Do's and Don’ts of Formal Season

By Sara Joe Wolansky

It’s mid-April, and do you know what that means? Yes, you will soon have to walk into your final exams, woefully unprepared for the horror that awaits you. And yes, you will wonder whether it’s too late to refine your competitive eating skills so you can make that your profession because Applied Math probably isn’t going to work out after all (sorry Mom and Dad.) But before that catastrophe, you get to experience formal season. Whether this is your first formal season or you just never really got the hang of it, here are some do’s and dont’s you should live by.


DO: Dress nicely. After all, this is a formal event, not an “I woke up at 10:15 for my 10:00 class, and I’m late even with Harvard Time” situation. Wear something that expresses you.

DON’T: Feel like you have to spend a lot of money on a brand new outfit. Everyone is there to have fun and no one is judging you based on what you’re wearing (Read: No one will remember what you wore).

DO: Wear something you’re comfortable jumping around in. You’re not going to have any fun if you can’t get your groove on.

DON’T: Wear anything you’ll start to regret once you’re surrounded by approximately 268 of your classmates in an enclosed area.


DO: Ask someone if you want to. Just text them or ask them next time you hang out. If they say no, you can still carry on in a normal friendship with that person (I know, shocker).

DON’T: Feel like by asking this person to formal, you are extending your hand in marriage. It’s completely acceptable to just take someone as a friend.

DO: Know that it’s okay to go by yourself or in a large group too. If you feel you’re an independent person who don’t need no date, you do you.

DON’T: Stage an elaborate ‘Promposal’ style situation to ask your date out if you don’t know he/she will say yes for sure. Save yourself potential embarrassment and be chill when you ask someone who’s response you are unsure of.


DO: Buy your tickets early (Especially Freshmen!) Tickets can run out quickly, and you don’t want to miss out on formal just because you procrastinated too hard.

DON’T: Pregame so hard you can’t even remember getting to the formal. It’s no fun if you’re the kid that passes out before you even start dancing.

DO: Look for policies concerning guests and/or deals because they might be different at every formal. Exhibit A: Kirkland gave out a free vintage Housing Day t-shirt with every ticket purchase last year.

DON’T: Pull a freshman class of 2017. If you do, Harvard might just decide it’s not worth it to have formals, and what would we do then?

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