At least once a week I am asked "What is a cupcake dress and where can I get one?"
A cupcake dress looks like this :
This is Taya in her national level cupcake dress. Typically they are in 2 pieces, skirt and top, but a good cupcake dress when worn, looks like one piece.
You will lose points with the judges if your belly is showing between the top and skirt. Be wary of one piece cupcake dresses as they often do not fit properly, as every child has a different body type -some are longer in the body, and these dresses tend not to fit as well.
Cupcakes are generally not worn over 10 years of age. At age 11 you go into a ballgown.
National Level Dress vs. Local Level Dress
At dreamboat dolls you do not need a 'national level dress'. A custom national level dress usually runs about $1500-$5000! If you are really after a national level dress, you are best to watch consignment on facebook (type in pageant consignment and it brings up tons) or this board.
Try to find one that is on a 3rd-4th owner and well taken care of. For instance, a dress like Taya has on was probably around $2000 new, and by the time it hits a 3rd-4th owner, it will sell for about $350-$650. PLEASE BE CAREFUL - there are a lot of people out there ripping off newbies on dresses. Everyone says 'winning dress' 'paid $$$$ for it', says it is 'national level' etc... You really have to get good close up photos, also get photos of it on the child who owned it - check the stones - are they good quality swarvoski crystals or cheap stones from a dollar store? When you are paying this kind of money for a dress it should be super high quality. Just because the dress was "worn on toddlers and tiaras" or the designer had a dress "worn on toddlers and tiaras" does not mean its a great dress - really look at the quality, the work your dressmaker does, etc... Check for things like if there are rows of rhinestones or trim, are they straight? If it is a shell that someone is embellishing for you are they using quality lace and quality appliques or ribbon and lace that looks like it was bought at a dollar store or local craft shop? If you are going to INVEST in a high quality dress, check these things out. Look at photos closely - if it s a dressmaker that hand dye appliques and ribbon for her dresses, is it even or look all tie died and blotchy? I have seen some disaster dye jobs.
Don't be afraid to barter on a used dress - most moms will put them up for about $150-$200 more than they really want, hoping someone will just say 'sure here is $750'.- they probably will take $550-$600 for that dress. Also keep a close eye on ebay. I find typing in 'pageant dress' rather than 'cupcake dress' yields more results.
Most people invest in a dress and use it for 2-3 years. Don't feel like you need a new dress every 6 months!
If you are not wanting to spend that kind of money there are a few options out there.
1. Buy a cupcake shell and decorate it yourself - be careful with sizing, as these are from China and can run really huge. I strongly recommend getting a 2 piece shell. Ask for measurements. A 2T might fit more like a 4-5. Most commonly found on ebay, some pages on facebook. Usually run $40-$75. When decorating, I really recommend getting some nice appliques and good stones, rather than using stuff from the dollar store.
My fave place to buy stones is this site. She also has the applicators that you use with the glue. 2. Cheaper local level cupcakes can be found at places like Pageant Stage Shop. Click on photos and then 'more photos' at the top to see everything. These look gorgeous on stage and are good quality. Again, be wary of sizing because they tend to fit big. She also will haggle a bit with you - if you see a dress for $175, offer $140, she usually takes it to make the sale! She calls these national dresses, but they are not - they are a local/state level dress and there is NOTHING wrong with them. Many of our girls have them and they look super cute on stage. She also sells the shells.for about $50.
Cupcake Skirts -
There are 2 types - the classic skirt and the southern skirt. The southern skirt is really not 'in' anymore and if you find a dress with this it has probably been around for a while. You can have any type you wish, just be wary of giving someone big $$ for a southern skirt dress, as it is not the 'in style'. No points will be taken off in Dreamboat for a southern skirt - some really prefer this skirt type, and you can find some good bargains on dresses out there with this skirt because its not the classic cupcake you see most of the time.
What kind of dress should my daughter be wearing?
My general rule of thumb is ages 0-10 in a cupcake, 11-13/14 ballgown, 14/15+ in a more fitted or flowy gown.
But of course there are exceptions to every rule.
If you have a tall or more mature 10 yr old that looks a bit ridiculous in a short cupcake dress with ankle socks and mary janes, you might want to move into a ballgown earlier. I have seen some 9-10 yr olds that just can't pull off the cupcake (they look too mature, the way they carry themselves,etc..), and do so much better in a ballgown.
