Sarah Military Ball

Military Ball Fashion and Etiquette

Thank you to our guest blogger, Sarah Peachey!

Across all military branches, there is one event that gets the ladies especially excited — The Military Ball. Whether it’s the chance to wear a beautiful gown, pick out sparkly jewelry or enjoy an evening of tradition, most military spouses and significant others are excited for Cinderella’s Ball (or so to speak). ball-gown

I’ve been to four balls thus far. Two were in college and two were since my husband has been active duty. He’s an Army man, so I can really only speak to how the Army functions, but bear with me. These tips can work for anyone.

Earlier this year, at a post-deployment ball, I spotted “That Girl.” You may know what I’m talking about because there’s at least one at every function. This “That Girl” was wearing six-inch heels (no exaggeration) and with every other step, she was twisting an ankle. I thought she would be heading home barefoot and with a cast by the end of the evening based on the number of tumbles she took. Her dress was sparkly (not bad) and only just covered her booty (very bad, especially when dancing). And her bosom was showing in almost all its glory.

I always feel for “That Girl” because her date probably didn’t tell her what she should wear. She instead took her fashion sense from Roxy LeBlanc from “Army Wives” fame. You know, before the makeover. And we all know how accurate that television show is.

So how do you avoid being “That Girl?” Here are some do’s and don’ts I’ve come up with over the years.

  1. Do pay attention to the uniform your service member is wearing and base that on your own attire. If the service member is wearing a formal uniform, then you should be wearing formal attire. There is a significant debate amongst military spouses about what formal female attire really is. Does it mean floor length gowns? Does it mean you must have straps? It depends where you’re getting your information. Formal used to mean floor-length gowns, but that doesn’t really stand anymore. Feel free to wear a full-length gown, but don’t feel obligated. Something shorter that falls at the knee or below the knee is still formal (think tea-length dresses like what were popular in the 1950s). Just don’t go any higher than the knee — that’s semi-formal. For the male spouses, you’re easy. Make sure you’re in a tuxedo with a black tie.
  2. Don’t show too much skin. Really think about the dresses when you have them on. Does it show too much? If it’s showing some cleavage, which is OK, be sure your back is covered and your dress is long. If you’re showing some leg either with a slit or with a shorter dress, cover up the cleavage and the back. If you’re showing your back, don’t show your cleavage (that includes butt cleavage. Remember: Crack kills) and keep the dress long without a slit. If you show too much, no matter how long your dress is, it takes away from the formality. Don’t wear anything with cutouts on the side. You may have a great body, but it makes you look too young and, again, shows too much skin.
  3. Don’t get a dress that’s too tight. I’m all for wearing fitted gowns — that’s my style and I normally avoid draped gowns. There, however, is a difference between fitted and tight. I can dance, sit down and move in a fitted gown. Something tight will restrict you from doing any of that. You also don’t want people to see bulging seams. When trying on dresses, make sure you sit and move in them. If it’s too tight and the size you normally wear, go up a size. No one knows what size it is, but everyone will know if a dress is too tight.
  4. Do avoid prom style dresses. There are a few problems with buying dresses meant for a prom. First, it won’t fit you if you’re curvy or womanly. Junior’s dresses simply aren’t designed for curvy bodies unless you look in plus size, but then it may not fit you in other areas. Second, you’ll look like you’re at the wrong event. Prom dresses make any woman look too young, no matter how great her body. You can find great dresses in formal sections of department stores, but stay away from the Junior’s department.
  5. Do experiment with color. Too often at balls you see everyone in black dresses. Black is not the only formal color — you can wear almost anything. Some people will say that muted colors are best, but it’s not a rule within any branch. I’ve seen every color of the rainbow. As long as the dress fits, doesn’t show too much skin and is formal, you’re in the clear. I do recommend jewel tones since they work with almost every uniform out there. I don’t like to clash.
  6. Do rent dresses or buy them on sale. There’s really no reason to shell out hundreds of dollars for a dress. You can buy great dresses off sale racks, at consignment shops or in thrift stores. Since they’re normally only worn for one night, why spend tons of money? Used dresses are in just as good of shape as new dresses. If you don’t want to wear something secondhand and would love a designer dress, try out Rent the Runway ( You can choose from more than 160 designers available for rent during your needed time frame to get a dress you love for 10-15% of the retail price. You have to “order” your dress about a week in advance and you’ll receive it 4-8 days before the event. You only get it for a few days, so don’t forget to return it! They send two sizes, just in case, and you can return it in your mailbox. You don’t even have to dry clean it! Rent the Runway is offering a 25% discount off the rental price to military spouses. Just use the code MILITARY25when checking out. Pass it on to your friends!
  7. Don’t worry about using the correct silverware. Really, the service members are used to eating in much less formal settings, so they probably don’t use the correct silverware themselves. Most tables are set simply, but I’ve been to some more formal balls where there is a lot more silverware. Just pick one and use it. No one is going to judge you.
  8. Do pay attention during the traditional areas of the event. This is the most important takeaway for proper Ball etiquette. The traditional things are the main event, so pay attention. Stand and follow the flag when it comes in, put your hand over your heart for the National Anthem, stand and read the correct responses for toasts. If you aren’t sure how to do some things, ask someone at your table or simply remain quiet during the toasts.
  9. Do pay attention to how much you drink (if you’re of age). If you want to drink at the event, feel free! Just monitor how much you’re taking in. With dim lights and loud music toward the end of the night, you may not realize you’re that drunk. Space out each drink with a glass or bottle of water. You can enjoy drinking, but including water will prevent a hangover and embarrassing mistakes. If you simply must have some of the grog (the combination of various types of alcohol that tells the unit’s history), only have a small amount. I’ve seen people drink the grog all evening and they pay for it in the morning. Or, like our most recent ball, the tumble into the grog table and almost put the whole thing on the floor. People took photos, so you can imagine the embarrassment the next morning.
  10.  Don’t sneak drinks if you’re underage. That’s pretty self-explanatory. If you’re caught, you could potentially shut down the bar access for everyone.
  11. Do ask questions if you don’t understand something. Every branch is different, every branch within each branch is different, and every unit is different. They don’t all have the same level of formality. I’ve been to balls with a receiving line (we’ll get to that next) and without one. If you want to find out more, just ask a friend who has been a part of the unit and attended a function before.
  12. Do understand how a receiving line works. Here’s how the receiving line works (remember, my husband’s Army, so I’ll use their lingo. Just insert the proper branch terms yourself). The Squadron/Battalion commander, the Command Sergeant Major, their spouses and any dignitaries and their spouses stand in a line at the entrance to the ballroom. A soldier (let’s call him Person A) stands at the beginning of the line. All the guests and their spouses line up with your service member providing both your name and his own to Person A. The spouse leads the way down the receiving line ahead of the service member. Person A, like in “Whisper down the Lane,” will pass your name down the line, so your names are only given to Person A. You will shake each person’s hand down the line making very brief small talk. Don’t begin any conversations at this time because there are far too many people to go through the line. Save any discussions for later. If you’re worried about doing it wrong, try to stand further back in the line so you can watch others go through. That’s what I did at my first ball. But trust me, it’s simple.
  13.  Do remember that you’re representing your service member. For that reason, try to rein in your behavior. Remember, your service member still has a job to do and must continue formalities through the evening. Don’t be outlandishly drunk. Don’t dance inappropriately.
  14.  Have fun! Enjoy your time there and enjoy seeing your spouse dressed up in his (or her) fancy uniform. Take pictures, absorb the traditions of the evening, laugh and dance your heart out.

* * *

Sarah Peachey is a 20-something journalist from the northeast, living in the Southwest near Fort Huachuca, AZ with her husband, two furbabies and infant daughter. She began a career in journalism with The Fort Polk Guardian, an installation newspaper, winning two state awards for her work, and now freelances for military spouse support sites. She is an active blogger on MilitaryOneClick and her blog, “Stetsons, Spurs and Stilettos.” She enjoys spending her days on the shooting range or at home with a good book. She considers herself a bookworm, pianist, wine enthusiast and a


To read more of Sarah’s fabulous blogs, click here.



  1. this is my first military ball. am very nervous an have no idea wat to expect. my partner keeps telling me not to worry as il fit in perfectly. just be urself he keeps saying xx

    1. Hi Jacqui,
      He is absolutely correct! Have fun getting dressed up. Enjoy every minute. Pay close attention as there is a lot of rich tradition that occurs at the Navy Ball. Lastly, be yourself and dance the night away with your man!

  2. Attending my first ball in December! I have a large tattoo only back, should I go with something that coves the majority of it? Don’t want DH to be talked about because of my tattoo. I’m exreamly nervous and know no one to get any advice from! This has really helped me! Thank you so much!!

    1. Hey Juanita,
      Have you discussed this with your husband? If your husband isn’t concerned, let it show. I think you should dress however you feel comfortable. You certainly don’t have to cover it up. I hope this helps.
      Have fun at the party,

    2. You do not need to cover it up. If anything let it show. Tattoos are a part of the military culture and you will not look trashy or out of place in the slightest.

  3. I am so nervous about the ball coming up in novmber. My boyfriend told me not to worry but i am nervous. Is there any tips you could give me????

    1. Hey Brianna,

      Don’t be nervous. You are going to have a great time! I would recommend paying close attention during the dinner and to the speaker. The Marine Corps Ball is rich in tradition. You won’t want to miss it. It is pretty impressive. Other than that, just be yourself and enjoy!

      Have a great night,

      Have a blast,
      – See more at:

  4. I’ve been invited to my friend (of 4yrs) sqn army functions,ive never been to one before and not sure if its a ball,all hes said is wear matching dress and heels,as he is wearing army related gear,he’s told me not to stress but im not sure how to recact

    1. Hey X.S.,

      I would ask your buddy to specify if the event is “formal” or “cocktail” attire. Once you get that information, we can go from there.


  5. nov. 22, 2013 will be my very 1st ball with my husband! i have no idea what to expect and how to behave or what is acceptable dancing haha HELP!!!

    1. Hey Mel,

      You are going to have a great time! Absolutely dance! Dance your hiney off if you want to. Pay close attention during the dinner. The Marine Corps Ball is rich in tradition. You won’t want to miss it.

