from year to year and so do specific sponsors.

Have you begun your search for the right pageant system? Need help in tracking each of these categories listed above? Download the FREE Pageant System Comparison Chart from B Chic to get started.

Are you ready to prepare for your upcoming pageant? I have tools that will keep you organized and on the path to pageant success! Browse my Pageant Planners on Etsy today!

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