Taking the fear out of Formal Dress Shopping

The second biggest stress of any senior female student in Australia other than final exams and that dreaded HSC is the all-important end of year formal and what to wear. It seems every year it blows out more and more with the “compulsory” items other than dress and shoes – it’s the hair, the make-up consultant, fake tan, the nails, the eye lashes, pre's and after’s and making sure you get the most gram worthy pics. So we thought we would break it down for you to make your hunt for the perfect dress and the tips and tricks to having the most memorable night.


Typically, Year 10 formals are a tad more cocktail style so this is the year to rock out a shorter number or be slightly more daring. Year 12 tends to be more sophisticated with full length but again wear what you feel good in. Certain schools have certain dress codes so best to check that our first before investing in an outfit.

Approach your school formal event with confidence, know what colours work well with your skin tone, consider your body shape and play to your strengths! Dressing in a way that makes you feel comfortable and embracing your favourite features is the key to confidence dressing.

Here are some things to consider when dressing for your shape…

Whether you’re rocking a strapless gown or an asymmetric evening dress, it’s not always easy to find the perfect formal dress that is also bra-friendly, so it’s important to consider your options in advance, after all, comfort is key. If the girls are small and don’t need too much support, this can be fairly straight forward. Most of the time, you can go bra-less but remember to use headlight dimmers, (it’s a school formal after all) they are seamless and most importantly comfortable and are the perfect complement to any bra-less dress. Or you can choose to use stick-on silicone cups, the adhesive covers are easy to use and they can even give you a little boost to your cup size! #winning!

If you have a bigger bust and require more support, you might want to consider a v-neckline, halter or scoop cut dress; don’t feel restricted to wearing a long sleeve dress but this style can provide balance and might be a good idea if you wish to wear a supportive bra. Depending on the style of your dress, a good strapless bra might be all you need, just remember that comfort and class must come first, whether you’re with or without cleavage.

In regards to your shape – we encourage to embrace your curves and to add more confidence with creating smooth lines is to invest in good shapewear. Shapewear is designed to enhance your silhouette, it won’t instantly turn you into Kendall Jenner, but instead will smooth out any lumps and bumps, giving you that extra little bit of confidence you deserve!

If you decide not to wear shapewear, it’s important to choose the right underwear for your dress! Forget your regular daytime undies, when it comes to occasion dressing you need something special that will work with your gown, seamless nude or flesh coloured styles work best with most outfits. Visible panty lines are not acceptable and under no circumstances should they make an appearance on your special night.

Elysian Collective Formal Dress Shopping Sydney


Instagram and Pinterest is the best way to source inspiration and create a board with your favourite styles, colours including hair and make-up looks. For celebrity looks inspiration look to all the Award nights - and for some hysterical fashion commentary go to Fashion Critical on Facebook.


Other than catwalk models everyone struggles to walk in heels but you love to spend the night on the dance floor! For years, stiletto heels have not only been in fashion, but often, were the only option when it comes to occasion footwear. Luckily this season, fashion has re-imagined the evening shoe and midi heels are trending! Court shoes, mules and sandals, all boasting 2-4inch heels are the perfect delicate, ladylike complement to an evening dress and signal the start of a new era. Whilst this style is not for everyone, there are lots of fashion solutions to keep you dancing in your stilettos all night long! No matter how sore your twinkle toes might get, under no circumstances do not to kick your shoes off halfway through the night in a formal dress! Not a good look. Heel guards or comfortable gel cushions are a good investment and if in doubt, keep some band aids in your purse! Top tip, try your shoes on before your event, wear them around the house and break them in wearing comfy socks; doing so, will help avoid you stumbling up or down the staircase! Check out some our beautiful heels in all heel heights here

Makeup & Skincare

Make up and skincare preparation is important – especially with fake tanning – there is nothing worse than looking like and smelling like a Dorito so if you get a fake tan do it 1-2 night before the event so it has time to develop (make sure you exfoliate first). Best not to experiment with new skin products the week of your formal in case your skin breaks out and if you can, drink plenty of water (like 2 litres per day – yes 2 litres) the week before so your skin will glow – just don’t drink that much on the day otherwise you’ll bloat like a horse.


Whilst fake nails are not essential a good manicure is – and if you are wearing strappy shoes make sure your toes are presentable. Nude colours are always safe but if you do choose a colour make sure they match your dress.

What to take in your purse

Make sure your pack only the essentials in your purse – your tickets, phone, lip-gloss, compact, tissue, and mints. Walk into that room with your head held high, don’t compare yourself to anyone as everyone is feeling exactly the same as you and have the time your life – you only get your formal once so enjoy you lovely thing.


Here are some dresses that we have in store to help you with inspiration click here  We are more than happy to help you select and style some options for you to consider. Bring mum too! B x

1 comment

Love this article…great advice!

Sam October 16, 2019

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