What Not to Wear to a Military Ball

First rule: underwear is NOT clothing! Here's what to NOT wear to a military ball. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-59N

Over here aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, the ever-helpful MCCS has decided to hold a Ball Etiquette Class.  As I was informed at our family readiness meeting yesterday, it’s all about “knowing where to put your napkin, what fork to use when, how to behave, all that ball stuff!”

I’m assuming our FRO has never watched Pretty Woman. Because if MCCS wants to hold a ball-related educational event, I’ll totally go to watch the scene where the hotel manager teaches Julia Roberts to work from the outside in.  They could even get smart and serve popcorn and champagne.

I’m also assuming he’s never paid much attention at a ball.  Because I’ve never been to one where they’ve given me any more silverware than I get at Applebee’s, where I’m also expected to navigate my way through two whole forks and a butter knife.  And they don’t even offer a class to show me how.  Plus, I’m pretty sure the likelihood we’ll ever need to use that tricky snail utensil at a military ball is slim to none.

If we are going to hold a ball-themed class, though, let’s make it actually worthwhile. We could have three main themes:

1. Lingerie still isn’t clothing.
2. This is a work event.
3. Lingerie really, really, really isn’t clothing.  Really.

At my first ball, I admit I was a bit awed. It wasn’t the Marines all fancy-schmancy in their dress blues, or the fairly awe-inspiring traditions that get me teary every time.

It was this: as someone who insists on watching the Miss America pageant yearly, I still had never seen so much skin popping out of a dress as I did at that ball.  I didn’t even know where you could buy a dress like that.  Obviously, I had yet to study the women’s section of the PX during ball season.

Now, the last time I suggested that lingerie isn’t clothing, I was met with much ado about being a stodgy walking advertisement for Amish clothiers and wife of what must clearly be a wandering-eyed Marine. I’d like to set the record straight: I, too, take great joy in finding something super hot and drool-worthy gorgeous to wear to the balls, and my husband’s eyes are just for me unless we’re looking at a picture of Scarlett Johansson, because even I can’t help ogling then.  I love a hot red dress, sexy LBD, and dangerously high heels, but I also know when to leave those in the closet.  And if MCCS’s recent advertisements for their annual ExtravaGOWNza* is any clue, they’re the ones who actually need a class on what not to wear to a military ball.

So, with no further ado, let’s start the fight again:

1. Lingerie is still not clothing.

Just say no.

2. Equally unfitting is the dress that says “I’m showing more skin than I’m covering.”  Because y’all, it’s not actually more sexy.  Nor is it flirtingly cute.  Also, it looks particularly chilly in all those super-air-conditioned venues that accommodate our decked-out spouses in their blues.  And the ones who are actually looking are the other dates.  Us.  And what we’re doing might be more adequately described as staring.

Love that love-handle breeze.  This dress even does double-duty.  It’s that “I really want to be upgraded to wife” white look *and* the “have you seen my hipbones?” dress.  The answer? Yes, we have.  We did at the beach all summer.  It’s not the summer anymore.

3. Equally confusing are the dresses that look like you finally bought the dress your mother wouldn’t allow you to wear to the prom and your father said “over my dead body.”  You know the one.

Sufficed to say, your parents were right.

4. Then there are the dresses that just make us – the other women there – confused.  I should elaborate that these dresses confuse men, too, and they frequently lean over and ask us what you’re wearing.  We shrug our shoulders because we honestly have no idea.

Is this a dress? Or is this a spider web? Do we even know?

5. Then there’s this one.  We’ve all seen it.

We’ve seen it in every color, every combination, and every possible smattering of rhinestone adornments.  It’s just never a good idea.

6. Nor is the dress that makes guys joke that the machine broke while making your dress and this happened.

Resembling pea-fowl is the kind of thing you should reserve for Halloween.  Honestly.

7. And – last but not least – is the dress that makes you wince because every time she moves, you see her thong.

It’s true: the rule that applies to jeans *also* applies to your ball gown.  We just didn’t know it needed to be said.

In other words: Lingerie? It still isn’t clothing.

Next week we’ll bring you ideas on what you SHOULD wear to a military ball. For now, feel free to share your other “don’t” tips.
* It’s amazing how many words they can make by sacrificing the word “extravaganza.”  ExtravaGOWNza in September.  EGGstravaganza in March.  I’m waiting for the next one. Maybe we ought to have a class where we teach them that there are, in fact, other words in the English language besides “extravaganza.” Just a thought?

 

 

About the Author

Raleigh Duttweiler
Raleigh Duttweiler is a writer and social media expert living just outside the gates of MacDill in sunny Saint Petersburg, Florida. A Marine Corps wife, she has navigated the stress of Active Duty moves, trainings, and deployments, and now that her family has transitioned to the Reserves, she's experiencing the "weekend warrior" side of military life. (NB: It's not quite as part-time as advertised.) When not writing about benefits and military families, Raleigh posts here about truly life-altering, important issues like What Not to Wear to a Military Ball (visible thongs), Military Halloween Costumes We Love to Hate (ones that generally resemble both military uniforms AND thongs), and how to pack awesome care packages. She is passionate about spouse employment, higher education, and helping families navigate the often-bumpy transition back into civilian life. Raleigh also manages the SpouseBUZZ and Military.com Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest pages, so be sure to say hi!
  • Guest

    Just buy a dark navy/black dress that is knee length and has straps. That’s it. And wear it over, and over and over again.

    • Nicole

      If you will notice, at most of these formal events, the leadership spouses are wearing floor length gowns. Follow their lead. You can’t go wrong.

      • http://sarahv2010.blogpspot.com Sarah

        I will have to agree with Nicole. A knee length gown is not proper ball attire. Floor length is considered formal. The ball is formal. A knee length dress is a cocktail dress. It’s not the Marine Corps cocktail hour.

      • Guest

        Sorry but if you even look at the picture that starts this column THAT is an officer’s wife with the horrible boob job but thinks that low cut dress is “sexy”. The majority of of the absolutely DISGUSTINGLY inappropriate dressing were worn by the leadership’s spouses. Maybe they should just have a class for every single married man on how to grow a set of balls and tell their wife that they are not going out in public looking like a cheap hooker.

        • bobbie

          Sorry Guest, but I have been to both officer balls & enlisted balls, my husband was enlisted when we married & became an officer later. I have seen just as many tastless dress at the enlisted balls as I have at the officer ones. Rank has nothing to do with bad taste!!!

          • Anonymous

            Not sure what “balls” you’re referencing… But I’ve been to 8 (and counting) and it’s the whole battalion. Enlisted and Officer. I’ve never heard of a segregated balls. Dining In, maybe, but spouses aren’t typically invited to those.

            Back to the topic at hand thoug, I agree. I just roll my eyes at the attention seeking whores who feel compelled to dress in such attire.

          • Proud AF Spouse

            It depends on the branch of service, the squadron, and the event. My husband is in a career field that is ONLY officers. No enlisted ranks perform his job. He does not have any enlisted members that report to him. When his squadron host a Christmas Ball it is only officers. But the Air Force Birthday Ball is all ranks, the whole base is invited. In any case, it is always considered a “work event,” and therefore spouses are expected to dress conservatively formal.

          • Greg

            You are probably not a Senior SNCO or Captain or above. They have MANY balls like that (usually in addition to the unit ball). Also , very large units they break them up sometimes. And I also have the same observation, it’s everyone, every rank, Knee length DRESSES are not appropriate. A ball is black tie so a floor length GOWN is REQUIRED. And civilian men really should be wearing a tux, not just a suit (to be fair to both genders, haha).

    • TRaci

      awe ahahahahaha!!! I couldn’t stop laughing at this post! Half the time these ladies look like way too expensive hookers when they go to these Navy/Marine balls! Good Lord Stop the madness before it begins PLEASE!!!

    • Former Squid

      Wear whatever you feel comfortable in. The military controls almost all facets of your life. This should not include your girlfriend or spouse. The ladies in the pictures above are gorgeous and while it may be inappropriate for the Sailor or Marine to wear, I don’t agree with censoring the freedoms that our troops fight for.

      • https://www.facebook.com/katerina.s.gerard Katerina Sinclair Gerard

        i totally agree with you. we are not talking about extreme dresses here but still..just wear what you like! there are so many haters, ugh just get a life

    • Seasoned USMC Spouse

      Floor length gowns are the proper length for any formal occasion in the military world. Knee- or tea- length is okay for any event in which the service members are not in formal attire such as the Dress Blues.

    • Jane

      Nope! its a ball, meaning full formal, the dress should be long, NOT knee length, that is for semi formal events/cocktail parties, like the company dinner. A ball should get a full length evening dress.

  • Army Wife

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!! A ball is a work event it is not a club! I do not want to know for a fact you are not wearing a bra or underwear because it’s beyond obvious! Show everyone you think enough of yourself not to look like a hooker, I’m begging you!!!!!

    • http://www.bunnyvictorious.com Raleigh Duttweiler

      What, you DON’T want to look like a hooker?!? WHY NOT!!! (On that note, if I could have Julia Roberts’ wardrobe from Pretty Woman I’d be willing to dress like a hooker in that one instance.)

      • airam acines

        wearing those type of clothes is seeking attention…. trying to be popular like celebrities….. that makes her look like a hooker… be professional….

  • Boson

    WOW! You comment on your own stories……

    • Amy_Bushatz

      Boson — Of course she comments on her own stories. All of our SpouseBuzz bloggers are encouraged to interact with our readers as part of the social media experience. If you expect to be able to say something without having the author read it or respond you’re in the wrong place!

      • Boson

        HAHAHA! Not at all, she can respond if she wants. There were ten comments and four of them were hers, that’s all i was saying. Most writers don’t respond in the comment sections of their own articles….

        • USMC_WIFE

          do you read here much? yeah they do.

          • Boson

            I didn’t say most writers here, i said most writers period. Yes, i’ve commented here before and no the writer never commented or responded to any of the post.

    • Tara

      So glad that we have authors that comment on their stories. This blog is a place for us as military spouses to have a good and active dialogue about the crazy stuff military life can throw out at us, both big and small.

  • jacey_eckhart

    Raleigh you always make me laugh. Then again, if I had the bod for the dress that looks like a spider web you know I would be figuring out a way to wear it.

  • Margaret

    I appreciate any attempt to help us know what to do at a military ball. A few weeks after we started dating my man transferred to a new unit & found out the ball was that night. They put big pressure on him to show up and get to know people. So he called me with 4 hours notice to pull something together. (Panicked scream heard around the world). Since I was visiting him, I had no closet to fall back on and ran to the mall in a panic needing everything from jewelry, undergarments, dress, shoes. It was stressful too having to spend so much money for things I had plenty of at home. I bought a simple short black dress thinking, that would get my by. When we got to the ball all the other women were in brightly colored, floor length full ball gowns. It was super stressful and I was totally a mess by that point. I just wished someone has told me floor length because I would’ve run to a rental shop instead and looked for the right kind of dress. It’s great to have some help & guidance from spouses! I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through!

    • Michelle

      I think if you found a black dress, shoes and all the accessories, took a shower, did your hair and make-up and go to the ball in four hours…WITHOUT a FAIRY GODMOTHER…YOU should be commended!
      I am Active Duty Navy and as such have to wear my dress uniform to my own ball. However, I attend the other service balls wearing the appropriate “Service Color” Red or Black for Marine Corps, Blue for Air Force and Green for Army (I usually go for a nice olive green since it really looks good with my eyes). I work for an Admiral and as such I know most of the other Admirals AND Generals…so I wear something that doesn’t say….WOW, WHO KNEW YOU HAD THAT GOIN ON UNDER THE UNIFORM!. It seems to work for me. The most important thing to remember is this…wear what makes you feel beautiful and what makes your service member date PROUD to be your escort. It is HIS ball, not yours.

  • Household61974

    Wait. Isn’t half of the entertainment at a ball oggling over what some of the (ahhem) “ladies” have on, or who has had one too many drinks, or whose boob has made its way nearly out of her dress, or whose husband is sitting a bit too close, or . . . or . . . all of the above?

