Kimberley Brown wearing a formal dress from Von's Gorgeous Gowns with her mum Michelle Brown.
Kimberley Brown wearing a formal dress from Von's Gorgeous Gowns with her mum Michelle Brown. David Nielsen

Gallery: The price of school formal glamour

GLAMOUR comes at a price.

The price for Ipswich mum Michelle Brown to send her daughter Kimberley to her year 12 formal was more than triple what she paid for her own in 1992.

Kimberley will join hundreds of Ipswich teenagers, sparing no expense as she marks the last year of high school with a night of fond memories, snapping photos to last a lifetime.

After months of preparation, Kimberley and her mum estimate they spent about $1000 for her to attend her school formal later this month - substantially more than Michelle's $300 bill for her own formal in the 90s.

"Money is becoming less of an object," Kimberley said.

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"The most important thing is going with friends and people you will enjoy the night with."

Kimberley said she tried on plenty of gowns in preparation for the big night but ultimately returned to the first dress she saw, which would be kept under lock and key until its red carpet reveal.

"It cost $450 which I thought was pretty good, a lot of my friends paid a lot more than that. One of my closest friends, her dress is $750 so that is crazy," she said.

Michelle said the price tag was not the only thing to have changed between the generations with her own taffeta, drop waist number now a favourite at dress-up parties.

"I think Kimberly and I have very similar styles, we like the fitted long dress but I was around in tacky taffeta," she said.

"It was all big sleeves and drop waists with the full skirt. It was all about taffeta then with the big puffy sleeves, off the shoulder with the sweetheart neckline, drop waists and full skirts and the boys were wearing tails, canes and top hats.

She said after years of schooling and the final push to the year 12 finish line, a formal night was a chance for her daughter to celebrate the end of an era and an opportunity to splash out.

"We're in a different era, two parents do work and I think you can take those luxuries for your kids to let them have a bit of a splurge. It's a big year with lots of pressure and it's something to look forward to at the end of the year," she said.

Ipswich formal wear retailer Von's Gorgeous Gowns owner Von Harris said formal season lasted 12 months of the year with orders taken and adjustments made months out from the night.

"We're getting girls now, already, for next year's formals. It's an all-year event," she said.

Von Harris owner of Von's Gorgeous Gowns.
Von Harris owner of Von's Gorgeous Gowns. David Nielsen

Ms Harris said the drama was all worth to see girls leave the store with their dream dress.

"It's lovely, we like it. They are always happy, they've got something exciting going on in their lives. It's happy and exciting," she said.

Harry's formal suit style is all tied up

HIS Dad's classic black suit and gold bow tie ensemble paid no resemblance to Harry Gregory's school formal suit.

The Ipswich Grammar School captain steered clear of tradition when he chose his formal outfit earlier this year, even though he admitted his Dad Maioha's was "pretty stylish".

Maioha attended the Ipswich Grammar School formal in 1996, but as his son followed in his footsteps 20 years later, he said he saw little of his own fashion influence in Harry.

He said 20 years made big difference to formal suit styles.

"I think formal fashion is completely different, it was a lot more traditional," he said.

"You still get the odd people who wear the traditional black bow tie, black suit, black shoes and white shirt and that still looks quite stylish I think.

"Obviously the suits are a lot more fitted than they were 20 odd years ago but the majority of styles are totally different.

"Nowadays they have the flowery tie, different coloured suit and brown shoes. It was very traditional back in the day."

Harry said he went for the navy, tan and floral combination as a point of difference to the classic black formal suit.

"I have a few suits at home and navy was the only one I didn't have and I really liked tyring on a few. I really liked the navy, tan and floral combination," he said.

"That gold bow tie is a bit of an issue but at the time it is what was in. I'm sure my children will have a look at my floral tie and have a bit of a giggle. It's funny how things change."

Tie choices aside, Harry offered seasoned words of advice to other high school students preparing for their formal.

"Make sure you take into consideration what your partners wearing and be really accommodating to that," he said.

"Try and forget about everything else on that night. You'll always have an enjoyable night but it's that much better when you stop and relax."



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