Be A Winner wth Pageantry

By Bill Ernst

Retail Stores On the 'Net

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Click on the underlined web address or the photo of the web page to visit that site.

Online sites let you go global while shopping for that perfect outfit.

With so many places to purchase a gown for an upcoming pageant or social event, it's no surprise that the number and quality of fashion retail store web sites has increased. A great-looking site featuring the gowns that women want is a smart way to attract new customers. It is a well-known fact that pageant contestants will travel several states away, or even across the country to purchase gowns from a retailer who they feel will provide them with the dress that is most flattering.

The Internet is already the smart way to compare styles and price, and each of these sites are leaders in the fashion retail industry. Whether you're a pageant contestant looking for that "winning dress," or a prom attendee, or a young woman in need of a gown for that elegant formal event, these sites will save you time by letting you preview many looks without having to travel. Narrowing your choices to what you really like can help make the difference between a so-so gown and one that was meant just for you.

Anna Joys web site

Anna Joy's
Anna-Joy's is the premier bridal, special occasion, and formalwear dress shop of the Shenandoah Valley, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. While the splash page touts their bridal expertise, rest assured that bridal is not their only fort´┐Ż. They also carry over 30 lines of prom dresses, including five lines of plus-size gowns, and 19 lines of pageant gowns. If it's accessories that you're interested in, the shop has what you need in gloves, jewelry, shoes, tiaras, and floral arrangements, in addition to a full line of gifts. A "New Arrivals" area is coming soon as well.

Center Stage formals web site

Center Stage Formals
Center Stage Formals dubs themselves "Mississippi's Premier Bridal and Pageant Boutique." Whether it is your wedding day, a local or national pageant, or prom, Center Stage is your one-stop shop for all your special-event needs. In addition to a wide array of prom and pageant gowns, Center Stage also offers jewelry and accessories, interview suits, competition swimwear, and on-site services, makeup, and alterations.

At the time of this writing, many of the pages stated "Details Coming Soon," but the finished pages and photos are well-designed and easy to navigate. It will be worth a revisit when completed.

Dazzles web site photo

Dazzles creates "dazzling designs for pageant contestants." Their newly designed web site is dazzling as well. It features an animated introduction and a well-designed interface. After you click on "Pageant & Prom Apparel," you will have your choice of viewing "Interview Suits," "Prom & Pageant Gowns," "Swimsuits," and "Accessories," all from well-known designers.

Owner Jill Rowland is a native of South Carolina who has judged, emceed, and participated in beauty pageants for 12 years. She is a former Ms. South Carolina and a Global Ms. America. Her pageant expertise is evidenced by a click on the "Winners" and "Gallery" areas, where you can see photos of her winning customers.

Debbras web site

Debbrah's is well-known for producing elaborate custom outfits for pageants and talent events. Upon visiting their site, you learn that they also design costumes for Broadway shows and feature films, such as Beautiful, starring Minnie Driver, Kathleen Turner, and several real-life beauty queens. One can view backstage photos of the movie set, and also see examples of their Broadway wardrobe designs.

Debbrah's produces many looks. The main sections are "Ladies," "Film & Stage," and "Children." The "Children's" page is broken-out into "Dresses," "Sportswear," "Swimwear," and "Western Wear," that display examples of each style. Debbrah's children's designs are perhaps the most impressive, especially in the Western Wear category, where you can really appreciate the time spent applying the many beads to their hats, dresses, and boots.

Dee's Studio web site photo

Dee's Studio
Dee's Studio has hundreds of gowns in stock from many of the the top pageant and social-occasion lines. With an expert staff and relaxed atmosphere, Dee's allows you time and offers help in coordinating your choices. Talk about an expert — Dee's newest team member is Darla Harman, mom of Miss America 2001 Katie Harman. Dee's Studio offers some innovative promotions such as Mother-Daughter Spa Nite and Teen Spa Night, where attendees pick out prom dresses, have hair and makeup done, and try out new skin-care systems. Over 40 teenage girls attended the most recent Teen Spa Night, and fun photos from both events are posted online. web site

Dresses, Inc.
Dresses, Inc. has been in business for 14 years and selling dresses online for nine years. In November, the business is planning to open its first location in the Dayton Mall. offers hundreds of products in the categories of "State and National Level Dresses," "Floor-Length Gowns," "Infant Dresses," "Preliminary Dresses," "Crinoline Slips," "Socks," "Shoes," and boys "Tuxes and Suits" to size 14.