    • navy_wife

      I am so glad you mentioned about those boobs screaming out of the dress. I think this should be put into more consideration when buying a dress because people can se and tell if you have big or small boobs regardless of what you wear. So please, to all who are gifted, we know you got it but obviously we do not want to see it screaming out of your dress. I think it is not that necessary for flaunting….just saying :)

  • Renee Q

    Ugh yet another slut shaming article about what to wear to a ball. Seriously who cares what other chicks wear? You don’t see men coaching other men about what to wear. Why because men could give a crap. We actually extend to them the courtesy of thinking they know how to get dressed. But of course we as women need some asinine how-to complete with pictures about how to dress to the authors standards. Thanks for talking down to us.

    • Mike

      Well Renee a lot of the men are either wearing our uniforms or it’s easy enough to find a regular suit or tux if you’re a civilian. You’re not likely to see any male wearing something ridiculous to a ball because of that like you see on some females that attend these events. So we don’t really have to go out of our way to coach each other in what to wear outside of bow tie or regular tie if going in civilian clothes. But while men don’t really bother worrying about what each other are wearing, you can bet they’ll be talking about what the women are wearing. I don’t know about “**** shaming” as you say but really should a female be wearing something that could be considered ****** to a formal ball?!

      I’m not saying a female should have to hide her individuality but wearing something that doesn’t leave much to the imagination is just bound to bring negative attention and not just from other women. I’ve heard higher ups lecture Soldiers the next work day after a ball about things their wives or girlfriends said, did, and even what they wore and asked why the **** they didn’t warn their significant other ahead of time that while yes people are drinking and more laid back, it’s still a formal event with tradition and a certain way of behaving is to be expected. It’s still a military sponsored event. It’s not just the higher ups either. Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors all talk to each other about it too. You’ll have the female military personnel will just have one more reason to talk about the “wives” and how they just don’t get military life and how the way they looked or acted just made their husbands/boyfriends look bad. Then of course you’ll get the guys giving each other a hard time. Would you rather be the wife who the guys told their buddy that she was beautiful, classy, sweet, funny, etc? Or do you want to be the wife where the guys rib their buddy by saying something like “oh man, that chick is going to cheat on you the moment we deploy, did you see what she was wearing? She wanted every guys attention with you in the room, how do you think it’s going to be when you’re gone the whole year?” Is that fair? Most likely not. Is it nice of guys to talk like that about another guys wife especially to his face? Nope but you can bet it happens especially after these balls. If you think otherwise then sorry but then you clearly haven’t spent much time surrounded by all guys or if you have they censored themselves with you there. If you think your husband is an exception to that then you’d be in a rude awakening if you ever overheard him when he was surrounded by his buddies unaware of you there. Even the nicest guy submits at some point to that talk when with his buddies especially in a military environment. Now if hes the subject of that talk, he will no doubt defend you but usually that just opens him up for more ribbing to be honest. So why not wear something classy for the night instead of creating a negative image for yourself to your husband’s bosses and fellow service members? Is it really that important to you to dress inappropriately for the event in question that you’ll risk not only the image you project to others but also cause you’re husband/boyfriend grief from his friends and coworkers.

      • Shirley

        AMEN MIKE!

    • Mike

      Well Renee a lot of the men are either wearing our uniforms or it’s easy enough to find a regular suit or tux if you’re a civilian. You’re not likely to see any male wearing something ridiculous to a ball because of that like you see on some females that attend these events. So we don’t really have to go out of our way to coach each other in what to wear outside of bow tie or regular tie if going in civilian clothes. But while men don’t really bother worrying about what each other are wearing, you can bet they’ll be talking about what the women are wearing. I don’t know about “**** shaming” as you say but really should a female be wearing something that could be considered ****** to a formal ball?!

    • Mike K

      Well Renee a lot of the men are either wearing our uniforms or it’s easy enough to find a regular suit or tux if you’re a civilian. You’re not likely to see any male wearing something ridiculous to a ball because of that like you see on some females that attend these events. So we don’t really have to go out of our way to coach each other in what to wear outside of bow tie or regular tie if going in civilian clothes. But while men don’t really bother worrying about what each other are wearing, you can bet they’ll be talking about what the women are wearing. I don’t know about “**** shaming” as you say but really should a female be wearing something that could be considered ****** to a formal ball?!

      I’m not saying a female should have to hide her individuality but wearing something that doesn’t leave much to the imagination is just bound to bring negative attention and not just from other women. I’ve heard higher ups lecture Soldiers the next work day after a ball about things their wives or girlfriends said, did, and even what they wore and asked why the **** they didn’t warn their significant other ahead of time that while yes people are drinking and more laid back, it’s still a formal event with tradition and a certain way of behaving is to be expected. It’s still a military sponsored event. It’s not just the higher ups either. Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors all talk to each other about it too. You’ll have the female military personnel will just have one more reason to talk about the “wives” and how they just don’t get military life and how the way they looked or acted just made their husbands/boyfriends look bad.

      Then of course you’ll get the guys giving each other a hard time. Would you rather be the wife who the guys told their buddy that she was beautiful, classy, sweet, funny, etc? Or do you want to be the wife where the guys rib their buddy by saying something like “oh man, that chick is going to cheat on you the moment we deploy, did you see what she was wearing? She wanted every guys attention with you in the room, how do you think it’s going to be when you’re gone the whole year?” Is that fair? Most likely not. Is it nice of guys to talk like that about another guys wife especially to his face? Nope but you can bet it happens especially after these balls. If you think otherwise then sorry but then you clearly haven’t spent much time surrounded by all guys or if you have they censored themselves with you there. If you think your husband is an exception to that then you’d be in a rude awakening if you ever overheard him when he was surrounded by his buddies unaware of you there. Even the nicest guy submits at some point to that talk when with his buddies especially in a military environment. Now if hes the subject of that talk, he will no doubt defend you but usually that just opens him up for more ribbing to be honest. So why not wear something classy for the night instead of creating a negative image for yourself to your husband’s bosses and fellow service members? Is it really that important to you to dress inappropriately for the event in question that you’ll risk not only the image you project to others but also cause you’re husband/boyfriend grief from his friends and coworkers.

      • http://spousebuzz Brandy

        I agree Mike! You always need to represent your husband, it’s never ok to dress like trash. You have to be as professional as he is, he’s wearing a suit, you wear a beautiful flowing gown

        • snarkynavywife

          So…professional attire for the womenfolk is a beautiful, flowing gown? I didn’t realize that was the standard industry attire for my spouse “profession.”

          I don’t think the message in this post is wrong, as there are standards of appropriate attire for everyone (regardless of gender, mind you), but I do question the language springing up around it. S l u t-shaming is the act of declaring a woman a slut because of her dress, her actions, or her attitude and shaming her for it. So looking at a dress that shows a lot of skin and declaring the wearer a s l u t is inappropriate and a double standard. A mil-husband who shows up wearing only a bowtie and slacks will not be called a slut or a man-whore or whatever equally sexually demeaning term you like. He’ll be called inappropriate and perhaps a bit off his rocker.

          Where the original blog post skirts just over the slut-shaming line is by equating these dresses with lingerie when swimwear, People of Walmart wear, or LeeLoo’s Thing of Straps would suffice. Merely calling out this attire as inappropriate is enough.

          • Mike K

            Snarkynavywife, I don’t think anyone thinks it is fair to immediately label women wearing this kind of attire as ****** but unfortunately that’s the idea most people come away with when seeing females squeezed into these kind of skin showing dresses. It’s certainly not fair to judge that woman like that without knowing her but unfortunately this is how society is and based on my own many experiences seeing and hearing this kind of talk after a ball, this is how she will wind up being perceived and talked about by many of her man’s fellow service members despite how nice she might actually be. People unfortunately judge each other and frankly you can probably blame the wives who have in the past thrown themselves at their husband’s military buddies as soon as he wasn’t around because a lot of guys then end up assuming that a woman dressed showing a lot cleavage and legs and such at these events is that same kind of female. Again unfair but due to it happening in the past, that’s where we get assumptions and people judging others due to perceived first impressions.

          • snarkynavywife

            No, it’s not fair, but why do we have to perpetuate it? Shift our language and our approach to the subject, and we slowly build a wave of change.

            And why should we make sweeping generalizations about any woman who shows cleavage based on the bad behavior of a few women? I really don’t see how having a low neckline can possibly translate to “will throw herself at all his buddies.” Maybe it’s just cognitive dissonance doing a number on me right now, but I don’t understand how cleavage=~slut=~adulterer. Adulterer=~adulterer makes plenty of sense. Why are dudes (and I’m going to generalize here since your statement is one that encompasses our entire society) so quick to make an assumption about a woman’s propensity toward unethical behavior based on how much boobage she’s showing? How is this okay? I don’t see a dude who’s walking around shirtless with moobs and assume he’s got a foot fetish and will steal all my shoes and do imaginative and squicky things with them. I just assume he has questionable judgment regarding how much people want to ogle his moobs.

            So when we see a woman show up to a formal military event wearing some LeeLoo strap action, why don’t we assume she didn’t get the memo about formal attire, or else she considers this conservative dress? Question her judgment, not her morals.

            Again, there’s a double standard at work here. It’s not fair, and it’s not okay to sit back and say, “Boys will be boys, and nothing’s going to change, so shut up and be okay with second class citizenship.” RAWR! Clearly a button of mine here.

            Anyway! To keep this productive, I suggest we stop looking at how much flesh you can see on a chick and equating that with some terrible personality flaw. Be aware of that judgment and decide to repattern your thinking. There are better ways of judging a woman’s behavior…and that’s by judging her behavior rather than how she adorns her body.

          • YellowRoseOTx

            Chip on your shoulder much?

            The reality is and has been forever that WOMEN ARE JUDGED by how they dress to a much larger extent than men. Otherwise, women would not bother with push-up bras, SPANX, high heels, hair color, make-up and all of the rest? We would just wear slacks and shirts (some kind of “uniform” like men do). And sadly, yes, women do judge each other. It’s reality. I don’t recall anyone in the writer calling any one a slut or a skank. And yes, it’s a double standard. What else is new?

          • snarkynavywife

            So it’s okay that we’re judged by our appearances? It’s okay that someone’s going to look at the fact that you’re wearing a push-up bra and declare you a slut? It’s fine by you that someone saw you with a hemline an inch higher than s/he deemed reasonable and has declare you’re the type of woman who’s going to chase after other men when your husband’s back is turned? I hope those questions don’t come across as uncivil. I’m honestly just stunned. I can’t imagine being resigned to this and unwilling–or worse, apathetic–to make any attempt to change the attitudes of people in my social sphere.

            The reality you’re describing is very ethnocentric, applicable to our culture and certainly not traceable to “forever.” It’s also a generalization that’s largely untrue. Men do have more limited clothing options thanks to gender expectations, but that doesn’t stop some of my dude friends from owning literally ten times the shoes I do. It doesn’t stop them from finding shirts and jeans cut make themselves look however they want to look. I know you meant this in more generic terms, but consider that our culture, which is always changing (yay melting pot!), is malleable. We don’t have to sit down and shut up when double standards leave us with the fecal end of the stick. So why are we? Why are we so unwilling to look at our attitudes and the powerful words and images we use to communicate these attitudes (many of them subconsciously rendered) and try to make this world better? Why are we more content to be treated as second-class citizens when a little introspection and shift in attitude and presentation can change so much?

            Please reread my original comment. I didn’t say the author called anyone a slut or a skank. I said that comparing the gowns in the photos to lingerie skates the edge of slut-shaming rhetoric when there are other comparisons that are just as or even more effective and that don’t cast women who choose to wear these clothes in sexual terms and then set them up to be ashamed of their choices…and then accused by virtue of their clothing choices of being immoral and unethical douchecanoes who are out to steal all the men.

          • Boson

            Agreed! Just because it happens, doesn’t make it right! Change starts with how you think, you can’t change others but you can inspire others to be better by your actions.

