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10 Tips For An Awesome Formal

As the semester winds down and we begin to feel the stress of looming final presentations, all-encompassing 20-page papers and 4-hour examinations, we prepare to seek out the perfect cubicle in the library and buckle down.  But just when we’re about to get a head start on all of that end-of-term work, the formal festivities begin.  Buzz circulates about the weekend of each event, drama stirs when “he asks her?!,” everyone gossips about who’s taking who, and shopping trips are planned.  With all of the commotion surrounding formals, we’re inevitably lured out of the library so that we can take part.  There’s a lot that goes into that big night (whether it’s yours or his) and preparations vary, usually depending on how high-maintenance you tend to be, but enjoying the actual formal should be the main objective.  Her Campus is here to offer you a few things to keep in mind as you forget about your student-related responsibilities and enjoy your final hoorah of the semester…
 

1. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to find a date for your own formal.

Finding a date for your own formal can be a little competitive.  Get thinking early, or run the risk of having your crush snatched up by someone else in your sorority/group of friends.  But if you lack such foresight, there’s nothing bad about inviting someone who’s just a friend – this ensures no awkwardness, and just a night of pure outrageous fun.  If you’re up for a bold move, go for the hottie you’ve had your eye on all semester but don’t really know too well; prepare yourself for the best and worst nights of your life, because there’s no telling whether your party styles will be compatible once you’re dressed and dancing.
 
2. Resist the urge to accept an invitation to a formal just because everyone you know is going.

And it’s not just, like, some of the girls you’re friends with – it’s like, all of them, and there’s going to be nothing else to do that night, and like, you just NEED. TO. GO.  But when you vocalize such desperation, you run the risk of getting invited by the guy that no one else wants.  You know, he’s the one who already invited three other girls who said they were busy, but then somehow snagged another date (rude, or strategic?).  If you’re tempted to settle on a date just to be able to take part in the party, think twice about how much energy you’re willing to put forth trying to tolerate this guy.
 
3. Eat before you go. 

Chances are there won’t be an elegant crudité or hors d’oeuvres to go side-by-side with your cocktail of choice, so make sure you eat something before you start with the alcohol, if you choose to drink.  Formals are often hyped-up as the time to R-A-G-E, and alcohol is rarely in short supply.  To drink smartly and safely, eating a substantial meal beforehand is completely necessary so that you…
 
4. Don’t get too drunk. 

We’ve all seen it: that girl who can’t stand in her heels, let alone walk, and needs to be accompanied to the bathroom by people she barely even knows.  There’s no need to pound shots at the pregame in the interest in having a wild night – all that will lead to are a few bad trips and embarrassing, flailing dance moves.  That being said, keep track of how much you drink by taking breaks between alcoholic beverages with a glass of water.  Make sure you eat beforehand, and allow yourself to indulge in snacks that might be set out at the pregame.
 

5. Make sure your date doesn’t get too drunk. 
We’ve also all seen this: the belligerent a**hole who starts fights and punches holes in the walls that result in yet another fee.  Don’t allow your date to get to this point – don’t babysit, but keep an eye on how much he’s drinking.  If he’s prone to not-so-tame behavior, have a chat with him beforehand and mention that crazy and/or dangerous antics aren’t acceptable.  But then again, if you think there’s a possibility that he’ll start throwing drinks or starting fights, you should probably re-think bringing him as your date in the first place.
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6. Wear something comfortable and hot. 

Yes, comfort is key when you’re planning on dancing the night away, but at the same time, formals are referred to as such because they are, umm… formal?  Instead of the usual “going-out” attire that incorporates some sort of dellecotage-baring shirt and platform wedges (or flats, if your party setting lends itself to particularly sticky floors), we’re invited to go all out for formals.  Swap your usual digs for a clubby party dress, more dramatic makeup and borderline-ridiculous heels.  But before the night begins, make sure you’ll be able to walk, stand and dance in them without feeling like your feet are about to fall off.  Dresses that ride up (or fall down) and blister-inducing footwear aren’t conducive to formal night.  Choose an outfit that looks great, but feels good too.
 
7. Appreciate the DJ’s crappy mixes for what they are, and just dance.

It might feel like you’re attending your youngest cousin’s Bat Mitzvah, but because grandma and grandpa aren’t on the guest list, you can allow yourself to demonstrate some of your sweetest dance moves.  There’s no denying that teeny-bopper tunes are the best to sing along to (and don’t forget about the 80s/90s staples), and there’s no question you won’t be the only one with outrageous dance moves.


8. Control your PDA. 

DFMO’s (Dance Floor Make-Outs) are ubiquitous at formals, and it’s okay to indulge in a few kisses from time to time, but those sloppy grinding/make-out sessions are just not okay.  They call (negative) attention and tons of camera flashes, whether you’re lucid enough to realize it or not.
 
9. Bring a camera, or have a designated photographer, so that you can actually remember the night. 

Nothing’s worse than waking up the next day to find you have three pictures of you and a few girls lined up and two more of just you and your date, and your eyes are closed in one of them and you look awkward in the other.  Make sure you document the entire night in all its craziness – from the pre-game to the post-party.  Just make sure you keep the sloppy pics off of Facebook.
 
10. Figure out a flattering picture-pose beforehand, so that you can manage to actually look good in these pictures. 

Come on, we obviously all want a new profile picture to come out of these events.  The second you see someone reach for a camera, you should know which side you want to be on, which way your hair should fall, and precisely how bent one knee should be.  A few minutes in the mirror should be all you need to figure it out.  No one will know you worked on it until you change your profile picture approximately 3 minutes after the photo has been added to Facebook.
 
11. ONLY hook up with your own date. 

This one should be obvious, but for some reason, this rule is not always obeyed.  If halfway through the formal you and a guy realize that your dates might be “better off” without you and decide to go get lost yourselves, prepare for a dramatic showdown.  At least wait it out for one night and avoid unnecessary drama over an unwarranted hookup.
 
While preparing for a formal can be exciting/stressful depending on how you approach it, the whole idea is, of course, to just have fun with your friends.  Formals are the best way to end the semester by getting our minds off of papers and tests – after all, partying tends to be thing that college students, above all, do best.  The Facebook albums don’t hurt much either when we’re cooped up in the stacks with nothing better to do than reflect on who wore what, who went with him, and who had the worst date ever.

Lauren Kaplan is a senior majoring in English and Dance at Emory University. She is originally from New Jersey, and has loved living in Atlanta for the past three years. Lauren thinks most fondly of her two favorite places - her childhood camp, Camp Wayne for Girls, and Margate on the Jersey shore - from which she has derived a love of friends, family, and the beach.
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