I remember the feeling. Year 12, staying up long after I should have been asleep. Did I have dozens of tests to study for and assignments to get done? Well, yes, but that wasn't what was keeping me up. No, instead I was spending hour after hour on the internet, in search of a formal dress.
It can be a stressful task, and you can spend hours on the internet and feel like you've gotten nowhere. The stress increases if, like me, you don't have heaps of money, and yet all the dresses you like are at least $500. So what can you do?
First of all I would suggest that you check out the After Dark Boutique in Highgate. They have absolutely beautiful, quality formal dresses. I'd be very surprised if you didn't find something there that you thought was perfect.
The problem is, most of the dresses are really expensive. I have no doubt that they'd be worth every cent you paid for them, but not everyone has $1000 to spend on their formal dress. Some dresses are more affordable though, $300 and up, or, even better, you may be lucky enough to find a really great dress that's on sale, so it's definitely worth having a look at After Dark Boutique even if you don't have a lot to spend.
Another place to try is Hills in Hollywood, located in Morphett Vale. If that's a long way for you to travel, they also stock some of their gowns at Brides by the Park on the edge of Hindmarsh Square in the city. Hills in Hollywood has a massive range of formal dresses, and is a particularly good place to look if you're after one of those ball gowns which is fitted at the top with a really puffy skirt.
Hills in Hollywood
Most of the dresses range from $400 to $600, and have a beautiful quality and finish. If you only have half that amount to spend, see what's on sale.
If you've tried both of these and have found nothing within your price range, you can try shops such as Tea Rose (located in Elizabeth, Arndale and Colonnades), and Copycat in Rundle Mall. Although I found that some of the dresses lacked the wow factor and finish off the more expensive stores, there are some really nice ones available for as little as $150. Make sure you get in early, because Tea Rose and Copycat are popular and often there are two or three dresses that you try on and love, only to find that they've already been bought by someone else at your school.
Finally, I recommend Gorgeous Bridal Gowns and Fashions, located on Payneham Road in St Peters.
This is the place to go if you're looking for something unique. Although the finish is not quite as good as the really expensive stores, the dresses still look great and the cost is affordable, generally no more than $450.
I know there's a fabulous jewell-incrusted cherry red George Gross dress for sale at The Red Geranium Thrift Shop, 486 Goodwood Road, Cumberland Park. Been there for ages so they've brought price down to $30 (was $900 or something)
Last year I bought my formal dress from Lavender Bridal & Formal House on 130 Payneham Road, Stepney. They have very nice styles and the finishing were beautiful. Although a little bit more expensive they do offer made to measure.