Debutante days – part 1.

Deb Post, part 1

A few of you would have been aware that Acerules is making her Debut this year, 2019. She is now almost 17, some of you saw her photos in her amazing pink 16 th birthday ballgown.


I thought you’d like to see her in her white debutante dress too. Debutante balls are still practised in Australia, and like many other names here, this one is shortened, to deb.

Even small country towns often put one on. The English Queen (who still reigns over us) stopped accepting girls being presented to her many years ago, so usually a local dignatory is chosen to sit up in the seat of honour. The ball may be put on by a school or community group. It may be called a presentation ball, but it’s still a deb. Usually, in Australia, the girls wear white ball gowns, no colour allowed , often with long white gloves, and the boys wear identical formal suits. The institution may supply matching flowers for the kids. These are allowed to have colour. (The parents foot the bill for all of it of course, training, flowers, photos, etc., and we have to pay tickets to the ball for us and any guests. )

There is dancing, for which the kids have been trained by a specialist teacher, and food, usually, plus local additions that may be peculiar to the cultural group. Parents are usually drawn into it on the night, being required to formally dance with their offspring (usually of the opposite sex), give a speech, or fathers may present their girl to her male partner. I must say I’ve only discovered that last one in America. It looks very weddingy to me. I havn’t informed hubby of this requirement yet, he is extremely shy, so we didn’t have any speeches at our wedding.

The preparation.
Mothers can often be a driving force behind their daughter “making her deb”. It may be a family tradition, they may want their child to learn the deportment and etiquette in the deb training sessions, they think their girl is a princess so why not, they wish their child would get dressed up more often, and/or, as in my case, they didn’t make their debut, and slightly wish they did.

So I have been very involved in the preparations for this deb, I started talking to Acerules about it a couple of years ago. The most important matter to me, was would she please wear my mother’s 1960s wedding crown? (A full-circle tiara.) I wore it also, to my first wedding. Acerules wants a medieval wedding, when that happens, and the crown isn’t in keeping with that style. She said, yes, she would wear it to the deb. It will be almost as if my mother, that died when I was pregnant with Ace, will be present on the night. You can see in this shot, that I had to remove my (triple tier) veil.

1960s tiara. Copyright Runningonempty

The thing about tiaras on Acerules, as we found at her First Communion, when I tried to put a child’s full circlet tiara on her, is that her normally straight hair repels crowns. Even with pins, they slide off. So she would have to wear a bun on top of her head, to keep Mum’s crown on, with the remaining hair either up, or down. We have scoured library books and the Internet, for ideas.

Last year, Ace looked at videos of top designers’ latest fashion parades, to identify what style of white ballgown she would like. I started scouring the pages of Ebay in mid 2018 and eventually I found a great bargain in her preferred style, from a seller in Australia. It was new without tags, I think. We had thought we would have to embellish my second wedding gown, but that proved not to be necessary.

When the dress came, it was way too long, and big in the bodice, so we had it altered by Katja. Alot of skirt fabric was cut off, which I had Katja sew into appliqués on a white “pashmina” wrap I bought (from Ebay). After all, you never know what the weather will do. My mother had a white fur jacket that I remember wearing once to a function, I could have procured that from Dad, but Acerules is a real animal lover and I can’t see her wearing real fur.

Acerules tried on my white Italian leather shoes, with rhinestones down the backs of the heels , from my first wedding, and they fit. They were expensive back then. They’d been kept in their original box all these years, I bought them in Melbourne back in the day. Another style of flatter shoe in a store in a city 100 km from here, that we were interested in, sold out. I was concerned that my (stiletto) shoes would rip her delicate skirt, so the shoe seller sold us clear heel protectors designed to stop stilettos sinking into lawns.

Acerules didn’t want to wear my diamonds; or pearls, as debs often do. Being a details nut, I scoured sites for jewellery that would match both the dress, and the vintage crown. Again this led me back to the vintage sellers on Ebay. This can be educational, as I learned about different makers. Ace looked at the different options, and selected this, American made Krementz vintage costume necklace, I googled it for its history:

I was pleased to read that it was a good quality, long running firm in it’s heyday.
I then commenced looking for earrings to go with it , the dress and the crown and found two pairs. I even found a bracelet, white watch and rings, all cheap. (She will get those for her birthday). It was exciting when they all arrived, even the cat was interested:

The sellers of the necklace were very nice. I’ve met many like that on Ebay. They were excited too about Acerules’ deb.
There is also an alternative, drippy pair of earrings. Ace declined wearing a brooch. She also wouldn’t let me hand bead the gown, liking it just as it came.
As an ex ballet Mum, I’ve done plenty of that.

Oh, and I had my first engagement , diamond ring cut off, (it was very stuck, probably dangerously so,) and repaired at a jeweller, for her to wear for the occasion, but she doesn’t know yet. The claws were also fixed on the heart shaped diamond. It was very expensive to get done, I was surprised. I’m paying it off by layby. The price of gold is through the roof, I suppose from the stock market crash.

Even with them taking it up in size, I still couldn’t put it back on. (The marks are still there nearly 2 months later.) The end of an era. I had worn it on my left hand for eleven years, then on my right hand for longer than that. It was custom made from 18 carat yellow gold in an antique style for my first husband and I , in the same jewellery wholesale workshop that my Aunt had worked at years before, above a jeweller in Bourke st Mall Melbourne and took him several months to pay off. I didn’t want a diamond ring from my second husband, we used our fancy gold Celtic wedding rings for both engagement and wedding. Hubby has gone through many rings, which have got less and less precious, since he breaks them. Now I buy steel!

Well, we are now waiting for more information from the school after the Summer vacation ends. Meanwhile Ace is enjoying the local swimming pool (at right). We are having heat waves in Australia.

Acerules at right. Copyright Runningonempty.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Great article by Emily post 1922


  1. Cath that is such a sweet tradition. I love that you are using your mother’s things for your daughter and that there is that special connection. My mom dies when I was 19 and my kids never got to know her either.

    Liked by 1 person

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