Ahh… the grand ‘ol Year 12 Formal. Arguably the most anticipated, over-hyped and stressful date for all aussie school-leavers…
Since I have just graduated from my final year of secondary schooling, I thought that now would be the perfect time to write a post on the reality of the anxiety-increasing, stress-driven ‘night of nights’ that every teenage girl dreams of. I have lived through the heaven and hell that is Year 12 formal so you don’t have to make the mistakes that the rest of us did.
Buckle up, ladies (and gents)… it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
The Months Leading Up…
After a stupid amount of sleepless nights and stress, the effort and preparation for formal continually made myself reconsider whether it was really worth all of the trouble (hint: it is). From my experience, finding your dress is the absolute worst part of the lead-up to formal. “Whaaaat?”, I hear you say. Don’t worry, I was just as devastated too. Myself, along with many other clueless souls, were led to believe that playing dress-up in multiple gown and frock stores would be the highlight of the whole graduation experience.
I spent countless hours scrolling through website after website, Pinterest board after Pinterest board and store after store looking for any potential sources of incentive. After months on end, I decided to stick with my gut and go for the first dress that I fell for. Studio Minc had ventured with me through my agonising journey to find the perfect dress and honestly, I couldn’t have done it without them. The staff there are beyond amazing and are what made my experience that bit better. A big shoutout goes to my homegirl and favourite staff member Annabelle for helping me every step of the way and becoming one of my besties throughout the year (only because I practically lived in the store for months on end). You’re the best!
Even though the pettiness of my peers who also managed to favour my dress resulted in me losing an Instagram follower or two, I wouldn’t of had it any other way. I was in love with my dress and the agony of decision-making was finally over. This is where the fun of formal prep kicked in.
The Big Day
Waking up on the morning of formal gave me the same kind of chills that I used to get on Christmas morning; you know the one I’m talking about, that nervous and excited feeling that races up and down your body. After anticipating this day since the first day of high school, it almost didn’t feel real to me.
I was going off a schedule I had written up earlier in the week with all of my appointments and times, and since I woke up so early from excitement, the morning seemed to go rather slowly and I ended up relaxing a little too much…
After constantly picking fights with mum over minor issues and having an unnecessary 2 hour bath, I ended up crying and having panic attacks over things that could have been prevented… You see, my mum and I had never actually been to the studio where I was supposed to be getting my make-up done, and since we left so last minute for the appointment, I started to get worked up over the thought of my make-up appointment being potentially cancelled or overbooked. Even though we JUST managed to get there on time, I would most definitely recommend confirming all of the addresses of your upcoming appointments and even taking the time to travel to them as a little practice run for the real thing (just to see how far away it is and how long it might take with or without traffic). This is something I really wish I didn’t put off as it risked me nearly losing my make-up appointment.
Much to my mum’s disapproval, I ended up wearing a black (or what she would call an “emo-coloured”) lacy dress. From the moment I saw the dress advertised online, I fell in absolute love with it. It was like nothing I had ever seen before… Elegant, sexy, intricate and outstanding; all of the adjectives that I wanted to describe my look on formal night. But of course with such a bold and distinguished gown, I didn’t want my make-up to possibly overpower the real star of the show; the dress, which is why I went for a more simplistic look with a bold smoky eye to compliment the dark glamour vibe I was rocking.
I booked my make-up about 10 months in advance because I wanted to make sure I went to someone who I knew would make me look like a goddess. Jaz Hand, or better known as “Make-Up By Jaz” was the only person I wanted to do my make-up because she’s the kind of person who you can put your complete trust in and not have to worry about your make-up not meeting any expectations. My theory was that I’d rather spend an arm-and-a-leg on make-up and be ecstatic, than spend a quarter of the price and have it ruin my night. Although it is the pricier alternative, it is the only way to make sure you feel like the queen you deserve to be on your special night. Researching and booking early is the key to a seamless and stress-free day, and Jaz made me feel absolutely incredible about my appearance. She was fun and friendly and managed to work with me in finding what look suited my taste. I am so glad that I went to Jaz for my make-up and would most definitely recommend her for any upcoming formals or special events that you may have coming up!
(Please ignore my frizz lol, the humidity was ridiculous)
After my most impressive make-up appointment, it was straight onto hair, which I had deliberately left last because I wanted it to be fresh. Since I have thick, curly and uncontrollable hair, it definitely seemed like the right thing to do.
Figuring out what hairstyle I wanted didn’t end up being as hard as I thought it would be in the end. After looking to Pinterest for inspiration, Mum and I were both completely set on recreating the classic “Hollywood Curls” look that Studio Minc showcased for their photoshoots. We felt that this hairstyle (out of the thousands we had scoured through) really grasped the look I was going for.
After a tiresome hour and a half of hair pulling and ripping, Loveloxx managed to create a whole new, glamorous version of Julia that I loved.
