A GLAM GUIDE to your first school formal

I don’t class myself an expert at this stuff, but I definitely can’t call myself an idiot.

I think in my 5 years of high school I attended 8, maybe 9, school formals/dances/balls or ‘proms’.

Not only does this mean I’m slightly educated in the who what where’s, it also makes me very well educated in the HOW’s of getting ready for your first big ball.

So let’s paint a picture, you hit Year 11, 12 or whatever year your school chooses, and a bunch of people start FREAKING the hang out because all of a sudden, 100 girls all need dresses, hair, makeup, shoes and DATES, STAT!

All of a sudden you’re flustered as heck, 3 weeks has gone by, you’ve failed 4 internals while internally (punny) combusting and you’ve still organised nothing.

Now, that’s a total worst case scenario and 100% unlikely to happen. It does however tend to get a little stressful for you, your parents and your boyfriend if you have one, so here’s a few hints.

– find your partner

Got a boyfriend? YAS. Easy. Don’t got a babe? Slightly more difficult, but not worth losing sleep over. If anything, take one of your really good friends. You’ll have much more fun, you’ll be more comfortable if it’s your first formal- and you don’t have to awkwardly dance with each other!!

If I have any tip for this one, avoid going with a total random. It’s awkward for both parties and you just find yourself ‘babysitting’ them all night.

– buy your tickets

Is this obvious? I think so 🙂

– book your GLAM

You will know what aspect of your ‘getting ready’ is most important to you, so keep this in mind when booking. For example, ‘back in the day’ I would book makeup, dress and hair in that order. I wouldn’t even do my hair normally…

MAKEUP: ALAS, my area of expertise. I get questions HOURLY in formal season about when to book, what to bring, how to face etc etc etc lol. So first things first, scope out your options. Hopefully you’ve got a fair idea of what kind of style of makeup you like already (natural, glam, all out glitter) and so you’ll know what direction to head. The obvious one is to go to a makeup counter such as MAC, Mecca, Bobbi Brown or to a Pharmacy and pay them to do it for you. Generally, the cost of the makeover is redeemable (eg at MAC it’s $90 and you get that back to spend in product) and you’ll need to pay when you book. Some counters don’t require payment but you still want to get in nice and early.

The trending (and ever growing) other option is to book a freelance makeup artist. (PLUG: I am a freelance makeup artist in case ya don’t know!!) You will generally go to their home or pay a little extra to have them come to you, but this option proves much more popular for girls who know exactly what they want. You can almost always scope out heaps of different artists on the ‘ol gram- which means you PICK your style. Prices around different cities range massively, so you’ll have to do a little research- but I highly recommend booking as soon as you know. Due to demand, and the fact that there is only one person, some book out in less than a day for certain ball dates.

In terms of timings for either option, you’ve got to remember that your makeup will last a LOT longer than usual when done by a professional. They use high quality products and techniques that ensure longevity and hold. They’re also generally very clever at nailing your makeup so it looks perfect in photos. You’ll want to pick a time that suits you, but anywhere from 10am will be suitable depending on your skin type. For example, I have combination/dry skin (my nose gets oily) and I can apply my makeup for a night out at 9am and be totally fine. I will need to touch up my lipstick and potentially pack a powder in my handbag, but everything else stays in tip top shape (as long as I’m not running a marathon!!)

On the day of your makeover, if you’ve got a look in mind, bring a photo of it to your MUA to help them understand what kind of look you’re wanting to achieve. You’ve got to remember that your version of natural will be very different to theirs, depending on their style, so having a clear chat about it at the start will keep both parties very happy (and you looking BABE!!). Keeping on this topic however, PLEASE do not bring a photo of Kendall Jenner if you’ve got blonde hair and blue eyes. Try and keep to your general colourings and face and eye shape, and very obviously avoid any photos that have been heavily photoshopped or Facetuned…

HAIR: Again, very dependant on what’s important to you, but getting your hair done might be something that you’re keen to do for your formal! You could either go to a salon or a stylist that comes to you, or you could do your own!

Whatever you choose, make sure again, you have a semi image in your head (or on your phone!!) of what you’re wanting, and that you trust the process. So often, especially if you’re wanting curls or an up-do, your hair won’t look exactly how you want it when you leave the salon- this is because your stylist was expertly trained on how to make hair LAST. Your perfect waves will not look the same at 7pm as they did at 7am, so trust that the extra ringlets will softly fall during the day and reveal the BIG SHOW when its time!

Always book your hair before makeup if possible- the reason being is that the heat from hairdryers and wands can break up the makeup around your hairline. It’s also super helpful to your stylist if they don’t have to be super careful around your hairline!

If you choose to do your hair yourself- make sure you’ve got plenty of time and hairspray! Don’t attempt an extravagant ‘do’ the day before just in case it’s an SOS sitch and you need a pro at short notice- it’s highly stressful and totally avoidable. Trial your idea a few weeks earlier, ideally with slightly dirty hair (2 days after washing is my fav) and on a day where you will need it to last!

DRESS: or as the real question has it, BUY vs BORROW?

As someone who still has FOUR of her past formal dresses sitting in the ‘hand wash’ laundry basket.. I’m all for the borrow option. If you’re a person like me, you don’t like spending an awful amount of money on clothes and then you definitely don’t want to be seen too many times wearing the same thing.

The borrow option is simple: you find a business that offers dress rentals, you make your choice (some even offer fittings!), you book it online and then you wait till it arrives at your door. It means you get to wear a beautiful, usually HELLA expensive dress, do it justice and then return it the next day for someone else to clean and deal with! It also gives you the opportunity to wear multiple beautiful dresses for a fraction of the price.

If you decide to buy, then make sure you’re choosing something you will either a) wear again or b) be able to lend to other people to wear too!


Oh wow, if I can give you one solid, super easy tip here, it’s to WEAR SOMETHING COMFY. Even with sky high heels, you can find something that won’t totally ruin your ankles! I personally bought 2 pairs of shoes in year 10, and wore them to every single formal I went to, because 90% of them you couldn’t see my shoes anyway. I had a black pair and a nude, and by the time I got to Year 13, I could run a mile in the things! The little gel cushions and blister plasters are always a good thing to pack in your handbag too…

So- I hope that helped in some way, shape or form!

Happy ‘formal’ing 😂

Kas xx



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