          • SmartyPants

            @ Snarky, thank you, thank you. I was starting to feel I entered the Twilight Zone filled with drones. You made this worth my time of reading comments I found of people, namely women, that seem to have no other purpose in life, but to “follow”. As a woman, not just a “military wife”, I have not just book smarts, but common sense. As a LT Commander in the Navy, I respect my husband’s career. He respects my career as an attorney. If someone has the common sense to find this blog, they should have common sense to research what is considered formal attire and decide to do what I hope they have been doing since being a young lady. Dress themselves.

          • Jane

            this is not about about being judged by appearance or shaming or whatever, its about an event, a PROFFESSIONAL, WORK EVENT. A FORMAL EVENT for an institution that has a certain protocol and long history of tradition for said event, and for respecting that. Its that simple. When you’re in Vegas for clubbing certain clothing is considered appropriate, just like a formal ball gown would be considered out of place in a Vegas club. This is not the place to get on your “shirk societal convention” kick. Certain things are appropriate for certain places and not for others, its that simple. Its not about shaming but teaching. You’re making it way to personal. Its not about shaming you, its about showing the tradition the respect it deserves, that’s it. You can wear whatever you want when you’re not at the ball.

          • guest

            Way to come in almost two years later to impart your wisdom. I can sense I’m supposed to feel all schooled. The problem is, you also didn’t read what I said: professional or unprofessional attire aside, the verbiage used is absolutely sl*t-shaming and inappropriate. I explained why — reread and feel free to ask for clarification if you don’t grok. The rest of what I said here was in direct response to people who chose to double down on unsupportable arguments.

            I’m going to assume the “you” was general and not directed at me. So in that case, thanks for the lecture for all these young laydeez lacking in knowledge of social mores and in ability to read, parse, and understand expectations of formal professional situations. Thanks, also, for being part of the problem. Your dismissal of the tone taken by the OP is why American women can’t have nice things.

          • Soldier’s mom

            A military guy showing up at a military ball in a bowtie and slacks does not equate to a woman showing up to the same event with too much skin showing. I went to my son’s and BOY did the women who showed up “WRONG” get talked about. One in particular showed up in the equivalent of a babydoll pj and combat boots ( I HAVE PICTURES) Her date was an officer who reportedly had been told on other occasions about the types of women he brought to those events and their attire. Guess he didn’t listen because he has been separated from the Army early.

            Tradition is HUGE in the military.

            I didn’t know what to wear or NOT wear so I Googled…found a site that gave specifics and examples. Fortunately, Nordstroms had a beautiful gown for a MOM to wear there (I sure wanted to wear one of the ones I saw in RED) But found elegant black.

            Don’t you know the Commander’s wife had the same dress in navy blue sleeveless form!!! Wooohoo! Since we differ in height and weight no one could tell they were so alike. (I stayed my distance most of the night, too, so she could shine in her gown.)

            FUN TIMES…

    • Mike K

      Sorry didn’t mean to post that comment so many times, it kept telling me it wasn’t publishing which apparently was false…Maybe the blog person can take my extras off and just keep the one…

    • Living life happy

      Dude for real! People do care about what they wear and funny enough a lot of the men at the balls tend to wear a uniform. Go figure. I suppose if they wanted to the men folk could introduce hot pants and do dubstep.Relax.

      • Sheena

        If your spouse is anything like my spouse, he asks his buddies how far apart his medals or ribbons should be from the middle. He also asks if he looks fatter because he got his dress blues when he was XXX pounds and now he’s XXX pounds. So they still ask others’ opinions and they do care what they look like.

        Also, I wore a dress like the ruffle one above (#6) but it was full length. I told him I’d be wearing a green ruffle dress with lots of crystals on the top. He didn’t like ruffles. It was my first ball and I only knew him four months. I got compliments ALL NIGHT from women. And one co-worker asked him months after the ball, “are you still with that HOT Asian?” It’s okay to be different and want a dress to be memorable. Just remember it’s his night, you are there for him. Wear a dress that people will remember you in, in a positive light, so that positive light will extend to your partner as well.

        • cj12

          note in her comment about the ruffle dress it was about it being only half a skirt not anything to do with the bling or ruffles themselves….if it had a full bottom it would be very pretty:)

        • Soldier’s Mom

          You are so right about measuring medal and ribbon position. My son had the manual out with a ruler. He is VERY precise about it and superiors are as well. He’s been that way since basic. He leads by example. His is right, so he inspects those around him to make sure they ALL conform to code.

          If the man is concerned about his attire, he will be concerned about the attire of the woman who accompanies him. My son’s girlfriend thought it didn’t matter–blew off his concerned comments. Guess what? She’s not the girlfriend any more.

    • Christina

      Whether or not we like it Ladies what we wear, what we say and what we do, DOES reflect on our spouses. So, when going to a Military Ball it is in HIS best interest to look like a decent, respectful wife. If you want to look like a hooker or act like one wait until you get home. I am positive he will appreciate it more at that time than he would in front of his colleagues. These Balls are not FOR US; the spouses. The COs and Brigade Commanders are looking at our soldiers to see if they can handle themselves and their spouses (yes, they are expected to handle us) with respect. If his wife comes to the Ball looking like a hooker I can guarantee his CO just said to himself (obviously he can’t handle his wife so how can he handle his men properly). As his wife you are expected to make decisions based on appropriate behavior and how you present yourself. Go ahead and present yourself as a hooker and see how you are treated by the “guys” as well as their wives. You are quite correct, that IS your Right, However, when you have been warned and offered advice on what you shouldn’t wear, no whining allowed when you are treated like you presented yourself.

      • MWE

        What most of them fail to understand is that they area direct reflection of their servicemember, and what they do can affect them. As a servicemember myself, I have been to MANY command functions where the spouse should have just stayed home. Whether because of their dress or how they acted. If the invitation says “Formal Dress”, then that’s what it means.. I swear, like I said, lots of them look like they should have stayed home, or they look like they are going to the club. Yes, I agree. If a high up servicemember cant handle his spouse, how in the heck would he be able to control his guys?!?

    • Sarah

      Who cares?? How about you should, out of respect, this isn’t your night, this is for your spouse. If you want to dress up like that for you, so be it, go do it in Vegas or another event, this night is not about you. It’s a formal event with a lot of pride and tradition attached. Have some class.

    • Amber

      The men have it spelled out for them, then they are inspected to assure that they can follow the manual.

    • greg

      Apparently you do need it if you do not know black tie means long GOWN. And above I address your concerns about men. They need to be in a tux, not just a nice suit. Words mean things and if they wanted you to show up in something less they would not say black tie.

      • jojo613

        It really depends on the wording in the invitation. The Air Force ball I attended a few weeks ago, the invitation spelled out exactly what the appropriate attire was, so that civilian attendees would have the option of not going black tie.

        Men could wear a suit and tie, military men could wear mess dress or service dress uniform with a white shirt, and bow tie (I don’t recall what that dress was called). Women could wear a cocktail dress, and military women could wear mess dress or service dress with a white top and mess dress tie tab.

        There was one spouse with a questionable dress on, and she was a Lt. Col spouse, everyone else was dressed appropriately.

    • Susan F

      At military social functions the military member is “still on the job” so to speak. The spouse’s role is very important because you will represent your husband and the respect that you have for him and his job at all of these social functions whether it be a Ball or Company picnic. Therefore, spouses need to proceed with caution and not lower your standards of conduct for yourself or your spouse in front of his boss. It boils down to your spouse looking good. “Appearance” is everything!

    • marmeedobbins

      For my husband’s Holiday party (not a ball by any means), Command lays out dress code for the guys as well as the ladies. In Tucson, we tend to think flip flops and shorts are business clothes, so everyone gets a refresher on what is appropriate for the party: both clothing and behavior. There is nothing wrong with setting general guidelines and expectations.

  • StarlaRose

    Men do not have a myriad of options on what to wear like women do. Men are not exposing key parts of their bodies in skin tight, barely there shirts, dresses or skirts. We as women have more options to bare it all than men do. That being said, men do care about appearance.

    I know that my husband takes great care of his appearance because it has been drilled into him since BT. You can also look at units such as the Silent Platoon, The Old Guard, and others that those men DO care about what they look like. I think the old adage of men not caring about what other men look like has died. They may not express it as much, but men do compete with other men in terms of how they dress, and they do notice if this or that guy isn’t wearing something that’s ‘flattering’.

    We as women DO size up the competition when it comes to looks. We judge based on appearance before we even get to know the person. This has been tested time and time again. Looks are not the most important thing, but they do matter.

    Like I said in another comment, this is just the opinion of the author. Take from it what you will. Neither you, nor anyone else can really condemn the author for voicing her opinion the same way you are voicing yours. Remember, these are not set rules of what to wear; just the authors OPINION on what NOT to wear.

    • StarlaRose

      Judgment is not just something we’re taught. It is also a primal tool our minds used to select potential mates, friendships, determine if someone is ‘healthy’ or not and etc… We all do it day to day in every situation. You have to look at the situation and see if your attire is fit for it. I’m not sure about you, but as an example I wouldn’t want a teacher teaching my son in clothing that was extremely provocative or what something a stripper would wear no matter how good her character is.

      Also, you cannot judge a person’s character by what they look like. Your first impression IS of what they look like. Tell me, do you have some super human powers to determine if someone is kind, loving, determined etc… by the way they look? Neither do I.

      I am not disvaluing someone’s inner beauty. But the simple fact remains that judgments, first impressions …whatever are based on looks when you meet someone. You can accept that reality, or you can get angry like you are and ignore it.

    • YellowRoseOTx

      Since when don’t women get judged? What world do you live in? DisneyLand? DreamLand? Come on.

  • GypsyJen08

    I certainly appreciate the advice and I am sincerely looking forward to the “What TO wear” version. I remember my first ball. It was with my boyfriend (it was his first ball too) and he basically told me that the command told us girls to dress like a nun! He insisted that I wear black, no rhinstones, it be at least to the knee (with solid black tights) and conservative makeup. So, I wore a black, fitted but conservative as far as clevage goes. I did get my hair/makeup done–wish I hadn’t as it was waaayy over the top for the event. Anyways, all but a few of the other girlfriends were wearing an inch of make-up, rainbow colored dresses that glowed from all the sparkles. I’m not hating on their styles or what they felt comfortable in, I just think that what they wore wasn’t appropriate for the event. As much as I wanted to wear a dress that was more “me”, it wouldn’t be appropriate at an event that is all about respect and being conservative. I’m glad I followed my fiance’s advice, but next time I’ll wear a slightly more exciting dress, but less makeup and hair. Thanks for the advice, and I hope mine helps!!

  • Kelly

    I agree some gowns lack taste, but worry about what you are wearing, not what others are wearing. Honestly a lot of women can look good in those gowns, and if you can pull it off go for it!! Waer what you feel beautiful in and what makes you feel fabulous. And I would say the same goes for all the women who show up in black boring bridesmaid dresses, they are ugly and boring! And I rather see something interesting than another woman in an old boring unflattering dress.

    • June

      Policing people who don’t meet your standards of flattering clothing or who wear “black boring bridesmaid dresses” is silly. I’ll refer you to your own statement: “worry about what you are wearing, not what others are wearing.”

    • YellowRoseOTx

      A military ball is NOT the place to put all of your goods on display regardless of if you can “pull it off” or not. Simple, classic, elegant. It’s not brain surgery.

    • Mildred

      I agree, and further more you are dressing up for ur spouse. the problem is that these woman dont have the bodies to wear these dresses. you cant control your husband from looking so you want to control what other woman wear. If your spouse does not mind and he like to see u in a certain type of dress. go for it, its not everyday we get to remind our spouse how sexy we can be, between kids, work and deployments. I say dress it up ! and have fun doing it

      • Jane

        Wrong. You’re not dressing up FOR your spouse. You’re dressing up to REPRESENT and support your spouse who is part of the military, and the military has standards, protocols and traditions for all this and not “what he doesn’t mind.”

