Tips for surviving ball dress (and suit) shopping

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Ball dress shopping can be really fun and lovely, but it can also be incredibly stressful and expensive. And depending on your daughter’s school, she could be invited to a school ball more than once! Here are our top tips for ball dress shopping.


Chances are you will go to more than one mall, more than one dress hop, and probably traipse halfway around the city in order to locate the “perfect” ball dress. Make sure you’re prepared for the day, and bring multiple bras, as different dresses require different set-ups in that area. Also, bring several dress shoe options, so you can see how varying heel heights and styles go with a particular dress. Lastly, bring along a bottle of water and a snack. Changing in and out of dresses can be tiring. And if your teen is struggling to find the right dress, then her favourite snack might help.


Ball dresses can cost a lot more than you might expect, especially if it’s from a designer label. It is best to have a budget in mind and to have discussed it beforehand with your daughter. If she sees a dress that she loves but it is too expensive, then take a photo and see if you can get it made (but keep in mind that some dress shops won’t let you photograph dresses, so you might want to note down the style information and look online). Sometimes this can be better as the fit will be tailored to her, and she can change colours and fabrics to what she wants.


Clothing styles in general have changed quite a bit. It seems like the line between what adults wear and what teenagers wear is blurring more and more. You might not feel comfortable with her wearing a dress with a low neckline or exposed back. Talk to your daughter about what she wants in a dress, and agree on some styles. Also consider her body type and remind her what will look good on someone else might not look good on her and she needs to pick a dress that looks good on her, and that she feels confident in.


The ball is quite a big deal, especially if your daughter’s school only allows for year 13s to go. The ball has more than likely been the topic of conversation for your daughter and her friends for weeks. She probably already knows the designers and what stores she wants to go to, as well as what dresses are on offer, and what her friends had already selected.


After several hours of shopping, arguing over dress styles, lengths, and colours, your daughter will finally find a dress. Try to soak in the moment; this isn’t the moment that will be plastered all over social media like ball night, this a moment for the two of you. Finally finding a dress that she feels confident in and even with no makeup on and a messy ponytail, a dress that she still looks amazing in! So savour that moment.


If you think suit shopping is going to be any easier, think again. Boys can be just as fussy when it comes buying or renting suits. It’s important to also consider things like suit styles and budget before you go shopping. If your teen is open to trying new things, see if you can get him into a navy blue or burgundy suit. Play with lengths of pant legs, waistcoats and different styles of ties or bow ties. Boys can be either really into shopping or not give a damn. So, shopping with boys can be quite difficult, much like girls, some boys find it easier to shop in groups, so offer to drive your son and his friends to go suit shopping. Spending all day with a group of boisterous boys may not be your ideal weekend, but this might be the only way to make sure you’re involved. But remember to have fun; suit shopping can be just as fun as dress shopping. And for boys who are in Years 12 and 13, it can be a good idea to invest in a suit for interviews and other formal occasions.

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