Cinderella’s Struggle (or, Dressing for a Ball)

Part 3!

Dressing for the Marine Corps Ball is not like dressing for prom. In fact, you probably shouldn’t wear your prom dress to the ball. There are, of course, other elements to a good style, so never fear! The ball outfit guide is here.

The Dress

  • Short dresses are generally a no-go. Don’t wear anything like this:

trendy-cranberry-short-prom-dress-with-strapless-sweetheart-pleated-bodice halter-deep-v-neck-open-back-aqua-short-prom-dress-with-embellished-trim-spd0254_01 prom_dress_macduggal_cocktail_7209b_royal_multi_pc

Instead, if you must have a short dress, look for this:

images Grape-Knee-Length-Chiffon-395-Satin-Knee-length-Bridesmaid-Dress-21679-73049 0ee3b6306569106adf2407b3ec11d41a

Notice that your boobs aren’t hanging out, the dress reaches to your knees, and there aren’t any crazy cutouts.

Long dresses are a much safer bet, but again, make sure everything is covered and stay away from those cutouts! Poofy dresses are generally a no-go as well, because you’re sitting or standing all night in a cramped ball room, and they take up a lot of space, not to mention make it really, really hard to pee. If you fall in love with a poofy dress, though, go for it, as long as (say it with me) everything is covered up.

Don’t feel like you HAVE to match his dress blues. It looks nice if you wear a red, blue, or gold gown, but experiment! Just don’t, for the love of all that is holy, wear a dress that looks like a flag, has Twilight characters on it, or is a crazy print. Please. I’m begging you.

Special considerations for choosing a dress:

  • When you’re breastfeeding: Don’t pick something with molded cups. Spaghetti strap dresses are usually the best option, because you can just fold down the cup. Wear a strapless bra if you have to, but make sure you have heavy duty nursing pads in there! And visit your baby to breastfeed right before the ceremony starts and right after it ends, or lordy lordy will you get engorged, and you might leak milk all over your dress and have a few of the more drunk guys staring at your chest all night.
  • When you’re pregnant: Empire waist dresses are super great for this. This is the only time I’ll tell you to wait to get your ballgown until a couple weeks before, because there really isn’t a way to determine what size you’ll be.
  • When you’re on a budget: If you live near a military base, check out the local thrift stores. In my experience, they all have dozens of beautiful, appropriate dresses for sale. Don’t assume that every dress you find there is, though! You can also check clearance racks, eBay, or Craigslist. Be willing to pay for a few alterations- it’s cheaper than buying a brand new dress.
  • When you’re in it for the long run: If you marry your Marine and will be going to the ball for four or more years, I would really suggest getting two dresses with a forgiving fit, and wearing them again and again and again. Alternate each year, and no one will remember. Plus, you’ll probably move once every two years or so, so the people in a new place have never seen it! It’ll save you major buckaroos.


  • Please don’t buy new shoes. Instead, pull out your comfortable, slightly worn heels, or even flats. You’ll be standing for an hour or more for cocktails, about 20 minutes throughout the ceremony, in line for the dinner buffet, and after the ball for dancing. It’s not appropriate for you to take your shoes off to dance, by the way. I personally like ballroom dancing shoes, because they’re super duper comfortable for long periods of time, and they flex. They are the only exception to the new shoes rule.


  • Claires is your best friend. Find cheap jewelry that looks nice. Don’t worry about it lasting, unless you’re in it for the long run. In that case, find better quality stuff that won’t break the bank, and make sure it matches your two dresses.

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