        And my husband spends longer putting together his dress uniform than I spend getting ready. So I feel I have to reflect his dedication and respect for his turn out, by reflecting with mine. After all they have a rule for where each insignia, medal and ribbon go and how far apart it should be etc…. This is not “dress up to get his engine hot” night, this is dress up elegant and Oscar like night. Save the have fun in whatever you can pull off for the clubs or the bedroom.

  • mel

    The following was included in the information put out for the upcoming Birthday Ball: 1.Formal Dress is required:
    -The uniform for male and female Marines is: Dress Blue Alphas. Refer to: MCO 10120.34 F.
    •Marines may wear the Evening Dress if they have them.
    •Covers and gloves are not required on the hotel grounds only.
    -Civilian women should wear a Formal Evening Gown.
    •A formal Evening gown is conservative in nature and should not be confused with a cocktail dress.
    -Civilian men should wear a dark colored Tuxedo.

    If there is a specified dress code, I consider it disrespectful not to adhere to it. The dress code is not a suggestion, it is a requirement if you want to participate in the event. Respect the tradition and those who are honored during a birthday celebration.

    • Dianne

      number 4 and 7 are “formal evening gowns” and “conservative in nature” is a subjective term based on the originator’s own paradigm

    • Ann

      As a former military spouse, I just like to add that what you wear or do reflects on your spouse and can ultimately influence his next promotion board. ” So he’s an able officer but can we send him to here or there with “that” wife?” Think that is unfair? Maybe, but ultimately you are representing the military just as he is.

  • Steph

    As a woman I am offended by these dresses. What happened to modesty and dignity? I don’t want to see anyone’s “business” hanging out all over the place, man or woman alike. Think classy not trashy.

    • YellowRoseOTx

      Yes, I’m offended too, but I’ve seen much more revealing dresses than these at many military functions. Eye-poppers! haha

    • Melissa

      Did you honestly thing every dress you she featured was inappropriate? I’m just curious…

    • Samantha

      so don’t look. simple as that.

  • Jaycie72

    I was shocked and kind of disgusted at the first formal event I went to with my hubby! There were wives dressed like *******, wives with ***** popping out, and wives looking like their dresses had been ripped off! I was completely overdressed next to them (I was secretly glad, since I didn’t want to look like any of them)!
    Personally, I ‘m glad my hubby warned me that I might see “prostitutes on parade!”

  • jESSICA

    WELL SAID!!!!!

  • longtabsigo

    I dislike military women who come to a ball wearing a ball gown. If you want to be part of the profession, you lose the right to play “dress up”. Sorry.

    The thing this article misses is the proliferation of ink on women these days. It’s not just the cut of the dress, but the degree to which women display all manner of body tattooing. (Admittedly not my thing, but from a broader consideration, it does bear mentioning).

    • YellowRoseOTx

      If it’s a military ball and an active duty female is attending, she doesn’t not have the option of wearing anything but mess dress, does she? I’ve NEVER seen a military female wear anything but mess dress. Otherwise, she would be out of uniform.

      • Lisa

        In many units it’s commander’s discretion. I’ve been to balls where active duty females have to ear their uniform, balls where they have to wear a uniform unless she comes to the ball with another male service member in which case she can wear a civilian dress, and balls where the commander said the female can choose whether to wear the uniform or a civilian dress.

      • Red

        I’ve been to two military balls, the first, the Commander gave the female service members the option to go in non-military attire, provided their date was in uniform. So the few female SMs with civilian dates were out of luck, but some still chose to attend. I was glad to be in civilian attire, my date (later my husband) took his jacket off, we stayed late dancing, we had a great time. I was so excited, had such a wonderful time interacting with people from all ranks and services, that less than a month later I purchased an evening gown for the next Army Ball.

        At the second ball, I was required to attend in uniform, and it was fine– I was proud to be in my uniform with my husband, he was proud to have me there in uniform. However, I was a little bummed that I didn’t get to dress up– but that’s because I wanted my husband to see me *not* looking like I do at formations every day. Additionally, the males were permitted to remove their Class A jackets, but the females were not, so we were there for two dances after the formal portion, and that was it, because dancing in full Class As is really warm. My shoes were also pretty uncomfortable, but it was my decision to come in heels, instead of the more comfortable lace-up flat shoes. (Which would’ve been about as feminine as my regular shapeless, work-day ACUs.)

        In the future, I would probably go again, but if permitted I would bring a formal dress to wear after the formal portion was over so that we could stay and dance. Otherwise I would expect not to stay for the dancing, which is a shame, because that’s part of the experience… sortive like a big family reunion, with lots of extended family you’re only just meeting.

    • Tori

      We are all women, why can we all not feel like one for the night? Me wearing an appropriate dress within the dress code given to me does not affect anyone… We all work hard so let me feel like a princess for a night..

  • http://hooahwife.com Greta

    When my husband retired and we moved to New Orleans, I attended my first Mardi Gras Ball within the first 2 weeks. I was informed then that none of my “conservative” military ball attire would do. I traded them all in for “fun” dresses. There is a time and a place for everything and even though we do not get a lot of opportunities to dress up the way we may want to as military spouses, it is always best to err on the side of conservative. Save your skin and cleavage showing for an appropriate outing. Military balls are not them.

    FYI the consignment store was happy to get all my conservative dresses:)

  • Kristin

    As the wife of a CO believe me your husbands/boyfriends ARE being judged when they bring a date to the ball that is dressed like a hooker (ie: the dresses above). No, it will not reflect poorly on their promotions, re-enlistments, etc, but they are talked about by the senior leadership……and it is not positive. Yes, you do have the right to wear whatever you want, but please know that the attention you are seeking will resort in laughter and negative comments and franklly it makes you look very insecure. It is perfectly fine to be sexy for your man and there are plenty of dresses that can cover you and still be sexy, but the ball is not about you and how hot you look. It is about the time honored tradition of our fighting forces and those who have sacrificed their life so you can have the freedom to “do what you you want”. Show some respect.
    One last thing before you start your rants. I am a cross fit instructor and could totally rock those dresses, but I save those kind of things for my husband’s eyes only. It’s called being secure in my relationship.

    • SemperFi

      tho does protest too much….im also a Marine Corps wive of 23yrs… LtCol …CO husband… I have also done xfit for 2 years and 20 triathlons… wtih big fake DD’s… I rock any dress…Im not insecure with myself or relationship… and I do respect the Corps and my husbands position….who do you think picks out my dress for the evening…yup the ‘Sir”… he loves looking like a man that could land me and makes him feel good. nothing ever see thru or falling out of… just a hot sexy dress with a good pair of hooker heels… dont be so uptight and def don’t tell young troops that their hot wife will be talked about negatively or snickered at…..or make sure you tell them the truth… it won’t be by your husband or other men…..just the insecure jealous wives. A good CO would never judge by the spouse hotness or lack there of….. that’s just ridiculous.

      • Diane

        A woman after my own heart on so many levels…. 10 years in with my Major …. countless races and 2o plus years of resistance training .. rocking the D’s AND a Master’s degree and laughing at all of the uptight judgmental twits out there.

        Don’t like it, don’t wear it. IF the command has a problem with it, that’s up to their discretion. If they dictate “formal ball attire” dress 4 and 7 are both “formal” and “ball/evening” attire

        • SemperFi

          I also have 2 degrees… women are so bad to judge and automatically hate other women that are the total package! if they are that easily threatened they have bigger issues than me…keep rocking it girl!

      • Mike K

        Semper Fi, clearly your husband isn’t being very open with you or else he’s just completely blind to the talk somehow (maybe sue to rank) but it is definitely not just the wives who talk. The guys all talk about whose wife looked like she’d be ready to cheat the moment her man is deployed and stuff to that effect. I can’t even begin to count the amount of joking, ribbing, and sometimes downright mean comments guys will say to each other after events like these about how certain wives looked and acted.

        • Lady Kleo

          Mike I really like your posts. To me you are describing the very essence of the “Water cooler wife” the one EVERYONE talks about for reasons like this. Again I’ve made whoppers of my own mistakes learning the world of being a Millspouse. I’ve been the one that’s talked about in the very early days. The one that my person had to defend & take the junk that came his way because of my errors. So I know what you say is in deed fact. My hope is that if anyone new comes in I can maybe help them not make the mistakes I did in the beginning.

        • Red

          TRUTH! Sometimes they don’t even wait for the event to be over. It’s raised eyebrows and knowing looks and little gestures with the chin to other guys… then BIG GRINS traded all around.

      • KCB

        Hooker heels?? TACKY!!! XD

        I never actually saw ANY of the wives talking bad about each other at the balls because we all knew the RULES and didn’t wear slutty dresses, and every single one of us looked classy and beautiful.

    • MarineMom&AFbrat

      Very well said !

    • Steph

      Well said Kristin!

    • Jen

      You think? Because a lot of them do stuff behind their wives backs– I mean lets me honest here– judgement comes from the spouses not the “bros”

  • Durango

    Some dress this way as advertisement: when the husband is away, I’m available to play!

  • Jackie

    As a retired mil wife,if you use common sense you won’t go wrong…I never knew this was such a serious issue….why don’t you know how to use cutlery? My kids know that!

  • Sgt Rock Marine

    Just wear a dress that is nice and keep all your spouse friends eyes in there head. This is not about you it is about the Marine Corps birthday.
    Yes we all like to see legs and ti!s but this is not your bed room. This is a ball with a lot of history. You spouse commanders are there you are to be there in there honor.
    So dress nice and enjoy dancing and the history of our beloved Marine Corps.

  • MAJ Crabtree

    You need to include the dress that is open from neck to crotcch–I mean, private area and held together by rhinestone encrusted chains. I was completely dumbounded when that’s what my commander’s wife showed up in to our ball following a deployment to Iraq in 2004.

  • bizzieB

    It has been my experience after almost 20 years of going to every Army and Now Navy function on the list is that no matter what you are wearing if you are the drunk, loud, nasty attitude, stripper dance moves spouse, then you will be a hot mess even in a conservative frock. Since I have worn dresses similar to #4 and #7 I know the value of taking it to a tailor so that I feel comfortable and appropriate in it. Just because you bought it that way does not mean it has to stay that way. If the back is too low raise it up if the slit is too high close it. You can still have the look you want and still keep things PG. I think it is funny that in a military environment that most of us commenting here are in that no one has done what I saw done when a real gem walked in with an inappropriate dress on. Her and her military spouse were asked to leave the function. Well within the right of the command to ask its servicemember and his spouse to leave with the option of returning with an appropriate dress on. They did not return but the message to everyone else was loud and clear. Those of you here in leadership positions complaining about what people wear are not powerless to stop it.

  • bizzieB

    I also wanted to add where is the blog about been seen out and about with the messy bun, sweat pants, flip flops your spouses PT shirt that either says Army, Navy, etc. sans a bra with your three screaming kids in tow one just in a diaper, crocs and a t-shirt? As the rounds are made at the commissary, Exchange, Hospital etc. Where is the outrage (and photos) for that? Or are we just worried about representing when there is a formal function to attend?

    • Boson

      LOL! I doubt you’ll see an article for that. Most of those women are having a hard time while their husband is deployed. Although, i have three kids and i sympathize with those “i don’t care days,” i believe that would offend more military wives than help. After all this is suppose to be an article that helps people and not just gossip about other wives. You would think that if it’s ok to cut the head off someone’s picture(like they’re not going to notice themselves) and post it above an article that says “What Not to Wear to a Military Ball,” that all other unpleasant attire would be up for grabs, but oh well. Maybe telling people what they shouldn’t wear everyday is crossing the line, i don’t know. I guess it all depends on what the writer deems tacky.

    • Jen

      Ya no kidding right? Take some pride in yourself–YOU TOO are representing the military! Good Lord

  • CK

    You only live once…and it isn’t going to last forever ladies. Ball / Formal Event = gown should be full length – cocktails event = above the knee but no higher than mid thigh. Other than that go for it. If you and your significant other are comfortable wearing it, do it. Don’t let the stodgy, green with envy, and the bible thumpers ruin your night.

