Why I made my Miss Florida USA gown out of garbage?

Competing at Miss Florida USA had been a huge dream of mine that I had to fight myself to do. I was extremely intimidated to compete. The first year I did it, I was lost. I took a gap year off my college and had no job. I dedicated all that time to prepare and didn’t make the top 20. I needed to take some time off to really figure out who I am and why I wanted to do the pageant. I listened to countless self help books while I was studying abroad, to really hone in on what I want to do with my life. I had to sit down and think of my why.

Why did I want to be Miss Florida USA?

Why do I want to be Miss Florida, USA, Miss USA, and even Miss Universe? What would be my ultimate goal. I looked back on the 14 years I’ve ran Teens Go Green. My biggest passion and purpose would be to promote minimal waste. I thought of all the former Miss USA contestants that have blossomed in their careers, one person in particular that I admired so deeply was Halima Aden. She was the first Miss USA contestant to model a burkini and then signed with IMG to model with Vogue, Dolce and Gabbana, American Eagle, Nike, and so many other cool campaigns. She also became a spokeswoman for a UN Refugee TED talk. I saw her impact change the lives of many, and I hope to do the same. 

Even as a contestant. I didn’t have to win the title to share my message. Therefore I created my gown out of garbage. Additionally, I love designing gowns. It is a huge passion. But if I want my gowns to look like haute couture high end, it can be extremely expensive. From the materials, hand sewing designer label, etc, and it might not even be how I want it to look like. I’m very particular, with how I want things to be regarding my pageant wardrobe. So it came to a point where I decided to make my own, and figure it out from there. 

The first garbage gown I wore at Miss Florida USA led me to then have the TLC reality series with my family So Freakin Cheap. The experience itself is for another blog, but I must say I’m really happy with the way that the show ended because you can save money and save the planet. Simultaneously, going green and saving money goes really hand in hand. And they should, because of the opportunity to be on a large platform and reality show. I want it to be a full circle moment.

My Miss Florida USA 2021 Gown

So, my third year competing at Miss Florida, USA. I knew I was gonna make another garbage gown, I just didn’t know exactly how I wanted to do it. I took a lot of time to really sit down and hone in what styles I liked, and then put it all together.  I really do think this gown is iconic. After my first dress, I knew I had to make it a success. I saw Jennifer Lopez perform at the Super Bowl and I love the way the CDs went down her leg. I wanted to do the same for my evening gown, but I needed to make it in a very chic and elegant type of way. 

I didn’t know how I was going to do it with CDs, there was a lot of trial and error in the process, but I was extremely happy with the results. We began with creating a mannequin of my own. Buying mannequins that are custom are really expensive. So we ended up getting a large T shirt, and some duct tape and wrapped all the duct tape around my body. From the top of my chest to the top of my butt. Then we cut out the tape shirt, stuffed it with shredded paper, and enclosed it to be the mannequin.

We found a body suit in my mom’s closet that she wasn’t going to use to be the base of my dress. I already had my design set. I wasn’t exactly sure how to do the legs, but I could at least start with adding the CDs to the body suit in cutting the CDs. I keep them up against a window so they could be warm. I live in Florida so that’s very easy, then I got some scissors and cut them into pieces, some CDs had flimsier film, so I would need to reseal the shiny parts with ModPodge to enclose it. 

And then I purchased a hole puncher from Michaels, to cut holes on the corners of the CD pieces. This was the most tedious process of making the dress, but it was so worth it. I then poked the CD pieces onto the body suit that was on the mannequin with straight pins, just to make sure the placement made sense. 

I practice sewing my knots, through a sewing sustainably workshop with Miami on site Pangea Corolla, my sewing was still limited, but it helped me get through the first part of my dress.

I realized there was some awkward gaps in between so I looked at other fully stoned dresses to see how I could add more of an extra touch. I realized I can use the back of my protein bar wrappers, roll them up into silver beads and use that as the filling, and while it’s not noticeable from afar, it makes a huge difference to the dress, just so that it gives a little bit more dimension. I finished the part of the body suit, but I’m still not exactly sure what to do with the pant leg of the dress. 

At first I thought I would get my old ballet tights. Get them on, and then get little Velcro dots and stick all the CDs on each velcro. I also had these leftover goodie bags from my work’s Christmas event that I can use to place my CDs on there, and then like a lace applique, stick it onto my leg with Velcro. 

My pantyhose, was a very light shade of pink given, I was in ballet, so I naturally dyed it with coffee. And it was great in terms of the color. However, when it came to sticking the Velcro, the tights got stuck to the velcro and could not make a decent piece, the tights would rip up because the harder part of the Velcro would stick, and it was hard to put on and take off.

During this time, I was still filming for TLC. I had a jumpsuit rip, and the wardrobe stylist sewed it up in less than 30 seconds, and it felt better than when I originally purchased
the dress. I was so happy with her work and found out she had a sewing company Susan Tailors in South Florida. I decided that I wanted her to fix a lot of my other clothes that were sitting in my closet.

One day I followed her on Instagram and I realized she made a Doja Cat bodysuit made with the power mesh pants material that I was looking for. When I saw Stephanie make that Doja Cat outfit, I realized the pant part was exactly what I needed for my dress. And it was the day before I was going to go visit her to get the rest of my initial outfits fixed. I asked her about the body suit, I showed her the sketch of my dress. And then she showed me she still had leftover material from the outfit that she would have thrown away anyways. I was so excited! It was the opportunity for me to make those CD pant legs. 

Stephanie is a fantastic seamstress and costume designer, so she was able to combine what I needed from a seamstress standpoint, and the crafty creativity standpoint with trash fashion.

TLC Elizabeth Tran So Freakin Cheap Hazmat Suit Gown

When we finished the CD part, we were trying to figure out what type of material we were going to use for the dress, either the hazmat suit from TLC, or the type of furniture wrap that I used for my previous dress. We decided since it was the first dress that led me to TLC, this material would make sense. And it was the most fitted to my actual design. The only downfall is that it’s very difficult to turn a hazmat suit into a dress, because it’s mainly made out of plastic. Once you pierce a hole through it by sewing that hole will not shrink back, and you cannot iron it, either it will stay wrinkly. Stephanie did her magic, and made this suit into a gown. She cut every piece of the material. Even the hood of the cap to help with the cup part of the top, and so on. She added little weights on the skirt, so that way when I walked the dress wouldn’t fly everywhere. It was definitely a hit to wear on stage, and I loved it.
I don’t know if I’ll wear a trash fashion dress again next year. But I’ll see what makes the most sense for me and was extremely happy with this year’s gown!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *