A survey of high schools students’ formal expenses reveals the eye-watering amount teens are willing to spend to ensure a picture-perfect night.
A survey of high schools students’ formal expenses reveals the eye-watering amount teens are willing to spend to ensure a picture-perfect night.

Students’ staggering formal spending spree

THERE is no denying the tradition of a high school formal is a watershed moment in the life of a young adult but the perfect night can often come with an eye-watering price tag.

A survey of this year's Cairns State High School formal expenses reveals just how far students are prepared to go to ensure a picture-perfect night to remember.

The maximum spend by a female student attending last week's formal was a staggering $4090.

The bill was broken down into makeup/tan, hair, nails, accessories, transport and other costs such as hotel bills, photos and taxis.

Lending Luxury store owner Tiffany Wilson with her formal dresses. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Lending Luxury store owner Tiffany Wilson with her formal dresses. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN


The average female spend for the class of 2020 was $1056.

Though lagging behind the ladies, blokes didn't hold back on their school formal spending.

The top spend this year for a male student equalled $1673; the average of $863 was only a little behind the ladies.

Lending Luxury store owner Tiffany Wilson said coronavirus travel restrictions and delays in offshore formal gown deliveries meant her formal wear hire business had enjoyed a run of good trade.

"Having garments ready to go has proved to be a winner," she said. "Because a lot of these labels come from overseas, a lot of girls have not got their gowns."

Ms Wilson said students' online presence and making Instagrammable moments was a huge driver behind end-of-year formal spending.

"It's something they really look forward to and as years have gone on, social media has become more important," she said.

CHECK OUT THE CAIRNS STATE HIGH SCHOOL FORMAL MEGA GALLERY

"Thanks to social media, it's all about that total look and girls save their money and they spend it on formal night.

"They invest so much."

The average spend on a dress in 2020 was $433 and suit spending on average was $386.

From Cairns State High School alone, an estimated $290,000 has been injected into the Cairns economy, almost double the spend recorded in 2015 when the total outlay equated to $161,000.

A total of 45 females and 15 males took part in the survey conducted by Cairns State High School students and staff Jeannette Fisher, Larina Lee, Lynette Cunnington, Firat Vaux Lobut, Nancy Ferguson and Eva Chang.

Despite a record spend in 2020, Ms Wilson said the COVID-19 economic downturn meant more students than usual were choosing keep formal costs down by renting gear for their big night.

"I offer gown hire for a fraction (of the sale) price, so it takes the pressure off families," she said.

Originally published as Cairns students' staggering formal spending spree


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