At age 14/15 you move out of the ballgown (so sad - had a hard time with this because I love ballgowns) and into something more fitted, mermaid, flowy, etc.... We don't take points off for girls older than this in a ballgown, this is just the 'glitz standard' that is out there.
When wearing a long gown we do NOT want to see your feet unless it is a slitted dress. The dress should be just brushing the floor
Again, like cupcakes, you can spend $100 on ebay on a dress or $2000 custom on a dress. For ballgowns there is this store in New West called Golden Brides that has tons and you can bargain with them. You can see a ballgown they want $300 for and usually get them down to $200 including alterations if you pay cash :)
I do find that once you get into an older age group, it is harder to find a more affordable dress. Really comb through ebay, get off the rack dresses (rather than ordering in -can save you $200 or more!). You can have them blinged out or more simple - it is up to you! Personally I love some stones on a glitz dress.
SOCKS & SHOES
With a short dress your daughter should be in white ankle socks and white maryjane style shoes. Clean, no scuffs, with socks rolled down 'just so' so theya re the same height. I think it goes without saying, but no socks should be worn for a girl in a long dress.
There is always debate on the ruffle and how big it should be, can it be colored to match the dress, etc...
My judges do not judge 'the sock' or 'the ruffle', but more that they are clean, tidy and match the whole look well.
Socks with color tend to only look good if they are an exact match to the dress.
Also, some of the big ruffled socks seem way too young on an older girl.
Smaller ruffle for agest 5+ and any size ruffle for ages 0-4
Shoes for short dresses
The classic glitz shoe is a white mary jane dress shoe. A matte (leather or leather look) shoe tends to look better than a patent shoe, but we dont' take off points for shoe types, as long as they are clean and free of scuffs. Open toed shoes and sandals are not recommended in glitz pageants. I also have seen quite a few little girls with a larger heel and find they have trouble walking in them. They tend to walk heel-toe, heel-toe in them because they are too much shoe - keep it simple and just a titch of a heel. We are also seeing a trend on older girls in cupcakes that can't find white shoes to go into a show shown below in the teen shoe section, or a nice little strappy sandal. This is fine.
Shoes to be worn with long dresses can be what you are comfortable walking in. Some girls in a ballgown might not have mastered a heel yet. We shouldn't see your shoes, but in case we do, its a good idea to have something nice on under the dress.
Classic teen beauty shoes in pageants are similar to these:
Brands we love are touch ups and Jonathan Kayne.
These heels are great for younger girls who haven't mastered a heel yet!
Hint - Shoebuy.com often has GREAT sales- I got Meg a pair of $95 shoes for $60 including shipping - just google for a coupon code!
Of course, feel free to buy cheaper shoes - these are just examples. I find touch ups very good for a girl learning to walk in heels - the way they fit the foot
is great and they run true to size!
Outfit of Choice (OOC)
OOC can be different from pageant to pageant, but at Dreamboat Dolls we are looking for creative and fun ideas. In OOC you can do something themed, a cute outfit, or swimwear. We encourage you to have your own music as well and tie it into the theme. For example if you were wearing a cowgirl outfit, you would have some cute country music to go along with it. Music mixes seem to really add to your score here. See below to learn about music mixes.
Be creative- we have a creativity score! Things you can do are pick a character, a certain type of outfit (for example we once had a baby wear raincoat/boots and do it to a rain themed song), and so many more things!
Sometimes you will see sportswear used in OOC. Pageant sportswear is NOT fitness related. Sportswear does not mean dressing up as an athlete (ie: tennis player, softball player, yoga). Those would be called 'fitness wear' in a pageant. I have said this before, but when you see a pageant saying 'sportswear' and asking you to come dressed in 'sports' wear, the pageant director is probably not overly familar with pageants and doesn't know what he/she is talking about. Honestly when I see this it makes me giggle! Sportswear and Western Wear (the full glitzy kind) are typically done with fancy pro-am modeling routines. To learn more about pro-am modeling click here.
For OOC you could do fitness wear as well. For instance, Meg had a cute tennis related routine she did to 'hit me with your best shot' that worked well.
Some people choose to do just a cute trendy outfit with a song they like as well. I don't personally find this works really well for dreamboat dolls, as there isn't much creativity to that.
I am finding pro-am sportswear is dying out - you really don't see it much anymore and tons of people spent 1000s on fully stoned outfits like the ones below and are now trying to re-sell for about $500-$800 and can't sell them -they sit and sit on the consignment boards as no one really wants to do this anymore.
