Set the Stage for Success – Why You Need a Pageant Swimsuit

You’ve put in hours at the gym. You passed on the family dinner carb-fests and gifted the bulk of your Halloween candy to your little brother. Is looking fantastic at this pageant really worth giving up the delectable taste of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Chances are if you’ve answered yes to the previous question, you are only half of a real person you are showing the determination necessary to succeed.

Physical fitness may be all about hard work and determination, but translating that into success on stage takes more than just a flat stomach or toned legs. You need attitude, sparkle, and pop! Most importantly, you need a swimsuit that enhances your body and adds that extra bit of sizzle that turns heads. In terms of getting the most bang-for-your-buck, investing in a good pageant swimsuit can be one of the best investments you can make.

"I'm always amazed that contestants will spend thousands of dollars on hair and makeup, gowns, gym memberships, etc. and then pick a poor quality swimsuit off the rack or out of a catalogue,” said Chris Saltalamacchio, the acclaimed founder of Pageantry by Chris. “Selecting the right swimsuit for your body is vital. The quality of the fabric and the specifics of the cut are what help you best demonstrate the hard work you've put into your body. The wrong swimsuit can erase hours in the gym."

But what is it about a “pageant” swimsuit that makes it so unique?

Built for the Stage

The first thing to note about a pageant swimsuit has nothing to do with the design. What are we talking about? One word – lining…double lining really. The average stage lighting fixture can use between 2,000 to 10,000 watts each. This means the lighting during a major pageant can use enough electricity to power your house…for a week. That’s a lot of juice. With all that light shining on you, having a double-lined swimsuit is essential. Wearing a regular, single-lined swimsuit under bright lights can be, uh, well rather revealing. Durable, high quality lining is a must for any swimsuit you wear. Don’t leave home without it. 

Fit is it!

Regardless of your body type, your swimsuit has to fit like a glove. Poorly fitting swimsuits are distracting and can negate the hard work you’ve put in. You want the judges focused on you. A top that has too much coverage can make you look matronly. A bottom that’s too big can give the dreaded diaper effect, making your butt look larger than it is. Baggy fabric? Save it for your boyfriend’s sweatpants. A swimsuit with the right cut and fit is a staple of a good pageant swimsuit, but finding the right fit in a traditional swimsuit can be a challenge. “The mentality of big swimwear companies is – let's fit the girl to the suit, not, let's fit the suit to the girl – it’s completely backwards” said Michael Klett, a senior advisor to KPS. Chances are your KPS should fit exactly right out of the box and for clients who opt for a custom swimsuit, which are personally made by hand, the fit is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. 

How good should your suit fit? Like this good.


Every body is different. Unless you've got a body like Giselle (and if you do, I secretly hate you congratulations!) selecting the right suit for your body type is of utmost importance. Legs long and short, busts bigger and smaller, hips that can be bulky or bony, long torsos and short torsos – everything factors into suit selection. You may have found a quality swimsuit, but it may not be the best selection for your body type.

  Tip: Have bigger hips and a smaller chest? Try a top with hardware to provide balance:

Tip: Have bigger hips and a smaller chest? Try a top with hardware to provide balance:

“Many people struggle with selecting the right swimsuit for their body,” says Kandice. “It doesn’t have to be a stressful process – we’re here to help!” For more information on selecting the right swimsuit for your body type, check out our blog post:

Style, Cut, and Construction

If you’re shopping for your next beach vacay, you’ve got lots of bikinis to choose from. Ties, prints, high waists and halters of all colors and textures. It’s fun to try different suits and create new looks. Onstage, however, you want the focus to be on you. The goal is clean lines, free from distracting ties or other elements that will swing as you walk. Leave those complicated patterns for the beach. “A beautiful painting deserves a beautiful frame,” Kandice says. “The perfect frame has to fit the painting and complement it, not distract from its beauty.” Having a suit with the right cut (as in, leg line) can have a slimming effect on your hips, buns, and thighs.

Just as there is no one size fits all bra, there is no one size fits all swimsuit top. It’s important that you’re able to mix and match sizing and styles (not color).  Not many women have a medium top and medium bottom, or a small top, small bottom. In fact, our most typical size pairings are M, XS or XL,S or S, L.  We recently visited with Jillian Tapper, a client, friend and current Miss New York. Kandice recalled their first meeting, when Jillian was a contestant in Florida. “The first time we talked about swimwear, she asked if she could wear a purple top and turquoise bottom,” says Kandice. “I laughed and said with a smile, "maybe not this time."” Jillian wore all turquoise and went on to win swimsuit.

 Jillian Tapper, Miss New York 2014

Jillian Tapper, Miss New York 2014

Low Stress

 kps' signature back clasp - no hassles, no stress

kps' signature back clasp - no hassles, no stress

How much time do you have backstage to change into your swimsuit? Oh, probably about as long as it took you to read this sentence. Limited time and the ordinary chaos backstage mean you need a suit where you can set it and forget it. Enter the Kandice Pelletier signature metal back clasp. No hassles. That funky string bikini you bought for your family’s cruise? Have fun tying that exactly right under time pressure.  

The Bottom Line

The swimsuit competition is where pageant dreams are made or lost. More often than not, the swimsuit segment comes first on finals night and is where the majority of eliminations are made. You may have purchased a stunning $5,000 gown, but chances are that unless you rocked swimsuit, you won't have a chance to be scored in it on finals night. In Miss America, the swimsuit portion of competition represents 20% of your final score, in Miss USA it’s 25%. In both cases, the percentages are equivalent to your eveningwear score. When mere tenths of a point can be the deciding factor, getting the little things right is absolutely necessary.

When all else fails, remember three simple rules. Rule #1, be physically fit. Rule #2, select the right swimsuit. Rule #3, don’t forget rules #1 and #2. 

“People will stare. Make it worth their while.”
— Harry Winston