Top 10 Pageant Gowns of 2013

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2013 was once again another landmark year in pageantry. Whether it was history repeating itself in the form of controversy, or breaking new ground in the pageant world, 2013 had several moments to reflect back on.

This year the first Indian American was crowned Miss America, the cyber stalking of Miss Teen USA made headline news, and Venezuela reclaimed their dominance in the pageant universe.

2013 also brought new and innovative gown designs creating memorable moments with the gorgeous ladies that wore them. To recognize these ladies and their gowns presents the Top 10 Pageant Gowns of 2013.

To make this the most relevant and comprehensive Top 10 list -- in lieu of only posting up my own personal opinion or the opinion of a pageant intern -- I contacted pageantry’s leading authorities across the country including gown designers, boutique owners, pageant coaches, seasoned pageant judges, hair and makeup stylists, photographers, and current and former state and national titleholders from the Miss America and Miss Universe organizations.

Gowns that were eligible for nomination were those worn by ANY contestant competing in ANY pageant, in ANY system during the 2013 calendar year, then ranked in Top 5 format with points for each placement. People's Choice was determined by popular vote by the public.

Nearly 50 gowns were nominated

…but only 10 made the list as the Top Pageant Gowns of 2013.

“On the bubble” gowns:

These gowns barely missed cracking the Top 10, but deserved special recognition.

❖ Miss Gulf Coast Teen USA 2013 (TX)

Madison Lester. Photo by TexasPageantScene.comThis gown was designed by famed Venezuelan designer, Gionni Straccia and was worn at the Miss Texas Teen USA 2014 pageant by Madison Lester, who placed in the Top 15.

When asked by, Madison said this about her gown:

"My older sister, Logan, first wore this gown when she gave up her crown at the Miss Houston Teen 2013 pageant. Julie Roberts at Elizabeth Anthony had it brought in from Gionni Straccia for Logan to borrow for the evening.

I was competing in my first pageant ever, and when I saw my sister in it I immediately wanted it! 

I adore the classic beauty and elegance of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn and the classic features of this gown reminded me of them!

The second I saw it, I knew this was the gown I wanted to wear to compete at the Miss Texas Teen USA 2014 pageant. Not only did it make me feel exquisite beyond belief, but it also boosted my confidence and composure. Wearing my gown was a fairytale!"

❖ Miss Kemah USA 2013 (TX)

Peyton Savarance. Photo by TexasPageantScene.comAnother Gionni Straccia design, this time worn on the Miss Texas USA 2014 stage by 4th runner up, Peyton Saverance.

Peyton offered this insight about her gown:

"Choosing my gown was a difficult task. I knew I wanted it to be better than my previous Gionni Straccia gown, but I really didn't know how I was going to top it. I went to Elizabeth Anthony to meet with Gionni Straccia himself in June 2013. The date itself was already stressing me out because I was unsure the dress would actually be to the States in time for competition. Now here comes the part where I was tested, I had four of the most opinionated people in the room all with different ideas of what they envisioned for me.

After trying on 6-8 different Gionni styles, we found the color, the fit, and the fabric..but no design. Gionni sat down and showed one design that we all agreed was good, but it was too much for the Miss Texas USA pageant and it would also include multiple fittings because each strip of beading had to be strategically placed. We passed on that design. He then began drawing and using his imagination amongst my clan and I disagreed on what we wanted. He then showed the design with a plunging neckline and we ALL fell in love!

The dress came in 2 weeks before Miss Texas USA...which about gave me a heart attack. My dear friend Ashley called to let me know the masterpiece had arrived...and I immediately felt a pit in the bottom of my stomach...What if I didn't like it? What would I do? I don't want to wear the same dress as last year. I showed up to Elizabeth Anthony a few days later and Julie was so excited to show me...but I was nervous. I actually put off seeing it for 20 minutes because I didn't know how to react if it was something I didn't like. She finally conned me into the dressing room...and it was better than I could have imagined. It was perfect and it fit perfectly...however we couldn't zip it up...not an inch. Gionni uses invisible zippers which can separate easily, and of course this happened! After several attempts to fix it, we ended up replacing the zipper with a wider one, and it finally went up and down as it should.

