How To Survive Formal In New Orleans


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Spring semester is usually hailed as the prime time for day parties (yaaas) and graduation (hard pass). But if you’re going to school in the southeast/Texas region, it really means one thing: New Orleans formal season is upon us. Giggity.

I’m not here to help you get a date. Honestly, if you’re already looking on the internet for ways to get boys to like you, you’re probably already too far gone. No, this is the article for the gal who already has secured her date to formal, but has no idea what to expect. Never fear ladies, mama bear is here. As a Nola formal veteran, I’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge in regard to surviving formal, and doing so while still looking damn fine.

Assuming you have your cooler and alcohol ready to rock, I’m going to take you through this, day by day. Follow me on the path to success.

Day 1: Friday

What to wear to formal can be a pretty complex undertaking, since over the course of a weekend, you’re in several different settings, with different outfits. For the bus ride there and back, you’re definitely going to want to be comfy. Most groups leave Friday afternoon, so a lot of people come straight from class. Lol jk, we skip class that day, duh. But bus rides are made for the big t-shirt squad. It’ll be cold on the bus 9 times of 10, so a jacket is a must. It also doubles as a pillow.

The number one rule of the bus ride is DO NOT LET ANYTHING YOU CARE ABOUT TOUCH THE FLOOR OF THE BUS. Nothing at all. It will be squeaky clean at the start, but an hour in and there’s alcohol everywhere, something will be sticky, and if you put anything down there, you will never want to touch it again. Put it in the overhead, trust me. On the bus ride there, everyone is drinking, but remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t get so shitty that you won’t be able to go out once you get there. Do your hair and makeup Friday before you leave, so you won’t take a thousand years to get ready and miss out on valuable Bourbon Street time.

As far as going out Friday night goes, it’s really personal preference. Some girls who are chill and can pull it off will hit Bourbon in whatever they wore on the bus, and no one cares. Some girls will change into something ~cuter~, like jeans, a cute top, and booties. Whatever. No one will care or say shit unless everyone is trying to go out and you’re still primping.

Day 2: Saturday

Saturday separates the lil bitches from the #Queens. Odds are, you’ll wake up hungover, and feeling pretty rough. This is where all of your dry shampoo skills will really be put to the test. Chances are, most of the other girls are going to be pretty, and many of them from other sororities just waiting to judge you. Don’t just say “fuck it” and hit breakfast and day drinking looking like shit. You’ll regret it when you look like a troll in all the pics and your date is questioning his life choices. Take a bit of time to fix yourself up while sipping on some Pedialyte (also: take Pedialyte). Everyone moves slow Saturday morning, so if you can drag yourself out of bed and clean up a bit, you won’t be rushed, and I promise, looking less like shit really does make you feel less like shit.

Outfit-wise, again, it’s up to you. But despite being from a school where the big t-shirt/norts/chacos combo is king, most girls, myself included, dress up just a bit. It’s chillier in February/March in Nola than you’d think, so usually boots, leggings, etc. are all okay. I also find that I’m less inclined to throw up when wearing a pair of Stuart Weitzman 5050’s.

I recommend you start drinking as soon as you can. Definitely hydrate, but at this point, it’s really just best to keep a constant buzz going. Don’t let that hangover catch up with you today or you’re done for. Don’t take a nap. That’s lame. You didn’t go a few states over to fucking nap! You came to tear shit up. Much like drinking on the bus, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keep in mind that the actual “formal” part of formal hasn’t even happened yet, so don’t be so wasted that you fuck up your hair and makeup (too bad) later. Also, eat. Eat everything. Formal calories don’t count.

New Orleans is one cool city, and if you want to go see touristy stuff other than Bourbon Street, that’s great. Most of the time, my date and his friends and their dates have been totally down to stroll around the French Quarter with a drink in hand. Definitely keep an open mind, and be adventurous. Get your palm read by that sketchy lady, go take a pic with the parrot guy, and definitely go into that strip club. I highly recommend Lipstixx, they’ve got some nice ladies who I get to see every year.

Day 2.5: Saturday Night

As far as Saturday night goes, everything is going to get ratchet. It just is. Wear a hot dress, whatever you feel your finest in. People, not just your date (I mean like random dudes EVERYWHERE) will be whistling at you and yelling about how fine you are. Embrace it, and don’t tell me it doesn’t make you feel like a damn goddess.

The first year I went on formal, I was so scared to wear heels because I was certain I’d fall on the crazy uneven streets. But honestly, in the years since, I’ve said, fuck it, I’ll fall but at least I’ll look fierce. And if by some miracle, I haven’t eaten it once. I’m pretty sure I walked through a crime scene last year though. Definitely narrowly avoided a pool of blood. But hey NOLA right?? Survive Saturday night, drink too much, maybe get laid, just live it up because you’ve made it this far.

Day 3: Sunday Morning

All that shit I said about getting up Saturday to look nice? Yeah, fuck that today. If you are physically capable of doing so, you’re a damn trooper, and that’s awesome. But odds are you’ll wake up and have to throw all your crap in your duffel in five minutes so you don’t miss the bus. At this point, the cumulative hangover will start to kill you. Let it. There will definitely be some douche on the bus trying to keep the party going. Hopefully he’ll pass out sooner rather than later.

Best of luck.


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