The matric dance is one of the most important occasions in your schooling career.

It marks the end of the first chapter of your life, and is a time to celebrate all that you’ve achieved during your time in school, the friends you’ve made, and the many experiences you’ve had.

At the matric farewell, you’ll have to bring a date, dress appropriately in formal evening wear, and participate in the events of the evening, including dinner, photo shoots, dancing, and socializing with your friends as well as the teachers and other adults who are there. It’s good practice for the real world, where you’ll hopefully be attending many more formal events in the future.

All in all, the matric ball is a chance to make some final memories to round off your experience of school-age life, and so you’ll want it to be as enjoyable and natural as possible. This does require some preparation in a few areas, however, so it’s good to think ahead about what you’ll need to do to make your matric dance a special one.


Matric dance dress selection tips

DressChoosing a dress can be one of the most intimidating parts of this process, especially if it’s something you haven’t really done before. It can be difficult to know what kinds of things to look out for and where to begin when choosing your outfit. As usual when it comes to important events, planning ahead is crucial. It’s a good idea to start preparing for your matric farewell at last four to six weeks ahead of time, so that you can do it without rushing and leave time for any unforeseen delays as well.

Colour selection

One of the most important aspects of any dress is its colour. Different colours can express different aspects of your personality, and can have an effect on your mood as well. Red, for example, gives off a sense of boldness and outgoingness, while blue or green can indicate confidence and strength.

dance girls flowers

It’s also important to take your own skin, hair, and eye colours into account when choosing the colour of your dress, as you’ll want all of these to complement each other. For instance, brown hair and eyes tend to go well with dark greens and blues, while yellows are best avoided. Your dress colour should also complement your figure – black and darker colours can be more slimming, while lighter colours can accentuate various aspects of your physique if used correctly.

Body shape

It’s very important to take your body shape into account when choosing the style of your dress – after all, the same dress can look very different on different people. If you have an hourglass-type body, dresses that accentuate the waistline and balance out the tops and bottoms. More rectangular body types benefit most from dresses that add definition to your waist and add volume to your upper and lower body. Full skirts are often useful for this purpose. Inverted triangle body shapes tend to look best in dresses that have a slimming effect on the upper body while adding volume to the lower body, particularly those that have embellishments or decorations around the hips to draw some attention there. Pear body shapes require dresses that draw attention to the upper body while reducing the width of the lower body, such as those with well-defined waists and embellishments towards the top. Finally, apple body types look best in dresses that balance out the upper and lower body areas while creating the illusion of a slimmer waist.

Shopping tips

Once you know more about the kinds of things you need to look for in a dress, you can start shopping for it. Before doing this, however, it’s important to have a clear idea of your budget. Make sure it’s realistic – not too high or too low. That way you can avoid frustration and disappointment during the shopping process.

It’s a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to shop around (at least four to five weeks), but that doesn’t mean you should jump on the first dress you really like. With so many options to choose from, if you end up buying too quickly you may well see something you like even more a little later. Better to spend time looking at all the available options, then, before making a final decision. Try on many different dresses and see how you feel in each of them before choosing the one you’re going to wear to the matric ball.

Designing and hiring

Instead of buying an existing dress, if you have a creative streak you can also try your hand at designing one and getting a tailor to make it for you. A simple sketch or a picture of a similar style that you want can be all that’s necessary to make a copy of a dress that suits your exact specifications.

If the cost of buying a dress is too high, there’s also the option of hiring one for the evening. There are many companies that offer this kind of service, and have great options to choose from. Doing things this way can sometimes get you a better looking dress just for the night than if you were to buy one to keep forever.


Matric dance suit selection tips

SuitMaking a good impression with your dress sense on a night like this is an essential part of the experience. It’s important to take many factors into account when choosing the suit you’ll be wearing to the matric farewell so that you look good and feel confident in what you’re wearing. This can make all the difference between feeling overly self-conscious about your clothes and having a night to remember. Thinking ahead and making good choices can take a lot of the anxiety out of this process, so it’s a good idea to get started as soon as possible.

Colour and style selection

While girls obviously have more of a range of colours and styles to choose from where their dresses are concerned, guys also have a number of options that need to be considered. It’s important to take control of the clothes you’ll be wearing and make sure they come off as a sophisticated and mature choice, rather than something gaudy or childish.

Dance suit

Ninety percent of the time, classic black and white is the way to go when it comes to suits. While suits and novelty garments of different colours can sometimes look like a fun option, the truth is that these are very difficult to pull off. The sophistication and elegance of black and white, however, can’t be beaten. This can mean either a true ‘black tie’ outfit, which includes a tuxedo jacket, vest, dress shirt, and bow tie (the most formal option) or a semi-formal dark suit and coloured tie with a white shirt.