  • John

    Raleigh:
    While truly “formal: balls are disappearing (multiple forks, knives, glasses, plates, and the odd fingerbowl), they are not gone completely.
    Etiquette, as opposed to manners is important. The information is available online. The spouse events should include classes on what can be expected in clothing, eating, dancing, language, drinking, etc. at a ball or dining out. A spouse’s meeting would be a good place for the C.O.’s spouse (maybe a man) could present some kind ot learning experience in a non-threatening and generic enviornment.
    I have never seen a military community where an expert in this behavior is not available. . . .

  • SemperFI

    I have been married to a Marine for almost 25yrs….going to the Marine Corps Ball for almost 23years… you will never stop girls from dressing sexy and having too much fun… it’s all part of their one night to show off themselves to their man…. Be safe… have a Designated Driver and Have Fun !! Semper FI

    • Mike K

      I don’t know sounds more like their one night to show themselves off to a whole bunch of other men who aren’t their significant other. You’d think you’d have every night to show yourself off to your own man…

      • SemperFi

        you’re kidding right?? show off every night….you mean with kids running around, school, work..deployments….. grow up… every woman wants a night out to dress up with their man…. and every woman wants to look nice for other men/woman/significant other. Again…. point being… it’s not gonna change- Marines of all ranks should just have fun and have a DD!

    • Guest

      It is possible to have a night of “fun” and yet act appropriately, within the confines of acceptable behavior/common decency. But when you say ‘have a designated driver and have fun”- it sounds more like you are planning to get drunk and dance the night away, which would be fine any OTHER day– but it isn’t appropriate at a military formal affair, such as a Marine Corps Ball, where tradition & conformity are HUGE! Once again, like it has been said over and over: There is a place and time for everything. Have a common sense and know the difference.

  • modern tueffelhunden

    you speak for no one

  • June

    I’d wondered how long it would take before the comments devolved on this thing. I really thought it would be worse than this, which is completely ridiculous, because there is nothing wrong with this article.

    An expected dress code is no more or less than that: an expected dress code. Asking participants to show up in appropriate clothing isn’t oppression. It’s not hating on thin women. It’s not jealousy. It’s asking participants to show up in clothing that conforms to the spirit and level of decorum of the occasion. Sometimes this level of decorum is different–as with Greta, above, who mentioned moving and finding that the definition of appropriate had shifted in the new place. But showing up in inappropriate clothing when you know that the level of decorum calls for more conservative dress is immature and yeah, inappropriate, and it’s silly to get huffy over being reminded of it. I’ve got a pretty rockin’ bod, too, but it doesn’t mean I go to the grocery store in my bikini. Time and place, people.

    On the flip side of that argument, a woman in a revealing dress is, guess what? A woman who happens to be wearing a revealing dress. That’s all. Not a whore. Not any of the other words that get tossed around every time a woman shows a little skin. Not stupid, like one commenter insinuated. No one’s IQ drops in proportion to how much of their skin is currently visible.

  • Guest

    [face in palm.] Why are we still talking about what to wear and what not to wear?! I thought surely after the homecoming posts our author would have learned that trying to change what military spouses wear to any given event is like repeatedly running into a brick wall. Newsflash – people are going to wear what they want to wear, period. Let’s move on to more meaningful topics like deployment support, spouse employment, etc!

  • Guest

    [face in palm.] Why are we still talking about what to wear and what not to wear? I thought surely after the homecoming outfit article and the ensuing comments the author would have realized trying to change what military spouses wear to an event is like repeatedly running into a brick wall. Some things you just can’t change – let’s move on to more meaningful conversation!

  • soldiermomof3

    I’m not only the spouse of an active duty soldier , but I’m prior service as well. Ive attended several formal balls in uniform and ball gowns. Here is the rule of thumb I’ve held to and also passed on to the newer girls who’ve asked. ‘Formal’ means a step or three above Easter Sunday attire, more conservative than club wear, and be as comfortable as possible with what you choose. Floor length is considered formal, but shorter is also acceptable as long as it’s no shorter than 6 inches above the knee. Any color is fine, any material is also fine. These aren’t hard and fast rules, but it’s fairly proper ‘etiquette’ for those who don’t want to be embarrassed or appear clueless the first time they’ll meet their spouses co-workers and entire chain of command. Everyone wants to make their spouse proud, and enjoy the evening.

  • Sarge

    While a spouse OR girlfriend is welcomed at a military ball, ALWAYS remember that how you dress is a reflection of the servicemember you’re with. The dress you wear MAY have an effect on THEIR career. Dress formally but appropriately. You are NOT going to a movie premier or some other Hollywood gala.

  • rcdrury1

    Rule #8 (the most important one): Disregard this article entirely. If (and only if) you can pull off the dress, go for it!

    Rob Drury,
    Major, USAF (fmr)

  • YellowRoseOTx

    Semper Fi: Sounds like you both have insecurity issues. If you have to play dress up in public to advertise to everyone else how great you are and “that he could land you” … sounds like immaturity, insecurity and just plain bad taste.

    I don’t care about your degrees, his rank, your work outs or your big fake DD’s; but if you think his co-workers don’t notice and his troops don’t notice, you are OUT OF YOUR MIND. However, based on your comments getting noticed is what you two are all about.

    You two should try showing some respect for the military traditions and go get a hotel room AFTER instead.

    • SemperFi

      you all sound like whiny high school chicks… grow up. just because i like to show off a bod that i work hard to keep doesn’t mean im advertising or insecure… just means i i work hard, play hard, study hard and very confident in myself. i am the whole package and it drives other women nuts that spend more time tearing others down instead of building themselves up. but back to the original point… no good CO in any service would let any of his decisions being affected by what another wife was wearing…. that’s just ignorant…. you can now all go back to your frumpy tea party clicks…. im training for my 20th triathlon….where i will probably see alot of your husbands… :)

      • Boson

        I find it disturbing that any command would base their decision for advancement on looks instead of ability. Who wants an incompetent leader? I can tell by the many comments that different locations have different experiences. If you’re happy with yourself, that’s all that truely matters. Everyone should do whatever works for them.

      • KCB

        Brag brag brag. Nothing productive to bring to the discussion.

        Nobody’s impressed.

        • brian

          Exactly KCB. Women/girls always have problems with dressing right and it starts in elementary school and continues into adult life. Nothing new here.

  • Major Jeff

    I couldn’t help but to chuckle about what women should be wearing to a military ball. In the Army we also had monthly “Hail and Farewell-s” for our battalion officers and their wives (and sometimes, girlfriends). One battalion commander’s wife (who was also a knock-out blond) was both the daughter of an Army general and the sister of a famous singer and movie star. She wore a pair of very tight leather pants to our “informal”, monthly gathering. All of the junior officers greatly admired what they saw and a couple of them even offered to saddle-soap them for her provided she was wearing them when they did it. She knowingly smiled through all of this. Our wives were nonplussed over this if you can imagine! And, as for her husband, our battalion commander, her show was just another example her having fun and flirting as she was known to do. At our military balls, she and the other wives were always fashionably and tastefully dressed acknowledging the presence of our most senior officer and their wives. But, then again, I remember as the battalion adjutant getting my butt chewed by a three-star’s aide as our battalion stood in the reception line and some of the officers had drinks in their hand!

    In the military we lived in a culture of respect and courtesy that was rarely violated. The wife of the commander who commissioned me held etiquette for both us and our wives. As time went along, I purchased a copy of “Military Etiquette” and referred to it on many occasions. Later in my career, as the protocol officer for a major overseas command, I couldn’t find a publication explaining how to deal with foreign military and civilian guests much to my frustration. Yet, our wives were always able to smooth over any rough edges I had left exposed through their wonderful adaptability and willingness to shift to the cultural roles of our host country. They were often our best diplomats!

    What our women wear may be important. But, how they behave and insist that their husband’s behave if often more important. Even the raciest gown never left the impression that our wives were ever improper. Or, that our wives former life was that as a hooker!

    • Boson

      Bravo!

  • Methinks

    Don’t judge…..I love seeing all the young wives dressed in fun dresses that I can’t pull off in my 40 year old body. They are young, let them be. Everyone should dress in what they are comfortable in. If you don’t think something is inappropriate for the ball, don’t wear it.
    My advice is to wear what you want, feel confident and do things intentionally. To **** what others think!

  • Methinks

    Don’t judge…..I love seeing all the young wives dressed in fun dresses that I can’t pull off in my 40 year old body. They are young, let them be. Everyone should dress in what they are comfortable in. If you don’t think something is inappropriate for the ball, don’t wear it.
    My advice is to wear what you want, feel confident and do things intentionally.

  • Michele

    OMG! Did nobody else notice that the woman in the first pic flanked by soldiers is lopsided? REALLY? She’s flaunting all that and she’s about two sizes asymmetrical! HILARIOUS!

    • Guest

      yes actually I just didn’t want to say it. LOL they are way out of whack!

    • mel

      I noticed that too. She may want to sue her plastic surgeon.

      • ha ha

        did you know you can google images?…

      • Boson

        Exactly, i’ve been saying the same thing and other wives are jumping all over my comments. I don’t really care because it’s the truth, we are better than this.

  • Adam Sandler

    just because you cant fit in one of these doesn’t mean ppl cant wear them.

  • james

    this is why when i was a private, at Bragg, I took a stripper. She dressed like that, she looked good in it, all the other guys were jelious and there dates were pissed. Just a friend did not go anywhere but was fun,

  • CKA

    I am sorry but this is ridiculous. Why would someone else care what I wear other than my husband. I only wish I could pull some of these off but at 50 I would laugh at myself. Two of the dress shown are fabulous and I would have worn them in my younger years. Seriously isn’t this America, live and let live. Some people spend to much time worrying about everyone else while the skeletons are just spilling out of their closets.

  • pennyy

    cause I wouldnt wear it does not give me the right to judge. And as for the comment about going to the px in sweatpants messy bun and screaming kids. some women dont have time to spend on themselves to go grocery shopping.i have 4 kids and work part time on top of doing everything at home. dont judge me if I ran out of milk and had to make a trip to the store without spending an hour on my makeup. you must not have kids 4

  • Ann

    I agree. However, you are preaching to a generation who thinks wearing pajama pants to the grocery store is acceptable.
    Julia Robert’s street clothes (hooker clothes) in the movie Pretty Woman are more conservative than what I have witnessed girls wearing to church. If you look at what women wear on a daily basis and compare it to what hookers were wearing 15 years ago, there is no difference, except that today’s modern girl adds sparkles, sequins, and rhinestones and calls it “Diva Wear.”

  • Emi

    Wow! LOL. Well, I’m a new army wife and I have a ball coming up in November. I honestly can’t wait to see all the different personalities and the way they dress. Just like in any place, you will always have the “I’m so insecure I will dress like street hooker, because the extra attention makes me feel better about myself” and then you have the ones that dress like a nun and the “Mightier than Thou”. Either way, I don’t care… observing all of them and the way they act has always been fun to watch at any party. I’m going to dress classy and sexy without showing any body parts and I will have fun doing study cases of all the catty women in the room. Yay!!!! can’t wait LOL

  • http://www.hellin-abasket.com Oh Hell

    I went to the Birthday Ball last year and as I am not one to dress up, I consulted with and ultimately borrowed a wonderful, ankle length, black dress from a Marine Mom. I was comfortable and looked nice. I consider that to spell success!

  • Brooke

    Wear what makes you feel pretty and don’t worry about what others might think.

  • Army Wife

    When my husband and I first married, he had a ball coming up a month later. I ask him what to wear and he said something floor length and conservative. I went to david’s bridal and picked out a strapless floor length gown in royal blue. It was beautiful and didn’t show cleavage, wasn’t tight, and was classy. You can buy an inexpensive dress and not look cheap. Some of these girls come to formals wearing the trashy prom dress they wore the year before. And for the woman who said that only the spouses sit there and judge… definitely not true, I’ve been at tables where the entire table joined in on the fun!

