Thursday 22 February 2018

Debs Dresses: A stylish debut

Fashion editor Bairbre Power strikes gold in her search for debs dresses, while Aishling Phelan recalls her own big night in 2009

Alan: Jacket, €360,
and trousers, €150, both
Austin Reed; dress shirt,
€93, Thomas Pink; patent
shoes, €115, Dune
Katelyn: Lilac beaded
dress, €320; shoes,
€149, Dune
Alan: Jacket, €360, and trousers, €150, both Austin Reed; dress shirt, €93, Thomas Pink; patent shoes, €115, Dune Katelyn: Lilac beaded dress, €320; shoes, €149, Dune

Aishling Phelan

Slinky silks, towering heels and floor-sweeping gowns -- it's not often we get to dress up for a red-carpet moment. The most important thing to remember when searching for that enviable debs dress is to choose one that defines your personal style and oozes absolute elegance, writes Aishling Phelan.

Debs fashion no longer adheres to the predictable cliché of princess-inspired prom dresses. Pastel ice-cream shades, shimmering metallics and ferocious animal prints will still allow you to dazzle on the dancefloor.

Young debutantes making the transition to university or working life have diverse attitudes to fashion. With styles stretching from vintage queen to gothic romance, there really is a fabulous frock for everyone.

Fashion boutiques provide alternative designs and intricate detail that can be virtually impossible to find on the high street. Award-winning boutique Rouge, tucked away on St Laurence Street in Drogheda, is home to vintage designer dresses and jewellery. You're sure to be seduced by the ultra-glam, diamanté-encrusted clutch bags.

Before venturing out on the dress hunt, it's vital you carry out some research into fashion boutiques in your area. If you dig deep, a gem can be found in the most unlikely of places. I found this out in 2009 when I set off, midsummer, to find myself a debs dress.

I was so desperate to find something different, I headed off to London. I longed to discover something elegantly different, and believed that I had to travel to one of the world's most prominent fashion capitals to find it there.

I was wrong and came back empty-handed.

A couple of weeks later, I entered crisis mode but, yet again, my mother came to my rescue. She dragged me to a small boutique, tucked away on a sleepy street in the heart of Drogheda. I went in full of pessimism, but that day taught me never to judge a book by its cover because, beyond the sea of Cinderella meringues in neon colours and serious diamanté overload, there hung my dream dress.

A sleek creation in purple silk, it ticked all the boxes and came in within budget at ¤300. I got my clutch at Wallis and I found my shoes at another local boutique.

I had travelled to one of the busiest fashion cities in the world but, much to my surprise and delight, I found it all in a small town.

I love the nude chiffon dress from The White Door in Exchequer Street and if I was making my debs all over again, I would definitely go for this look. While I like asymmetric dresses, the elegance of this nude dress caught my eye the minute Shannon arrived on-set wearing it for this shoot.

While some girls prefer wear-again short dresses, I think debs are all about dressing up and going for it. The red strapless dress from Arnotts was another favourite.

Alila on Dublin's Drury Street sources designer dresses from around the globe, ensuring no girl will be wearing the same dress as her peers.

If, like me, you feel you were born in the wrong era, you'll fall head over heels in love with the Grecian draping and old Hollywood-style glamour. It's the perfect boutique for those in search of something elegantly different, with prices ranging from a pocket-friendly €199 to €600.

One of the most important accessories on the night, apart from your date of course, is a piece of statement jewellery. Whether it's cuffs, bangles, luxurious chandelier earrings or a fabulous headpiece, don't overdo the accessories. Classic, simple pieces will allow your dress to have the limelight it deserves.

For a standout piece, a feathered cape paired with an elegant floor-length gown make the perfect Hollywood double act. These luxurious shoulder capes can be found in places such as Topshop and Miss Selfridge, so they won't break the bank.

Adding personal touches to your look by wearing sentimental family heirlooms can make the night even more special. I wore my late grandmother's engagement ring and, if you're lucky enough to own a piece of vintage treasure, what better night to unveil it than your debs.

When planning your look, remember just how much debs fashion has evolved, and that your personal style -- whether it's boho, rock 'n' roll or super feminine -- can be translated into the perfect debs dress.

All clothes and

accessories from Arnotts

Photography: James

Horan, Collins

Shoot stylist: Bairbre


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