      Have a blast,

  6. I have to attend a ball wid my boyfriend in June AND I am already nervous – what to wear, how to mix in n stuff. I surely don’t wanna embarrass him in front of all the seniors. the article was a great help. perfectly what I was looking for.
    thanx a ton :)

  7. My husband decided last min (literally last nite) that we will be attending a formal ball next weekend (which doesn’t give me a lot of time to find a dress). I’ve attended his company’s dinner the past 3yrs (completely different than this event), is it ok to wear the same dress to this ball that I wore to the dinner 3yrs ago?

    1. Hi Shalonda,

      Absolutely, you can wear the same dress! I always recycle my dresses. 3 years is more than enough time.

      Have fun,

  8. Hey, I am attending an army ball in a week! The person I’m going with is a major in the army. Will I be in the receiving line??

    1. Hey Desiree,

      Good question. I have not been to an Army Ball. We are in the Navy and I have never been to a ball with a receiving line. When you find out this weekend, will you let me know?

      Thank you,

    2. Desiree,

      For Army functions, the receiving line normally consists of the top commander, Command Sergeant Major, their spouses and any other dignitaries or special guests.

  9. Hi there,

    I just wanted to thank you so much for writing this article! This is exactly what I needed! I’m not girly, I don’t do the whole dress up thing and I don’t have the money to shell out and buy a new dress so I was EXTREMELY NERVOUS and you just helped calm that a bit :) Thank you so much! I can now be maybe a little excited for tomorrow :)

  10. I too have my first military ball coming up and I’m having trouble figuring out what would be appropriate to wear. I really like this dress, but the article says it is too short, and I don’t want to seem trashy or underdressed.

    Would something like this be acceptable? I’m 19 by the way.
    Any help is appreciated!

    1. Hello Savannah,
      I think the dress is adorable especially since you are so young :). I would ask your date how formal his particular ball is. If the ball attire is “formal”, you should probably go with a longer dress. If “cocktail” attire is appropriate, it is perfect!
      I hope this helps!
      Have fun at the ball,

  11. I think it looks cute! But there are some down sides. Whenever a girl wears a dress too short at my military ball all the girls tend to ostracize her or look down at her the entire night. Since yours is modest on top and the back I think it’s fine but my advice is definitely to wear pantyhose, ones people can see, like lace. That way you see that you’re covered up still. I would personally find a different dress, look at local consignment shops, I found mine at a mission outreach shop, and last year mine was from a consignment shop. Also ask around for dresses, for other female cadets in my battalion I had them use my friends junior prom dress, and another used a bridesmaid dress from my other friend. There are a lot of other options!

  12. I have been invited to a JROTC valentines day ball and I have no idea what to wear we are both in high school and I don’t want to look like a fool for wearing the wrong thing…help?

    1. Hey Melissa,
      Hmm, you may have me stumped. I am MUCH older than you and have three boys. I don’t know what exactly is appropriate for a JROTC ball. What I can be sure of, is that you do NOT want your dress to be too short. There was a 20-something year old girl at our squadron Christmas party last week who’s dress was way too short. She was the talk of the night and not in a good way. I think an above the knee length red dress would be fun for a Valentine’s Day Ball. Let me know what you think. I hope this helps.
      Happy Holidays!

    1. Hey Preston,

      What type of function are you attending? If it is a formal function, I would say a tuxedo is in order. If the event calls for “cocktail” attire, I would suggest a suit and tie/bowtie. Let me know what event you are attending and I will dig a little deeper.

      Have a great day,

    1. Hello Nichole,

      They are both beautiful and completely appropriate! Keep us posted on what your choose and have a fabulous time at the ball!


  13. This sight has been VERY helpful, but nothing has been said about what type of jewelry is appropriate. I’ve read that you want to keep away from fake stuff, but I don’t have anything “real” except for two necklaces that I don’t think would be fancy enough. One is single garnet set in silver/white gold and the other is a small “Past, Present, Future” one with diamonds and emeralds. My other question is hairstyles.. up or down?

    1. Hey Michelle, You totally do NOT have to stay away from fake jewelry! There is some pretty awesome fake stuff out there. No one would even know the difference. As for your hair, that is totally up to you. I usually go get my hair put up, but only because it is fun to do. We have an Aveda Institute where I live. This place is fabulous. Instead of paying $60 for an up do, I pay $30. They have a military discount too! I hope this helps some ~ Danya

  14. Hi, This is my first formal military anything.This article was really helpful, more so than a lot of other articles/blogs that I’ve read so far. I’m 20 and my main concern is that I will choose an incorrect or inappropriate dress. I’ve never ordered one online so that is making me a little bit nervous in and of itself. I just wouldn’t want to choose something that would look silly compared to the other dresses there. I know that these events aren’t about the spouses (or girlfriends in my case) I just want to be sure that I’m representing my boyfriend properly. I can look really young really easily, I’m usually asked if I’m 16. So, my main question would be, are there styles that I should avoid? I just don’t know when/why/how/what makes me look so young. Another question would be, if I have my prom dress as my “standby” in case there is an issue with the dress I rent, would that be so horrible? I promise, it isn’t bedazzled to death, there’s bead work on one strap, across the neck line and there’s an embellishment on one hip. This would serve as my back-up emergency dress, but I just wanted to be sure that I would’t look ridiculous if I did that.

    1. Hello Katelyn,

      First of all, I love that you recognize that the formal event you are about to attend is about the service member not the guests. You are wise beyond your years :). Now as for your attire. The only dress that you could order that would be inappropriate would be one that is too revealing or too short. It sounds like your prom dress would be a very acceptable back up. I am all about recycling formal dresses. I think a long gown vs a cocktail length dress would make you look a bit older. Feel free to send links to the dresses you are thinking of ordering. I am happy to take a peak.

      I am glad we have been able to help. Good luck and have fun at your event.


      1. Hi Danya,

        Thank you so much for getting back to me! This is the dress that I was thinking of ordering:

        This is also my prom dress (I’m in the darkest blue one with blonde hair on the end):!i=1833554228&k=B87QzTn
        Also, I was planning on doing my hair in a half up-do, or just down my hair is a lot longer than it was in high school.

        1. Hey Katelyn,

          I LOVE that gold dress. You will look beautiful in it! Your prom dress is perfectly pretty and appropriate as well. Wear your hair however you feel best. Up, down, half up, half down all are totally acceptable!

          Keep me posted on what you decide.

          Have fun!

  15. Hi,
    I’m going to my first military ball with my ex boyfriend from 7th grade. It’s an Army Branch. I’m extremely nervous. It’s tonight actually. I have no idea what to wear! And I have lip piercings and a nose stud. Would I have to take them out?

    1. Hey Sammie,

      I am so sorry I didn’t see this in time. I hope you had a fabulous time at the ball! You did not have to take any of your piercings out. You are who you are and YOU are not in the service.


  16. Hi,
    So my friend (kinda of boyfriend) asked me to go to his ROTC ball with him on the 28th of February. I have no clue what to expect and I am SOOO nervous! He is army ROTC. But because he is ROTC and not actual army yet will it be different? Or what should I expect? Do I need to act really conservative? Also I have heard that when they are in uniform they are not allowed to show PDA with girls. So is that sort of stuff out of question at ROTC ball?

    1. Hi Sarah!
      Is yours taking place in PA? I will be going to my first ROTC ball myself on that day! I would say just be comfortable, but don’t get too PDA with him. I know w/ my bf I’ll prob hold his hand/arm, nothing really beyond the extent of that.

      1. Hey A,

        Thank you for your great reply to Sarah! I love your advice. Have so much fun this weekend at the ball!

        Take care,

    2. Hi Sarah,

      First of all, you are going to have so much fun. I went to my first ROTC ball at Vanderbilt University with my then boyfriend, now husband :). Don’t be nervous. Just be yourself. I like A’s advice of not much more than hand holding, arm around the waist. The PDA can wait until the after party. The ball shouldn’t be any different because he is a ROTC student and not a commissioned officer just yet. I hope this helps.

      Have a fabulous weekend,

  17. I have a ball coming up on Saturday! ‘m super worried that it may be the wrong thing to wear. Its a long, teal blue color and is strapless. It does flare out a little more at the bottom than what it probably should.

    I also have my prom dress from last year. It’s navy blue and is a more simple kind of dress.

    Which do you think would be more appropriate?

    1. Hello Aaliah,

      Both of your gowns sound great. I am personally more fond of Navy, but that is strictly personal. If you want to send photos of the two dresses, I am happy to give you my opinion on which I feel is more appropriate.

      Have a blast at the ball!


  18. Hi , my Daughter is attending The Naval Academy in MD and is going with a Cadet to the Ball at West Point NY. Does she have to wear her Navy Formal Uniform?or can she wear a civilian dress.

    1. Hello Heidi,

      I just don’t know the answer to the question. My guess is that she is should wear her uniform, but I could be wrong. I would suggest asking the Cadet she is attending the ball with. I hope this helps. I know it is a little wishy washy!

      Have a great day,

    2. Hello Heidi,

      If she is attending the West Point ball as a guest, she is not required to wear a uniform, but she has the option to if she would like. If she is attending the ball because she was invited by the institution, then she should wear her uniform. I’ve been to a few Cadet balls that allow female Soldiers to wear dresses after the traditions are finished and dancing begins. Attire should be listed on her invitation. If the information isn’t clear, I’m sure she could ask her date.

  19. Hi I am in college and my sort of/not yet/maybe boyfriend asked me to the military ball he is in ROTC for the army. I have no idea what to wear, how to dance, what to say or anything else you can think of. I am so nervous, he has never been to one before either so I am pretty much on my own!

    1. Hey Maria,

      I was in your EXACT situation when I went to my first ROTC ball at Vanderbilt University. I have now been married to that sort of/not yet/maybe boyfriend for 16 years! You are going to have so much fun! My suggestion to you is to just not wear anything too short or too revealing. As long as your dress is tasteful you will be just fine. Take a cue from the others at the ball as far as how to dance. If you are meeting new people, especially those in his ROTC unit, shake their hand, look them in the eye and say, “Nice to meet you.” I promise you there will be others in your exact situation. You are not alone. Try to relax and enjoy the pomp and circumstance. I hope this helps. Please feel free to write anytime.


  20. I’m a retired army officer who wandered here by mistake, and I’m fascinated by the original article and the discussion!

    I was lucky enough to marry an army nurse, who was way ahead of me on thew customs and traditions of the service.

    Sarah’s talking about a ball in the “real” military, and her advice is spot-on. If you’re new to the unit, the executive officer’s spouse is the best source of information in officer country; for enlisted, try the first sergeant’s.

    ROTC and JROTC balls are essentially “just” another school function, with uniforms. Anything you’d wear to a prom will generally suffice.

    Good luck, and have a great time!

    1. Doc,

      Thanks so much for your kind comments! I appreciate it. Your additional information about JROTC and ROTC is great as well (ROTC was my first ball!).

  21. hey my military ball is coming up in april 5 and i am terified becus if i dont find the right dress my boyfriend will kill me like he alredy put a bruse on my arm but anyway what should i do to find a dress

    1. Lexie,

      We are concerned by the fact that you mentioned your boyfriend has bruised your arm. This is a sign of domestic violence. There is a zero tolerance for domestic violence in the military. We would urge you to contact the National Domestic Violence hotline at or by calling 800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also reach out to the Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) Outreach Center by calling 1-866-966-1020 to talk to a trained health resource consultant

      Military One Click Support

  22. like ok well i think imma just stay home becuz i dont want to get in a dress that he dont like but i have been starving my self so i could go in the most beutifull dress at the ball so i need help :(

    1. I know it’s been a while since this posting, but if you ever need someone to talk to or just someone to listen I’m always here and someone who has walked in your shoes! Sarah

  23. Hi! I found this information very accurate. I have attended an Army ROTC ball in the past and went through a receiving line. One problem that I didn’t expect was that many of the officers did not hear my name when it was whispered to them. Unlike what you stated my boyfriend (the cadet) was behind me in the receiving line. (It would have been much better if he were in front of me.) When the officers could not hear my name they would turn to me and look for me to introduce myself. I was unsure of how I should introduce myself. First name only? First and last name? Miss (insert last name)? My boyfriend was unsure of the answer to this. Well now my second military ball is coming up and I am wondering what you would suggest to handle this problem? I appreciate your help!

    1. Hey Brooke,

      Thank you for your reply. I am happy to read that you have enjoyed this post and found the information to be accurate. Now, to answer your question, I believe it is the responsibility of the service member to introduce his date in the receiving line. However, if you find yourself in the same position, you should introduce yourself with your first and last name.

      I hope this helps.

      Have fun at the ball!


        1. Hello Monika,

          That is a great question. My first reaction is to say, “yes, of course.” However, I am not entirely sure. I am going to ask all of the MilitaryOneClick Chicks and see if we can come up with a definitive answer.

          Thanks for reaching out,

        2. Hey Monika,

          The consensus from the MilitaryOneChicks is ABSOLUTLEY yes, you can wear your Saree. Jen had a friend wear hers to the Marine Corps Ball.

          Have fun!

  24. The guy I am seeing is in the Navy JROTC at our high school. He has asked me to go the military ball with him. However, he wants me to meet him at the ball and not pick me up? Is that proper etiquette? I think he should he should pick me up and escort me to the ball. What do you think?

    1. Hello Sarah,

      Well, being a little old fashioned myself, I would hope that he would pick you up and escort you to the ball. You may want to ask him if there is an important reason that he doesn’t want to drive you to the ball. Maybe he doesn’t have a license, car, or maybe his parents won’t let him take the car. There could be many reasons. It’s probably best to politely ask him and go from there.

      Have fun at the ball!

  25. What a great article. I ran across it by chance and i have my first ball tonight. I am so thankful that you added the portion of the dinner. I am super nervous about the formal setting. I was hoping to see what silverware the others at the table grab first before i choose. As far as the rest I believe you have given excellent advice! If you are 20 or 30 know your appropriate dress. I have to be honest I am interested to see who dresses inappropriately. We have sent out an email on this specific subject. To all the ladies reading this enjoy your ball and be proud of your service member! I believe it is an honor to be able to attend such events! Thank you again!

    1. Hey Mikki,

      I hope you had a blast at the ball and the silverware turned out to be not so intimidating! I agree. I always look forward to see what the other guests are wearing. It makes for some seriously good conversation!

      Have a great day,

  26. Hey there so I will be attending my first ARMY ball
    In June. I’m needing help on finding a dress, any
    Suggestion on where to look. The theme is world
    War 2. I’m hoping too fine a vintage dress floor length
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hello Elyshia,

      So my first thought is to go shop some nice second hand stores. You could rent a dress from They have a coupon for $25 off your first rental. You can search many different ways within their site to find what you are looking for. The other thing I would do is run a search for “vintage floor length gown”. See what pops up, find one you like and do some smart shopping.

      Have a blast at the ball! You will have so much fun.


  27. I’m going to a military ball and the dress I found is a white strapless dress with some beadwork. Is wearing white okay for an army ball?

  28. Hello I am a high school junior and my “girl” friend invited me to her JROTC military ball. I will not lie I am very nervous and have a few questions in general if you would be kind enough to answer. To begin should we, my friend and I ride together to the ball? Secondly, when introducing myself do I do first and last name, or would she introduce me? Thirdly, since I am a guest would a suit and tie suffice? Lastly what are the rules for toasting and table etiquette I don’t want to be too confused? Thank you in advance for your time and help

    1. Hello Tyler,

      Great questions. First let me say, “Try not to be nervous. It is going to be so much fun. This is such a great experience.” Okay, now, yes, you should ride together. I would use your first and last name during introductions and don’t forget eye contact. Depending on the way the receiving line is set up, you may be doing your own introductions or she may be introducing you. You are going to have to wing that part :). Yes, a suit and tie should be just fine. Black is always more formal, so that would be your best bet. Oh Tyler, my husband has been in the Navy for 19 years. You can imagine how many functions I have been too. I still just have to follow the crowd when it comes to the toasts! You will NOT be the only one there with a confused look on your face. Use all of the manners for table etiquette that you have been raised with and you will be just fine. Utensils are used from the outside in, napkin in your lap, elbows off the table and have tons of fun! I hope this helps some. Let me know if you have any more questions.


  29. Hi I am going to a military ball on May 2nd and I am a big worried. I have bought a “cocktail” dress from Macys. It comes up to my knees. Would that be acceptable? On our ball tickets it says “spring formal”

    1. Hello Fatima,

      Your dress sounds just fine. You will see everything from full ball gowns to dresses that are way too short :). Have fun!


  30. Hi, I will be attending a military ball within the next few weeks, sort of like a celebration for all of the ROTC students. It’s a high school military ball, and my date hasn’t been very specific on what I should wear.. Does the dress code vary at all between high school and military for these balls? My dress is a floor length halter with little-to-no chest showing and a bit of back showing. Any tips at all?? I’m so nervous, I’ll be meeting everyone that he knows basically.

    1. Hello Lenora,

      You dress sounds perfect for the ball. My tip for you is to be yourself and have fun! Such a fabulous experience for you.


  31. A quick regarding silverware if nobody mentioned it. Start with the outside and work your way in. You are most likely using the correct piece then.

  32. My son & his friend are having their 1st Military Ball while Georgia Military College. I am more excited than they are. Tara nailed it for silverware safety, lol. The students actually have to take a course in etiquette for the Ball & Cotillion. It is a spectacular event, I only wish I could go.

    1. Hi Donya,

      How fabulous that they have etiquette courses for the kids. I wish I had had one. I hope your son has a fabulous time!


  33. I will be attending my first marine corps ball in November. I am so excited! This helped me so much, the boyfriend wasn’t much help when I asked him questions, so I took it upon myself to do some research. It’s still quite a few months away but my time is going to consumed with looking for that perfect dress and shoes!!

    1. It really depends on the length of the train. I’ve worn two dresses to military balls that have very short trains. It’s basically enough that your dress flows along the floor as you walk (we’re talking less than a foot in train length). If you go too much longer, you WILL get stepped on and you WILL risk your dress being torn. Remember, the ball has its formal side, but once the dancing gets started, some people go crazy and it gets very cramped. You don’t want to spoil your time by worrying about a train!

  34. What if you both are enlisted? Does that mean as a female I have to wear a dress or do I wear my class A’s? I am not exactly sure on how that all works.

    1. I assume the event isn’t for your battalion (or brigade)? If the ball is for your husband, I believe you have a choice of uniform or dress. I’ve not seen female service members wearing their uniform for their counterpart’s ball, but I HAVE seen the male service members wear a uniform for their wife’s ball (probably because it’s cheaper than renting a tux!). You could have your spouse check if you’re concerned.

  35. Hello, I just read your article here and it was helpful. I am dating a service member (Army Officer) and will possibly going to a Ball myself. I will be a bit nervous because I am on the busty side and have assets..(lol) However, it would be my first one and very nervous. I had a really good idea about the dress and etiquette. My question is, What should I be doing there since I would be just a girlfriend and not a wife? (i,e should I remain quiet, do I talk to others I know it sounds silly but as I said I am super nervous) Thanks

    1. Jessica,

      My husband is a Marine and we have been to 2 balls so far, and it’s been a really good time! Just wear something that you feel beautiful in! Having a large bust is a struggle I totally understand, but I find that the one-shoulder dresses work pretty well for covering the girls if you can find a strapless bra or corset that keeps everything under wraps. Just be yourself! Don’t worry about the distinction of girlfriend vs wife. Anyone who is going to shun you for that isn’t worth talking to. Each time we’ve gone, I’ve been one of the only wives at the table (my husband is a grunt so the unit is pretty young), but it’s no big deal! Have fun :) The fact that you’re worried about it means that you probably won’t make any of the mistakes listed in the article.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Whether a girlfriend, fiancee or wife, your “etiquette” at the ball is the same. Enjoy yourself and be yourself. Introduce yourself to those at your table and enjoy getting to know them. Meet your boyfriend’s co-workers and friends and feel free to chat them up. You might be surprised at the number of girlfriends you meet. Kaylyn’s recommendations for a dress are great. Have an amazing time!

      1. Kaylyn and Sarah,

        Thank you so much for the replies, they’re very helpful. I was definitely considering a one shoulder dress.. : ) we are slowly introducing one another to friends and such so when we do attend it shouldn’t be to much of a shock to meet others. Again, thank you for your replies and very much excited to attend a Ball.

        -Jessica : )

    3. Hey Jessica,

      Such great questions! It doesn’t matter one bit, whether you are a girlfriend or a spouse! Just be yourself and have fun. Military balls are pretty fabulous. There is a lot of pomp and circumstance. You won’t want to miss a minute of it. You do NOT have to be quiet. In fact, you should totally talk to the others around you. You might just make a fun friend :).

      I hope this helps ease some of your fears,

  36. Hey there, great article! I was wondering how you feel about a complete sequin dress with a high neck line and slightly draped back. Floor length, blush champagne in color. I love the dress but don’t want it to be too ‘loud’. My boyfriend is in the Air Force and this will be my first ball. Thank you so much!

    1. You’ll see quite an array of dresses at the ball, ranging in length, style, color, etc. None of it sounds unacceptable. Wear what you like and feel comfortable in! That’s what matters most. I hope you have a great time!

  37. My husband is a naval officer and this is my first ball with him, I don’t know what to expect from dressing to dancing and that makes me nervous, reading this article helps a lot but makes me more nervous. I have to be in the middle as you advised and watch others first. nervous and nervous.

    1. Hey Martina,

      Just be yourself and have fun! It’s going to be awesome! If you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.


      1. Thank you for your response. I just got my dress yesterday but it’s showing my cleavage and my back plus the dress has straps. Do I need scarves to cover or just go? ball is tomorrow. Thank you.

        1. Oh Martina,
          I am so sorry I missed this! For everyone else reading, what did you decide to do and how did it go?

          I hope you had a blast!

  38. Love this article! Every spouse should read this. I do have a question/need advice. The AF ball is this weekend, my husband (active duty) is currently TDY, another couple in the unit, very close friends of ours invited me to attend the ball wirh them and purchased a ticket before I could say yes or no. Would you attend without the service member? I know most of the people he works with andthey all know he is away at school.

    1. Hey Cassie,

      You can totally go to the ball without your husband. It sounds like a good excuse to get out of the house to me :).

      Have fun!

  39. I’m going to my first ever ball for the Navy in late October with my boyfriend. This article and these comments are so lovely, and so reassuring. Most of my fears have been vanquished! I’m still VERY nervous about the receiving line, and about my dress. The dress is pretty simple, floor length, and strapless with a modest neckline. I have two tattoos that will be visible, one on my back and one on my arm. The tattoos aren’t inappropriate or anything, I just really want to represent my sailor well! About the receiving line, I’m still not 100% on how that works. Is it just spouses of officers that go through, or just spouses? Or is it everyone? Thank you so much for this article, it’s lovely!


    1. Hey Rebecca,
      Do not worry one bit about your tattoos. They are totally fine! I have two myself :). Your dress sounds fabulous!! If there is a receiving line at your particular Navy Ball (not all balls will have one), you should go through with your boyfriend and he should introduce you. Just look them in the eye and give them a big smile. You will be fine. HAVE FUN!

      1. Thank you so much, I appreciate your help! :) He might be a side boy, but we’ll see what happens! Thank you so much for replying!

  40. I have been married to my hubby for 5 years. I’ve been to 4 balls. This month he is graduation the warrant officer school and we are having a military ball. This time he said ball gown. I own several Navy Blue and Black dresses, but was wondering if a red dress is okay for an event like this. He is in his dress blues for this event. Any suggestions is greatly appreciated. I am shopping this weekend on the 21st for the event on the 28th of September.

    1. Sorry for the typo’s. He is graduation the Warrant Officer Candidate school. He is Army and will be wearing the new dress blue’s with the gold trim.

      1. Hey Christina,

        You can totally wear a red dress! You can wear whatever color you would like. Just keep it classy :).

        Have fun and congratulations to you and your husband!


  41. My boyfriend of just a few months has invited me to his Officer Candidate School’s ball at Fort Benning in December. He asked a few buddies for me about the dress code and was told it’s business casual. I asked him again to make sure he didn’t misunderstand my question (not dress code for the graduation ceremony, but for the ball) and he said that it is business casual. I don’t want to ask him again as he has more important things to worry about. Can anyone tell me if there is actually a formal ball or is it a casual get-together of all the graduates and significant others?

  42. Hi Danya,
    Thank you so much for looking into this! The link you provided lists a “formal” date, which in my mind means formal attire, not causal? However, he said he asked another buddy who said it’s business casual. It’s difficult to imagine a formal is casual, so I can only rely upon what he has told me and I just hope that he’s right. If you should learn differently, please post it so I can dress appropriately. I can’t believe dress code could be so stressful
    Many thanks,

    1. Oh Natalie,
      I am so sorry this is stressful for you. I believe that if the date on the page I provided corresponds with your date it is indeed a formal event. Maybe he gave you the wrong date? Ugh, I don’t know. I wish there was another way to find out for you. Maybe you can go with a dress that is more on the casual side. You could throw a red lipstick and sparkly earrings in your purse and an extra pair of heels in your bag. If you show up to a formal affair, you can quickly switch gears.
      Good luck!

  43. This november is my first ball and i have a couple questions. 1) i found a dress that i love and is affordable but its a mermaid. Style dress, is that appropiate? And 2) are flats an okay thing to wear? I hate wearing heels and i like my height.

      1. Thank you, you just saved me from having a panic attack:). And do you have any more tips for that night? Im going to a Marine Corp ball with my fiance. And im extremely nervous.

        1. Hey Claudia,
          Just relax and have fun! Enjoy getting gorgeous for the evening, enjoy the pomp and circumstance, enjoy the meal and enjoy the people watching. Try not to be nervous. You are going to have a ton of fun!

  44. I was invited to a ball in November by a lady from work whose son is the the Marines. She’s going and said I would have a blast if I went with her. Is this weird considering I don’t even know anyone that will be there, besides her? It sounds like a fun night and a chance to meet some really great guys but I don’t know if it would be uncomfortable.

    1. Hey Kerry,

      That is an interesting question. First, why is she going? She is his mother, correct? I am not concerned that you won’t know anyone. I am concerned as to why his Mother is going. Clear that up for me and we can go from there.

      Have a fabulous day!

      1. That’s a good question. She is the mother but I’m not really sure. She made it seem like you could buy a few tickets rather than it being restricted to him bring one date. Maybe I should get some more information so that I can be more clear.

        1. Hi Kerry,

          Hmm. I have to say, I haven’t ever heard of that, but all balls are different. That could very well be the case. Which ball is it? I can see if I can get some more details for you as well.


  45. I will be attending the Marine Corps Ball with my brother in Washington, DC. He will retire in April. My 16 year old who is in Marine Corps Jr. ROTC will also be attending. What attire would be appropriate for him?

    1. Hi Shari,

      That ball is one of the best balls around! You are going to LOVE it! I would guess that he should wear his uniform. Your best answers will come from your brother himself or your son’s JROTC Commander. If he doesn’t feel comfortable wearing his uniform and suit and tie will work just fine.

      Have fun!!

  46. Thanks for your reply. I am kind of rethinking my dress too. I am 6ft wear a size 8, tall and fit. I was considering a tasteful simple black satin bias cut silk satin halter gown with a puddle hem. I have been to balls in California where the dress would have been suitable, but I get the feeling DC may be more formal. My brother’s ball will be at the Regan Center, which to me comands more formality than a casino.

    1. Hello Shari,

      You can’t go wrong with a formal gown in D.C. Your first gown sounds lovely as well and you could totally dress it up with some of sparkly jewelry and a pretty up do.

      Have fun!

  47. I have been invited to my partners military ball. It is in December so I have ample time to prepare, however I am still SUPER nervous. I have only met a few people in her unit, one being a close friend that I knew before I met her, but I am still afraid that won’t calm my slight touch of social anxiety. And on top of that I am trying to figure out what dress to wear and I am reading blogs about receiving lines and toasts and using the silverware properly. I have only known about this for a few days and my head is already spinning! Although she has been serving in The Guard for over 8 years, she has never attended one herself. So she doesn’t have much input. :/
    Does everyone go through the receiving line or does it depend on their rank? She is a SGT. And from what I understand there will be assigned seating. Which means I probably won’t be seated around anyone I know because my friend is a Master Sgt and I’m sure they probably place higher ranks together. I know I am probably over thinking this but I really need some advice. I don’t want let on that I am freaking out so I have only asked them a few questions and I get: Don’t worry, you’ll have a great time. Everything will be fine.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hello Stephenie,

      I love that you care so much about this event that you are stressed. However, your friends are right. Their advice of “Don’t worry, you’ll have a great time. Everything will be fine.” is spot on :).

      Yes, everyone will go through the receiving line. Your partner should introduce you. The toasts will be easy for you. Just follow the lead of everyone around you. The nice thing about the assigned seating is that you will get to meet new people and possibly make a new friend or two while you are there. I promise no one will notice if you use the wrong fork. Just remember, start from the outside and work your way in.

      As for your dress, if you stay simple and elegant, you can’t go wrong. Just don’t go too short or show too much cleavage. If you do, you will be the talk of the night ;).

      Lastly, relax, be yourself and have super much fun. Military balls are amazing. You are going to love it!


  48. Hello, so I will be attending my first Marine Corps Ball on November 1st, I was able to find a dress pretty quickly, but now I wonder if I have to wear gloves? I keep hearing that it’s really strict which is making me extremely nervous. I did but a wrap to go with my dress so my shoulders are not exposed, my dress is not revealing at all the only thing you can see is my neck, face and arms. Also, when entering should I link arms with my date? Help!!

    1. Hey Lizzy,
      You do not have to wear gloves. You can, but you don’t have to. Try not to be nervous. It is going to be awesome! The wrap is perfect. Good thinking. You do not have to link arms with your date. If it feels right or he takes the lead, go for it. Try to relax and take it all in. It is a pretty fabulous event.
      I hope this helps you feel a bit more at ease.

  49. I’m going to my first marine ball on November 15th. It’s about an hour away from Jacksonville where my boyfriend is stationed. I’ll be staying in a hotel in jacksonville the night before the ball. I don’t know anything about doing my own hair or make up for the ball. Getting my hair and make up done the day before the ball while I’m still in my home town sounds like a bad idea but I don’t know the Jacksonville area well enough to make an appointment anywhere. Should I just go to a department store the day of the ball and ask someone at a make up counter to do it? I’m worried about showing up to the ball with very plain looking make up and no hair style except for straightened!

    1. Hey Heather,

      I am so sorry it has taken me so long to write back to you! I used to live in Jax and can help you. Will you be near NAS Jax or Mayport? There are nice malls near both locations. I will fill you in once I know what area of Jax you will be in. I would make an appointment at a MAC counter to get your make up done. When going for updos, I like to go to the beauty schools. They are cheap and always do a good job. There are a couple in Jax. You might even be able to get your makeup done there too. and When we lived in Texas, I always went to the Aveda institute and always left happy. I hope this helps.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.


    2. I am going to my second Marine Corps Ball in November. I have had a lot of trouble trying to find a dress that I liked. I have one ordered on RenttheRunway, and just ordered another one. The one from RtR, I am very unsure about, and the one I just ordered has a complete open back, but a completely covered front. Do you think it will be too showy? I don’t want him getting in trouble. Thank you!

  50. My best friend and his girlfriend invited me to go to the Marine Corps Ball with them this year and I have no idea what to expect! Is it weird for someone to bring two dates?? And I heard there is a strict dress code so what kind of dress should I be looking for.


    1. Hello Pam,

      I am not sure I can answer if it is “weird” for someone to bring two dates. I can’t say I have ever known anyone to bring two dates, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. It is an amazing experience! The dress code should be formal. I would ask your buddy and his girlfriend and go from there. Most ladies attending a Marine Corps Ball wear full length gowns.

      Have fun!

  51. Love this blog…thank you! I’m attending my first Army ball this winter and am completely clueless…I’m a plus size girl so our options of dresses are not as large as other. Any suggestions? I do not want o spend an arm and a leg either.

    1. Hey Lisa,

      I would do some checking around on the internet. Does Rent the Runway have plus sizes? You could rent a gown if so. Have super much fun at the ball this winter!

  52. THANKS SO MUCH for this article. It helped quite a bit. My fiance JUSTinvited me to the military ball in December. I’m very excited but a little nervous. I’m still not sure what to wear. I’m kinda freaking out over here. I know I’ll think of something soon, I just want to look my absolute best!

  53. Hello, So my boyfriend invited me to the Marine Corps Ball in Palm desert Nov 24. Im young im 20 And its my first time attending a ball and I have all these mixed emotions I’m nervous yet excited but mostly nervous I don’t know what to expect. Do we present ourselves at some point because I hate being the center of attention I get really nervous but I just want to be prepared for whatever comes our way. Also about my dress, I have an hour glass body so I decided to get a fitted dress because the flowy dresses do not fit my body at all and the dress I got doesn’t show any cleavage I actually hate showing cleavage so I’m glad it doesn’t but it is open from the back not too much but still is open. Is that okay? Its a one shoulder dress beige with all black beads around the dress. I’m really nervous for this event. Thank you this article helped me a lot by the way :)

    1. Hey Marisela,

      First, you dress sounds fabulous! I wouldn’t worry about the open back one bit.

      Second, you will most likely go through a receiving line, but that should be the most “center of attention” time you will have. Your boyfriend should do the introductions.

      Lastly, try to relax and have fun. The Marines put on an amazing show! You are going to have a fabulous night!!


  54. How fun and exciting! Love to read the comments from new military spouses and significant others. This year I decided to look up military balls because I didn’t know if I looked like the old lady in the crowd (I’m only 35 but like to keep my stylish edge). I have a number of dresses I really like and often rotate through them when we move to a new duty station. I buy at least one new gown with every move saying, “we need an updated photo and of course I can’t be in a picture with last years dress”. Because my husband is required to attend 2 to 3 balls a year i don’t like spending the money. I don’t hang out with other miitary spouses or attend many, if any FRG meetings. Thoughts on rotating through dresses?
    Thanks for your post!

    1. Feel free to rotate through dresses! You don’t have to buy a new one for each event. I’ve worn the same two dresses for the last four years. No one remembers what specifically you wore, but you may want to try to style it up a little differently each time you wear it. That way, when you take pictures with your husband, they don’t look the same as the last time you wore the dress.

  55. Hi there! I am attending a Navy Dining Out in December, I was just wondering if this dress would be appropriate. I am not really too nervous about the event itself because I’ve been told by my fiance that while yes, it is a formal even and can seem stuffy at the beginning, it’s actually more fun and actually a bit satirical. I just dont want to be “that girl” in the too sexy dress and be the topic of negative conversation among his commanding officers. I should also mention that I’m a bit “top heavy”. I got this dress a year ago to wear for an art gala and the extra cleavage wasnt much of a problem there, (old hollywood was the theme, so sexy was a good thing!) But I really want to represent my sailor in a classy way. The dress is currently being altered. I’m having the train made shorter and adding a bit of extra fabric to the bust line. I just wonder if it will still be too sexy, considering that I am a bustier gal. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I won’t be heartbroken if you think its a bit on the inappropriate side. My mother owns a consignment shop with lots of formals, so I am certain I could find something appropriate in time!
    Thanks again!

    Here’s the link, I have the one in black.

    1. Hey Sarah,
      I think it is gorgeous! Since you are concerned about your cleavage, the extra fabric will be perfect. I just want you to feel beautiful and comfortable. Oh yeah and have super much fun!!

  56. I am going to an Army ball. I am 20 years old and bought a dress that is mermaid style so it is very form fitting. It is strapless with a sweetheart neckline. It is blue/teal ombre floor length. Does it sound too inapporiate? I tried to find a picture online but couldn’t. It is similar to this one, but has crochet-like material instead of sparkles. I am worried the color will be too bright or the fit too tight.

    1. Hey Kelly,

      I think it looks awesome! You may want a pashmina to cover your shoulders if it is chilly.

      Have a great time at the ball!

  57. If I am 17, but the man taking me is a Marine and 18, am I allowed to go? Do I need to be 18? Are sleevless dresses acceptable?

    1. Hey Madelyn,

      That’s a great question. I don’t see why not, but I am not sure. I will see what I can find out for you. Yes, a sleeveless dress is completely acceptable!


  58. I am a saxon at loara high school. I am 17 years old. i am a junior i am in JROTC DRILL UP CLASS MEN. I NEED I help on what ideas of what to dress for military ball. ANYBODY got ideas please TELL ME RIGHT AWAY PLEASE ITS MY FIRST MILITARY BALL . CADET PVT HUTCHINGS SIGNING OFF OVER AND OUT

    1. I can tell you JROTC balls are the easiest and most fun but talk to your supervisor and ask him or her. You will do great have lots of fun!!

  59. I am going to my first Marine ball tomorrow evening. I have never met the marine that i’m going to be attending the ball with. I’m extremely nervous about what happens and i don’t want to look weird in any way. I’m 21 and I can look young. I also have never been to anything formal, I didn’t go to any dances growing up because I moved around a lot. Where would be a good shop to find a dress for tomorrow? My coach is a retired marine and he’s the one that set this up. He told me not to worry but do you have any advice about what I should expect? Again, i’m freaking out! Thank you.

    1. Hey Lindsay,

      Tonight is the night! You are going to have so much fun!! You will not look weird, I promise. I hope you have been able to find a dress. Just try to relax, have fun and take it all in. The USMC throws an amazing ball! Go with the flow. Follow the others. There will be toasts and pomp and circumstance. Just watch everyone else in the room and follow their lead. I promise you will not be the only one there that is at his or her first ball.

      I hope you have an awesome night!

  60. Hi there! I’m currently 19 and my units ball is next month and this is my first time ever going to one and I just came out of training a few months ago. To make a long story short, you’re article is very helpful but in my situation I’m very nervous and want to make a good impression. I never ordered online so that’s a little more nerve wrecking. I was just wondering if you would have any tips for a young private like myself…

    1. Hey Kashita,

      Thank you for your service!

      Do you get to wear a dress? You don’t have to wear your uniform? I sure do hope you get to wear a dress!

      You are going to love the ball. Just be yourself. Be respectful and responsible and enjoy every minute of it!!

      If you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      Have a great day,

  61. Hi there! I’m 19 years old & this is my first military ball. The only thing is I’m the one that’s in service. I never ordered online or anything so I’m kind of nervous. Just wondering if you have any advice for a young private like myself .. Please & Thank You

    1. Kashita,
      If you are the service member, you’ll want to check with your leadership to find out if they’re allowing female service members to wear gowns or if you’re required to wear your uniform. In most cases, female service members are expected to wear the dress uniform rather than a gown. Your date (if you have one) should wear formal attire.
      Good luck and I hope you have a great time,

    1. Hey Amanda,

      Your dress is beautiful! I love going to have my hair done before formal events. This would give you some time to relax and not worry about getting the right “do”. You could also get a pedicure and/or a massage. A glass of wine never hurts either (that is if you are 21 :)).

      Just be yourself and enjoy this fabulous event with your fiance!

      Have fun!

      1. Thank you so much! I feel a little better knowing my dress is okay. :) I will probably have my friend do my hair (she’s rea ly good!). I have since talked with Devyn (my fiancé) and he got me really excited for the ball. Thank you again :)

  62. Um I have a few questions. My dad was inthe ary so i kind of know some things. But the guy i am dateing is a cheif in the navy. I dont know what i am suspose to do. I got a pretty full length grown, i know the gown is fine. But i have no idea what i am in for? he’s Cheif. is there going to be special things i have to do. Specail place i have to sit? Heeeeellllpp

    1. Hey Amberd,

      First of all, try to relax and have fun! Your date is a Chief so he has been to a few of these. Take his lead. He will show you where to sit, when to toast, etc. There will probably be a receiving line. He should introduce you. There is nothing special that you have to do. Let us know if you have any other questions.

      Have fun!

    1. Hey Brionna,

      When and where is the ball? I feel like white is hard to pull off in the dead of winter, but if the ball is in Florida I could be swayed. Send us a picture if you would like.

      Have a fabulous day,

  63. Hi All! This will be my first time attending an Army ball as a civilian, as I just recently got out. I am a little nervous, as we typically attended the event in uniform (both of us). I was hoping some of you would be able to assist me with finding a dress! My husband picked this dress, but I am not sure, as I typically refrain from dressing up. Your thoughts on wearing this dress would be appreciated.


    1. Hey Jennifer,

      How fun that you finally get to dress up! The dress your husband has picked out is gorgeous and if you can pull off all of that skin showing, I say, “Go for it.” Feel free to send any others our way.

      Have a great time at the ball,

  64. I’m attending my first military ball with my boyfriend and I have never had any formal etiquette classes. I have told him this and he told me not to worry but I do not want embarrass him in front of his friends. What do I need to do because I want to go and have fun but I am to afraid of making a mistake and embarrassing him in front of his friends and boss.

    1. Hey Veronica,

      I promise you don’t need any formal etiquette classes to attend the ball. You will be just fine. Just be polite, be yourself, follow the lead of everyone around you when toasts are being made, etc and have fun! It really is a great experience. Please don’t let your nerves get in the way of everything going on around you. Please don’t hesitate to ask any other questions. We are happy to help.

      Have a fabulous day,

  65. Dayna,
    Thanks again and also I cannot find a dress that my mom and I agree on for the ball. Do you have any suggestions on a style or website? Plus, my boyfriend informed me I have to wear a black dress.

    1. Hello Veronica,

      Hmm, I am not sure why you have to wear a black dress. I have never heard of any rules on the color you wear. The best advice I can give is to go with the dress that you feel beautiful in and keep it elegant. If you want to rent a dress, you can try I have also shopped at nice consignment shops to save money.

      I hope this helps,


  66. Danya,
    What would you wear to a Air Force award ceremony? My boyfriend will be in his blues. I keep asking him if it’s really formal and he really doesn’t know so would a summer looking dress work or a long formal dress work?

    1. Hello Brittany,

      An awards ceremony would not be formal. If you are in a warm climate, a summer looking dress would be fine maybe with a cardigan or scarf.

      I hope this helps.

      Enjoy the ceremony!

  67. Hi there, my husband is an E2 and just enlisted this year! We are currently at Fort Campbell with our daughter! We haven’t been here long at all and are still so new to this! I have seen a few people posting on the local Facebook pages that they shopping for their dresses for the ball coming up. With us being so new I have no idea how you are chosen to go to a ball! My husband thinks that it is a post wide event…but if that’s the case wouldn’t we know? Basically my question is how are you invited to a ball? I feel stupid for not knowing this but all I can do is learn!

    1. Hi Josie,

      You do not have to be “chosen” to go to the ball. Everyone on base is welcome. Your husbands command should have informed him and given him any details he made need. You are not stupid! My husband has been in the Navy for 19 years and I am still learning.

      I hope this helps. Have a great night,

  68. Hi! I’m going to my first military ball (army) at the end of the month and have a question about a dress I have. Could I possibly email a picture of it to you to have your opinion?

    1. Hello Autumn,

      I have seen service members bring more than one guest in the past, but I believe she should ask her command to make sure.

      Have a fabulous day,

  69. I am attending a ROTC ball in high school. I have no idea what to wear or what I am suppose to be doing? Short or long dress? Please help

    1. Hey Claire,

      How exciting you get to go to a ROTC ball! It’s going to be awesome!! My guess is that for a high school ball, you could probably go with a short dress. However, you can NOT go wrong with a long dress. Classy and elegant is the key :). Send me some pictures if you would like. I am happy to take a look and give you my opinion.

      I hope this helps,

      1. ROTC is not nearly as formal. Short will be fine. I did a tea length when I went and I was the most dressed there. Don’t look skanky you still want to make him look good because well the better he looks the better his teacher will like him.

  70. This is my first time at a Military ball. My boyfriend is a Marine. He has never gone to one himself and I don’t know any of the women going. I am terrified. It is a few months away but I like to be prepared. I don’t know how to dress. I know how to act and have taken etiquette classes in the past etc. I am just scared of making him look stupid because I don’t want to be “That Girl”!

    1. Hey Regan,

      Yippee! You get to go to a military ball. You are going to have so much fun. Please try not to be nervous. You are going to be just fine. Feel free to send pictures of dresses. I am happy to take a look at them. You just don’t want it to be too short or show too much skin up top.

      Have a fabulous day,

  71. Hi. My boyfriend asked me to go to his army ball which is may 1st.Which i have never been to one. I am a freshman in college and I have no clue what is ok to wear, and he isn’t really helping about deciding what to wear. I have 2 dresses I am tryin to decide from. Can you help me decide?

    1. Hey Lindsey,

      I am more than happy to help. Send me a couple of pictures and I will give you my two cents.

      Have a great day,

  72. Hi there. My sorta/kinda/almost boyfriend asked me to his military ball and it is on Feb. 13th. I found this article very helpful, so thank you! He didn’t really say much about it. He just told me what time it takes place and that “it’s kinda like a prom thing.” I never went to prom in high school so unfortunately I don’t have a prom dress to recycle and wear again. I decided to check out as suggested in the article and I found a dress that I really like. I just want to get an opinion from someone who has been to one of these as to whether or not this dress is appropriate. Here is the link to the dress:
    Please let me know what you think! Also, any other tips and advice would be appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Hey Rachel,

      This dress looks great! Go for it! The best advice I can give you is to be yourself and have fun! Seriously, it is going to be great!!

      Let me know if you have any other questions. I am happy to help.


        1. Hey Rachel,

          Personally, I like the sleeveless dress better. If you have a pashmina to cover your arms in case it gets chilly, I think it is perfect!

          Let me know what you decide.
          Have fun!

  73. My family received an invitation to 2nd 16th infantry ball in April on behalf of my brother, a fallen solider. I was excited and overwhelm all at the same time. Your article help me immensely when shopping for my dress, since I didn’t have anyone to ask. I am hoping you can help me out. My husband, father and brother aren’t in the military. What is appropriate attire for non active military male personal, tux or suit?
    Thank you so much for this blog!

    1. Hey Tammie,

      First let me say thank you for your family’s service and I am sorry for your loss.

      You are going to have an amazing night! Do you know what the dress is for the service members? The guys would want to follow what the service members are wearing. My hunch is that a dark suit with a bow tie or a tux will be perfectly appropriate.

      Let me know if I can help you with anything else.

      Have a great day,

  74. I am going to an army ball in june i wasnt sure exactly what to wear. I found a great dark green sweetheart neckline floor length online. I got it on sale for $74 originally it was $265. I sent my bf a picture and he loved it and assured me it was perfect. I’m pretty nervous ive never been to one before.

    1. Hey Courtney,

      Send me a photo. I am happy to take a look :). I will say that your description sounds great though and you got a great deal! You are going to have so much fun! Enjoy!!


  75. Hi! I’m attending my first military ball in around 25 days and I have no idea what kind of dress to get! Here’s the thing: I’m in NJROTC and our unit has been invited to the ball this year. This is my first year of ROTC and I’m just a Freshman in high school, so I have zero idea of what to wear! Any tips would be helpful!

    1. Hey Mikaeli,

      I am so excited that you are able to go to your first ball! You are going to love it!! What part of the country you are in? If it’s cold, I would go with a long gown for sure. If you are in CA or FL, you could go with a shorter dress, just not TOO short ;). Feel free to send me some pictures. I am happy to take a look. If you keep it classy and don’t show off too much skin, you can’t go wrong. Wait, I just realized something. Aren’t you suppose to wear your uniform?

      I hope this helps,

      1. Females aren’t required to wear our uniforms and boys will be in service dress. We could wear our uniforms, but we mostly want to keep it classy to properly represent our unit and also dress up a bit. I live near Chicago, IL and it has been absolutely freezing! I have no idea what to wear that would be formal, pretty, and good for the weather

        1. Hello again Mikaeli,

          Okay, so yes, Chicago. I am very familiar. I went to school at Loyola University Chicago :). I would highly recommend a long dress, even a dress with long sleeves. It is just too darn cold to go strapless and short! If you do go with a dress without sleeves, be sure you have a nice pashmina to cover your shoulders so you don’t get too chilly. There are some pretty dresses here, If you do want to go short, you are young and all ;), I would wear some opaque tights to help stay warm. If you want to pick a couple you like and send me the link, I am happy to take a look.

          Have a great day,

  76. It’s quite a relief to have found this article and conversation! My situation is a little unique. My best friend/ boyfriend invited me to his Civil Air Patrol awards banquet. It’s in three days and I still am unsure about what to wear. It’s a formal to be held at a banquet hall with (I believe) food but no dancing. It’s just his squadron, so there will be about 50 people their ranging from high schoolers to parents to actual service members. My best friend is a Captain and Cadet Commander, the highest rank in the squadron, so I feel especially obligated to look presentable. He is 17 and I am 18. The dress I have in mind is a red, conservative 50s style. My only concern is the fact that it just barely longer than my finger tips. If I wear more opaque stockings and flats, might that be acceptable? From what I can tell, this event is less formal than a “real” military function, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing a prom dress. I understand this is way out in left field, but any suggestions or wisdom is GREATLY appreciated.

    Thank you for all of the previous pieces of advice! They’ve given me a good direction.

    1. Hey Breanna,

      I just sat down to work and hope I am making it in time. I believe your event is this evening. I am a bit concerned about the length of your dress but you are young, so that is a plus! My forty year old self should not show up to the banquet in a short red dress :). If you keep everything else very neutral/natural; make up, shoes, hair, etc., I think it will work just fine. I like your idea of opaque stockings and flats. That will help a great deal!

      Have fun tonight!