Cuff links tie and watchIf you’re going for the full black tie look, it’s important to pay attention to the details. These includes a proper tuxedo jacket with either peaked lapels or a shawl collar, matching trousers with a satin stripe down the outside of each leg and held up with suspenders instead of a belt, a plain white dress shirt with studs instead of buttons, a black bow tie (preferably the self-tied option rather than a clip-on variety), plain black leather dress shoes, a vest or cummerbund (in black or a dark colour), and accents such as cufflinks and a boutonniere (a single flower, often matching your date’s corsage, to go in the buttonhole on your lapel).

If you’re going for the slightly less formal option, any dark suit will do – preferably one that’s tailored to fit your body properly. Where your tie is concerned, there is the option to include a splash of colour, but it should be kept classy and not flashy. The tie, along with the boutonniere, also gives you an opportunity to introduce a colour that will complement your date’s dress. It should not, however, match completely, but be more of a subtle nod to her colour choice. It can be a good idea to get a swatch of the same fabric that your date’s dress is made from to assist in choosing complementary colours. Sometimes a photo doesn’t quite give a realistic enough impression of these colours, especially in different lighting situations

Shopping/renting tips

As with most things, it’s a good idea to start preparing for your matric ball as early as possible. Shopping around for a good suit or tuxedo can take some time, and it’s important to weigh up all your options before making a purchase. This is particularly as these formal garments can be expensive, and you want to make sure that they’ll last for a while. Of course, this only really applies if you’ve stopped growing, in which case you may well want to purchase a suit and have it properly tailored so that it fits you perfectly.

If you’re still growing, however, investing a lot of money into a suit that won’t fit you in a year or two’s time is probably not a good idea. In this situation, renting can be a much smarter move. This does mean that you may not get a suit that fits to absolute perfection, but if you take the time to look at as many options as possible it’s likely you’ll find one that does the trick. Doing things this way will also save you a considerable amount of money.


Shoes

ShoesYour shoes, in particular, add an important accent to your outfit that can either make or break the whole ensemble. It’s often said that you can tell the character of a person from the shoes they wear, and this is no exception at the matric farewell. In choosing your suit or dress, then, as well as all the other aspects of your outfit, it’s important to take your footwear into consideration throughout the entire process.

Shoes for girls

As most girls know, shopping for shoes can be a fun and exciting experience – and shopping shoes for your matric ball can be the most exciting of all. It’s important not to get too excited though, and to consider the practicality of your shoes and the way they’ll match the rest of your outfit, in addition to the way they look on their own. Of course, one of the first and most important things you’ll need to decide on is a budget, taking into account the amount you can afford to spend on your entire outfit. This will help you to narrow down your range of choices and make the whole process a bit more manageable.

Generally speaking, your shoes should go with your dress in an opposite but complementary way. This means that, if you’re going with a flashy and detailed dress, a more subdued shoe choice is probably best, while more elaborate and eye-catching shoes can be good for dressed that have a less complex design. Choosing complementary colours is also important so that your dress and shoes go together – in general, darker or more neutral colours are best for shoes.

Matric farewell shoes for guys and girls

Dress length is also an important factor in choosing shoes. Floor-length dresses mean your shoes aren’t going to be very visible, and you also don’t want them to throw off the intended length of your dress, so flats or ballet-style shoes are probably best. On the other hand, shorter or asymmetrical dresses go well with strapped sandals or high heels.

An often overlooked aspect of shoes is their comfort. After all, you’re going to be wearing them for most of the evening, so it’s important that your shoes fit well and are easy enough to walk in. Otherwise they can turn a really enjoyable evening into a very uncomfortable one!

Shoes for boys

While guys generally have less variation to choose from as far as shoes are concerned, this doesn’t mean that any less attention should be paid to this essential part of your outfit. As with the girls, the shoes you choose to go with your matric farewell suit or tuxedo can make or break the entire ensemble.

Mens SuiteRegardless of the rest of your outfit, formal dress shoes are a must for any respectable matric ball. There are a few non-negotiables that should always be followed when choosing such a pair of shoes. Firstly, they should be made of real leather, with leather soles as well. While shoes like these can be pricy, generally speaking the higher the quality, the longer they will last, which can save you money in the long run if you intend to use the shoes in the future. The soles should be stitched to the bottom of the shoe and not glued. The quality of the stitching is also a good indicator of the overall quality of the shoes – it should be neat, even, and not highly noticeable. The lining of better shoes should also be made of natural and not synthetic material.

