SEARCHING for second-hand gems and sale items, year 12 students are cutting costs for their formal outfits.
Lambton High graduates Ellie Steele and Oliver Raymond have been working casual jobs to save their coins in the lead up for their formal at Newcastle City Hall on November 15.
"I've been saving up most of the year for this, you don't earn much when you're in year 12 and school is the priority," Ms Steele said.
Snatching up a dress for $100 and shoes for $40, her biggest cost of the event was having her hair styled and her makeup applied.
"The most expensive part is getting my hair and makeup done for $230," the 18 year-old said.
Mr Raymond, 18, was fortunate to pick up a pre-loved suit for just $60 from a family friend.
"I think I've done pretty well for myself in terms of spending, I found this whole suit with the dress shirt, the pants and blazer for $60 and shoes I can get for $40," he said.
He said second-hand shopping was ideal in terms of cost and sustainability.
"I just think in year 10 you buy and you do the same thing to attend a formal and you do it again in year 12, so try even it out a bit in terms of cost and sustainability," he said.
On top of their formal attire, the students also had to fork out $87 for a ticket to the event.
"But that includes entry to the hall, our dinner, and we're getting a photo booth," Ms Steele said.
"And bottomless soft drinks," Mr Raymond added.
With daunting formal costs the students advice to future formal attendees was to shop sale items and second-hand items.
"Look for sales, look a couple months in advance because a lot of past formal dresses are on Facebook Marketplace," Ms Steele said.
"Some people only wear their dress once so, there's no point spending a bunch of money on something you're only going to use once. Recycle and reuse," she said.
"There's heaps of options around Newcastle, you can find some cool arrangements around those op shops in the Wickham area," Mr Raymond said.
Salvos Stores Hamilton boutique operator Tara Weir said she has seen a constant flow of formal dresses, quick to be snatched from their racks.
"We have no brand dresses that go out on our black racks and designer stuff, the fancy brands which come into our Boutique Room," she said.
"We get a lot of dresses in every colour and they range from eight to fifteen bucks and others start from $16 in our boutique area."
She said with jewellery, shoes and bags, most people could find a full outfit for under $50 through op shopping.
"There's a lot of variety here, you can definitely find a gem in here," she said.