37 showstopping looks from the Miss USA pageant over the years

The Miss Universe OrganisationMichele McDonald, winner of Miss USA 1971, and Olivia Jordan, winner of Miss USA 2015.
  • The Miss USA beauty pageant has taken place every year since 1952.
  • During each pageant, contestants wear a number of glamorous looks to impress the judges, from leotards to sparkling ball gowns.
  • Hopeful contestants have also worn daring necklines and flowing skirts during the competition.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

Since the Miss USA competition began in 1952, contestants have worn a number of glamorous looks in the hopes of advancing to the Miss Universe pageant.

In the earliest days of the contest, for example, women like Miss New York and Miss California won the crown after wearing tight leotards and minidresses. And by the ’70s and ’80s, pageant contestants were all wearing sparkling gowns.

From floor-length dresses paired with gloves to ensembles with daring necklines, here’s a look back at some of the most show-stopping looks worn throughout Miss USA pageants.


New York’s Jackie Loughery became the first Miss USA in 1952 while wearing a leotard.

The Miss Universe OrganisationJackie Loughery during Miss USA 1952.

She was given a fur-lined cape to wear over her strapless leotard.


Carol Morris, who was once Miss Iowa, was crowned Miss USA in 1956. She wore a William Cahill coronation ball gown during the competition.

The Miss Universe OrganisationCarol Morris poses in a coronation ball gown in 1956.

She ended up taking the ball gown home as one of her prizes.


Terry Lynn Huntingdon was first named Miss California, and then became the eighth Miss USA in 1959. Like the pageant’s first winner, she was crowned while wearing a leotard.

The Miss Universe OrganisationTerry Lynn Huntingdon during Miss USA 1959.

She showed off her a few of her prizes – a cape, trophy, and scepter – while wearing a pink leotard.


Macel Wilson, a contestant from Hawaii, was named Miss USA in 1962, while wearing an elegant dress with an embellished top.

The Miss Universe OrganisationMacel Wilson during Miss USA 1962.

She donned a white gown for the event, which featured a slim skirt and beaded bodice. Wilson also accessorized with long white gloves.


Maria Remenyi took home the Miss USA crown in 1966 while wearing a shimmering ensemble.

The Miss Universe OrganisationMaria Remenyi during Miss USA 2004.

The former Miss California dazzled in a print gown and matching shiny gloves.


In 1968, Didi Anstett won the Miss USA title. She showed off her new title in a sparkly dress with a daring cutout.

The Miss Universe OrganisationDidi Anstett during Miss USA 1968.

The winner, who was also crowned Miss Washington, wore a sparkling halter-style gown with a beaded top.


Michele McDonald represented Pennsylvania during the pageant in 1971. She wore a unique gown with ruffled details that were popular at the time after being crowned.

The Miss Universe OrganisationMichele McDonald during Miss USA 1971.

One of her most showstopping looks from the pageant included a white strapless dress with a sheer overlay.


Kimberly Tomes turned heads in blue when she won the 1977 Miss USA title.

The Miss Universe OrganisationKimberly Tomes during Miss USA 1977.

After winning the Miss Texas title, Tomes won the Miss USA crown while wearing a blue gown with jewel detailing.


Terri Utley, from Arkansas, became Miss USA in 1982, wearing a dress with a romantic silhouette.

The Miss Universe OrganisationTerri Utley during Miss USA 1982.

She took a unique approach to her competition style, and wore a brown dress with long sleeves.


Before she was an Oscar-winning actress, Halle Berry competed in Miss USA in 1986.

She represented Ohio in the competition, where she walked the stage in a blue swimsuit.


Courtney Gibbs competed as Miss Texas and was eventually crowned Miss USA in 1988, wearing a dress with a dramatic thigh-high slit.

The Miss Universe OrganisationCourtney Gibbs poses in her evening gown from the Miss USA 1988 pageant.

She wore a black evening gown with an intricate jeweled pattern.


Gretchen Polhemus of Texas became Miss USA in 1989, wearing a gown with what appears to be fringe detailing on the bodice.

The Miss Universe OrganisationGretchen Polhemus during Miss USA 1989.

She wore a classic white strapless gown for her final look.


Carole Gist went from Miss Michigan to Miss USA in 1990. One of her most showstopping looks was this black and red dress.

The Miss Universe OrganisationCarole Gist poses in her evening gown from the 1990 competition.

She wore a stunning black gown with billowing red ruffles at the sides.


Kelli McCarty of Kansas wore this sparkling red gown when she became Miss USA in 1991.

The Miss Universe OrganisationKelli McCarty posing in her evening gown for the competition.

She paired her sleeveless gown with matching red heels.


Shanna Moakler of Texas became Miss USA in 1995 wearing a white, embellished gown with a statement neckline.

