Highlights from the 2023 Miss Universe pageant’s national costume competition

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What do dictionaries, fighter planes, plantains and the Swiss Guard have in common? That’s a serious question, but with a delightfully nonsensical answer: All served as inspiration for national costumes on display during the 2023 Miss Universe pageant’s preliminary competition. (Specifically, those were the looks donned by Miss Great Britain, Miss Philippines, Miss Dominican Republic and, yes, Miss Switzerland.)

Eighty-four countries are represented at this year’s Miss Universe, which is taking place in the El Salvadoran capital of San Salvador. Among those national titleholders are the first-ever married contestants, following an amendment to the eligibility requirements enacted this year, and two transgender women, representing the Netherlands and Portugal.

Miss Nepal, Jane Garrett, is one of the first “curvy” women to compete at Miss Universe; Erica Robin, meanwhile, is the first woman to represent Pakistan at the pageant.

The pageant’s preliminary competition got underway Wednesday, with contestants having already participated in days of rehearsals, as well as photo shoots, charity events and excursions. The main event, however, will take place on Saturday night, when the winner of the best national costume will be announced — as will the new Miss Universe, of course, who will take over from the reigning queen, R’Bonney Gabriel of the USA.

See some of the contenders for the best costume award below.

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