I finally got to Miss Texas USA on a Thursday and unveiled the dress to my mother (who had never laid eyes on it). It takes a lot to knock my mother's socks off, but it definitely did. I couldn't wait until I competed on Saturday...I wanted to wear my dress badly. I remember facing backwards to start the evening gown competition and hearing my title called.

The feeling I felt is indescribable. I felt like Miss Texas USA at Miss USA...or what I imagine it to feel like. I glided across the stage and felt like a million bucks. I had the best dress that ever hung in my closet and I felt like I was on top of the world. There was no better feeling."

❖ Miss America 2014

Nina Davuluri. Photo by Miss America OrganizationThis custom gown was worn on the Miss America 2014 stage this past September by the first Indian American crowned Miss America, Nina Davuluri, and was specially designed by Gaspar Cruz.

This gown was first worn by Nina when she captured the Miss New York 2013 crown earlier in the year.

Gaspar, owner of Crown Couture, who has designed and dressed numerous national and international pageant titleholders provided details on this custom design for Nina:

"Nina wanted something very red carpet and she loved a gown that Taylor Swift wore [at the Peoples Choice Awards red carpet].

I wanted to make something more fitted for structure and wanted to make sure that I respected her Hindu religion with the less plunging neckline and the netting.

The yellow double chiffon is cut on the bias, with a plunging neckline covered with netting to serve as a modesty panel. The cap sleeves add some structure and the full train for dramatics."

❖ Miss Washington USA 2013

Cassandra SearlesThis custom gown was worn on the Miss USA 2013 stage by Miss Washington USA 2013 – Cassandra Searles

Cassandra gave an exclusive look at how she chose this gown to wear at Miss USA. Here is what she said:

"My gown was a Sherri Hill gown. I immediately knew I wanted a jewel color and was trying to choose between royal blue, red, and green. I ended up deciding on emerald because I wanted something that when people saw me, they would remember that I was from Washington. Since we are the Evergreen State and I'm from the Emerald City, I thought it was fitting.

I also remember seeing the way Miss Venezuela's green gown looked on stage last year, and it solidified my decision because my only concern was how it would look on stage. I didn't want it to look cheap. I had been working with Ypsilon Dresses from Salt Lake City Utah to come up with a design.

One of my all time favorite dresses was Ximena Navarette's at Miss Universe. I absolutely loved how her dress stole the show and I wanted a show stopper like that as well. So Andrea at Ypsilon had been communicating with Sherri telling her my must haves were the Emerald color, silk charmeuse, fitted bottom with a slit, and a gigantic flowing skirt. Sherri then sent back 3 different top options and I loved the sweetheart neckline. It was originally strapless but I have such a long upper chest that I asked if she could include straps in case we wanted to add them. Turns out the straps were a great idea. 

I felt so amazing walking in that dress at Miss USA. It felt like a Miss Universe worthy gown and I received so many compliments from other girls on it and I'm excited that Sherri ended up putting it in her collection! It must've been a great gown for her to do that!"

Robin Fleming of La Casa Hermosa offered her comments about this gown: "Cassandra Searles' daring-wearing of green was pure silk charmeuse perfection flowing like a living waterfall on stage. I don't usually like green on stage but this dress was outstanding on her!"

❖ Miss Kansas Teen USA 2013

Aly KlinzingThis custom gown worn by Aly Klinzing at the Miss Teen USA 2013 pageant was's People's Choice gown winner, by way of popular vote on Facebook. This gown was designed and hand sewn by 17 year old designer Kate Walz.

When asked about her gown, Aly gave us these comments: "The first time I saw this gown was at New York Fashion Week last February.  The gown was Kate Walz’s finale piece of her fall 2013 collection. It was a show stopper and I just fell in love with the gown the minute I saw it! I was thrilled to be able to spend time in New York on location doing a shoot for the collection after walking in fashion week for Kate, keeping my fingers crossed I would get to wear the gown for the shoot.

Once I put on the gown during that time, it just stayed with me…I really, really loved it. A few months after the trip to NYC, it was close to have to finalize my gown choice for Miss Teen USA (13 weeks and counting), so I decided to show a picture of the dress to my directors to see what they thought. They loved it too and really wanted me to have the gown of my dreams, so I decided…this is the one!

I remember at my first fitting that it fit perfectly (literally like a glove) and I felt like I was at my personal best in the gown…confident, elegant, and beautiful. I remember how much I was looking forward to wearing it at Miss Teen USA! It was perfect for me."

Gown designer Kate Walz said this about creating Aly's gown: "The gown I designed for Aly was a slightly altered version of the finale gown of my Fall 2013 collection. The original had a leather bodice and a less full skirt which was inspired by the history and architecture of New York in the 60's. Aly first saw the dress when she walked for me in February of 2013 in an offsite show of New York Fashion Week. She also modeled in it for several photo shoots around the city after the show. Being that we are so close in age, (at the time she was 15 and I was 16) I think that she really connected to the gown because we have a similar taste in style. Although, I think the deciding factor that caused her to ultimately choose my gown was that we had both already achieved so much through this dress and created so many great memories in it. She is the perfect representation of my brand, and I was proud to have her wear it."

10. Miss California 2013

Crystal Lee. Photo by Miss America Organization

The first to appear in our “Top 10 Pageant Gowns of 2013″, is Crystal Lee - Miss California 2013, wearing this beautiful Gregory Ellenburg gown at the Miss America 2014 pageant, placing 1st runner up.

In fact, this was my favorite gown of the Miss America 2014 pageant leading me to believe that she could've easily walked away with the title. Purple (in this case light purple) is often noted as the color of royalty, would have been fitting if the crown was indeed placed on her head that night!

When asked Crystal about her gown, she said: "My gown was created by Gregory Ellenburg and I chose the color based on another dress that my local Executive Director, Mary McCaman originally found on the web. I had been Mary's titleholder when I was Miss California's Outstanding Teen so she knew how important it was that my Miss America gown reflect a sophisticated departure from the teen who last appeared at nationals in 2008.

I loved the plunging back and long-sleeves of Hilary Swank's navy gown at the 2005 Oscars, so we asked if Gregory could create a lilac variation with rhinestones and a modified neckline. The final result was made of silk crepe, cut and sewn in the back room of Gregory's store. Because Mary and I were in Greenville, South Carolina for less than a week, the turnaround on this dress had to be quick. Mary and I stayed at his store for a whole day so I could try on the gown after each stage of completion. It was a fun and collaborative process, and I enjoyed meeting the women who helped sew it -- which is rare in today's age of manufactured exports.

I chose this gown because it has elegance, class, boldness. This is a design that I will be proud of forever!"

Gregory Ellenburg, the gown's designer gave a few comments about his creation: "The inspiration for this design came from Crystal's gown when she won Miss California 2013. It was a lilac color, jersey gown, with bulky ruching in the front. Crystal wanted to wear something more couture at Miss America, and she was adamant about wearing the same lilac color. So we shopped around for several fabrics and decided to use 4 ply silk crepe. She also wanted a gown with low back to wear at Miss America, and we worked together to create a low back gown with a unique front slit, complemented with a flow skirt. When Crystal wore it, she modeled it to perfection...truly a case where the woman makes the gown!"

9. Miss Illinois USA 2013

Stacie JurisComing in at 9th place is Miss Illinois USA 2013 - Stacie Juris.

This Sherri Hill gown was seen by millions as Stacie competed for Miss USA 2013, placing 2nd RU. At first glance, Stacie's gown seemed simplistic in design, however a closer look revealed an intricate detailing of sequins throughout every inch of fabric, including her long sleeves. Personally, I thought Stacie had the best body of the Top 16, and this dress did not waiver from showcasing it!

Amin Kabani of Wardrobe: The Boutique gave us his opinion about Stacie's gown: "Miss Illinois USA's gown was a modern take on a very classic style. She chose a very sophisticated color, added a plunging front and back side, and tailored it to fit her body like a glove, which made this gown red carpet worthy as well as a favorite amongst many age groups."

Here is what the current Miss South Carolina USA 2014 - Christina Zapolski said about Miss Illinois USA's gown: "I love how her gown is so elegant but sexy at the same time. The beading really adds to the gown but doesn't distract from great her body looks in it and I love the color!"

Current Miss North Carolina USA 2014 - Olivia Olvera also commented: "The neckline is proportional -- not too wide or deep for her frame -- and it brings the attention up to her face which is just gorgeous to me. The color of her gown was perfect for her skin tone, she's not too brown -- more of a yellow undertone in her skin -- so the navy makes her look brighter in the face...even with the dark hair. It's classy and makes the obvious statement that you don't have to show everything to look sexy! Overall: Perrrrfection!"