The Miss Universe OrganisationShanna Moakler during Miss USA 1995.

She wore a subtle shimmery gown with a halter-style neckline.


Shawnae Jebbia competed in the pageant as Miss Massachusetts in 1998, wearing a strapless design with a dramatic train.

The Miss Universe OrganisationShawnae Jebbia during Miss USA 1998.

She won the competition wearing a beige sleeveless gown with an eye-catching necklace.


Kimberly Ann Pressler of New York took home the crown in 1999. She wore a subtle yet standout white dress with a sparkly top during the pageant.

The Miss Universe OrganisationKimberly Ann Pressler during Miss USA 1999.

She wore an understated white gown with a sheer illusion neckline.


Lynnette Cole walked as Miss Tennessee in 2000 before becoming Miss USA. She wore a sleek floor-length evening gown.

The Miss Universe OrganisationLynnette Cole during Miss USA 2000.

Her subtly sparkly dress featured a sheer train attached at the skirt.


Kandace Krueger represented Texas in 2001 wearing a classic white gown.

The Miss Universe OrganisationKandace Krueger during Miss USA 2001.

The floor-length dress featured intricate lace emroidery.


Shauntay Hinton went from Miss District of Columbia to Miss USA in 2002 wearing a one-shoulder design.

The Miss Universe OrganisationShauntay Hinton during Miss USA 2002.

Her modern spin on a classic evening gown ended up stealing the show.


Susie Castillo of Massachusetts won the crown in 2003 while wearing a semi-sheer lace gown.

The Miss Universe OrganisationSusie Castillo during Miss USA 2003.

The gown featured cascading ruffles on the bottom half of the skirt.


Shandi Finnessey competed as Miss Missouri in 2004, and ended up winning the competition in a semi-sheer jeweled design.

The Miss Universe OrganisationShandi Finnessey during Miss USA 2004.

Her skirt featured a two-toned blue and gold design.


Read more:
Here’s how Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Universe are different


Chelsea Cooley of North Carolina took home the title in 2005. She wore a classic black dress during the evening gown portion of the show.

The Miss Universe OrganisationChelsea Cooley during Miss USA 2005.

She impressed the judges with a flowing train.


She may not have won the pageant, but Melissa Witek from Florida wore a showstopping dress in 2005.

She wore an elegant coral evening gown for her final look.


Tara Conner represented Kentucky in 2006 in a flowing white gown.

Her evening gown featuring a ruffled slit at the left leg, which she paired with strappy sandals. She ended up taking home the crown in 2006.


Rachel Smith of Tennessee won the crown in March 2007 while wearing a red gown with a cutout design.

The evening gown featured shimmering sequins on the skirt.


Miss Texas Crystle Stewart was crowned Miss USA in 2008 wearing an intricate beaded design.

Her shimmering jeweled gown that sparkled as she made her way down the runway.


Kristen Dalton of North Carolina won the title in 2009 wearing a flowing blue gown.

Her billowing evening gown ended up stealing the show.


Winner Rima Fakih represented Michigan in 2010 and was crowned Miss USA while wearing a sleek white evening gown.

The gown featured silver embellishments across the fishtail-style skirt.


Alyssa Campanella took home the Miss USA crown in June 2011 while wearing an emerald-green gown.

She represented California in a gorgeous, sparkly evening gown.


Nana Meriwether represented Maryland in 2012 while wearing a flowing white gown.

Greg Harbaugh/The Miss Universe OrganisationNana Meriwether during Miss USA 2012.

She paired the elegant dress with a pair of sleek strappy heels.


2013 winner Erin Brady of Connecticut dazzled in a red evening gown.

Darren Decker/The Miss Universe OrganisationErin Brady during Miss USA 2013.

The floor-length dress featured shimmering sequins on the skirt and lace embroidery on the bodice.


In June 2014, Nia Sanchez represented Nevada in a showstopping red gown that helped her win the Miss USA title.

She accessorized with matching sparkly earrings.


Olivia Jordan represented Oklahoma in a grand ball gown in July 2015.

She won the competition in a Barbie-pink strapless gown.


Deshauna Barber, Miss District of Columbia in 2016, glimmered in a golden evening gown when she became Miss USA.

Darren Decker/The Miss Universe OrganisationDeshauna Barber during Miss USA 2016.

Her dress featured layers of silver tassels at the skirt and tons of gold sequins on the bodice and sleeves.


Miss District of Columbia Kara McCullough walked down the runway in an eye-catching gown in 2017.

Her flowing gown helped her take home the title of Miss USA 2017.


2018 winner Sarah Rose Summer represented Nebraska in a dramatic black ballgown.

Patrick Prather/The Miss Universe OrganisationSarah Rose Summers during Miss USA 2018.

The gown featured a flowing train attached at the waist.

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