Ball How-To

Here is the first part of our Ball How-To. With the school ball just over a month away, here are just a few useful ways you can prepare and make the most of the night! To take yourself to the section, just click on each link below:

  1. Corsages 101
  2. How to match your date
  3. Making your hair and makeup last
  4. How to save money

1. Corsages 101

Now that you’ve asked your dream girl to the ball, your next step will be to buy her the perfect corsage.

What is a corsage?
A corsage is a small bouquet of flowers that a lady wears on her dress or around her wrist. This traditional accessory represents kindness and generosity, but not necessarily love. So, for all those ball partners who are going to the ball as ‘just friends’, getting a corsage for your ball date will not be an overly romantic gesture, instead it just represents mutual trust and friendship. You could also get yourself or a friend one too, if you wish.

How do I know which corsage to buy?
The type of corsage to buy depends primarily on who you’re buying it for and especially what colour dress they’ll be wearing on the night. To do this, you’ll have to be sneaky, and very subtle. First you should try and find out what type of flower she likes, and more importantly, if she’s allergic to any. Then figure out if she would prefer to have a wrist corsage or a pinned corsage. Finally, find out the colour of her dress so they can compliment each other. But if you can’t, go for a safe, neutral colour (e.g. white).

You could also ask a female friend or family member. If you have no female friends, florists are a great option too. Or simply ask your date what they’d like.

Where can I buy a corsage?
Rutherford House is selling corsages for the ball everyday at morning tea and lunchtime until the end of term for $30-$35. They come in pink, white, red, yellow, purple and blue; and can be collected the Saturday morning before ball at Rutherford house. All the money will be going to the Cure Kids charity.

Many flower stores also sell them, and below are also some websites you may want to check out that sell them: $25 – $35 $10 – $25 $28.90 $12 < $25 – $55

Remember to call in the store to check if they sell pre-made corsages or if it needs to be designed. Call 1-2 weeks in advance so the florist will have plenty of time to make your corsage, ready for the big day.


2. How to Match Your Date

Many couples enjoy matching each other at the ball as a cute, visually appealing gesture. The classic way of matching is to have the same coloured tie/bowtie and dress. Here’s how you can go about it:

1)   When you’re asking what colour her dress is, be EXACT. e.g. If your ball date says that her dress ‘pink’, ask her what type/shade of pink it is. This is because you do not want to rock up to the ball wearing a pale pink tie while your date is wearing a magenta pink dress. That’ll look awkward.

2)   Have your date send you a picture of her dress so you have a good idea. You can take this picture to a formalwear shop.

3)   If your ball date doesn’t want to send you a picture of her dress before the ball, have her match the dress colour to a colour on Google Images. e.g. If it’s navy blue, ask her to search up ‘navy blue’. From there, ask your date to find the shade of navy blue her dress is and have her send the link of the image to you.

4)   Girls, you can take your dress in to the shop and pick out the tie yourself if you want to keep the dress a surprise, but want a perfect match.

5)   Calling up formalwear shops can be a great idea! They probably have offered advice to many people who are stuck on what to wear.

But that’s not the only way to match! You could match your pinned corsage to her dress, or your corsage to her corsage, or just go with a classic black tie if you really don’t think her dress colour will look good on you! Colour-coordinated pocket squares are also a great option. Don’t be afraid to do what you like!


3. Making Your Hair and Makeup Last

Getting together with a group of friends to do your own hair and makeup for the ball can be a fun way to relax as well as save a whole lot of money. However, this can be risky business so here are a few useful tips to keep in mind when getting ready for your big night.