8. Miss Nevada USA 2013

Chelsea CaswellOur next gown featured was also seen by millions on NBC, as Chelsea Caswell competed and placed in the Top 10 at Miss USA 2013 pageant.

Chelsea shared with the process of discovering her dream gown: "The gown we had originally designed for Miss USA was actually the gown my teen wore for Miss Teen USA. Although beautiful, needless to say it didn't turn out the way we had envisioned. A month out of Miss USA we were scrambling. And by scrambling, I mean I was. Shanna (my state director) was cool, calm, and collected, and assured me I would have the gown of my dreams.

Four days later, I flew to Austin, Texas to Sherri Hill's showroom with my dad and made him take pictures of every gown imaginable to send to Shanna. In the showroom my dress was featured in white. I fell in love with the liquid beading, the shimmer under the lights, and overall effect. The high slit reminded me of my gown from the Miss Nevada USA pageant, but the white just wasn't cutting it. My dad suggested black and I fell in love with the idea.

Sherri had the factory overseas working double to make my dress in black and bead it by hand! Truly everything happens for a reason, because although the first dress was beautiful, I ended up with something more perfect than I could have imagined!"

Miss USA 1995 and Executive Director of the Miss Nevada USA pageant, Shanna Moaker further added: "Chelsea knew she wanted a classic gown, simple but made a statement, we both fell in love with the liquid beading and to us there is nothing hotter then a blonde in black! You could tell she felt beautiful and just oozed confidence in this dress while still staying true to her own personal style. It was a perfect fit for this knockout blonde bombshell!"

7. Miss South Carolina 2012

Ali RogersPlacing 7th on the Top 10 Pageant Gowns is Miss South Carolina 2012 - Ali Rogers.  Ali placed 1st RU at the Miss America 2013 pageant, back in January (interesting note: four of the Top 10 in our list are 1st RUs).

Ali exclusively told about her memorable gown:

"I would wrap up my evening gown at Miss America 2013 with one word: unexpected. Having grown up an athlete rather than a pageant girl, I don't have all that many gowns with which to compare this one. That being said, I never expected to fall SO in love with a gown. And let's be honest. I'm extremely conservative. This gown is very...well, not. 

The Miss South Carolina team and I went to Regalia to try on dresses, and they were pulling a white, rather risqué gown out of a box when we got there. They had just received the gown from Stephen and Shawn Yearick, and no one had ever seen it. I literally said, "Ooo, that looks cool. Let's try it on for kicks." The Vegas showgirl-inspired gown wasn't exactly the style I expected to wear on the Miss America stage. I've been made fun of for dressing like a governor's wife, but what would you expect from a Southern Baptist born and raised in small town, South Carolina? I tried on the dress for fun, and when I came out of the dressing room, the six of us just stared in silence. I was beaming ear-to-ear. After a couple of minutes, I think I was the first to speak up with, "Holy cow." I was pretty sure this was that this-is-it moment I was supposed to have when I finally found THE gown. 

The wonderful Yearick duo made a brand new gown to fit my measurements. The sample gown didn't exactly fit my five-foot, ten-inch frame so the cut outs revealed a few things I'd rather not reveal on-stage! We sewed down the slit a few inches and found the perfect heels and earrings to go with the gown and my "Make a Difference" bracelet my mom gave me in middle school (I've worn it every day since I was thirteen years old). I competed for Miss America 2013 in the most stunning gown I had ever seen. As unexpected as it was, it was perfect. I feel so lucky to have been the girl to wear it!"

Angela Hardin - veteran pageant judge in the USA system gave us these comments about Ali Rogers's gown: "I love white, always, and the sheer cut outs just were so sexy. I loved just how daring her gown was I literally gasped when she walked fit her perfectly!"

