How to nail your Grad Ball outfit, according to a Cosmo fashion editor


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Summer balls are when you make or break your sartorial persona for the year.

You can have your mid-noughties teen romcom moment, stepping out of stash and leggings for the first time all year and suddenly becoming the beauty Freddie Prinze Jr never knew you were, or you can flop and end up throwing up on your grass-stained tux by 9pm.

You want to get it right, you want to stand out, you want to nail it. You need an expert.

We spoke to Cosmopolitan’s Senior Fashion Editor Sairey Stemp to tell us how to look fashion forward and fierce.



The girls

It’s a tough time for you. You want to look fitter than all your mates, but you also don’t want to be the girl who takes herself too seriously and pisses off all her mates.


The options are endless, and intimidating. Break it down so it seems more manageable, and do not panic.


Sairey says: “There is a lot more choice out there now and the lines are less blurred, high street doesn’t cost a fortune.

“It’s all about the fabric and wearing something you feel comfortable in.”

And about not showing up in the same ASOS classic as all of your course mates.

summer ball bex

Sairey recommends opting for long, flowing maxi dresses which can look really “elegant”. Balls are one of the only times of year you can go all out, so embrace it, and throw the bodycon away.


Stay safe and think summer vibes with florals and pastel colours – and if you’re stuck “you can never go wrong with a strapless bustier”.

And don’t feel bad about splashing out. Sairey advises: “It’s important to get out there and try things on and if you’re going to spend a lot of money make sure it’s a summer dress that you can wear again. Something you can wear to Grad Ball with your hair up and heels on but then can be worn with hair down and flats for a family party or wedding is ideal.”



But act with caution. She adds: “Always obey the rules though. Don’t go super short and the most important thing is that you wear something that suits your personal style so you feel comfortable and can look your best.”


You’ve probably seen it in your nightmares. You’re walking to the bar, looking on point, feeling fresh, when all of a sudden you take a tumble and you’re on your arse. Beware the dangerous shoe.

Sairey advises: “Whatever you do, don’t wear brand new shoes. You’re going to be on your feet a lot and the last thing you want is blisters or your shoes hurting.


“Don’t leave it to the last minute to find a pair and wear shoes you feel comfortable in. If you’re wearing heels make sure they’re worn in.” Just polish them up or something.

Hair and make up

It’s easy to go mad with the hairspray and contouring, but put down the can and step away.

Fashion guru Sairey says “a nice berry or red lip” is a lot better, “but don’t go too heavy on the eyes”.

“A bronzer or a good tinted moisturiser can give you a nice summery glow, and you can extend it to the shoulders and chest too if you’re wearing a strapless dress.

“Updo’s look really good when you’re wearing a nice long flowy dress, but again it’s down to personal style and what you feel comfortable with.”



Plus you don’t need anyone else to hold your hair back if and when you inevitably throw up.

The boys

You’ve got a much easier ride than girls, apparently.


Sairey tells us: “For the boys it’s much simpler and easier to get it right. You can’t go wrong with a black tie suit and a nice satin lapel.

“Black trousers, an evening dress shirt and bow tie with a nice blazer that’s fitted so it’s not too big and you feel good is key. Velvet blazers in jewel colours like emerald or sapphire can look really good this time of year.”


So don’t fuck it up, and be gracious, because your fashion is basically background noise.

“At the end of the day everyone will be so absorbed in what they’re wearing they won’t pay that much attention to what you’re wearing.”