Miss SY isn’t a girly girl. Don’t get me wrong, she loves clothes, wears some makeup and likes to spray on some perfume every day but generally she’s not about the frou frou.
We’re just on the other side of The School Formal and I don’t think I would have coped “working” with a frou-frou and frills kind of girl.
More than six months of thought and preparation came to a beautiful conclusion on Saturday when she put on her heels and walked into the pre-formal gathering and photo session with her 14 girlfriends.
Yes, there were tears (mine, not her’s). Yes, I couldn’t have been prouder.
Not because she looked so incredibly beautiful (she did … but I’m biased); not because she looked all grown up … it was more looking at her and seeing that she felt confident in all that she was wearing and how she looked.
So many of us – many years older – strive for that feeling, yet often fall flat.
To see that confidence on the face of my 16-year-old daughter? Priceless.
Here are some formal outfit tips I learned along the way that might come in handy should you find yourself in formal planning mode (for more tips, check out this earlier post).
1. Let the outfit creation process be lead by your daughter. It’s important that it’s about her style – not yours.
2. Set a budget for you both to work within. Or come to an arrangement where she is paying for some of the formal outfit and other costs; you the others.
3. Start the dress hunt early. This is not a rushed purchase and securing the gown early will enable you to pull together the accessories with consideration.
4. Do encourage a style of dress that is timeless. If your daughter is heading to university, there’s a big chance she will need gowns for balls hosted by faculties and colleges.
5. It’s rare that a dress will fit “off the rack”. Factor in quality alterations to your budget and you’ll be able to create a gown that was made for your daughter.
6. Have hair styled to suit your daughter’s dress and personality style. Talk about it ahead of time with her hairdresser and share ideas long before the day.
7. Ditto with makeup. Even if your daughter wears makeup every day, this will probably be an amplified version of that. You still want it to look like her, only more dressed up and photo-ready.
8. Avoid being matchy-matchy with accessories. They should complement each other and the dress but don’t have to come as a “set”.
9. If your daughter is not a regular heels wearer, then opt out all together (why not ballet slippers?) or don’t spend too much on said heels as she may not wear them again.
10. Beg or borrow. Not every part of your daughter’s outfit has to be brand new. Let her look in your accessories collection. Maybe you’ve got a vintage dress collection that with the help of some clever alterations could become a stand-out on the night.
We’d already been working on getting her skin ready for the big day with monthly facials and a more regular skincare routine.
Beauty preparation on the day started at 11am, which I understand from others was a lucky late start for us.
I managed to slip in my own hair appointment while she was having her nails done, so that cut down my prep time as well. Strategy all the way, I say.
1. Nails: Essie Ballet Slipper | 2. Toe-nails: Essie Chinchilly with a layer of clear glitter on top | 3. Dry hair was packed with mousse and blow-dried | 4. & 5. Hair was sectioned out and curled using a ghd | 6. & 7. & 8. A loose waterfall braid was added from the left side through to the right | 9. The braid sat in the side-swept curls for a relaxed, youthful style | 10. & 11. Makeup started with creating a flawless canvas on the face, a smokey eye based on browns and taupes and Burt’s Bees gloss in Sunny Day.
In keeping with the simple, yet classic style of the gown, the accessories were bought and borrowed to complement that style.
Miss SY found this Me Too by Matthew Eager gown online at Eve Boutique back in January. There was only one left, one size larger than her size. We went in store to try it on and see whether it could be altered.
It had been reduced to $300.
It could be altered (we took it to a bridal alteration specialist and it now fits her like it was made for her, including bra clasps to keep straps from slipping).
What’s more … Miss SY loved it.
Right there I knew we’d escaped A LOT of dress shopping dramas and a potentially hefty price tag.
The extra win? I know she’ll have this one in her wardrobe for many years to come. Unlike my pale pink taffeta number from 1984.
At my daughter’s school, parents are invited along for the first 1.5 hours for drinks and official photos so that requires dressing the part.
Don’t think a jeans and tee would cut it next to a formal gown .
I didn’t mean to play twinsies with my colour choice. The colour of my dress is more indigo than cobalt but in the afternoon light we did indeed look matchy-matchy. Guilty as charged.
Apart from the wonderful fundraising aspect of my daughter’s school formal – they even call it a Benefit Ball and raised thousands of dollars for Bloomhill Cancer support – there is not a “necessity” to have a partner for the event.
Instead Miss SY and 14 of her girlfriends had pre-formal drinks and photos at one of the parents’ homes … before getting into their transport for the night.
A hummer. OF COURSE.
This week it’s back into the business of the year. Year 12 is almost over.
My baby girl is growing up by the second. Didn’t I just bring her home from hospital?
Have you got any more tips to add for parents heading down the school formal path this year or next?
PS. After my son’s formal last year, some SY readers shared their own formal photos. You can check them out here. If you’d like to share yours, just add it to the comments section below by clicking on the “photo” icon.