  • Prepping your skin: Make sure to exfoliate before starting your makeup. Using silicone-based foundations will prevent your makeup from melting off due to heat or sweat. Invest in a primer and setting spray if possible; face primers will keep your skin looking flawless all night and eye primer will ensure your eye makeup stays put and stays vibrant throughout the night.
  •  Keeping your foundation intact: A setting/finishing powder is essential as it seals your foundation and stops it from smudging, fading or creasing. Translucent powders also mattify the skin, preventing you from looking greasy and sweaty. Alternatively, you can use blotting sheets to remove excess oil from your face throughout the night. Remember, less is more – you want to avoid looking cakey!
  • Maintaining your smile: For those going for bold lip colours, a nude or matching lipliner is highly recommended as it helps the product last longer and prevents feathering around the edges of your lips. A good trick to make your lipstick last longer is to blot your lips with a tissue after the first application and then reapply. If possible, bring your lipstick or lipgloss with you so you can reapply after eating and drinking.
  • Avoiding racoon eyes: If you plan on rocking eyeliner, liquid liner is recommended over pencil and gel liners which melt and smudge down your face more easily. To avoid mascara transferring, use one with a waterproof formula or top off with clear mascara. With dramatic smokey eyes, an eye primer or eyeshadow base is a must!


  •  Curls: Curls can separate, frizz up, or straighten out throughout the night, especially if you’re going to be active and dancing. Try using a heat protectant specific for your natural hair type before you curl, and be sure to mist your curls with hair spray once you’re done. A great tip for making your curls bouncier and longer-lasting is to roll each section back up and hold in your hand or pin against your head until it is cool.
  •  Braids: Hair can be prone to slipping out of braids and twists, especially if your hair is layered. Using products like wax, gel or hairspray will help control flyaways and keep the braids together. Curled or textured hair holds braids much better than straight hair and is easier to pin in place, so you may want to quickly curl your hair before styling.
  • Updos: The main component of these hairstyles is bobby-pins! Don’t cut back on the amount of bobby-pins, small elastic bands and hairspray required in creating these hairstyles – the more secure it is, the better. Be sure to brush up on your pinning technique and remember to criss-cross your pins for added security. Try keeping a few extra pins with you to deal with strands that may escape during the night.
  • Volume: A majority of ball hairstyles will require volume in your hair to balance out the look. Teasing/backcombing sections of hair and hairspraying will usually keep the volume in place, but you may also consider using volumizing hair powder for neater, long-lasting volume.


4. How to Save Money

The ball can be insanely expensive what with tickets, outfits, accessories, transport, hair/makeup, shoes, corsages… especially if you’re going to multiple school balls! Here are a few ways you can minimize your costs.

  1. Girls – Do your own hair and makeup: Hair/makeup can easily set you back $150. Youtube is a great place to look for tutorials, or you could get a friend/family member to do yours. The makeup/hair artists won’t be familiar with what looks best on you, and you can customize your look exactly how you like it! Refer to the section on “How to make your hair/makeup last” for some tips.
  2. Guys – you can avoid wearing a tux. Tuxedos can set you back a lot and aren’t very versatile. Opting for suits or khaki pants can be cheaper, and you can wear them to many different events.
  3. Look on Trademe or Facebook clothes groups for cheap dresses/suits (e.g. Walk in Wardrobe). Many of them are only worn once and you can get a great bargain (that you can resell yet again). You could also borrow dresses/suits from friends, or even shoes (if you wear the same sizes). For next year, consider buying dresses well in advance in the off-season when they will be significantly cheaper. Or, shop bridesmaids’ dresses which are priced much lower than “ball dresses”.
    You could also make your own dress, or get a family member to sew it. This means that you can also make a tie out of the leftover fabric for your date!
  4. You can visit the cosmetics counter of department stores like Farmers where they often do your makeup for free (usually if you buy a product), which can be a great tactic. However many girls will probably take advantage of this, so it’s best to book an appointment to make sure you get your slot!
  5. Go for the party bus and not the limo, or just all pile into a van—transportation doesn’t have to cost $50.

Written by: Daisy Huang, Annie Han, Helen Cao, Saffron Huang. Edited by: Saffron Huang

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