We are now seeing more things like this:
There is always controversy over swimwear. Dreamboat Dolls will never have a 'swimwear only' category, so the choice is yours. Some love to do this for their OOC. Glitz swimwear can range from simple store bought swim suits with some ruffles added (some people will buy 2 of the exact same suits and cut one up to embellish the 2nd one, make a matching headbande, etc...), to a fully custom made suit.
I find that teens tend to wear a more basic 2 piece bikini that is not stoned and ruffled out.
Fit of the suit is VERY important - we don't want to see butt cheeks hanging out. You can also get 'butt glue' (the slang term) to hold the suit in place. It is actually called "It Stays" and can be bought in numerous places.
We don't tend to do Casual Wear at DBD, but thought I would include it anyway, as we do use it in our semi-natural type pageants.
Casual wear should be a cute, trendy outfit that looks great on stage. Simple as that. Skirt/Top, Capris/Top, Dress, etc.... I would stay away from wearing jeans in your casual wear (denim works for some things, but a pair of torn jeans does not look great on stage). You want to look well put together.
There is a lady named Shana on facebook that sells really great stuff. Check her out here.
Casual can be Off the Rack (OTR) or custom made. Check pageant rules - some glitz pageants have NO rhinestones/bling rule and want OTR only, and some allow it to get really blingy. YOu can put cute stuff together in places like childrens place, gymbo, etc.. too.
DREAMBOAT DOLL WEAR
NEW DOLL WEAR RULES : You no longer need the doll or a photo! Doll wear can be anything you want - but should represent some sort of 'character' -real or fictional. Can be a character you make up (ie: there was a girl at a pageant I attended who was a crown thief - I think it was my fave doll wear of the weekend). Props are encouraged, custom music is encouraged as well - be big, be theatrical if you want - represent your doll character however you wish!You will be judged on presentation, appearance, creativity and how well you represent your doll. Stage Props are allowed, but must be able to be set up and taken down in 30 seconds. Gymnastics moves are allowed if they enhance your routine & and are needed to showcase part of your doll wear. NO extra points are given for gymnastics moves. Must model 50% of the time
The point of this category is to 'embody' the doll as if she was alive - with your modeling, actions, etc.. and how much you look like your doll. We do NOT count off points for skin/hair color. Have fun and BE CREATIVE. .
This is another category where custom music really helps a lot! Props are allowed.
For modeling in this category see the modeling link.
To see some examples of incredible doll wear, please go to THIS LINK.
Some pageants have matching t-shirts for all of the girls and they wear white bottoms to crowning, and in the future I do hope to do this, but while so many are investing in getting their glitz 'gear' together, I dont' want to add extra costs onto your entry fees.
For crowning most girls wear a simple crowning dress, which is a short cocktail type dress. You can also wear your beauty dress if you choose, but most girls find them uncomfortable to wear for a long time.
Some people will find out from the pageant director what color the sashes are going to be so they match nicely in photos. This isn't necessary, just what some do.
I have seen little dresses like this for as little as 5 bucks in a thrift shop, to 20 bucks in walmart, to 50 bucks in a dress store, and upwards of $400 in a bridal shop
Here are some examples:
Note: It was a complete funny coincedance that all 3 of our ultimates wore blue - made for great photos and was not planned! lol.
At dreamboat dolls we like you to wear a dress for crowning so photos look nice. If all girls in the photo are in a pretty dress and you are in jeans and a tee, doesn't make for the nicest photos for you!
I am a huge advocate of buying and reselling your pageant clothes! Meg never gets a new dress until her last one is sold (although please dont ask about her closet full of crowning dresses - we have a small addiction and a knack for sales) lol.
I can't stress enough that there are people out there just preying on newbies to rip off!!! Get photos - get LOTS of good clear CLOSE UP photos.
I know someone who bought a gorgeous little swimsuit for $75, but when it arrived it was dull, greying, falling apart and ready for the trash.
Use paypal, and if it comes in crappy condition, file a complaint! 99 percent of the sellers out there are great, selling quality stuff, but there is 1 percent ripping you off.
Also when looking at the price. Is it worth it? If you had that made new right now, what would it cost? If it is expensive is it because it is loaded with good stones? If it is handmade is the workmanship good or lousy? Really look closely and pay what the item is worth, not always what they are asking. Also check to see whan that dress or outfit was uploaded to facebook or a voy board- has it been hanging around for 6 months unsold? Usually the good stuff is GONE fast. If it is hanging around and around, there is probably a reason (or it is a certain theme/season that is hard to sell).