6. Miss South Carolina USA 2014

Christina ZapolskiNarrowly missing the Top 5 is current Miss South Carolina USA 2014 - Christina Zapolski. Christina wore this Sherri Hill design during the Miss South Carolina USA 2014 pageant and also offered a few comments on how she found her gown:

"Haley Morgan at the Foxy Lady actually found my dress and saw how long it was on the rack and stuffed it in a bag and brought it home for me to try on. We actually had no clue that it would even be long enough until I tried it on and it fit like a glove! I was still deciding if I was going to compete in the pageant and once I put the dress on and saw how great I felt in it, I knew that it was a sign that It was my year.

I only did minor alterations to the gown for silly things, but I could have worn it off the rack! Can you believe it? The gown was designed by Sherri Hill, and the thing that made me so in love was the long train. I love long trains on gowns as well as the more red carpet vibe it gave versus a typical pageant gown.

I began my journey as a model, so I like my gowns to always stay true to who I am and represent that. This gown made me feel like a Glamazon at Miss South Carolina USA, I felt tall, lean, and like nothing could stop me!"

Fellow RPM titleholder, Miss North Carolina USA 2014 - Olivia Olvera simply said this: "RED, RED, RED, and the train was AMAZING!!"

5. Miss Great Britain Universe 2013

Amy WillertonOur first gown in the Top 5 is Miss Great Britain Universe 2013 - Amy Willerton's red hot gown from Miss Universe 2013.

Honestly, the first time seeing this gown, all I could think of was 1) how HOT Amy was 2) how HOT the gown looked on her and 3) what a perfect combination of HOT gown and woman to walk on the Miss Universe stage!

This gown was a departure from the purple and white, mermaid gown she wore during the preliminary competition, not only in color but also in impact. In this red gown...Amy made a bold statement -- she was ready to win!

Pageant stylist and coach Beaux Wellborn offered his perspective on Amy's gown: "This gown was one of my favorites at Miss Univerise 2013. The thing I noticed first about Amy's gown was obviously the firey red color, but a closer look revealed the beautiful fabric choice, the unique architecture of the bodice and sweetheart top. This gown was "outside the box" without being "over the top". The dress looked like fire and so did she...she is a stunner! While some contestants merely have the intention to have a strong presence on stage, Amy doesn't. She effortlessly commands it."

Travis Stanton, a pageant judge in several Miss USA state pageants, also commented: "I adore when a girl takes a risk with her gown and does something a little different. That’s one reason I give Amy mad props for this unique red and purple gown. It fit her perfectly, and emphasized her athletic body beautifully."

4. Miss Utah USA 2013

Marissa PowellThis gown was definitely a standout at the Miss USA 2013 pageant and was my personal favorite among all the contestants. Placing 3rd RU on our list -- wearing this beautifully designed custom gown by A. Renee Designs -- is Miss Utah USA 2013, Marissa Powell.

When asked about her gown, Marissa Powell said this:

"My director and I spent time looking at a lot of designs and deciding what would be unique and what would match my personality for the USA stage. After trying on a few gowns, I decided that white was the color that I wanted to a a wear, but more importantly I wanted lots of crystals and sparkle to the dress because I love bling!

When I finally got the dress and put it on, I was THRILLED to say the least. The designer helped me put together the perfect amount of sparkle on the dress to compliment the white gown. My dress was interesting because you could see my legs through the material which I liked, because it was different. I felt like a million dollars walking out on the USA stage in my gown. I have never felt so beautiful in my life! I was so grateful to my designer, Ashley, for helping me create my dream gown and for making it come to life more beautifully than I ever expected!

Most importantly, I wanted to remember my friends, family, and state that had helped me along the journey to Miss USA, so before I left, I sewed into the top part of my dress some of the crystals from my state gown. Every time I got nervous I would look down and remember who I was representing on that stage and all of the people who had helped me along my journey -- it filled my heart! Some my most life changing moments happened in that dress, and I wouldn't have it any other way!"

Ashley Tribble of A. Renee Designs said this about designing Marissa's gown: "I am so proud of the girl in the gown more so than the design. I dreamt of this gown two Miss USA's ago, put it to paper but couldn't seem to place who it would go on...I knew it needed a curvy body and dark hair...So when Britt Boyse (Executive Director of the Miss Utah USA pageant) asked me to send the gown to her for Marissa to try as an option, I knew that was who I had been waiting for! Once she tried it on, it was her's!! I think it takes a confident woman to wear stripes across her body, but that's what makes it so special! I truly love this design, but I know it wouldn't have been half the gown with out Marissa in it."

