The ultimate matric ball checklist

2009-08-29 00:00

The matric dance is like the modern day version of the ball you used to read about in fairytales when you were still into Barbie dolls. As these little girl bibles would have it, for your night to be perfect, you would need: the handsome prince, the horse drawn carriage, the 12 am curfew, and of course, the powder blue ball gown. Yes, every girl wants to be Cinderella on their big night…

Sorry to burst your bubble ladies, but times have changed. The ball gown is out, in fact, it is so three centuries ago. Horse drawn carriages aren’t that easy to come by anymore. And oh! Please lose the tacky tiara. There’s know need to fret though; we’ve come up with the ultimate matric dance dress checklist thingy. Your night will be superb.

Dressing up

Now the we’ve established that the princess look is dead and gone, what is hot these days? According to acclaimed fashion designer Nivasha Bhika Beharie, the red carpet look is all the rage these days.

“Dresses are simple but stunning,” she said. “Ball gowns are out. Less skin is in. It’s all about glamour.”

Bhika Beharie said that people are being more adventurous with fabrics and detail, making “quite an exciting time for fashion”.

“Shinny fabrics, satin, nets, beads, embroidery – attention to detail is in,” said she, adding that these are precisely the things that will make your dress one of a kind.

“People are being more specific, even in terms of colour! They’re opting of minks over pinks,” she said. “It’s a fusion of colours, materials and styles.”

If you get the dress right, everything else falls into place.

Pulling it off

It’s simple to say the metallics are in this year, but you do not want to show up at your matric dance looking like the disco ball. Situations like this are easy to avoid. Bhika Beharie suggests that you see a professional designer for your dress because they make it to “fit YOU well”. She’s designed dresses over the years ranging between R6 000 to R12 000. “This is the most important dress for a girl before her wedding dress,” she said. “Price should not be an issue.”

Although renting a dress may be the cheaper option, Bhika Beharie points out that the chances of you getting the dress that you want are slim to none. To cut back on costs, she suggests that you buy fabrics that already have beadwork and detail. “The price of a dress depends on the amount of effort that goes into it.”

Bhika Beharie is a big name in the industry. If you do your research, you will find up and coming designers that are more then willing to do the job a fraction of the price. You can have your dress made for as little as R300.

Another way to ease daddy’s spending woes, she said, is too opt for a two-piece dress. “People are now going for corsets and skirts because they can always mix and match them later. There is no point in buying something that is going to just lay in your cupboard forever.”

Bhika Beharie's Getting “dressed” 101

  • Fabric colour needs to match your skin tone, eye colour and hair.
  • Hide what you don’t like about yourself and highlight what you do. “For example, if you don’t like your arms, you could wear a stunning shawl on the night … You can also use fabrics like chiffon to cover up areas that you are uncomfortable with.”
  • Bigger girls should opt of a one piece. “If you think that a certain part of your body is big. The you should not have a cut across that area because in will bring emphasis to it.”
  • Stipe panels are great for girls with larger tummies and thighs. “They lengthen and slim so they downplay you problem areas.”
  • If you have great legs, show them off. “Showing of your calves and a bit of thigh is classy, but don’t wear anything shorter than you mid-thigh. You need to keep it tasteful.”
  • If you have a great stomach rather opt for a tighter fits. Remember, less skin is in, and half tops won’t do. Also, dropped back showing off the small of your back will highlight your waistline.
  • Corsets, bustiers and armlets are great ways to show off good arms. “And not the metallic armlets, those are out. You get beautiful material armlets that are very Avangard – you wouldn’t even need to wear anything on your neck because they’re so eye-catching.”
  • Beadwork, studs and types of fabric can highlight your best features.
  • Satin is a no-no.
  • Don’t overdo it on the accessories if your dress has a lot of detail already. “If your dress is simple, go all out on your accessories, but if you’re wearing a beautifully detailed garment, just a pair earrings will do.”

TIP: Accessories are good way to completely personalise your look. And let’s face it, no two people want to look alike on the night. You can pick up one of a kind pieces at flea markets and thrift shops. They do not need to cost you a fortune.

It’s makeup not face paint

You want to look like a movie star on your big night and not a clown. They say sometimes less is better; you’re matric dance is definitely one of those times. Remember, you’ll be taking photos, and you’ll want to keep these photos forever. According to local beautician and owner of Body & Beauty Clinic, Elré du Plessis, keeping it simple is the best way to avoid those “uhg!” moments generally kindled by past pictures.

“Toned down in definitely in right now,” she said. “You do not want to look like Lady Gaga – that’s just weird. You want to look classy, not outrageous.”

She said your makeup should depend on the colour of your dress. “For a blue dress, a bit of silver would be nice and red looks stunning with gold.”

She added quickly that although metallic colours add a bit of glitz to your look, outrageous “bling bling is not in”.

Du Plessis also said that you should cut out things you like in magazines. “It might not be right for you, but it gives us an idea of what you want and we will make it work for you”

She said it is better to visit a qualified beautician for your makeup needs. “Look, we are qualified so we know what works for you.”

Body & Beauty Clinic charges R170 for a makeup appointment. Considering that a good mascara will cost you around half that price, visiting a beautician is clearly the better option.

