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Explanation of Costs

Why do pageant dresses cost so much?  Let me see if I can put it into perspective for you.

I'm sure that after I explain to you  the dressmaking process and why it costs what it does, you will better understand the prices designers charge and the investment you are actually making when it comes to a pageant dress or outfit.
The shell:
Most designers sew for themselves but others pay a seamstress to sew for them.  Either way, the shell costs the same.  If a designer does not sew, they must pay the seamstress for the cost of the materials to make the shell plus the seamstress' time and labor plus shipping in some cases, but not all.  If a designer sews for themself, they must still charge for materials, their time and labor and may only be saving you shipping expense, if that. Whether you pay a designer who sews, a designer who doesn't or you purchase or make the shell for yourself, shells run the same.  The shell is not the factor of a dress that costs the most money so while it's the most important part of the dress and the most necessary part, it's not the part that determines dress prices.
The stones, trims and materials:
When ordering a dress, most people consider the amount of stones and trims they want to use but they don't factor in the dye, the thread, the glue, the needles, the pins, the snaps, etc.  They also don't truly understand the cost of the stones.  I like to look at it like this.....
Every average sized stone averages to approx $.10 each and up.  Basically, every stone I use is like adding a dime to your dress.  That puts it into perspective, huh?  Let's go a bit further and consider this....if 1 stone equals a dime, then a gross equals $14.40. And that is just for the average 20ss.  Larger or specialty stones can cost $2-$5 or more each!  Now, don't stop there.  Not only do the stones cost but the designer must have the glue to apply the stones with and the appliques or other trims to apply them to.  An average pageant dress requires 1-3 tubes of glue at an average price of $3 per tube.  Trims can run from pennies a yard to $20 or more per yard. 
The Labor
Finally, we get to the time and labor part of the dress. The average pageant dress takes a minimum 20 hours to design and decorate.  Some higher glitz dresses can take up to 40-50 hours and some basic low glitz designs can take as little as 8-10 hours but remember....this also includes the design of the dress, the ordering of materials, the arrangement and the application.  Now, please correct me if I'm wrong....but I'm sure most pageant moms make more than minimum wage so why should you expect your designer to make minimum wage or less on a luxury garment?  Labor probably attributes to 50% or more of the total cost of a pageant dress but I can assure you this...you always get what you pay for!  A pageant dress is an investment.  Use your own judgment in choosing a designer based on what you like but remember behind every competition is a cost and I don't know any sport that doesn't require expensive gear and pageants are no different so take all this into consideration the next time you email or call a designer about a quote or even the next time you're in the market for a used dress.  Consider the whole value and you'll appreciate the value of your garment after you own it.

Formal Occasions by Jennifer * P.O. Box 401 * Ray City * GA * 31645