With only a few short months to go to the most anticipated event of every Leaving Cert student’s year (no, not the repeat exams!), we decided to do a bit of research to find out what the hottest styles of 2016 are for Debs dresses. Last year we saw The Great Gatsby had a huge influence on the choice of Debs dresses, but what will this year bring us? If you are roped into dress shopping with your teen, make sure you have our essential tips in order to give the best fashion advice and stay up to date on the biggest trends. We spoke to Marian from Marian Gale’s in Donnybrook and Antoinette from Maynooth Dresses to get their take on what the most popular dress styles are this year.
According to Marian, the Grecian trend is showing no sign of going away and has become even more popular these last couple of years. In a lovely Oyster or Blush Pink colour, or something more daring like this colour, the draped style of these dresses are flattering on most body shapes; they cinch at the waist while the long, flowing skirts give the impression of slimmer hips and longer legs. They really embody the ‘all-rounder’ dress. They are light and comfortable but still glamorous and feminine. This dress is available from Maynooth dresses.
As with the cat-walks and popular party-wear, the cut-out trend has broken into Debs fashion as well. There are a lot of dresses out there with low cut backs, keyhole necklines, like this one from Marian Gale, and peek-a-boo waists. These dresses are great for the debutante who wishes to be edgy and on trend while staying modest and true to the occasion.
The most traditional trend over the years has been the corset style dress which laces up at the back. This type of dress oozes the classic ‘princess style’ dress that most girls dream of. When will you ever get to wear a dress like this again other than to your Debs?
The Oscars will always have an influence on Debs fashion with many young girls aspiring to emulate their favourite actress or the style of a particular movie (like I mentioned before, The Great Gatsby had a huge impact on last year's fashion) Marian told us that Jennifer Lawrence seems to be the most popular style icon with this year’s debutantes and we have noticed that dresses with the (in?)famous ‘Angelina Jolie leg’ slit are also very popular. This dress, from Maynooth dresses, with both the high cut slit and the metallic element, is right on trend this season.
Try to avoid the “Puffy skirt” style of dress as they have been out of favour with debutantes for the last few years. Although they’re great for pictures, they are NOT great for dancing and, remember, having fun is what the Debs is all about! The same goes for strapless dresses, says Antoinette, which are a nuisance for dancing and need to be adjusted throughout the night as they don’t have the same anchoring support as dresses with straps.
Cocktail dresses have also failed to break onto the scene. When it comes to the Debs, Marian informed us that all the dresses are long, long, long. Antoinette agrees and also shed some light on a great trend that may explain why the longer the dress is, the more versatile it is in the long run. Young debutantes are now recycling their former gladrags for less formal events. The dress can be transformed by making it into a shorter, cocktail dress that can be worn on a night out.
Red and Royal Blue are the colours that seem to dominate the Debs year after year with black being the most unpopular colour. Metallics like gold and silver, similar to the one above, are still on trend this year after being a smash hit with the Debs last year. Marian told us that eggplant is also a very popular colour this year and for Debs that are held in August/September, Ivory with a subtle shimmer is also a good choice.
Antoinette also commented that girls who lack confidence tend to go for the more conventional colours, she said “ remember that these girls are only seventeen and lack of confidence can play a huge role in their choice of dress”. She went on to say that the more confident girls might choose a less conventional colour like Mint Green or a deep Pink. Most girls opt for solid colour dresses with a little bit of glitter or jewels. Two-toned dresses are also picking up favour among debutantes but dresses with prints have not been popular at all.
Both Marian and Antoinette agreed that most girls take, on average, about fifteen minutes to decide on buying the dress and that parents rarely get a say on the matter! Choosing a Debs dress is something hugely personal and momentous for a teenage girl and they will rarely give up their dream dress for something as trivial as the price tag! Most dress stores accept deposits and keep a dress register to ensure that the same dress is not sold to another girl going to the same Debs so as to avoid any awkward ‘twin’ moments! Generally speaking, you can expect to pay between €200 and €400 for the perfect dress, depending on the style. Antoinette pointed out that sequined dresses are notably more expensive.
It can be hard to find the right balance between glamour and functionality for an event like the Debs. With the dramatically changing weather in Ireland, shawls are a convenient way to keep the shivers at bay while not taking away from the look of the dress. Many dresses have shawls included in their price.
Bags are also a big accessory and it is important to find the perfect bag that compliments the dress. Marian told us that bags like this knuckle-duster style clutch bag is a big seller for this year’s Debs as it is stylish yet practical. Marian also has a selection of these clutches at her store.
Jewellery can be hit and miss when it comes to the Debs. You have to be aware of the style of the dress before you splurge on the bling! For example, if the dress has a lot of sequins around the neckline, ditch the necklace and go for some nice, chandelier earrings or a bracelet. Remember, less is more.
We can’t forget that this is not all about the girls, this night is special for the boys too. Having said that, boys are known to be more laid back when it comes to fashion so this will be short. The Tuxedo is still all the rage for the Debs although there has been a rising trend in alternatives over the last couple of years. For the braver guys, well-tailored, three-piece suits are very fashionable and more teens are opting for blue or navy suits. Make sure if you’re thinking of diverging from the classic black tux to a more statement suit that you double check what colour dress your date is wearing. You should compliment each other instead of clashing colours!
These trends are based on the most popular dresses among teens for the Debs. Remember to stay true to your own unique style and personal taste. As Antoinette says, a lack of confidence can play a big factor in your choice but remember that this is your night to shine and look fabulous so you should pick a dress which makes YOU feel amazing and comfortable, NOT what everyone else thinks you should wear. Stay true to you!
We would like to say a huge thank you to Marian and Antoinette for being so helpful in answering our questions.