  77. Hi, love the article. I have been invited to go to Army Cadet Ball. He’s a Sargent. We just started “dating/ seeing eAch other” recently and the event is this Saturday. I’m going this weekend to buy a dress im not worried about the dress,(I’ll be buying a long black dress maybe with some lace and classy) but I am worried about the fact that we arnt anything official. I am 28 he’s 36 and has been married previously. So I don’t know if that matters, And who will know. Also the reciving line has got me scared out of my whits. Help please! Tell me your thoughts!
    Thanks for all the help!

    1. Good morning D,

      I hope you had good luck finding a dress. Your thoughts on the dress were spot on. You can’t go wrong with black and classy! What a compliment that he invited you to his Army Cadet Ball! Wait, I just realized the ball may have already happened! If so, please let us know how it went. If not, my advice is to enjoy the night with him, be yourself, have fun and don’t worry about what others may or may not be thinking.

      Have a great day!

  78. Hi! This is such a great article!! My husband and I have been married for 10 years. He just became an Officer in the Army and we are attending our first Military Ball. I’m extremely nervous about this whole receiving line and making sure my dress is perfect. I found one at David’s Bridal and would like your opinion on the color. It’s blue violet and I received so many compliments while trying it on but now I’m questioning the color. Please click on the attached link. I look forward to hearing from you. :).

    1. Hey Robyn,

      I am so glad this article has helped you. The dress you have chosen looks beautiful. I love the fun color. It will look so nice with your husband’s uniform.

      Have fun!

      1. Thank you. I was going back and forth on the color and finally made my mind up today to stick with the color. :). I’m sure they’ll be worse colors there. It really is a beautiful dress. Maybe I’ll order a few in different colors, haha! Any tips on the receiving line and eating dinner? If we make a mistake in the receiving line, will you get called out on it? Also, does everyone go through the receiving line at one time or one couple at a time? So nervous!! :)

        1. Hey Robyn,

          Awesome! I am glad you made the decision to go with your beautiful dress! Any receiving line I have ever been in, everyone goes through at the same time. Your husband should introduce you as you go through. Just shake his or her hand and say, “Nice to meet you.” You won’t get called out on anything. As for dinner, just follow the lead of everyone else. Remember your table etiquette and you will be just fine. Try not to be nervous. It is going to be so fun!!


          1. Thank you so much! I feel a little less nervous now. I’ll go with the flow and see how it goes. I’ll let you know how everything went! Thanks again for this article and all your help!

  79. Hey! I love this article and it was a great help! I’m attending my boyfriend’s Navy Ball in April and I’m already getting nervous. I’m 17 and he’s 18, and will have just graduated “A School.” I’m nervous at the fact that (more than likely) I’m going to be the youngest one there and will be looked down upon. I also don’t want to get the wrong type of dress and have it be “inappropriate” in any way. Any advice?

    1. Hey Robin,

      How exciting that you get to go to a Navy Ball at such a young age! You will not be looked down upon. You will be looked at with envy from ladies like me who are much older and remember those young days with fond memories. You are more than welcome to send some photos of some dresses you are looking at. The most important thing to remember is to not show too much skin. Stay elegant and you will look gorgeous! The best advice I can give you is to, “Have fun!”

      I hope this helps,

      1. Danya,
        Sorry it took so long to respond! My sister gave me her old prom dress and I was thinking about wearing it but I want to make sure that it’s not showing too much skin because of the open back. The front is like a halter top and shows very little, but I’m more concerned with the back. Could you check it out? Thanks, Robin.

        1. Hey Robin,

          It is such a pretty color. I wouldn’t worry about the back. It is more the cleavage and hiney area that I would be worried about. It looks great.

          Have fun!

  80. Hello! I will be attending a military ball with my girlfriend in may! I have a white suite and white bow tie with a black dress shirt, is this appropriate for this function?

  81. I have a dining out in a few weeks and I have no idea what to wear . I have two prom dresses from the last two years that could possibly work. The first is a toned down, darker fuscha and it is fitted around the bust and then falls to the floor (chiffon) with flowers lining a sweetheart neckline and thin straps I swewd on. It shows less cleavage than the next. This is the other that I am afraid is too floral for the end of march:

    Which one is more appropriate? Or should I get a new one on sale? The floral one fits better and I like it more, but I feel the first may be more appropriate.

    1. Hello Sarah,

      My first two questions are, “Where is the dining out?” and “What area of the country do you live in?”.

      The floral dress is beautiful. My first instinct is to tell you to go with the dress that you feel best in. I never recommend buying a new dress if you don’t have to. My husband has been in the Navy for 19 years and I recycle dresses all of the time.

      Keep in touch. I am happy to help.


      1. The dining out is at a fancy hotel. I am in the Rocky Mountain range- so very snowy. Which is why I am not sure about the floral. Currently, we have about two feet and counting. I got the floral dress for prom in April (I am 18).

        1. Hey Sarah,

          Okay, so I have two thoughts. First, the dress and the venue fit just fine. Second, it does seem a bit silly to wear a floral dress when the snow is still falling. However, in a few weeks the sun could be shining bright and it might feel like a true Spring day. You would look like a breath of fresh air :). If you want to send me a picture of the fuschia dress too, I am happy to take a look. I still stick to my original thought of whatever you feel best in is the dress you should wear.

          I hope this helps,

  82. Hi!
    I also have a dining out coming up in a couple of weeks that I got invited to by my boyfriend who is currently a sophomore at the Naval Academy. The dress code is “black tie”. I am still a high school senior and I know the event isn’t about me but I don’t want to make myself look younger than I am and have it reflect poorly on him. I also was invited to the International Ball in April. I was wondering if you have any tips and if you thought the dresses I have are appropriate. I’m nervous that I will be at a disadvantage because of my age. I also am not very good at dancing.
    This is the dress I was thinking about wearing to the dining out
    and this is the dress I am thinking about for the I Ball. I wore this dress to prom last year (I’m the one in black)
    Thank you so much for all the advice you have already given! This article is also a lot more helpful than the other ones I’ve read! :)

    1. Hey Kathryn,

      How exciting that you get to attend two balls this spring! I have to admit, I have never heard of the International Ball. Ooh, I just Googled it. How fun! I wasn’t able to open the page with your prom picture. However, I love the black and white dress you are thinking about for the dining out. It is a mature dress and you will look beautiful! No one will ever know that you are still in high school :).

      If you want to try to send the other dress in a different fashion, I am happy to take a look.

      Have fun!

        1. Hey Kathryn,

          No luck on this one either. I am assuming we have to be linked together on IG in order for me to be able to view the picture.


  83. Does anyone know if the Air Force still holds its Annual End of Year awards in Washington DC, or has that been cut due to the budget? And if so is it formal?

  84. Hi! I’m 17 and my boyfriend is Army and is in ROTC in college. They are having, in which he called “like’ a military ball.” He said he’s wearing a bow tie and really didn’t give me much info but “wear a dress” and “it’s face.” What’s too formal for this and is this or not like a military ball? We were both in HS JROTC and there were girls who weren’t in the program wearing prom dresses and being way overdone. I’m sort of clueless at this point and, oh yeah, I have less than 2 weeks! HELP! I know the color should be dark or coordinate with the uniform of your service-member or cadet. So, should I wear a floor length gown or keep it semi-formal? Any advice for a first-timer? I’m grateful for any info whatsoever! THANKS!

    1. Hey MJ,

      Okay, first of all, my old self doesn’t know what “it’s face” means :). Please explain. If he is wearing a bow tie with his uniform, it is formal. I would go with a very elegant floor length gown. I don’t think you have to coordinate with his uniform at all. I have to say some of the most stunning couples I have seen were when the woman was wearing a red or gold gown. You tell your sweet boyfriend that I said you need more details ;). Do you know where the event is being held? That might help. Sit down dinner, etc? Feel free to send any photos of dresses. I love looking at them.

      I hope this helps.
      Have a great day,

      1. I’m sorry! I meant to say fancy. The event is being held at Ball State university somewhere on the campus. That’s all I know. Today he asked what meat I wanted for dinner so would that tell me if its on the fancier side?

        1. Hey MJ,

          Fancy, got it :). Okay, I still stick with my original opinion. Yes, it is going to be a nice sit down dinner, military ball type atmosphere. You should go with elegant, floor length if possible and I wouldn’t worry one bit about the color. Let me know what you are thinking and I will help you work it out. Feel free to send pictures.

          Have a great day,

  85. Hey! My names Alexus and im 16. I am in the JROTC program at my school. I want to go to the military ball but then again don’t know if i truly want to go alone or with someone. Please help me decide!

    1. Hey Alexus,

      I think it is an awesome opportunity. If you have a group of friends that are going that don’t have dates, I say go that way. However, if you have your eye on someone, this is the perfect opportunity to ask if he or she might like to go to the ball with you. Let us know what you decide.

      I hope this helps,

  86. Hi!
    First of all, thank you so much for writing this article, it was extremely helpful for deciding on a dress. (I’ve decided to re-use my black, floor-length dress I wore only once to a wedding, so I’m excited to use it again to say the least!)
    I’m 18, and this will be my very first military ball, and am not concerned with being inappropriately dressed or acting appropriately, but I am concerned about my hair. You see, I recently got a sidecut (think Demi Lavoto), so part of the right side of my head is buzzed until my ear. I’m worried about ruining my formality with it. I have a couple of ideas about how to dress it up from looking at celebrities with similar haircuts. But I’m still worried about making my date look silly or embarrassing him.
    Should I be really concerned about my hair and try to find a way to cover the buzzed side?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Isabella,

      You shouldn’t be worried one bit about embarrassing your date. He clearly likes you just the way you are! If you really want to try to cover up your buzzed side, I would just go with an up do. Is that what you were thinking? Feel free to send pictures if you would like. You should feel pretty and comfortable, so whatever you need to do to make that happen is the way to go.

      By the way, I am so happy to hear you are re-cycling one of your dresses. No need to spend money when you already have a great dress hanging in your closet.

      Have a great time!

