The Miss America pageant has been around since the 1920s, and it’s been a staple of American culture ever since. The organization recently celebrated its 100th birthday (HBD!) and (thankfully) it has evolved quite a bit over the years. Most recently, the contest went through some pretty major changes—it’s now branded as a “competition” with “candidates,” and there’s no longer a swimsuit portion. When you think of the talent portion of the competition, you would normally think of tap dancing or baton twirling. But during the most recent Miss America competition, Camille Schrier conducted a science experiment as her talent—and won the whole darn thing. Now that’s what I call progress, people!
Click through this gallery to see some of the most drool-worthy Miss America dresses from the past 100 years.
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Miss America’s evening gown competition has been ~fierce~ since the very first pageant. Margaret Gorman from Washington D.C.’s gown is proof: She wore a drop waist embroidered gown and topped it off with an American flag shawl, as one does.
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1922 to 1923
In 1922, Mary Campbell from Ohio was the first Miss America to don a regal robe, crown, and scepter. I can’t see her evening gown underneath there, but I’m positive it was FAB.
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Ruth Malcomson repped her home state of Pennsylvania in a swimsuit and fur-trimmed coat, naturally, and took home the coveted Golden Mermaid trophy.
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Fay Lanphier from California was crowned Miss America in 1925. The beauty queen is seen here backstage pointing at her shoes with her fellow contestants in their ornate evening gowns behind her. Why? Who cares. It’s a mood.
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Norma Smallwood from Oklahoma added some flair to her ’20s-style gown with a velvet sash.
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Lois Delander, AKA Miss Illinois, looked glamorous in a silver beaded fringe gown for the 1927 Miss America competition. Honestly, I’d wear this dress today.
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Margarethe Ekdahl, from Tampa, Florida, wore a sequined unitard with her Miss America crown in 1930. Who needs a fancy dress anyway? NOT MISS FLORIDA.
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When Marion Bergeron from Connecticut won Miss America, she was wearing an outfit fit for a queen. Super appropriate, no?
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Henrietta Leaver from Pittsburgh placed the ceremonial robe and crown over her gold lamé evening gown when she was crowned Miss America in 1935. Is it just us or is that trophy…way too big?
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Oh look! Another gigantic trophy. This time, Rose Veronica Coyle from Philadelphia won it and wore a black velvet gown for the occasion.
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Annnnd another black velvet gown. Bette Cooper’s dress perfectly matched the robe she won when she went from Miss New Jersey to Miss America.
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Marilyn Meseke proved that accessories are a girl’s best friend when she paired her winning wand, crown, and robe with this smooth-as-silk look.
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Miss America in 1939, Pat Donnelly, is seen here modeling a tulle black evening gown with a tiered skirt. Her. Hair. Is. Everything.
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Rosemary LaPlanche from California wowed the crowd in a dark bathing suit and voluminous curls at the pageant in 1941.
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Yolande Betbeze of Alabama looked perfect by the pool in a white, lace-trimmed swimsuit. She’s hard to miss with that shiny trophy and matching sash!
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Colleen Hutchins from Utah, center, is pictured next to the runners-up following her win. Her lace off-the-shoulder gown is nice, but the only thing I can see is her cape. Love!
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Is that Glinda the Good Witch? Nope, it’s Evelyn Ay from Pennsylvania looking simply stunning in a full-length gown with embroidery details.
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Miss America or Queen of England? Lee Meriwether from California wore a regal evening gown to match her crown for her Miss America portrait.
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Marian McKnight was South Carolina’s first Miss America winner. She donned a tulle-filled dress in front of the Empire State Building. That’s winner status for sure.
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Lynda Mead from Mississippi smiles for the camera in her white strapless gown. Pretty risqué for the time, tbh!
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Jacquelyn Mayer of Ohio, left, is the definition of pageant royalty in her floral embroidered gown. Gloves + her = ultimate Cinderella vibes!
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Kathleen Knight of Colorado squeezes in one last fitting before the big day. This entire look is pure retro perfection.
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Donna Axum of Arkansas, left, looks stunning in a beaded gown, as she prepares to pass her title on to the following year’s winner, Vonda Van Dyke.
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Former Miss Americas, Vonda Kay Van Dyke (1965) and Bess Myerson (1945), strike a pose in embroidered evening gowns while attending the 1966 Miss America pageant.
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Jayne Anne Jayroe from Oklahoma wore a powder blue dress with a crystal bodice when she was crowned Miss America in 1967.
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Debra Barnes rocked the runway in a short-sleeved, lacy dress in 1968. No wonder she won!
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Nikki Peck, AKA Miss Indiana, competed for the 1968 Miss America pageant wearing a white bateau beaded evening gown that I want for my wedding STAT.
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An evening gown with a beaded bodice and pleated skirt cinched the crown for Pamela Eldred in 1970.
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Kathy Huppe was barred from competing in the Miss America contest in 1970 due to her political views and opposition to the Vietnam War. Which makes her Miss Montana pageant evening gown all the more 😍.
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Laurie Lea Schaefer brought her inner Elsa (before Elsa was even a thing) in a sparkly pale blue gown. This iconic look will forever be frozen in my mind.
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