Should You Wear Pantyhose in a Beauty Pageant?

Beauty pageants are a sport unto themselves, complete with a long list of guidelines for entrants. When planning your pageant attire, following the rules is essential, but some wardrobe requirements are ambiguous at best. If you’re curious about a beauty pageant's regulations on pantyhose, there are many things to consider, from the type of pageant system to the article of clothing the pantyhose are to be worn with. Understanding what are rules and what are suggestions is the first step to planning a winning ensemble.

Interview Attire

Just a few decades ago, pantyhose were a staple item worn under an interview suit in nearly every pageant system. However, pageant fashion has changed with the times, particularly with those pageants that are aired on national television -- namely, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Universe. These pageants no longer require interview suits, swapping the conservative look for trendy dresses, skirts or even stylish pants outfits. With this change in wardrobe, pantyhose became obsolete. If your pageant system is more conservative -- or if you are competing as a “Mrs.” contestant in a competition for married ladies -- you may still choose to wear pantyhose. But even in these more traditional pageants, many are opting to go bare-legged under classic interview suits to reflect a more modern feel.

Evening Gowns

Evening gowns are floor length, so pantyhose simply will not be seen; the decision to wear them comes down to personal preference. Most contestants choose to swap a pair of nylons for a more heavy-duty shaper under their gowns. This has the benefit of a control-top pair of pantyhose but with extra spandex to shape and contour the waist, hips and bottom.


Very few pageant systems allow pantyhose under swimwear, as this defeats the objective of showing off smooth, toned legs. Occasionally, a pageant geared toward more mature ladies may allow this option, as is the case with the Mrs. United States pageant. But as a general rule, pantyhose should not be worn in order to properly reflect your physical fitness. Instead, apply a self-tanner, use bronzing lotion, or tan outdoors or in a tanning bed. These options will give your legs a much more natural look in your swimsuit than a pair of nylons.

Know the System

Most pageant systems release detailed dress codes to let contestants know what is expected of them. Some, however, may not reference accessory items like pantyhose. In most cases, this means they hold no position on wearing nylons under interview suits, cocktail dresses or evening gowns. However, to be on the safe side, you may wish to contact the pageant director or contestant liaison for a definitive answer. Additionally, examining DVDs of past competitions or talking to former winners and participants is a quick and easy way to learn what your chosen pageant system expects.