Remember, you’ll be taking photos, and you’ll want to keep these photos forever.

The foundations of makeup application

  • The right foundation is the foundation of good makeup. “Test in on your jaw and not your hand. You won’t get the right shade if you do that. You want a foundation to be as close to your natural skin tone as possible.”
  • Go for facials regularly for about six months before the dance. “Good skin means better makeup.”
  • Get your eyebrows shape to perfection. “Your eyes are the first thing people notice about you. So eye makeup is very important. Properly shaped eyebrows enhance your make up.”
  • Find a balance between your eyes and your lips. “You do not want to look odd. Downplay lips if they’re big. Emphasise them if they’re smaller.”

Suit your date

Suits don’t have to be dreary and uniform. There are many ways to personalise your look too. Your date should not outshine you, but rather, compliment you – don’t you think? Now, you might think that wearing a suit to your matric dance is quite a costly affair. Given that a good suit goes at nothing less than R1 000 these days, you may be right.

However, hiring a suit is quite affordable. On average, it cost about R300 per night. A part from the variety of suits to choose from, a suit hire place generally has the latest in suit trends. You’ll find almost everything you’ll need for your outfit here. And you won’t be stuck with the darn thing for years afterwards. Then there are the finishing touches for you outfit, like waistcoats. You can easily tone up your look on the night by wearing a waistcoat.

Matthews’ Suit Hire’s Lesley Waring said that waistcoats are in, and that they’re the best way to make the look your own. “They come in all colours from orange to grey. You can wear one to match your date. But overall they add a little some extra to your suit. They make it a bit more sheik.”

“Everybody wants to be different from the next at matric dances,” she said. “They is easier to do with a waistcoat.”

The tie or cravat is another way of doing so. There is even more of a variety to choose from here, and to top it all off, as Waring put it, “they just add so much class to an outfit”.

Flowers, hankies, hats and cufflinks are also a way to add a slash of your own personality to your outfit. Who said to need to look like a penguin anyways?

TIP: Book a suit at least one month before the dance.

Choosing a suitable suit

Macloud Thomas crash course, who’s worked at Mathews’ Suit Hire for over 10 years, suggested the following suits for your body type.



Oval (and Triangle): You would something slimming like a pinstripe suit. A tux could work. And you’d definitely pull off a double breasted suit. Avoid suits with four buttons or more.




Trapezium: You’d look good in a tux.








Inverted Triangle: You should opt for tail suits; both morning and evening.







Rectangle: You can pull off almost all suits. You’d look particularly good in pinstripes, and morning tail suits.



FYI: White suits look good on most people. If you are size XL and larger, steer clear from white (it emphasises, not slims).


TIP: Don’t accept drinks from anyone. You do not want to be remembered as the one who passed out on the night of the dance.

Heading to the stylist

You’d expect over the top hair to be the trend of the day, given that clothing has headed in that direction. Funny enough, natural looking hair is what’s in style this season. Pamela Thompson of Emiles on at the Victoria Centre said that flowy, less contrived hair in demand. “People aren’t spiking their hair like they did last year. They’ve toned it down. They’re choosing a more classic look and not the outrageous,” she said.

She said that you said always visit a hairstylist prior to the day to (at least) discuss to style that you are interested in. “They will tell you if it will suit you or not, or if it will suit your outfit. It is very important to go a few weeks before the day.” she said. She added that it helps if you could bring a few cut-outs of the hairstyle that you wait along. “It gives us a better idea of what you want.”

You pay around R260 for a wash, cut and dry at a salon – and should always pre-book your appointment. “We’ve had girls come in on the day crying that they didn’t book, and when we’re fully booked, there’s nothing we can do,” said Thompson.

TIP: Hair accessories can make or break your outfit. According to Thompson, far too few girls are adventurous enough to wear them.

Pamela Thompson's D.I.Y. Matric Dance Hair: allow you to upload your photo and try out thousands of hairstyles for free.

Getting there in style

So you want to make a grand entrance? Be a diva? How about a sports car? Or even better, a helicopter? Well, a helicopter will surely turn heads, but a it is also likely to turn your hairdo into a pigeons nest. One of the better ways to make a grand entrance is with a limousine. And, although they can be expensive, getting around the cost of hiring one is simple...

Invite your friends and their partners. The ride will give you time to hung out and psych up. And it is a sure ride around (as opposed to being stranded on account of your date’s drunken escapade). Nesh Jadoo, owner of Nesh Limo Service, said that limos just add the extra bit of extravagance to your night. “You want to feel like a rockstar on the night of your dance, and a limo does that,” he said.

He said that limos will never go out of style and that, even on the road, people think that you’re someone important when you’re in a limo.

Jadoo said he knows not everyone can afford to hire a limo, but added that there are ways to get around it. “If you know someone with a fancy or classic car, then you can always ask them to drop you off. It’s your night and a nice car makes you feel special.”

He suggested that those interested in hiring a limo do so two months beforehand. “And for safety purposes, make sure you have the phone number of the driver and the owner of the business.”

TIP: One of the better ways to make a grand entrance is with a limousine. And, although they can be expensive, getting around the cost of hiring one is simple: invite friends and spit the cost.

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