A few further guidelines can be useful in helping with your purchasing decision. Generally speaking, lace-up shoes look better than slip-ons, especially with formal suits. As far as colour goes, classic black is the traditional and often the better looking choice, but the possibility of a dark brown should not be ruled out if you are going for a suit of a different colour (such as navy blue or charcoal). Elongated toes, rather than square ones, can also be a more sophisticated choice, although this rule is somewhat flexible.


Hair and Makeup

Hair & MakeupAny girl knows that hair and makeup can be the most important features of any look, especially if you want to make the most out of your natural beauty. As a formal occasion, your matric dance is a chance to really go all out with your hairstyle and makeup choice to really make an impact.

Makeup

One of the most important things to be aware of when deciding on the kind of makeup you’re going to be wearing to your matric farewell is that it is possible to overdo things! You don’t want to look like you’ve tried to hard or end up putting so much makeup on that no one will recognise you – instead, try to play to your strengths by selecting a few elements to focus on.

Hair & MakeupGenerally speaking, a good rule of thumb is to choose either your eyes or your lips (whichever feature you prefer on your own face) to accent heavily with makeup, and leave the other more natural. If you prefer your lips, go for bold but classy colours such as deep reds and pinks, and leave your eye makeup simple, but effective. If you choose your eyes, you can go all out with eyeliner, mascara, shadow, and even false eyelashes if you can find ones that don’t look too unnatural). The smoky eye look is also a great option for your matric dance. Pair your eye makeup with understated lips, perhaps with a soft gloss instead of bright lipstick.

Another important feature of your makeup is, of course, your foundation. The trick here is not to use too much, but only on the areas that need it. If you have bad skin or acne some concealer is definitely in order, but should be used sparingly. It’s also vital to ensure that this makeup is perfectly matched to your skin tone so as to be as unnoticeable as possible. Many department stores will allow you to try different shades before buying, so it’s a good idea to take advantage of this opportunity to find the shade that’s right for you.

Hair

Your hair is also an essential aspect of your appearance, and needs to frame and complement your face well in order to add to the overall ensemble and tie all its elements together. Of course, it’s important to start doing your hair fairly early on the day of the matric ball so as to give it time to adjust and not rush the process. This means applying any necessary product as you get out of the shower, blow drying and applying curlers if desired, and letting everything cool thoroughly before beginning the rest of the styling process.

Matching your hair to your dress style is also important, but in this case, matching can mean finding beauty in opposites. If you’re wearing a sleek, straight dress, for instance, curly hair can provide the perfect contrast. On the other hand, a more textured dress can go well with smooth hair. If your dress is a style from a particular era, such as the 40s or 50s, go for a popular hairstyle from that time period as well to add some authenticity.

If you’re lacking in inspiration, it can be a good idea to look at celebrities whose style you admire for some fashionable looks, and ask your stylist to try and emulate those with your hair. It’s important to be realistic about this, however, and to pick references that have similar hair types to your own.

Another practical consideration, which should be obvious, is to book your styling appointment well in advance. This is particularly important around the time of matric farewells, and hair salons can be very busy for obvious reasons. Don’t leave things till the last minute and potentially be disappointed when you can’t get the appointment you wanted. Also, come prepared. This means arriving at the salon with clean, dry hair, with a clear idea of what you want, and with any accessories or products you’d like included in your hairstyle.


Themes and selection tips

MaskDepending on your school’s approach, the theme for your matric ball may be decided on by a committee of students, parents, teachers, or a combination of all the above. It may also be voted on by the entire grade. The planning committee will then have to work towards bringing this theme to life. Of course, it’s important to narrow down the list of potential themes a little before presenting them as options, otherwise the range of choices can be a little overwhelming.

The first thing to do within the process of theme selection is to establish your planning committee, set a date, choose the venue, and get an idea of the budget that will be available to make all of this happen. These factors will inform your decision on potential themes that might suit the evening. It’s also a good idea to look at themes from past years and other schools, both to get some inspiration for your own theme and to make sure that you don’t pick one that’s already been used – after all, you want your matric dance to be special.

Generally speaking, matric ball themes should be kept relatively simple so that everyone can understand and relate to then. Variations on classic themes are always popular, and allow you to draw influences from tried and tested themes while also adding a unique and personal touch for your school year.

Popular themes

Fairy tale themes are often a fun choice, and allow for lots of creative decoration, including fairy lights, forest elements, and perhaps even miniature castles or carriages. This theme also allows for people to add their own flair to the theme by adding costume touches to their outfits that fit in with certain fairy tales, such as Snow White or even Shrek. The romantic aspects of the classic fairy tale will also add a warm touch to the evening.

