At universities, springtime means one thing: ball season. Whether it’s the Yule Ball, Gatsby Ball or just a faculty ball, it’s time to whip out the finest frocks and hit the dancefloor. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds- finding something to wear on a student budget is half the battle. Terrifying memories of frantically choosing a debs dress may reemerge with even more terrifying price tags.
Never fear! There are plenty of options available for all budgets, no matter how big or small. Buying, renting, the wonders of online or ditching a gown altogether can be just some of the options available, all at a lower price point.
The first way to ball on a budget is to simply wear the old graduation dress that’s been hanging at the back of a wardrobe for years, untouched and only worn once before. Nobody at college will have seen it yet and it’s a wonder what some new shoes and accessories- like a new clutch, or some statement earrings, can do to an outfit. Swap dresses with a friend and style it up for a fresh take on a beloved gown- and no-one will ever know.
Renting a dress can also be an option. However, most boutiques in Dublin hire dresses for two days maximum and prices can range from €150-€250, so for a university ball, it’s probably not worth it. Keep in mind that the dress has probably been already worn and may not be in perfect condition. A better idea is to buy a dress and then sell it on- through sites like Depop, The Nu Wardrobe or even through friends for a bit of extra cash.
If you decide to make a purchase in the end, remember there’s no need to splurge. Online is your best friend, so don’t neglect the magic of online shopping and spend time sifting through sites. It’s best to do this a month or two in advance of the ball, just in case returns or alterations need to be made. For less than €100 or even as low as €50, amazing things can be found. Don’t forget to use your student discount and keep an eye out for sales- Asos sometimes offers even 20 per cent off occasion wear for students.
Is it a dress? Is it a plane?
Of course, there’s no rulebook that says girls can only wear floor-length evening gowns to a college ball. Step outside the box – girls can wear suits too. When picking a suit, look for a good fit, a cropped pant and a colourful pattern. This way, standing out in the crowd is a guarantee and there’s no chance of anyone wearing the same outfit as you. Accessorise with a black stiletto court shoe and some jewellery. The common dilemma with suits is what to wear underneath- a good idea is to try on a number of things and see which fits best. A bandeau or a cropped top should do the trick.
A suit is not the only alternative out there. Choose a two piece: a minimal top and a statement skirt with a flattering heel. Go wild when choosing a skirt- it can be a layered tulle skirt, ballerina style, or a straight-cut all the way down to the ankle. Check out high street classics like Zara or H&M to see what’s out there.
Keep trends in mind when choosing a pattern or accessories. It’s springtime, so a good floral design can do wonders. If you opt for a debs-style dress, choose a trendy fit- fitted, flared and backless is the most sought-after shape right now. In terms of materials, runways have seen silk dresses from the 90s making a comeback, with thin spaghetti straps that almost seem to flow around the body. Sheer materials like chiffon and tulle have been a huge trend- a calf-length sheer dress is best styled with a nude-coloured mini dress underneath.
The best accessories to choose, no matter what outfit you go for, are usually the classic court shoe, with a high heel and a pointed nose, or a timeless two-strap shoe. Throw in some light pumps into your bag for when your feet grow sore of stilettos. A clutch, just big enough to carry your phone and your pumps, should match the accessories- be it gold, or metal. Small-town boutiques usually sell gorgeous clutches in every shape, size and colour and sales usually mean they’re being sold for a tenner or even less.
Whatever you wear, however you decide to accessorize- remember to have fun, because there’s nothing better than a college ball to finish off the year!
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