The only advice I have with hair is to go with a hairdresser that you really trust. Although I had never gone to Loveloxx before, I had researched and booked a trial with them beforehand to let them know exactly what I was looking for. As similar to my make-up advice, don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more on hair as it is equally as important and can make or break an outfit. For girls with hair as uncontrollable as mine, make sure to call in advance and book a consultation to see how much your hair-type will actually cost… because the chances are that it will be a lot more than what they advertise.
Although mum thought I did it too last minute, I got my nails done the day before formal because I wanted them to be fresh and avoid any potential chipping before the big day. I went to my amazing nail tech who never fails me, Susie, from Empire Nails and Beauty. She is the QUEEN of all things nails and never seizes to make me fall in love with her work. She is a MUST if you are looking to get your nails done!
I went with the classic “French Ombre” with three Swarovski crystals on both of my ring fingers as feature nails. With the glitz and glamour of my dress, hair and make-up, I didn’t want my nails to be too extravagant. I was super happy with how they turned out and I can’t thank Susie enough!
The reality of it all finally began to kick in when I got home from my appointments and realised it was actually time to put my dress on for REAL. It sounds dramatic I know… but after you’ve spent so much blood, sweat and tears into making this night a success, it’s hard to believe that the time has come. Putting your dress on with a full-beat face (definition here) of make-up and hair is quite different to running around the house in your dress with bed-hair and bare feet.
Clutch – Literally one that mum found laying around her wardrobe and managed to go better than any other purse we had found in a shop. #Winning
Shoes – A pair of Nine West shoes Mum and I found online for 60% off. We took a massive risk buying them online but they ended up being the perfect shoes for the dress.
Underwear – Not sure why mum was so passionate about getting photos of my “formal underwear” in these flat-lays but I guess i’ll include it lol… They were from Bra’s N Things and are just so damn pretty. (Don’t worry, these photos were taken when they were JUST purchased and unworn lol).
Although there was an pre-event for the Year 12’s at the local surf club, my partner and I decided it would be best to just go to his house and spend time with our families. Since my formal partner was (and still is) my boyfriend, doing this was definitely the right move for us.
My boyfriend will agree when I say that we left getting a car a little bit later than we should have. Even though Dane is a massive car fanatic, he was just too busy to sort it out in time… which resulted in me taking the reins. After just over a week of rushed searches on a ridiculous amount of car hire sites, I had found a car that I was in love with… (oh, and Dane liked it too).
It was a Red 1959 Cadillac Convertible and gosh was it beautiful. Even though we had dreams of potentially getting something prestigious like a Lamborghini or Ferrari, our plans didn’t end up working out and we were left looking for a new car last minute. We were so so so lucky that a car as nice as this was still available for our formal at such late notice (when I say late notice, I mean like 3 months beforehand). The company and owners we went through were punctual and friendly and made the stressful process go rather smoothly.
Caddy Daddy is a great company if you have a big event coming up and I would highly recommend their top service. We went through a different part of the website (click here for more info) if anyone would like to look into it further.
Please take it from me and let this be a warning… Just because we got lucky with a car last minute doesn’t mean you will too. There are so many formals happening within the same week and even day and demand runs out extremely fast. GET ON TO HIRING A CAR EARLY!
To make a long story short, arriving in front of a crowd as large as ours was overwhelming in the best way possible. We felt like movie stars walking the red carpet after arriving to yet another famed awards ceremony. I had so much adrenaline when I heard my friends and family screaming my name in excitement; it was easily one of the best moments of my life so far.
Recapped Advice for Future School Leavers
- Start looking for your dress early and actually TRYING THINGS ON. The earlier you do it, the less time you’ll spend stressing out.
- I would most definitely recommend confirming all of the addresses of your upcoming appointments and even taking the time to travel to them as a little practice run for the real thing (just to see how far away it is and how long it might take with or without traffic). This is something I really wish I didn’t put off as it risked me nearly losing my make-up appointment.
- My theory was that I’d rather spend an arm-and-a-leg on make-up and be ecstatic, than spend a quarter of the price and have it ruin my night. Although it is the pricier alternative, it is the only way to make sure you feel like the queen you deserve to be on your special night. Researching and booking early is the key to a seamless and stress-free day
- The only advice I have with hair is to go with a hairdresser that you really trust. Although I had never gone to Loveloxx before, I had researched and booked a trial with them beforehand to let them know exactly what I was looking for. As similar to my make-up advice, don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more on hair as it is equally as important and can make or break an outfit. For girls with thick and plentiful hair like me, make sure to book a consultation and/or trial before-hand.
- Just because we got lucky with a car last minute doesn’t mean you will too. GET ONTO HIRING A CAR EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT!
- Don’t stress if you don’t have a formal partner, it isn’t as big of a deal as you think it is.
- Take HEAPS of photos! You’ll thank yourself later…
- Spend your time with the people you love and cherish EVERY MOMENT! It’s true when they say that it goes super fast, so make sure to live in the now.
- Have fun!