Masked Ball Theme

Another popular approach to choosing a theme for your matric dance is to go with a certain historical era. This can go as far back as Roman or medieval times, but it’s more common to pick a decade within the 20th century and build your theme around that. For the 20s, for instance, swing attire, jazz music, and the ambience of an underground jazz club might be the order of the day. The 60s could inspire a more psychedelic or rock ‘n roll theme, while a 70s theme lends itself more towards classic disco and nightclub styles. This approach also presents some great opportunities for dressing to the theme.

Given that the matric ball is attended by couples, romantic themes are always a good choice. It’s often fun to center these themes around particularly romantic eras or locations, such as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, or the city of Paris. Modelling these themes after romantic movies or books can also be a popular choice.

Selection tips

When making the final decisions on the theme for your matric farewell, it’s important to be realistic about what is appropriate and attainable for your special evening by asking some essential questions. The location plays a big role in the theme, so you need to determine whether or not it has the correct size and layout for your intended theme, as well as any restrictions or limitations in the way decorations can be applied to the venue.

Budget is also highly important – after all, it’s no good coming up with an elaborate theme idea if there isn’t enough money to make it happen convincingly. In this situation, choosing a simpler theme that can be pulled off effectively can be a much safer bet. Ensuring you have enough helpers and volunteers to put everything together leading up to the night itself is also an important consideration. Finally, you also need to ask yourself whether the chosen theme is suitable for the entire school year and will make everyone feel welcome and a part of the occasion.


Photography tips

cameraYour matric ball is bound to be an occasion that you will remember for the rest of your life, and one that you’ll want to be able to look back on and share with your friends and family for years to come. Of course, having high quality photos of the evening are essential, as you’ll want to be able to keep them forever, and perhaps even frame one or two. Naturally, you’ll want to look your best, but there’s more to taking a good photo than just the people in it.

Choosing a photographer

There are many factors involved in taking a good matric dance photo. The first of these, of course, is the photographers themselves. It’s important to choose your photographers carefully, and make sure each is well-suited to their specific roles. Whatever you do, don’t leave the task to amateurs or people who have other tasks on the evening, as they’re likely to get distracted or will not know exactly what to do. It can be easy to write off hiring a professional photographer as an unnecessary expense, and leave the task to parents or teachers who have cameras, but given that the matric farewell is a once-in-a-lifetime event, it’s generally best not to take that kind of risk.

Photoshoot

Your photographers should be experienced with a camera, ideally on a professional level. If the budget allows, hiring wedding photographers can be an excellent choice, as there are many aspects of the matric farewell that are similar to a wedding. Furthermore, each photographer should be given clear instructions as to their responsibilities. There should be at least one to focus on the candid and ‘action’ shots of the evening, and another to oversee the formal posed photos of each couple as well as the group shots. Of course, if only one photographer is available, you’ll need to make sure that all the key moments in the evening are well timed in order to make sure that he or she can be there well in time to set up and capture the shots.

Choosing a location

Wherever your matric ball is being held, it’s a good idea to take the time beforehand to look for suitable locations in the vicinity for the official couples and group shots. These should ideally be areas with good lighting and a decent backdrop. A subtle border, whether in form of vegetation such as trees or vines, or man-made features such as pillars or buildings, can also aid in the composition of the image. Adding variations in height by means of stairs or other raised platforms can also make the photos more dynamic and allow for everyone to be seen without needing to be squeezed into the frame uncomfortably.

Shoot ideas

There are any number of ways to stage the photo shoots at your matric farewell, and the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Ideally, you’ll want to create photos that are unique to your school year and not too generic, while also expressing something about your group of friends in a fun and interesting way. It’s a good idea to find a balance between doing something original and keeping things simple enough so that the photo ops don’t slow down the evening, so variations on classic photo shoot ideas are a good way to go.

Ball GownGenerally speaking (and depending on the location of your matric dance), outdoor shots look great, especially against everyone’s beautiful formal wear. An outdoor shoot can be set in any good-looking location, such as a beach, forest, or garden, and can be arranged with everyone standing in neat rows or be more natural. The classic jumping photo is a popular outdoor favourite.

If you have interesting features such as a railroad, bridge, or other building nearby, these can be great to incorporate into a photo shoot, and also allow for interesting arrangement of the people in the photo (for instance, girls sitting on the bridge while boys stand behind). Water features such as rivers or lakes also make for great backdrops. A lot of these locations can also lend themselves towards themed shoots.

For indoor shoots, get creative with backdrops. Depending on the theme of your matric farewell, you could have several different settings available that evoke different aspects of the theme itself. You can also experiment with different poses – try to stay away from the cliché ‘hands on waist’ shots or anything that seems uncomfortable. Instead, go for fun and natural poses that show you and your partner at your best.