One unique feature of the site is their customer-friendly Buyers Club. You can join the Buyers Club alone or you can purchase as a group. Here is how it works: the first dress purchased is at regular price, the second dress is 10 percent off, the third is 20 percent off, the fourth is 30 percent off, fifth 40 percent off, and sixth dress is 50 percent off. Then your group starts over again. All six purchases must be made within one year of the first purchase. All ordering uses a shopping cart and is secure.

They also have a low-price guarantee: If you find a lower price, they will beat the advertised price, and if you find the identical item advertised for less within 30 days of purchase, they will issue a merchandise credit for the difference in price.

Elizabeth Michaels Web site photo

Elizabeth Michaels
Elizabeth Michaels is owned by Jane Engelke. Jane has more than 10 years experience as a competitor and a winner, and she understands the need for great selection, quality, pricing, and knowledge. Operating as an appointment-only shop, Jane is able to give individual attention to every client. Among the lines carried are Sherri Hill, Nicole Miller, Crown Collection, and Claire's Collection. The shop also carries shoes, jewelry, swimwear, and accessories.

Encore Pageant Apparel web site

Encore Pageant Apparel
Founded by Shana Teel-Ashcraft, bills itself as "the most comprehensive online pageant gown and accessory consignment store." While the store in Murfreesboro, TN, works by appointment only, you can order online anytime. Encore Pa?ant Apparel delivers an extensive online sampling from a wide array of pageant-related clothing categories, including cocktail dresses, suits, resort wear, and even stage and performance wear.

With so much to choose from, the buttons labeled "New Arrivals," and "Clearance" can take you right to whatever matters most to you... the very latest items or the lowest prices. They offer layaway, but not via the web site; you will need to contact Encore by e-mail or phone to place items on layaway. Encore also hosts the two-day intensive "Boot Camp for Beauty Queens" seminars.

Evening Extraordinaire web photo

Evening Extraordinaire
Located just minutes from the heart of Kansas City, Evening Extraordinaire is one of the Midwest's premier bridal and pageant wear boutiques. A visit to Evening Extraordinaire's site begins with an animated introduction set to their home page. You can view photos or even watch a video tour of their newly remodeled bridal salon (Windows Media Player required). The rest of the site is equally elegant and well-organized.

This is a site that tells you everything you need to know about Evening Extraordinaire, and they put that information right where you need it. For example, on the "About Us" page, they tell you where they are located, and a "click here" reveals a detailed map. Where they list the store hours, they have also provide an e-mail link to set up an appointment. Even the staff photos have e-mail links to contact them directly. The design is professional and powerful, giving ample play to the many well-known lines and designers that are carried in the store.

Gregory Ellenburgs web site

Gregory Ellenburg
Gregory Ellenburg Pageant and Special Occasions is a South Carolina pageant institution. Greg Ellenburg is a graduate of the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and worked as an assistant with Stephen Yearick for six years before opening his own showroom. Greg's specialty is creating beautiful custom gowns, but he also offers several pageant lines as well. The web site features "Prom Lines" and "Pageant Lines" navigation bars that display links to the manufacturers, which are featured on the web site's pages, and reflect what the store has in stock. The web site also features a gallery of pageant winners wearing some of Greg's exclusive custom-designed gowns. Two areas, "Winners Circle," and "Upcoming Events," weren't working when I last checked for this review, but these areas will be well worth a visit when they are made fully operational.

