Even when they wear so little, fashion counts for so much.
The 51 contestants in the 2013 Miss USA Competition, airing Sunday, June 16, on NBC, sashay in bikinis and heels. They also wear gowns and a sponsor's outfits in a fashion show within the show.
It is, however, the swimsuit competition that most remember.
There are requirements for the bathing suits, which cannot be see-through and must cover the sides of the breasts when women face the camera, as mandated by the network.
The contest, which leads up to the Miss Universe pageant, does not pretend to be anything other than what it is.
"It is a straight beauty contest," says David Profeta, the Miss Universe Organization costume designer.
Giuliana Rancic hosts the live event at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Though there is no talent portion, women are asked a question, which, officials say, they are not told ahead of time. Finalists must answer in front of a huge audience.
"I can't imagine being on the stage and asked the questions spur of the moment in front of millions of people," designer Sherri Hill, whose dresses contestants will wear, tells Zap2it.
Contestants will model five different types of Hill's feminine and fun evening designs. They will wear red lace, overlaid on nude mesh, and the outfits range from tiny minidresses to full ball gowns.
There will be a section featuring neon dresses, one with vintage wear (which will be in more subdued colors, a grouping Hill refers to as "little glitzy dresses") and a collection of dresses in umber tones.
"I was involved many years ago, before the Donald Trump/NBC reign, and was absent for a few years, and I have been back five years," Hill says, adding that she sees a change in the contest.
"I think it gets better because the young women get better. They have always been success-driven and had goals, these young women. Rather than looking at Miss USA as a goal, a lot of them look at it is a steppingstone," Hill says. "It opens doors for them. That is a nice thing. Rather than, if you happen to win Miss USA, it is a one-year gig, hopefully it is more than that."
The holy grail for this contest is the crown. This one is made from 166 carats worth of synthetic diamonds, set in 325 grams of gold and platinum, and is designed to represent a blooming flower.
Profeta references "Toddlers & Tiaras," saying how some women started on the pageant circuit when they were 2 or 3 "so they are constantly getting better and better," he says, "and that they have this drive to compete in that particular genre."
"It is a lot of exposure," Profeta continues. "If you are in this particular field, you can go off into correspondent work, spokesperson type of jobs, interviewers."
Photo/Video credit: NBC