3. Miss Puerto Rico Universe 2013

Monic PerezOur 2nd RU gown belongs to Miss Puerto Rico Universe - 2013 Monic Perez.

Although Monic advanced to the Top 16 at the Miss Universe 2013 pageant, millions of viewers only saw her compete in swimsuit and missed out on seeing this uniquely designed gown on the telecast. If you were able to catch the webcast of the preliminary competition, you would agree with the comments the experts below said.

Celebrity fashion designer and star of Lifetime's newest fashion competion show "Under the Gunn", Nick Verreos, commented on Miss Puerto Rico Universe 2013 - Monic Perez's gown:

"No. 1 Miss Puerto Rico Monic Perez: My Top Evening Gown Prize goes to Monic Perez "Miss Puerto Rico" for this strapless chartreuse-colored gown from fashion designer Harry Robles.

The gown was EXQUISITE featuring horizontal pleated body and side volants/cascade ruffles with hand-sewn sequins. It was a big surprise that both "Miss Philippines" and "Miss Puerto Rico" wore the same colored gown for the "2013 Miss Universe Preliminaries" but Monic's gown definitely WON! So much so, that it was my TOP Favorite."

Ashley Renee, gown designer and co-owner of Sassy Chic Boutique said this about Monic's gown: "The detail, the construction, the bead work...this isn't a gown, this is a piece of art. The pleating alone was amazing, but the side piece was breathtaking! Kudos to the seamstress' it took to make this!"

Gown guru, Robin Fleming of La Casa Hermosa offered her comments:  "Monic Perez was Latin Barbie redux in gorgeous couture yellow silk taffeta in assymetrical ruffles -- eye candy with every step on stage!"

2. Miss Dallas USA 2013 (TX)

Jordan_SchultzThis custom gown worn by Miss Dallas  USA 2013 – Jordan Schultz during the Miss Texas USA 2014 pageant was designed and handmade by couture gown designer Alexis Lantz.

This is the second year in a row that one of Alexis' gowns has placed 2nd in our Top 10 Pageant Gowns review.

Of interest, Jordan graciously lent this gown to Brooklynne Young to wear at the Miss Oklahoma USA 2014  pageant...which she won!

Jordan, who placed 1st RU at the Miss Texas USA 2014 pageant provided an inside perspective about her gown:

"From start to finish the gown selection and process with Alexis was unique and creative. In the past I had always purchased my gowns from boutiques that carried familiar designer names in the pageant world (Sherri Hill, Tony Bowls, MacDuggal, etc). However, after seeing some of Alexis’ work on other contestants I knew from the get go I wanted her to design my gown for the Miss Texas USA 2014 pageant.

Her gowns and concepts blew me away. She had this fresh bold perspective that starkly contrasted from anything else that’s out there right now. In addition I knew I would be able to have a large hand in the designing process and I think for any girl that holds a certain allure. In the beginning Alexis just had me send her pictures of gowns that I liked, even if they weren’t cohesive. I sent her ANYTHING that peaked my interest whether it was the bodice of one gown, the color of another, the fabric on one, and so on and so forth. After a little while Alexis sent me THE SKETCH.

It was the first and only sketch she showed me for the gown she had in mind for me for Miss Texas USA. I knew immediately this was my gown. The attention to detail was truly astounding, she had a reason for everything she did on that gown and how it would highlight and showcase my best features. Over the next couple months the gown went from being a sketch to slowly coming together to be the masterpiece it is. The term ‘custom gown’ gets thrown around quite a bit these days, but this was truly and genuinely from concept to creation of a custom gown....designed and tailored to my taste, personality, style, body, etc.

To me the most important aspect of feeling good in a gown is the fit. The great thing about working with Alexis is that this gown was literally fit for my body. My sister went with me to the final fitting and needless to say we were both amazed with how talented Alexis is. I’ve NEVER loved a gown so much.

I felt beautiful, regal, sexy, classy, (pretty much every good adjective or word you can think of that a woman wants to feel/be when putting on a gown!) My whole hope and goal this year was to get EXACTLY what I wanted in a gown, that any idea or gown I could dream up could become a reality. The whole experience was truly rewarding!"