Premier Prom & Pageantry web grab

Premier Prom & Pageantry
A complete site, the navigation is easy and simple with text or Flash viewing options. Such divisions as Pageant, Prom, Homecoming, Interview Suits, and Swimwear are listed in the main menu promoting a variety of lines. In choosing a specific category, each click on a manufacturer's image will take you to their respective site for further information on the styles available.

In addition to the offerings from the manufacturers, several category styles offer blow-ups offering treatment details along with which competition or social occasion function will best suit the particular garment. Aside from garment-related information, several links provide insight and photos relating to the preparations that young women experience while planning for prom season.

Robin Elliott Web grab

Robin Elliott
Promoting "Fashions for the Spotlight", this eighteen-year formalwear-industry veteran has credentials to back up her site, with several Miss America winners and more runners-up from the state of Illinois posted on her site. The full service boutique promotes mainly pageant, prom, and mother-of-the-bride. The website mainly features lines from a couple of well-known companies while offering others to choose from. Hours of the retail store are posted as well as contact information should you require assistance.

Studio Sunshine web site

Studio Sunshine
Studio Sunshine promotes in the custom design and manufacture of bridal gowns, formal dresses, formal wear, and Renaissance wear. They feature bridal, formal, and opera capes, and also provide these accessories for themed weddings, such as The Lord of the Rings, and Titanic. The site also has a streaming video of their custom capes photo shoot.

They carry every imaginable genre of headwear, including tiaras, hair bands, headbands, hair combs and headpieces. They also have an extensive selection of fabrics for your custom-made gown. Their "Renaissance" page has many unique designs and is also worth a look.

Studio Sunshine specializes in creating and making one-of-a-kind couture wedding and pageant gowns while accommodating plus sizes, women with tiny figures, or anyone who simply can't find that special gown. There's a bonus for shopping via their web site catalog: a 10 percent mail-in rebate on products purchased online.

The Bridal Shoppe Web grab

The Bridal Shoppe
The Bridal Shoppe dubs itself "Metropolitan Washington's Premier Bridal Salon." The entire salon has been renovated recently and restocked with all-new bridal gowns and accessories. At the time of our research and publication date, no information was available for comprehensive analysis regarding this site. Please check the Pageantry online extension of Web Watch frequently throughout the quarter for further updates and information. We will post our review as the site becomes available.

The Encounter web grab

The Encounter
Newcomers to the area are often surprised to find this New York-style boutique in this mountain setting. Located in Kingsport, TN, The Encounter has been in business since 1976, and after more than 24 years in retail, The Encounter has proven that it understands the fashion needs of women. The "Testimonials" area has numerous customer comments attesting to this and many other flattering facts. The store also hosts The Encounter Modeling Troupe — a group of women and men who model and perform in support of community needs.

The main navigation areas of the site are “Pageant Dressing,” “Business Dressing,” “Wedding,” and “Prom.” In each of these areas, The Encounter presents thumbnail photos of the gowns and business wear in their lines. A click on any thumbnail will open a larger image of that particular style.

Bridal & Formal Ctr. web grab

Bridal & Formal Center

Bridal & Formal Center specializes in both bridal and social occasion, featuring categories such as evening, pageant, and prom. The "prom" button takes you to several pages of evening wear featuring an abundant number of styles which can be seen in greater detail by clicking on the desired gown. While not listing the actual line-name online, the site does promote most of the recognizable social occasion manufacturers. Stocking size ranges from 2 through XXXXL, alterations are also available along with custom redesigning.

Cinderellas Pageant Salon web grab

Cinderella’s Pageant Salon, Ltd.
A pageant fixture in the Northeast, Scott Gray and Cinderella's Pageant Salon, Ltd. have had their share of national titleholders. A quick perusal of the new site offers directions to the store as well as competition photos showcasing gowns provided to both national and international winners for the years of 1997 through 2002.

Adora, Inc’s web grab

Adora, Inc.
At the time of our research and publication date, no information was available for comprehensive analysis regarding this site. Please check the Pageantry online extension of Web Watch frequently throughout the quarter for further updates and information. We will post our review as the site becomes available.

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