attire, military ball, military etiquette, military traditions, milspouse

Dress for Success: Military Ball Edition

thatcrazymilspouse Best Dressed Ball

Welcome to part 3 of My Best Military Ball Yet! Blog Series.  Since I know you’re all faithful readers, you’re up to date on what a military ball is and you’re familiar with the all the ceremonial traditions that take place at one!  If not, well… the links are right there!!  Get to clicking!!

Getting dressed for a military ball is both the most stressful and fun part for me.  I love looking for a gown, designing my over all look and seeing my husband’s face when he first lays eyes on me!

Before you go out shopping it is incredibly important to know what you’re looking for in a dress.  First of all, there is the dress code.  All military balls are formal affairs.  If you look up the regulations it states that it is a white tie event.  That’s as formal as it gets.  Your service member will be in their ASU’s (if they are in the Army) and if they are a field grade officer or higher they will be wearing dress mess.  That is that funny looking tuxedo like jacket with all the swirls and filigree.  Super formal.  So you should dress to match.  Floor length gowns are a must.  I’ve seen people try to do tea length and it just doesn’t work.  Cocktail dresses stick out like a sore thumb.  Those high-low dresses work as long as the long part is definitely floor length.  Floor length, floor length, floor length… Did I mention floor length?!

But what kind of floor length?  What colors?  The sky is the limit on how crazy you want to go!!  Silk, taffeta, embellishments, sequins are all fair game.  Yup, I said it… sequins.  You can wear whatever colors you want!!  I can’t tell you how often wives in my husband’s unit have asked me what the “right” color is.  There is no right color!!  The Army formal uniform is a brightly colored beast.  It’s pretty standard to want to pick a color that doesn’t clash.  There ends up being quite a few blue and red dresses at the ball.  Keep that in mind if you want to stand out!!  Though it is definitely the safe route if you don’t want to make any waves.  Really the only restricting parameter is dressing for your audience.  At the end of the day this is a work function for your spouse.  What impression do you want to give his (or her) boss and coworkers?  This is completely a personal decision, but keep it in mind.  That’s all I’m gunna say about that…

Now where to buy this dress that you now have in mind?  All of the major department stores have evening gown departments.  Another popular route seems to be the bridesmaids dress, so David’s Bridal and other wedding boutiques are worth a gander.  Unfortunately, gowns can tend to be expensive and often the best looking dresses are down right ludicrous!  That’s where my new favorite obsession comes in.  Rent the Runway has totally revolutionized how I dress shop  I have caviar tastes on a beer budget and there is no way that I could talk my husband into investing 500-1000 dollars every year on a dress.  And honestly, I have no business even thinking about it.  But with Rent the Runway, I can rent a beautiful gown usually worth over $600 for as low as $70!!  It’s amazing.  Plus, I don’t have to move a bunch of dresses every time we move because I’m never going to wear them again.  Another rental option is the on post rental service.  This is an extremely affordable option, typically as low as $20!  I know on Fort Campbell it is called the Backdoor Boutique but there is a version of it on every military post.  People donate their gowns to the ACS (Army Community Service) thrift shop and they organize them for rental.  The rental fee covers dry cleaning.  You can find some really great stuff in there.  I’ve personally donated Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang and Badgley Mischka gowns.  I’ve started my search there several times!!  I definitely recommend anything that helps keep the cost down as you may end up attending one of these events annually.  Or twice a year if you are in a unit that does battalion and brigade balls.  Add a random division ball in there and that is a ton of dresses!!

Next up accessories!!  I suggest investing in a pair of black shoes and a pair of silver shoes.  Make them simple, make them scrappy and have them be a reasonable heel.  Boom!  You now have shoes you can wear with every gown, at every ball, every year.  Same goes for evening clutches.  Every once in a while a dress is going to require a very specific type of purse.  Every other time a black or silver clutch will get the job done.  Once you make those initial investments you won’t have to buy shoes or a purse for a very long time!  As far as jewelry is concerned costume jewelry can go a long way!!  Statement jewelry has gotten so popular these days that its dang near impossible to go shopping anywhere without bumping into a display!  I’ve gotten stuff from Target, Claire’s (‘member that place?!) and even jewelry parties that other spouses have thrown like Lia Sophia and Stella & Dot!  Amazon is also another great option.  If you look around and don’t wait until the last minute I guarantee you can have your jewelry game on point no matter your budget!

Last but not least is hair and makeup.  You have two very obviously options: get a professional to do it or do it yourself.  If you can afford it, go the pro route!  It will add an extra little bit of special to your day.  Everyone likes a little bit of pampering.  It will also take the stress out of your day.  All you have to do is walk out of the salon and step into your gown.  Ain’t nothing wrong with that!!  If you are super confident in your ability to do your hair and makeup, then do it!!  Why spend the money if you know you can make yourself look like a million bucks!  Or maybe you’re just super picky and know that no one will do you up the way that you want it.  If you do decide to do everything yourself but you need some guidance, Pinterest is your friend!!  I’ve always done my own hair and makeup and I Pin the heck out of the looks I’m going after.  You can find amazing tutorials and inspiration on there.  Like everything else, don’t wait until the last minute.  You’ll end up frustrated and unhappy with your finished product.  Take your time, practice, prefect.  You’ll be happy that you did!!

As always, I hope I’ve helped!  Come back soon to learn how you can plan out hotels, transportation and childcare!!

What is the one “must” you learned from attending a military ball?  What else do you have questions about?  Let me know!!

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