Debutante

For other uses, see Debutante (disambiguation).
Traditional Ukrainian American debutante ball at Chicago's Palmer House Hotel.

A debutante (UK /ˌdɛbjuːˈtɑːnt/, /ˌdeɪbjuːˈtɑːnt/) or deb (from the French débutante, "female beginner") is a girl or young woman of an aristocratic or upper-class family who has reached maturity and, as a new adult, comes out into society at a formal "debut". Originally, the term meant the woman was old enough to be married, and part of the purpose of her coming out was to display her to eligible bachelors and their families with a view to marriage within a select circle.

Australia

Harrison Fisher illustration, from The Princess Elopes by Harold MacGrath

In Australia, débutante balls (or colloquially "deb balls") are usually organised by high schools, church groups, or service clubs such as Lions or Rotary. The girls who take part are in either Year 10, 11 or 12 at high school (i.e. aged between 16 and 18), and the event is often used as a fund-raiser for local charities.

The debutante girl wears a white dress similar to a wedding dress. However, the dress does not come with a train on the skirt, and the debutante does not wear a veil. The boy wears a tuxedo or other formal dress suit.

It is customary for the female to ask a male to the débutante ball, with males not being able to "do the deb" unless they are asked. The débutantes and their respective squires who are partaking in the official proceedings must learn how to ballroom dance. Débutante balls are almost always held in a reception centre, the function room of a sporting or other community organisation venue e.g. RSL club, or ballroom. Usually they are held late in the year and consist of dinner, dancing, and speeches.