Seven months of work and hundreds of dollars of materials went in to Maureen Reinds' entry into the Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art Awards.
She paid the $45 entry fee and sent photographs to Wellington for pre-screening.
But the garment - representing restricted women - was rejected without any explanation.
Reinds accepts there will always be winners and losers but says entrants deserve more. "To be told 'no' with no explanation whatsoever is a bit of a shock," she said. "I'd like to see something as simple as a short, three sentence paragraph explaining the reasons why a garment is not chosen."
WOW marketing manager Shelley Doherty said 169 finalists were selected from 374 entries. That equated to more than $9000 in fees from unsuccessful entrants.
"In some cases, the difference between getting selected or not was millimetres," Doherty said.
The key was putting forward an idea the judges had never seen before, she said.
Doherty added the head judge was able to give feedback to unsuccessful entrants who got in touch with her.
The WOW extravaganza will run from September 27 to October 7 in Wellington.