  • Army Wife

    And this isn’t about who makes more money. Some people are just raised with more class than others… Wearing a dress with cut outs is just skanky looking! I agree with the woman who said they are just advertising who’s available when their husbands are overseas! Be appropriate, this is a work event for your husband, by all means have fun, but be appropriate!

  • Bella_Detta

    I agree 100% with this post. However, I am not one for “following” per se. Getting insight from others yes. But it all comes down to havig and using common sense…I cannot agree that everyone in roles of leadership are worthy of looking up to and “following”. Be your person let your personality come through but keep it classy; it IS doable. I am attending my first Marine Corps ball this November and am confident in my dress…

  • Wow

    I’ll admit most of these dresses were tacky and a fashion don’t, but who are you to dictate that? I just went to my first semi-formal Army ball this year and the higher ranking wives were the ones in the crazier “prom dresses” while most of the privates dates were in cocktail dresses or a nice blouse and skirt. tall ladies such as myself can’t fit floor length dresses off the rack, and im not about to spend money getting a dress altered to wear once. It’s all just a ******* contest. Oh my husband makes more money than yours, so I must buy a crazy dress and snub everyone and then tell everyone online what they can and cannot wear to a ball!

  • guest

    I was always told to not upstage my husband because it is his event, not my prom!
    Officer’s wives especially should wear a tasteful floor lenth gown that does not expose your full back, chest or full legs. It should also be a classy or complimentary color to your spouses dress blues (black, navy blue, red, champagne, etc), no flourescent colors. I think to myself, would a young politicians wife wear this? If the answer is yes, then I’m good to go. I wouldn’t want to embarass my husband at a work event.

  • Amy

    Wives and girlfriends, if you don’t think your date’s bosses judge them based on what you are wearing and your behavior at the ball, think again. I promise you that they do and if you are dressed like a slut and/or behave like a drunken mess, they will be spoken to and it will be remembered. And yes, the other wives will snark about you, but you should worry about affecting your SO’s career more. If you don’t care, then go ahead and be “that girl.”

  • acsjr222

    Have a good Birthday Corps. 235!! I grew up an Aviator son and went to many B-day balls. In Calif., N.C., D.C., and Virginia. Even the Brats had their codes. In my teens , there where many other opposites a picking that weekend, and I partook in many late night teen events. One B-day Ball at Quantico, Commandant Shoup had a conference just for us kids. Nice go go talk, but what impressed me is when he stated, ” WE (brats) were his responsibility and if we F^*#ed up we would have to report to him at Marine Barricks and face the consequences”. I zipped up on the next few B-Balls. Never had to report. He did, when my Dad was buried at Arlington.

  • Karen

    respectful, classy and comfortable. Respectful – this is your spouse’s formal get together. Deciding to dress in a manner designed to elicit giggles, goggles and “good griefs” from others, shows a sad lack of said respect. NO, we are not saying dress Amish. but try very hard not to look like you are standing on a street corner in Naples waiting for a pick-up! classy – lets make it simple – are you wearing this so everyone looks at you and wonders how the hell you got into that, where your spouse met you if not on said street corner, or what on earth is holding that up? If so – not classy. Comfortable – can you sit comfortably? can you dance without worrying that something is going to fall out and cause everyone terminal embarrassment? If your spouse is choosing your clothes to make you into his fantasy, fine – that’s up to you. I have seen very fit women at a ball, looking entirely appropriate and drop dead gorgeous without wearing lingerie as their outerwear; so claiming that you must come in a cut to here, there and everywhere to show off your body – is just so much hogwash.

  • Kate

    This is exactly why I choose to not fraternize with other wives and have two friends after two years of being at Fort Hood. I couldn’t even finish reading this back and forth garbage. Worry about yourself, not about others. That’s their problem, not yours. If they want to be whores, let them be whores. If you want to wear a potato sack, wear a potato sack. If you want to blow hundreds of dollars on a Cinderella ball gown, go for it. But squawking about the girl who walked in with an elegant gown that has a little back showing is just the indicator of one thing: Jealousy. So just worry about yourselves, ladies. That’s advice anyone can take.

    • Boson

      It’s a shame isn’t it? I keep my distance from military wives for this very reason. I had one friend that had a husband in the military and she could care less what someone else is doing. Sometimes i think that some people just don’t have enough things to fill out their day.

    • gokumonster

      We distance ourselves as much as we can when he’s not at work because of crap like this. I graduated from high school in 2005 and I’m not interested in returning. This is a job and not what defines him or me.

  • Kate

    This is exactly why I choose to not fraternize with other wives and have two friends after two years of being at Fort Hood. I couldn’t even finish reading this back and forth garbage. Worry about yourself, not about others. That’s their problem, not yours. If they want to be ******, let them be ******. If you want to wear a potato sack, wear a potato sack. If you want to blow hundreds of dollars on a Cinderella ball gown, go for it. But squawking about the girl who walked in with an elegant gown that has a little back showing is just the indicator of one thing: Jealousy. So just worry about yourselves, ladies. That’s advice anyone can take.

  • Kate

    This is exactly why I choose to not fraternize with other wives and have two friends after two years of being at Fort Hood. I couldn’t even finish reading this back and forth garbage. Worry about yourself, not about others. That’s their problem, not yours. If they want to be whores, let them be whores. If you want to wear a potato sack, wear a potato sack. If you want to blow hundreds of dollars on a Cinderella ball gown, go for it. But squawking about the girl who walked in with an elegant gown that has a little back showing is just the indicator of one thing: Jealousy. So just worry about yourselves, ladies. That’s advice anyone can take.

    • Cris

      Bravo Kate. I saw this on an fb page and was just disappointed in nearly all the comments. Half the people here don’t even know what class is. Being prudent or conservative are not equal to class. Body and sex shaming at it’s worse. We already get this crap from men and now women doing to women – it’s demoralizing. Like you said, people need to wear what they want and not worry about others will wear.

      • June

        Look, I’m not for body snarking or sex shaming, but I think there’s a valid point in here somewhere about dressing in a manner that coincides with the level of decorum of a particular event. Granted, I think that point gets lost in a sea of that body snarking and sex shaming (mostly in the comments), but it doesn’t erase the point entirely.

        I really have to wonder if Spousebuzz was that hard up for pageclicks and felt like they ought to regurgitate a topic they knew would bring in the controversy.

        • Boson

          While there may be a point to this article it is loss because it is done in bad taste. When you take a picture of someone off the internet, cut their face off and post it above a judgemental article, do you think that the person in the picture won’t notice themselves? When wives start tearing down other wives for their choice in clothing it does more damage than good. Are you really going to stop someone from wearing what they want by hurting their feelings? Everyone would be happy if they tend to their own life, closet, husband, children, etc. It’s kind of petty, let’s unite not divide the spouse communtiy.

          • June

            As regards taking someone’s picture off the internet–that’s a very interesting point. Firstly, because it’s unethical, unfair, and already opened up the person to ridicule. Secondly, I’m curious as to whether this person consented to have their picture used as a header in a ‘what not to wear’ article. If this picture was taken without the owner’s permission and used on a website that profits through advertising, that puts whoever posted this picture as part of the article in some pretty dicey legal waters.

            I think the writer should probably have skipped straight to the kind of article that said “here are some ideas for what to wear to military balls” instead of this–because what point there was has been totally bulldozed by outrage from all quarters–but that wouldn’t drive nearly as many page views, would it?

  • Jinx

    I have been to several balls. Reality is you WILL be judge by what you wear. Your husband will be held accountable for your behavior and it could affect his career, AND his pay. This is an event for HIS work! Your are supposed to be the pride and joy on his arm, don’t cheapen it by your dress and attitude which both should has stayed in the closet. This is what I do for my husband because it is what he does for me. We are a team and support each other.

    • Boson

      That may be reality, but just because it happens doesn’t make it right. Your spouse’s ability to do his job should be judged concerning his advancement and not the actions of someone who is not enlisted. I agree that you are a team, but i can’t take my husband to work to do my job or vice versa. While some superiors may care there are some that don’t. If you are a supeior officer you should be above childish gossip and judgments based on appearances. Such behavior should be considered bias and prejudice. If you can so easily judge someone by a dress, then you can judge them off what car they drive, color of skin, where they live and so on.

      • ILMSH

        THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I AGREE!!! Sounds to me like she’s one of the wives that no body looks at & shes ****** cause she couldnt pull off wearing a sexy dress or her husband noticed how hot some of the other wives looked compared to his!!! ;)

  • mel

    After reading all these posts, it seems we are divided with one side stating they can wear what they want wherever they want and the other side stating that there are standards for apparel at certain events and those standards should be respected. We all have to conform to dress codes in our workplaces, our restaurants, our gas stations, our military bases, our churches, etc.. We also conform to expected standards for various events, ie. weddings and funerals. So why is a military ball so different that people don’t find it necessary to conform, while they do conform for the above mentioned establishments and events. I personally do not care what someone wears, but I care when I see disrepect shown to the customs and traditions that are inherent in my spouse’s branch of service. I have great respect for the Marine Corps, for what they stand for and for what they do for our country. If I have to get out of my jeans for one night and wear an uncomfortable long dress and uncomfortable shoes to give proper respect at the Birthday Ball, then that’s what I will do.

    • Boson

      I agree for the most part about what you’re saying. Following the rules is a requirement enforced by those in leadership, their decision may be to correct or make an exception. You need a shirt and shoes for the store and restaurants. I don’t know about every church, but most churches tell you to come as you are for the purpose to draw everyone and transition them into a dress code. They might not have certain clothing or able to afford the standard, placing strict requirements can discourage them from coming. Anyway, It’s leadership’s call, not mine. Why don’t we leave it up to them. Would anyone go up to someone in a store and tell them they can’t receive service if they didn’t work there?Probably not. Would you go tell the manager that they didn’t have on the required attire to receive service so therefore they should leave? I would hope not. It’s totally necessary to conform, but we must remember that they are adults like you and i. If they chose to ignore the directions, can’t afford something better, or just don’t know what to wear, who are we to judge?

      • ILMSH

        THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I AGREE!!! Sounds to me like she’s one of the wives that no body looks at & shes ****** cause she couldnt pull off wearing a sexy dress or her husband noticed how hot some of the other wives looked compared to his!!! ;)

        • mel

          Is this going to be your standard response to every post you agree with?

    • Nicki6

      @Mel, I agree for the most part about what you’re saying. Following the rules is a requirement enforced by those in leadership, their decision may be to correct or make an exception. You need a shirt and shoes for the store and restaurants. I don’t know about every church, but most churches tell you to come as you are for the purpose to draw everyone and transition them into a dress code. They might not have certain clothing or able to afford the standard, placing strict requirements can discourage them from coming. Anyway, It’s leadership’s call, not mine. Why don’t we leave it up to them. Would anyone go up to someone in a store and tell them they can’t receive service if they didn’t work there?Probably not. Would you go tell the manager that they didn’t have on the required attire to receive service so therefore they should leave? I would hope not. It’s totally necessary to conform, but we must remember that they are adults like you and i. If they chose to ignore the directions, can’t afford something better, or just don’t know what to wear, who are we to judge?

  • guest

    The ONLY reason I am posting to this is to stop getting the updates from this. I was not sure how else to do it, so I am commenting to unsubscribe. If there is another way to do that, please let me know! Thanks!

  • Katherine

    This article has nothing to do with clothes. It has to do with integrity. Are you interested in gaining the attention of other men or not? If you are interested, your dress will reflect your intention. I never was one for social obligations and dress standards with military formals. People should were whatever they want to represent themselves. This goes for any organization. This is a societal issue, not a military one. Now, do you have integrity or is your motivation to gain negative attention of other people? Represent yourself and your loved ones well and with good intentions. Your character lasts much longer than your beauty.

  • Pat in California

    Well, my husband retired in 1975 after 30years service. During his career I always looked to the General’s wife to see what the proper wear should be. Never went wrong. Your Marine’s career is sometimes reflected in what his spouse does and looks like in spite of rumors to the contrary. If she dreams of a career as a stripper she should not display those wares at a Military Ball. Old Marine Wife. .

  • Mike

    Why does this article not mention ink! OMG. if ink is inappropriate leaking from under the uniform is most definitely inappropriate at the most formal of military events.

  • Diana

    All that I can say is….sounds like we have a very insecure wife on our hands. I have been to MANY, many Marine Crops Ball events’ being my husband has been in for 18 years and I can tell you now, you can tell which wives are insecure with themselves and with their husbands being around all the pretty women that come to the ceremony. Not to mention the fact that their husbands are grabbing quick looks and talking none stop about these women the next day at work. You can keep telling yourself that your husband isn’t looking but I can tell you that you’re WRONG. He may ever make some sort of negative comments to you about the dress that cute blonde is wearing across the room, that way he can freely look at her (and I do mean get a GOOD look) all the while you’re thinking he is appalled by her appearance.

  • Diana

    Look Ladies don’t let this women dictate what you wear or don’t wear. If it looks good on you, and your comfortable wearing it, and of course if your husband doesn’t mind…..wear it. Its only you and him you have to please and I’m 100% positive if he thought it was inappropriate, he will let you know before you leave the house. I mean it is HIS career and I don’t know one serviceman that is going to let a wife, girlfriend or a date ruin his lively hood.

  • Diana

    Raleigh Duttweiler grow up….there is tradition involved here, however we do live in 2012 and things have changed (even if I don’t agree with it) in the Marine Corps….if they can change the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”….then us ladies can wear what the hell we want…..without some old ass (more than likely) FAT insecure wife telling us what SHE thinks!!!!!

    • ha ha

      this is just plain disrespectful…

  • Rolo1

    Just look comfortably good look classy. Not tat nasty!

  • Andrea

    I think its disgusting how you posted a picture of people attending a real military ball and are probably justifying it because the faces are partially showing. All you had to do is post examples, that would have been enough. You should remove the photo on top immediately!!!

  • Cindy

    Just thought I should point out that ball gowns (not dresses) should be full length (not knee length, which would be ideal for a cocktail event). If the man wear a tux (aka dress blues and bow-tie) the woman should absolutely wear a formal, full length gown.
    Remember, you are a reflection of your spouse/significant other. Make him look good!
    -Wife of a Naval Officer!

  • Jackie

    Might sound lame to some, but check out what Claudia Joy, Jackie, and Denise wear to balls and such on Army Wives. They know how to dress to impress without looking like hookers. Besides, if you wear a dress that you are falling out of, are you really comfortable? I am not even in the service or married to a service man, but even I know you are helping your spouse to represent and show respect. Be a lady.

  • gokumonster

    And this gossip is why we plan a vacation during the AF ball. Way more relaxing and fun. We went to Tokyo this year! New Zealand is next year!

  • Warren

    I think your article had good intentions but it is the presentation that I take issue with. Positive information is received much quicker than negative. Instead of a “What not to Wear” perhaps an article like “Seven Great Looks for a Military Ball” Remember to keep your comments positive throughout. People quickly pick up on the negative and focus on it. I have discovered that if people feel like they are being attacked on their choices they get defensive. However, when you present someone with ideas and let them choose for themselves, they feel empowered. Additionally, perhaps an article that describes what is expected when you receive an invitation that has things like “Coat and Tie/****tail Dress, Casual, Business Casual, Semi-Formal, Formal” would be quite useful for some people. I know many people “spouses and the military member” have no idea what these terms mean and I am not just talking about some of the newbies. Information is power.

  • c gilces

    think like a lady, and let the street people walk the streets, the ball is not the place. Respect yourself your family and partner, trust me it will pay off later.

  • JacqueSolomons

    If the spouses are not allowed to pick what they want to wear to the balls (BTW is this America, the country my husband, fights to defend, that has a constitution, and FREEDOM???) why don’t they just issue a uniform to them? Because the wives are not in the military. Our ID cards say DEPENDENT…we should dress to make our spouses happy.

    This is ridiculous…if there is a dress code, they better print on the invite/ball ticket.

  • proudmomandwife

    The lack of taste in some dresses just ends up making the woman wearing them losing respect of others around them. There is definitely a dress code to military ball functions! Even as some etiquette customs have become more a suggestion than a rule, there is still a general rule of thumb. If your grandparents or great grandparents would be ashamed of what you are wearing, you probably shouldn’t wear it to a military ball. This is a function that could very well directly affect the way your service member’s COC views him or her, which in return can affect their career. If you are showing skin in the areas normally covered by undergarments, this is not the outfit for a ball. FORMAL dresses should be at least knee length to floor length (as directed) and classy in taste. Think old school Hollywood, not Paris Hilton at some party. Dear goodness women, have some respect for yourself, your husband’s, and the military! You directly affect the general impression of the military in these functions! Are we as military wives to be respected and looked up to or are we going to be distasteful, trashy, and shame the military? And really, who wants to see you dressed that way? That is for you husband’s eyes! At our military ball, there is literally a group assigned to a security detail, and part of their job is to escort out those who are improperly dressed as well as those posing danger or causing public nuisance for whatever reason.

  • Col USAF Ret

    Honestly who really cares what other people wear – be concerned with yourself and your spouse!!! Aside from some interesting reading this issue is going to continue. I have been to military balls since the 80’s and its always the same there will be a small percentage of people that will have no idea what to wear as it’s their first event and likewise a small group of young men that will find strippers to take just for the effect. Go to the ball enjoy the time with friends and let those people who want to make asses out themselves do just that.

  • Dabears

    those dresses sure look good don’t they

  • Proud Marine Wife

    This will be my 20th Marine Corps Ball. I am not fat and I am not skinny. I am not frumpy and I am not skanky and I am not some jealous wife. I will tell you what I am. I am respectful towards the Marine Corps and my husband. This night is for my husband and his fellow Marines. It’s not for me to dress like I belong on Hollywood Blvd or get drunk to the point I have to be escorted out. Even if I had the body to wear those dresses I still would not wear them. Why because I know how to dress and act. I have seen it all. And if you get escorted out don’t be crying for a refund. So if you want to be the monday morning joke go ahead and dress like that cuz trust me they do talk about you.

    • JacqueSolomons

      The people that talk about you have nothing better to talk about? Get a life!!! And other friends!!!

  • Boson

    @Mel, I agree for the most part about what you’re saying. Following the rules is a requirement enforced by those in leadership, their decision may be to correct or make an exception. You need a shirt and shoes for the store and restaurants. I don’t know about every church, but most churches tell you to come as you are for the purpose to draw everyone and transition them into a dress code. They might not have certain clothing or able to afford the standard, placing strict requirements can discourage them from coming. Anyway, It’s leadership’s call, not mine. Why don’t we leave it up to them. Would anyone go up to someone in a store and tell them they can’t receive service if they didn’t work there?Probably not. Would you go tell the manager that they didn’t have on the required attire to receive service so therefore they should leave? I would hope not. It’s totally necessary to conform, but we must remember that they are adults like you and i. If they chose to ignore the directions, can’t afford something better, or just don’t know what to wear, who are we to judge?

  • mandinka

    Wait to see your first round of gays at the balll….all bets are off

    • Guest

      I bet the same rules won’t apply to them!

  • Maj4

    I agree that certain things should not be worn. Floor length dresses are recommend for an event such as the Birthday Ball. Dresses numbered 4,6 and 7 but, especially “confused dress” are perfectly acceptable. if you have the body to wear a dress like that then do it, I feel like the bigger problem we have at Birthday Balls is women not dressing to their body type. The MCCS class is not just what fork to use it covers ball clothing as well and also other aspects of the ball, how to conduct yourself and etc. the poster herself has said that there are newbies who have no idea how to act. So with that being said I’m not sure why she is mocking the class. I myself have yet been to a ball that only has an “Applebees’s” silverware set. In my experience the FRO has been to every single Birthday Ball, since they are special staff to the Commanding Officer, so the FRO bashing is not needed.

  • Matilda

    As a reminder – whether you like it or not, what you wear, say and do reflects directly on your military spouse. And, yes, his/her commander is watching…..this is the military – find out what is expected of you and support your military spouse. He or she will appreciate your support!

    Mine does, and he tells me so all the time.

  • Sam

    and the reason this is such valuable info?
    We’ve all seen this, I’m sure: http://www.strangemilitary.com/images/content/848

  • my2cents

    while I agree a lot of wives dress like tramps-and NOT just at the ball! Boson seems to have nailed it. I married when hubby already had 12 yrs under his belt. He was on I&I duty. When we moved to NC, he warned me about other wives. THEY are the Marine, NOT the spouse. Luckily we only did 3 yrs there. Extended RD to 4 yrs to retire from it. I only had to deal with base and bossy wives for 3 yrs.

  • Dana

    Rather than the dresses than some women chose to wear, I am more frustrated/embarressed about how incrediebly drunk these people get. The one true ball we went to while stationed in Germany our Regiment was told by the hosting hotel that they would NEVER host another military ball and we were not welcome back in their establishment because of the damages, disrespect, etc that was done. We have yet to go back to a ball because that is all it is, a “let’s see how drunk we can get in front of the chain of command” night. No thanks! And yes, I am not a drinker, nor do I find the fun side of it watching everyone else get drunk.

  • pritro

    Or you could JUST STAY AWAY and enjoy the night your way with your “man” either on a formal date somewhere else, or at home. I never get wrapped up in these formal brown nosing sessions known as a “ball” I work with these folks all day everyday sometimes 7 days a week why the hell would I want to spend what little time I can with my wife dragging her to a “work” party????

  • Stephanie

    For the army ball for my husband’s company, I wore a really beautiful satin floor length gown from Alfred Angelo in “Tealness”:
    http://www.alfredangelo.com/collections/productdi

    I liked the color because it didn’t clash with my husband’s green dress uniform, and it’s also one of my favorite colors.

    I had it altered so it wouldn’t show cleavage. I also bought a pretty austrian crystal pin at another store to adorn the waist area where the fabric appears to gather, and I got a black satin short sleeve bolero jacket to cover my out-of-shape arms and keep me warm. (It was the dead of winter.) The whole look was really amazing when it was all put together.

    When shopping for a ball gown, think classy and elegant. Always go with a floor length gown. I did not see one person at the ball in a short gown.

  • Sincer

    ” Behind a great man, is a good woman. Behind a good woman is the beauty of a man ”

  • Jeanna

    This awesome…… WE have hosted 3 Ball Etiquiette Classes. Our main stress was the Dress Code and that it is a Work thing….. do not be that Girl or Guy!!! So thank you!! :-)

  • Mimi

    She is NOT talking down to other women, she is simply giving a guideline! not to mention guys have all of two choices to wear- Military Service uniform or a tux. The term Ball indicates floor length, CLASSY wear, but for all the balls I have gone to it is obvious some women can’t look classy for the life of them and maybe it’s because they don”t know what right is! Shesh get off her back. She is doing a service to the girlfriends, fiancee and wives of service members. I sure get red when I see a woman wearing a dress with a slit up to you know where and it’s not because I really care, but she is giving women, and military women at that, the stereotypical name of tramp or trash!

  • Former Military

    You may not care what you wear, you may htink you can wear whatever you want. Your Marine will hear about it the next day and for many days, months, even years later. His command XO will come have a talk to him, they will explain that his choice of date reflects who he is. If he was hoping for a promotion around ball time well remember Military Life is 24-7-365. Things like this do have a lasting effect on your military career.

  • hedge

    As a cadre member of an Army ROTC unit, it is my responsibility to ensure that the female dates of our cadets represent themselves, their date, the unit and the University in a respectful and diginified manner. The dresses that you showed are the kinds of dresses that we specifically ask our guests, spouses and dates to NOT wear. I have told young women to go home before because their dress did not fit into our dress code and image that we would like to represent. Thanks for the images. I will be using them in my briefing this year.