Alexis Lantz said this about her gown design: "Jordan's gown was designed to be soft and elegant, and yet sexy at the same time. It was a joy designing for a girl who had such an amazing figure and killer stage presence. I knew she would be able to pull off any style and so I really wanted to create a gown that had some unique touches, but I still wanted the eye to be drawn to her beautiful face. I also have to give Jordan a HUGE thank you for being so incredibly generous by letting my sister borrow the gown for the Miss Oklahoma USA 2014 pageant. She is such a sweetheart and truly as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside."

1. Miss Alabama USA 2013

Mary Margaret McCordMary Margaret McCord can do no wrong in a black gown. Last year it was the show stopping, form fitting, liquid beaded gown in black she wore en route to winning the Miss Alabama USA 2013 crown.

Everyone wondered what she could possibly wear at the Miss USA 2013 pageant that could come close to the perfection of her previous gown. Enter black velvet gown.

Receiving the highest 1st place votes and placing Top 5 in over two-thirds of all our expert polls, Miss Alabama USA 2013′s gown is the Top Pageant Gown of 2013.

Mary Margaret McCord, who was 1st runner up to Miss USA 2013, gave exclusive insight about her iconic gown:

"I went to Atlanta market in January to pick out my dress for Miss USA. I went with my directors and I had an appointment to meet with Sherri Hill. During my appointment, I tried on a few dresses and I actually loved the dress that my roomie, Megan Pinckney - Miss South Carolina USA 2013, wore and I had set my mind on that dress. It was originally in a deep purple color and I thought that it would be something different. However, there were some people in my group that didn't love it. So I decided to try on some more. And that is when I tried on the velvet black mermaid dress.

When I came out in it, everyone's mouths dropped. I knew if it had that kind of effect on my directors then it would have a great effect on the judges as well. I signed the dotted line 10 minutes later even though I couldn't get my mom on the phone to tell her about it. I felt amazing in that gown.

A lot of people ask me if I liked my state gown or my USA gown better. There is no way I can compare either of them. They are both so special to me in different ways and they have two completely different looks. I was lucky to have an amazing gown sponsor who provided me with a dress that gave me the confidence I needed to succeed. I will never forget the feeling I felt when I stepped on the Miss USA stage in my gown.

Side note: I had to get the gown taken up a couple times before I went to Miss USA and I had to get the gown shipped to me a couple days before I left for Vegas because my alterations lady was 4 hours away. I was so busy, I didn't actually try my dress on until I made it to Vegas the day before registration. I got Megan to help me put it on because I wanted to pick out which earrings to wear (I had gotten a custom vintage looking earring made along with the green ones). As Megan was zipping me up, my zipper broke. I had to cut myself out of my dress THE DAY BEFORE REGISTRATION. Luckily Sherri Hill had an alterations lady in Vegas and they got my dress ready for the stage!

Another side note: I had originally wanted earrings that had more of a vintage vibe but my sponsor recommended the emerald earring. We ordered both kind and they were shipped to me in Vegas. On preview day, I tried both pair on and asked people which earrings to wear. Almost everyone picked the vintage earrings. It wasn't until 5 minutes before preview started that I decided to change and wear the emerald ones! "

Shanna Moakler - Miss USA 1995 said this about her gown: "Mary Margaret nailed this gorgeous black gown with emerald earrings and the long wild mermaid bottom, it just took your breath away when she walked out on stage."

Travis Stanton, veteran pageant judge offered: "Not only is this gown the epitome of red carpet couture, but it fit her like a glove. So many girls pick beautiful dresses and forget that fit is absolutely critical. This stunning black gown emphasized her waist and made her appear taller than she really is, while the movement and flow helped her float on stage. Those emerald earrings were the ideal compliment to this classic, timeless look."

Gown designer and expert Robin Fleming commented: "Mary Margaret was pure elegance in a gown style that had proven to stand the test of time, the trumpet gown silhouette continues to make a grand entrance on red carpets and stages around the world -- showcasing the woman wearing it, and commanding attention. The ultimate gown in black velvet."

So what do you think? Do you agree with the Top 10 Pageant Gowns of 2013?

Was your favorite gown showcase in this year's review?

Was there a gown you thought was worthy to be listed on our Top 10 list that we missed?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

-Will the Pageant Guy

This article was written by Will the Pageant Guy

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