    2. I agree with Danya. I wouldn’t cover it if you don’t want to, but if you think it would make you uncomfortable due to some looks that invariably some of the older crowd might give you(between hubby’s time in the Army, and mine in the Corps I have seen PLENTY of just about everything, lol!); then cover it, but just barely. I am assuming you have a pretty deep side part for your shave, so instead of your normal side part, part your hair in either the middle or the opposite side, and do light finger waves, and end them in an updo of curls. Covering a side shave is fairly easy (been a hair stylist/master colorist for a few years now, and specialize in formal hair), but your stylist has to have a game plan! 😉 You will have a BLAST, I did for all the balls I went to; and we are currently prepping the 16yr daughter for her first JROTC high school ball. She was freaking out and thought she had to wear her uniform at first, lol! Good luck hun, you will be fine!

  87. Hi
    So I believe that I’ll be attending the Navy ball in a few weeks… and I have a dress, I love it, it’s comfortable, but it’s about knee length. Would something like that be appropriate? I’m a bit strapped for cash and would like to avoid hunting for another, but will if i have to.
    this is what my dress is, only black instead of a peacock color:

    1. Hey Libby,

      That dress is awesome! Dress it up with some fancy jewelry and strappy heels and you will be good to go.

      Have a great time at the ball!

  88. Hi,
    I will be attending my first army ROTC ball in April, I was planning on wearing my old prom dress, it is nothing special just a simple black floor length dress with an open back, a few jewels down the side and a slit on the right leg. Would this be appropriate? I don’t want to show up and be over dressed or feel out of place.

    1. Hello Sarah,

      I think your dress sounds perfect!

      Have an awesome night. Military balls are so much fun.

      Take care,

  89. So, I found this website, and as I saw that you happen to give helpful advice, and I myself am in Army JROTC, I need to ask. Would I have to escort a woman to the Ball in order to attend?

  90. My husband just joined a new unit. We have our first event in April. He is in the Army and is a Warrant Officer. He will be in his dress blues, but he keeps calling it a banquet. I have a long navy one shoulder dress with gold beading around the waist and around the back which is primarily open. It is a modest bust, but low back. Is this appropriate? I have a few other less formal dresses from other events we’ve been to. What advice can you give me?

    1. Hey Kaitly,

      Dress blues scream “formal” to me. Your dress sounds about right to me. Can you find out where they are holding the event and if it is a sit down dinner? My guess is that you are spot on with your choice. Let me know if you need any other help.

      Have fun!

    2. When it comes to the Army uniform, formality is distinguished by both uniform AND the type of tie. If he is wearing a regular tie, you’ll be looking for cocktail attire (above the knee dress). If it’s a bow tie, then you want to wear formal attire (below the knee dress as described in this article). Banquet is a tricky description when it comes to picking attire.

  91. Hi! Thank you for your article! I’m just super nervous about my first military ball in a few weeks, and I’m going with my boyfriend who’s an army captain. Will I have to be in the receiving line? Also I bought a floor length dress, and I don’t want to look completely foolish being the only one dressed so formally. My bf really doesn’t remember because he hasn’t been in a few years and those he could ask what the girls are wearing are all going stag. What should I do?

    1. Hey Stephanie,

      You are going to have such an awesome night. It really is a fabulous experience. You shouldn’t have to be in the receiving line, but you will have to go through it. Just shake hands and smile :). Your boyfriend should introduce you. A floor length gown to any military ball is absolutely appropriate! If you would like to send a link to a photo of the dress, I am happy to take a peek. Please let me know if you need anything else.

      Have fun,

  92. I’m sorry, but as an Army Officer married to another Army Officer, i must disagree: try to cover the “sexy” tattoos on the back or chest. In a formal military setting they are akin to the too-high-cut dress. Also, please remove piercings beyond the lower earlobes. These also reflect poorly upon the Servicemember and you *will* be noticed for the wrong reasons.

  93. Hi I’m 15 who had gotten invited to an Air force dinner/dance with a 16 year old in a special program for those who want to excel in the military. My question is do I wear a full, floor length dress or is it not necessary?

    1. Hello Samantha,

      Great question. Is it a formal sit down dinner? If so, I would say that a floor length would be appropriate. If it is less formal, like buffet style, the long dress would not be necessary.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great time!

  94. Hi, so my fiancé has mentioned to me that there is a sit down dinner for his company in the Wisconsin national guard and everything I’ve heard from him is that it is formal. He has never been to one of these because he has only been with his unit since November. I wanted to make sure that a floor length blush colored dress with some beading around the sweet heart neckline would be appropriate for this sort of thing.

    1. Hello Allison,

      I think your dress sounds perfect. If it is a formal sit down dinner, you will be good to go with a floor length dress.

      Have fun!

  95. Hi there,
    I’m a ballroom dance instructor. I was just hired by a husband/wife team who are attending the Marine Corp Ball in Nov, 2015. I want to teach them dances they will be able to use for this special event.

    I’ve tried researching to see what types of dances are played, but thus far I’ve only seen YouTube videos with a bunch of line dancing or “dance-offs” with the guys.

    Do you recall if waltz, rumba, cha cha, foxtrot, swing, maybe even a tango was played at the balls you attended?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hello Teresa,

      My husband has been in the Navy for 20 years. I have been to MANY military balls and have never seen any ballroom dances. Honestly, what you are finding on YouTube is pretty much spot on.

      Has the couple ever been to a Marine Corps Ball? I love their desire to show off their dances skills, but I am afraid they are going to be disappointed.

      If anyone else can shed some light on this question, please do.


      1. No, this couple has not been before. He’s all excited too because he’s been trying to get tickets for years and it was always sold out…. There was a clip of salsa on one of the YouTube vids, but that was it for real couple’s dancing.

        Thanks for the response! I also make ballroom & skate costumes with a focus on choosing designs that suit an individual’s body shape and size as well as performance level. I enjoyed your blog. I think the info was well-presented and spot-on with regards to non-military formal wear too.


        1. Hey Teresa,

          What a bummer. I would love to see some formal ballroom dancing at the military balls. It just doesn’t happen. Now there is no reason they can’t look like rock stars out there on their own. I say go for it!


  96. I’ve been asked to attend some sort of Air Force promotion ceremony event at the end of August but I don’t think it’s the military ball. He tells me it’s formal. I ask is it black tie or cocktail? He asks the difference and I asked whether women wore short or long dresses and he said both. I’m not unfamiliar with formal functions as I’ve attended quite a few on my life for work granted they were not military but annual museum galas etc. So I don’t know what this event really is compared to a military ball. My date is the chairman of this particular event and so I want to be dressed right because as others have said this isn’t about me it’s about him and the other service members. Not too formal and yet I don’t want to be not formal enough. The fact that it isn’t the military ball has me confused. Any advice?

  97. I’m also all about not being too sexy. I like Classic etc. I’m short so I feel like short knee length looks better on me and makes me look less stumpy but could so long for sure if it’s the safer choice.

  98. Hi. My boyfriend of almost a year is a sergeant in the army and just got back from being stationed overseas. We have been talking about going to a military ball but he doesn’t know when the next one is. Can someone please help me out? I’m a nervous because I’ve never been to a military ball and I don’t want to screw it up for him. He means the world to me and I want to make sure that I do my best. And for the army balls, what’s the suggested color of dress we should buy? I really like bright colors but so far I’ve seen that that is not acceptable, so I’m trying to figure out what colors would be. Any help? Please and thank you!

    1. Hey Amber,

      Sorry for my delay in writing back. I was on vacation.

      Don’t be nervous. It is going to be awesome! You can wear any color of dress you want. If you want to wear red, go for it! I can’t help you with the date of the next ball. It all depends on what area you are in and where your boyfriend is working. Just be yourself, follow the lead of others around, and have fun!! Feel free to send any photos of dresses you are considering. I am happy to help.

      Have a great day,

  99. Hi, first of all thanks for all the information, it was very helpful, and it definitely calmed me down. I will be attending my first marine and navy ball in November with my boyfriend.
    Now my question is about shoes, what shoes should I wear that are both comfortable and appropriate?

    1. Hey Kat,

      I am so excited for you. The ball will be amazing! I think your question depends on your dress. If you can find a pair of wedges that go with your dress, that would probably be your best bet. They will feel a lot better at the end of the night than a pair of stilettos.

      Have a great night!

    1. Hey Kat,

      I think that dress in red or back would be stunning! You are totally on the right track knowing that too much cleavage wouldn’t be appropriate. See, you are going to be great at this whole thing! Keep me posted on what you decide.


  100. This page is very helpful,I was here for advise on what to wear to navy ball last year, I wore a black V neck gown and it was beautiful with not too many sequences. However, I felt I was over dressed to see what ladies were wearing as if we were in a night club. My question is, even though I can’t dress too low, I don’t know what to wear as the ball is approaching this year again. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hey Tina,

      I can totally understand how you felt. I have been there seen that :). However, I can promise you that the way you were dressed was much more appropriate than everyone dressed like they were headed to a hot night club!

      Where is your ball this year? What feels appropriate also depends on your age. I am not wearing the same dresses I wore at my first few balls twenty years ago that I am wearing now. That would be awkward ;)!

      Feel free to send me any pictures. I love checking out all of your dress options. You can always email me at if you don’t want this stuff spread on the internet.

      Have a great day,

  101. Hi, I was asked to attend the Ball this year by a friend of mine. I have never been to one of these events and do not know what the tradition is. He advised me that we would be spending the night at the hotel since the event is over 2 hours away from my house. His reasoning was due to the drinking that goes on at these events, he did not want to have to drive home intoxicated and did not want me to have to drive home like that either. Since my house is so far away, UBER, Lyft, and a Taxi will not be suitable. Is it tradition to spend the night at a hotel? Also, is it expected for me to have sex that night since I will be going as his invited guest and agreed to spend the night at the hotel? I am not attracted to him and do not intend to have sex, but I also do not want to have him expect anything that night, especially if nothing is traditionally supposed to happen. Please help me understand this. Thanks!

    1. Hello Cynthia,

      First of all, you are never, never, never expected to have sex with anyone! This is by no means a tradition!!

      My husband and I have gotten hotels rooms in the past for military balls. If the ball is over a couple of hours away, I could see that a hotel may be a good idea. I am assuming there is a big group of people attending from a distance. Can you all go in a share a few rooms?

      I would suggest being very up front and honest with him. Hopefully that will be easy and you are both on the same page.

      Take care,

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