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  • Proud Army Wife

    It amazes me how many women defend wearing a dress like the ones mentioned above. What happened to self respect, dignity and decorum?! I’m 29 years old so I definitely remember these types of dresses from my Prom. The thing is, you’re supposed to grow up after that. Hell, even then I wouldn’t have worn something so skimpy. Silly me, I was raised with this thing called CLASS. I know how to look good without looking like I should be dancing on a pole! My mother always told me that when I walked out of the house I was representing not only myself but my entire family as well. When I go to a ball, I represent not just myself but my husband as well. Therefore, dressing like a slut is not something I’m willing to do as I have more respect for myself and my husband than to embarrass him in that manner, especially in front of his superiors! Perhaps more women should remember that and try to dress like ladies. You can be a woman from now until next Sunday, but that doesn’t make you a lady!

  • Jen

    I think spouses can be mean and judgmental– I think you should wear what you want–especially if you have a good body– who cares? Honestly when I went the first time I thought it was going to be this big fancy thing and it was more like a frat party– the ONLY way I wouldn’t wear something is if my husband told me he did not like it. But honestly you can wear something decent and people will still have something to say–when you see the girl in the crazy outfit just be glad it isn’t you! LOL

  • KMBD56

    To any of you that have spouted off the opinion that people should be able to wear whatever they want, I’d like to remind you that Military Balls are in fact work functions. Soldiers are not allowed to wear “whatever” they want, they’re required to wear a specific uniform, within specific standards and even their behavior is governed by standards and etiquette. Military Balls, as with most other Military functions do in fact have specific customs and protocol and just because you’re a spouse or date and NOT the service member, does not give you the right to disregard such customs and protocol. Risque dresses, drunken and otherwise unbecoming behavior is absolutely inappropriate and reflects poorly on not only you, but your service member as well. Have some respect and take some pride in not only yourself but your service member, their unit and and branch as well. Should those things not matter much to you by all means wear whatever you want, behave however you want but I assure you, it WILL reflect poorly on you and all of the above. Honor, Tradition, Respect and Pride mean so little to some, it’s really disheartening. (For the record, the above dresses have their place and personally I have no problem with them when worn appropriately, I just strongly believe a Military ball is not an appropriate place).

  • Shelly

    Who cares? Really? What gives this military spouse the right to pass judgment? Look if you like to look frumpy and like you are going to church, press on sister. Don’t look at the hot women…don’t worry, if your husband married you, chances are no hot lady would want him!!

    • https://www.facebook.com/katerina.s.gerard Katerina Sinclair Gerard

      love it, well said

    • Kate

      What a sad little world you must live in where women can only be frumpy or hot, and her worth is only measured by what man would want her. I always feel so terribly sorry for people who can only view their surroundings in the black-and-white spectrum — or hot-versus-frumpy lense in your case. I have never been called frumpy by anybody, and I would not want to be called hot, but I have been told on numerous occasions that I look beautiful, elegant, and very stylish. I have been to more than 100 balls in many different countries, and the most beautiful women typically wear simple yet elegant gowns that impress with beautiful fabrics and impeccable tailoring. They don’t need skirts that have slits up to the crotch or decolletes that expose their navels.

      Oh, and I also don’t define myself based on your assessment of what type of man you think may or may not want me. I am very certain that you and I do not value the same traits. I am only interested in men who have intelligence, culture, sensitivity, and class, and desire the same in women. Fortunately, my husband has an abundance of all these characteristics plus good looks. I chose well, and so did he.

  • tracey

    wow I saw nothing wrong with ANY of the dresses. If a woman wants to dress slutty then let her. NO ONE has the right to tell anyone what to wear! This is SUPPOSE to be a free country. well…obviously not. And NO this is not a working on the job event! Get over it. Have fun. Quit being those type of “Christians” who complain very un-christian like about what others are wearing or how they look. sheesh! What grade are you people in anyways???

  • JellyBean620

    Honestly after reading all the comments on here with the spouses talking about how the author shouldn’t have written the article (by trying to be helpful in advising them on proper attire for a MILITARY function that has been around for decades and possibly saving those that are new to military life some embarrassment), I say let them dress how they want and make fools out of themselves. Maybe they will end up being the next “picture” posted all over social media with all the funny captions attached, with over a million shares (see skanky barely there black dress stripper chick, you all know which one I’m talking about) If their husbands don’t have a problem with how they are dressed or don’t have the balls to tell their wives they look like ten dollar hookers, let them go to the ball decked out in what they consider their “finest”.

  • JellyBean620

    When their husbands start getting crap the next week from co-workers and leadership for the way their wives/girlfriends were dressed and comes home pissed off about it and complaining, maybe that will be the first clue. If that doesn’t get through her silly head, maybe the first week said husband gets deployed, and single soldier XYZ calls her up for a date, and tells her he just assumed “she was like that”, then maybe that will be her second clue. And maybe her third clue will be when said husband comes up for promotion, but promotion requires he be sent to Washington D.C. Promotion with PCS gets denied however due to the fact the board remembers his wife and her “dress” from the ball and that she may be a social embarrassment to the higher level leadership and officials at the Pentagon. Congratulations wife on ruining your husbands career because you wanted to look “Hot” because of some incessant need to recreate the experience of the Prom you never had…

    • jojo613

      I know that I’ll be blasted, but this really doesn’t ever happen. I have assisted on a promotions boards before, and the board looks at thousands of records, half the time they don’t even look at names. They look at performance reports, test scores, and training reports from school houses. If a commander put forth non-recommendation solely based on the behavior, dress and appearance, and demeanor of a spouse, that could very well be grounds for an IG complaint. The only time they look at names is for BNRs. Senior officers and generals will not care that so-an-so’s date at the Ball didn’t meet up with standards of protocol. If the armed forces chooses to judge people for promotion based on how slutty a spouse/date looks, I would be very concerned about the direction the military is going.

      Furthermore, has anyone ever stopped to think that maybe perhaps the woman wearing the prom dress is a spouse who cannot afford better? Slutty is one thing, buying a cocktail dress for a formal ball, because a. they don’t know better (and don’t spend their time online pinning dresses and asking questions, or they are dating a military man, but don’t know the proper protocol) is one thing, or b. can’t afford better is another.

  • tldanks

    Out of our last 18 years we have only been stationed stateside for 9, enlisted for 5 and in school for 4.
    With that being said, there is a lot of difference in culture and how they dress “formally”, and now being a “seasoned” spouse, I find that we can all learn from others without being judgmental of their choices. I find something that my husband would like and realize not everyone is going to like the same thing, that is what makes humanity great. I think If I picked out something that was going to embarrass him he would say something (not that I would agree), but I would take it into consideration. I also have to remember that some of these young wives and girlfriends could be my daughters. What they consider fashion and what is worn on the red carpet is much different than what we are used to back in the day.

  • tldanks

    continued…. I have a 23 year old sister and I wouldn’t be caught dead in what she wears (even when I was her age), or do I want my daughter indulging, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see anyone’s boobs hanging out or their underwear, but they are just trying to be the best version of themselves for “their” Marine, we all come from different backgrounds, families and cultures, no judgments, let them enjoy their night…

  • Tyr

    It’s crazy to see the thought processes of military spouses. Now I see why my brother would never live on base housing.

  • Patricia

    Really. As a Marine Corps Spouse of 23 years I find this absurd. Formal attire has evolved over the years. we can leave the lingerie at home, but neither does it need to look like we are in the deep south of the 18th century. Many of the dresses today are so lovely. As a 50 year old woman I would say I have no problem with a lovely young lady wearing the spider or the thong dress as long as they can carry it off and wear the appropriate undergarments to make sure nothing is exposed (and oh ya, those have evolved as well). Oh to be young again and to be able to pull it off. Dress to your figure and let your man enjoy the jewel on his arm. Most of the people at these balls come from middle class America, to put on airs as if they have been raised in high society and be so judgmental is amusing to say the least. Enjoy life! It is the Marine Corps Ball, it is a work event, but for many it also is the only time they get to be dressed up! If thats what makes them feel like a princess for the evening , so be it!

  • jld

    I feel badly for the woman in the photo. Did she give you permission to use her photo? I understand your point but I don’t think you needed to post an actual ball photo. It is a small Corps.

  • crisy

    THANK GOD someone had the balls to write this! I’m in nursing school and my boyfriend of many years is in the military. I’ve gone to the ball with him three years now and the first year I wore a bridesmaid simple dress, second year I wore a dress I wore to my senior prom (totally modest), and this year I bought a new gown but also modest that I love. Two girls in my class are coming, one married to a solider, one just going along for the hell of it. The one who’s married, ugh, last year she wore one of those overly skin showing, neckline practically to the stomach, open back down to the crack, slit up to the crotch, plus cut out on the sides of the stomach dress. To top it off, it was hot pink. It was so overly tacky and slutty, I just felt it was so disrespectful to all of the military personnel. The night isn’t about who can be the sluttiest and get all the attention for the wrong reason. I absolutely cringed when they both told me what dresses they are wearing this year, and also about how drunk they plan to get… It’s just not ok.

  • Shirley

    Amazing post thank you this needs to be hades to every service member and their dates/ spouses at the brief.

  • Jammers

    Yes the military is deep in tradition. While it is a formal ball what you wear and how you carry yourself is a reflection of your husband. I was a young wife once and the first ball I went to I was 9 months pregnant so there really wasn’t much out there I could wear (1985). The second I was 5 mo pregnant and wore the same dress, the third (finally NOT pregnant) I wore a nice fancy mid knee dress. It was black with ivory lace, because I cared about my husbands career I would never dress with excessive skin showing. I learned about those women that showed all the skin were about, true or not you still get the reputation of a skank when you dress like one. if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck it must be a duck!!! My hubby served his 20 yrs in the Navy but did all his sea time with USMC at LeJeune. . . . . .OOOOOOORAH!

  • Jennifer

    I think it is sick for her to show up in that manner. I’m a female and spent time on active duty! I can only imagine what the other soldiers were saying at the next PT formation. As a female I wouldn’t wanted to hear it. This is exactly why so many spouses and military members have issue in their marriage or relationships. I seen it first hand when I was in the Army. The drama! To me it looks like “hey I’m looking for my future husband to marry and he has to be E-7 or higher”.

  • MCC

    If Princess Dianna would not have worn it, or Princess Kate… Don’t even think about it.

  • femalemarineopinion

    I feel as if some women have forgotten, this is not your night. It is your husbands/spouse’s night. It is the night to remember and give respect to what organization we have a part of. Although i dont agree nor disagree with all theses opinions on this random blog i came across, lets not forget what a ball is and what its actually for.

  • Charles Batchelor

    Remember it’s a work event, your military partner is the one who gets the fall out from your choice of wardrobe.

  • Nady

    What are these dresses sexy! and my guy will not let me wear this and gave me this red dress. It is a terrible http://aerlf.org/cocktail-dresses-for-women/

  • Mel

    Yes, say it over and over again! Please ladies, as a woman I don’t want to sit across from you at the table and be forced to look at your boobs on display. It’s truly not appetizing.

  • retiredusnnavywife

    Funny story – so when I went to the Navy ball with my husband we active duty women wore our uniforms then after the formal ceremonies and dinner concluded changed into our long dresses in the rest room. It was fun – reminded me of the girls locker room at a high school dance. A young sailor didn’t want to attend the ceremony part; she showed up for the dance afterward in a super revealing dress and a fur coat. We even told her earlier it was an official event! She spent the night dancing in her coat.

  • Kenlly

    Hi ladies,
    I’m going to my first ball in a few weeks. I wanted to know if it would be appropriate to wear a classy jumpsuit. Give me opinions please.

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  • Malena

    No nips, no strips, no lasagna curtains

  • byebrashope2

    This is the most popular dress in the picture. I saw this dress wearing by celebrities. They were looking so pretty. I also want to wear dress like this. Where I can got it. And thank you foe your post.