'Toddlers & Tiaras' glitz dress breakdown: 'Age 4 and up is when you start to need more of the bling-bling'

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The "glitz" dresses that contestants wear on TLC's "Toddlers & Tiaras" can cost as much as a wedding gown and range from $400 to $10,000 depending on age, according to Annette Hill, director of Universal Royalty, one of the beauty pageants featured on the show.

But unlike a wedding dress, they are worn again and again.

"You want to wear your dress as much as you possibly can, especially because you outgrow it," Hill tells Zap2it. "Then you sell them in a pageant community type of place to sell dresses that are very admired and needed."

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What makes glitz dresses so expensive are the custom design and all the tiny details intended to make them shine or glitter onstage.

"Glitz dresses are over the top with rhinestones and sequins and ruffles," Hill says. "Those types of dresses are time-consuming to make just like ballroom dancing dresses."

A standard competition wardrobe also includes an outfit of choice, a talent oufit (something movable for gymnastics or dancing) and a crowning outfit.

"Beauty pageants are like Hollywood," Hill says. "We have an outfit for every occasion, even at the end and you are relaxing waiting for crowning."

Here are some examples:

"The pink and white dress is a semi-glitz dress. It's a matter of what type of pageant system you do and what age you are. If you are a baby, you don't need an over-the-top glitz dress. Age 4 and up is when you start to need more of the bling-bling and the rhinestones and all the good stuff."

"This is a great example of glitz. I love this Cinderella Princess look, the elegance and class, lots of rhinestones and ruffles and being beautiful in a gorgeous princess dress. You definitely want the coordinating socks and shoes. The shoes are the standard white patent leather shoes or dyed to match the dress and always the beautiful bobby socks."

"The striped dress is not a glitz dress; it's more for outfit of choice or a crowning dress where you can come and be comfortable but comfortable and feeling pretty, and you have a matching hat."

"I love the boots, the furry type. You see lots of coordinated leggings for outfit of choice or talent because they give you the wow effect. You really want something that's comfortable because they feel good and they are happy. That's why there are so many leggings."

When it comes to jewelry, makeup and hair to complete the look, the idea is to keep it simple and enhance the child's natural beauty.

"Beautiful pearls or crystals -- nothing long or over the top to take away the beauty of the child, " Hill says. "We want to see a beautiful, clean, crisp personality face. ... You only want to use makeup to accentuate natural beauty.

"We really like the class and elegance of updos or up in front and down in back. Not the Dolly Parton look on a small child -- although we love Dolly Parton."
Photo/Video credit: TLC