Durban - The matric dance season is in full swing and there are plenty more proms coming up.

But how do you find the dress? Brights or pastels? Ballgown or fit-and-flair? And how do you look fantastic without bankrupting your parents?

Most girls look to the world’s red carpets for inspiration. Designer Hanrie Lues, who runs a hire store Just Prom, in Overport, Durban, says many matrics arrive clutching pictures of international celebrities.

“Everyone wants a couture gown on a tight budget,” says Lues. “It is our job to tailor-make the styles to suit the client’s personality. Copycat dresses are not my favourite. I prefer to work some of the client’s individuality into the gown, taking body and colouring into consideration.”

Lues says colours are soft this year – ivory, soft pastels, mint green and dusty gold.

“We’ve seen a revival of the princess ballgown, layers of net paired with a tight lace-up corset,” she says.

“Fit-and-flair floor-length gowns are popular, as are low backs and lace details.”

She gives this advice:

* Be realistic – designers are not plastic surgeons. The model from the website may look amazing in the low-back slinky dress but she is a size 00. Find the style that suits you.

* Know your assets and your flaws. If you are self-conscious about your love handles but have amazing legs, choose a corset that can streamline your figure, paired with a flowy skirt with a slit. Nothing transforms a figure like a properly fitted corset dress.

* Try on different styles and see what works.

* Ignore what friends are wearing; rather choose what flatters you.

Shaun Dugen-Majola of Nguni Shades says mesh, lace and crochet are hot numbers this year.

“Think big motifs, in large dimensions,” he says.

“Remember there is extra value in handcrafted items. It is very important to choose the right colours and designs to suit your figure and complexion, as well as the right fabric for the design you like.”

Quraisha Hassim of Jasmins in Overport emphasises comfort.

“Make sure your strapless gown is snug and secure – you don’t want to be tugging at it. Ensure trains are not cumbersome. Hide figure faults with boning, ruching and pleating across the bodice. Stay away from mermaid gowns if you want to hide your hips and opt for a bodice that ends just above the hips. Your dress should never overpower you or your personality. Make sure you try on dresses – choose a gown that makes you feel like a princess.”

 

Make-up

Make-up artist Candice MacNicol says make-up must emphasise your natural beauty, so focus on complementary colours for your eyes and contouring that suits the shape of your face.

“The colour of your make-up does not have to match your dress. Treat all the elements of your style as a whole, so your dress should work with your hair and the type of make-up look you’re going for. Keep the foundation to a minimum – if your make-up is applied properly, you won’t need a lot. Hire a professional or get a friend/mom/sister who knows how to apply make-up well to do it for you.

See Candice’s blog: http://Playplaycreations.-blogspot.com for more tips.

 

Hair

Caroline Michael of Innovation Hair Company says inspired by celebs on the red carpets, popular trends range from short pixie cuts to long tresses, and from metallic hair accessories to braided buns.

“The most familiar look is the twisted, curled or wavy hair alongside the longer tresses that are braided, and very textured buns.

“Two of my favourite red carpet looks were Olivia Wilde, with an effortless up-do, and Lupita Nyongo, with her gold hair accessory. Your accessory should complement you and your look, not the other way around.

* Don’t just cut a picture from a magazine and decide to copy that look. Rather, go into a salon with ideas and let your stylist work out a look that suits you and your dress.

* Choose a style that not only complements your dress but frames your face – for example, if a fringe suits your facial shape, make sure you incorporate it in your up-do.

* Tell your stylist about your earrings or any other accessories close to your face so they can be seen, if desired.

Check out the Facebook page at Innovation Hair & Academy.

 

Tips for guys

Kloof designer Karen Monk-Klijnstra says boys are unusually bold and original in their ideas.

“I have been lucky to design for and dress guys who are in tune with their style and are willing to push the envelope. Josh Engelbrecht, bassist with Knights of Insanity, wore a super-cool suit to the Kearsney College dance last year, inspired by the movie Nowhere Boy, based on the story of a young John Lennon.

“The idea is not to copy, but to awaken your creative juices and devise a plan that appeals to your senses,” she says. “Visiting a designer, young or experienced, is a great idea as it is essential they understand your direction. Be involved in the fabric selection and expect a few fittings. Magic happens at these and the success is largely dependent on this interaction.”

 

Accessories

“High heels with ankle straps are more comfortable when they have a slight platform; wedges are comfortable too,” says Lues. “If you are in doubt about your shoe colour, go nude.”

Hassim recommends big beautiful earrings and a stunning clutch bag – but stay away from jewellery and shoes that might catch or snag your dress.

Lindsay Ord, Daily News