Marine Corps Ball Gowns!!!!

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I couldn’t resist writing something else on the topic, it is the MOST popular way to find my website! I have more hits per day on this topic than any other!!!!

I grew up a Marine Brat and then as an adult went to my fair share of Marine Corps Balls . . .the short list of advice?

Here in Coastal NC, chances are good you have to travel a bit to reach your event, often hosted in New Bern or Wilmington as there are few locations in the Jacksonville area that can host a large batallion or squadron so keep that in mind and that may mean parking at a parkikng deck and having to walk a bit. . .bring spare shoes just in case. . .or, rather than a convention center you may enjoy your evening at an empty hangar or field house (in those instances, no white/light dresses if you hope to wear your gown more than once!).

Your date/escort for the evening will be in uniform, which varies from service to service and rank. . .but all in all, black, navy blue, white and red are included in their evening dress and make any dress you wear in those colors look smashing. . .gold and silver also look great since the gents have all their medals on.

Dinner and dancing are usually included but always, at a USMC ball is the cake cutting ceremony where the youngest and oldest Marines in the room participate. . .the evening usually includes a distinguished guest speaker and several toasts.

I could go on about the schedule of events and attire but, think of it as a grown-up prom and you’re pretty close! Take lots of photos, be respectful of everyone there, dance at least once and have fun!

**Check out all the great comments and a few links below!  Ball season is ramping up!  If you have a great story of some helpful advice, please share!  And, as always, if you have ANY kind of real estate need (regardless of what state or country you are in), shoot me a note to McKenzieSellsHomes@gmail.com and I can answer your questions or connect you with a talented agent with a great track record no matter where you are!  (910)554-0761 is my direct cell for folks with North Carolina Real Estate needs.  I have a decade of military real estate experience and work with Century 21 Champion Real Estate in Jacksonville, NC-home to Camp Lejeune, New River MCAS, Camp Johnson and Camp Geiger and have great connections to every military community imaginable (and have moved over a dozen times myself).  I’d love to help you bloom where you are planted!

About McKenzie Johnson

I am a Real Estate Broker with over 13 years experience in the industry. A fan of anything the color orange, long walks on the beach eating dried cuttlefish, four legged friends, new adventures in cooking or travel. A REALTOR and real estate consultant living and working in North Carolina with information to share. I would love to demystify the process for you. . .I think real estate is a tremendous investment for just about everyone. . .not just for the financial aspect, but also the idea of owning a piece of the American Dream, a chunk of earth, literally, with your name on it. I love what I do and who I get to meet through my job, the most rewarding part is handing a family their very first set of house keys! I hope you will find helpful information here, and it is just that, information, please don't take it as gospel, just my take on real estate and the world around me. For additional information and how to contact me, visit my website www.910Homes.net. I serve the Onslow County area which includes the military bases: Camp Lejeune, New River MCAS, Camp Johnson, Camp Gieger and more.

50 responses »

  1. I have questions which will probably sound ridiculous but this will be my first ball and I really have no idea what to expect. I’ve read a lot about it but I get mixed ideas. I had planned on wearing a mainly white gown with black beading that is floor length. It is a spaghetti strap dress but I have a small tattoo on my back and I’ve heard ladies should keep their tattoos covered up. I also read white is not a very good choice. Do people wear more gowns or like big cinderella dresses. I do like the bigger better because I mean how often do you get to dress up and feel like a princess but I wouldn’t want to stand out at all. I’m just not sure if I should go with the dress I have or find something different.

    • You should cover the tatoo as this is a formal event. Strict protocal should be adhered to as your date will be judged on your appearance and behavior. I was a active duty female Marine as well as the wife of a Marine and have attended many dinners over his entire career.

  2. White gown would be fine. A lot of people say to wear black or navy blue but I went to my frist Marine Corps Ball last year and saw a lot ladies wearing white and other bright colors. Keep it simple and classy. I wouldnt go for a big cinderella dress but prom gowns are very elegant. Nothing too poofy. As far as the tattoo… If its small i wouldnt worry about it too much. Depending on where it is you can hide it if you have long hair. Just wear your hair down in nice long curls. You can also cover it up with make up (My friend used Sally Hansens spray on leg make up. You can find this stuff at Walgreens or Rite Aid). Remember to ask your date what’s going on. Dont be afraid to talk with other people while you’re there and be polite and respectful. If your old enough…DONT GET DRUNK!!! lol. Save that for the after party. Marine Corps Balls are a blast and you’re going to have a great time! Good luck and best wishes!

    • Great points Gail! I had someone email me about active duty women, and I’m sorry for not even touching on that. . .It’s a formal event, I’d really say tux for men not in uniform or a nice dark suit and tie. Your spray tan sugestion is great, also for getting away with not wearing panty hose. . .and God Bless Spanx! 🙂

  3. I have a dark green, slightly shimmery dress (almost floor length) that is not puffy at all and isn’t a prom dress, just very elegant. Is green a color that won’t clash? I’m really hoping to wear it. I have to fly from 3000 miles away to be there and can’t pack anything too bulky or that will need ironing (like a few of the dresses I have and love). Also, I don’t drink, so will that be a problem with the toasts?

    Thanks!
    ~Kristin

  4. I’m going to my first marine ball in novemer. I have a strapless red a-line dress that has small gathering from the waist down. I wore it to my prom and im not completely sure that it will be appropriate. Ive asked my brother (a marine) what he thinks but hes not any help at all.

    Thanks
    Kota

  5. I’m going to the MC ball in Charleston with a foreign officer. What length of dress is appropriate? Does it have to be below the knee, or floor-length? My brother is a marine but he’s no help. Any help ya’ll can give is greatly appreciated.

  6. I have been to the ball for 2 years now and every year I wear a floor length elegant gown with gloves and the whole deal…but both times I found myself wishing that I had a sexier dress on. I felt kind of old and uptight being dressed that way…soo…this year I am showing some leg. I just bought a gorgeous pair of Betsey Johnson black heels, so today I am going shopping for the dress! There are many sexy, but classy dresses out there. Bottom line…this year I am going in what I want to wear, not what other women tell me to wear..most of the women told me to go conservative, then I see them at the ball in mini-dresses.. If you have a nice body, don’t be afraid to show it off within reason!

  7. Last year I wore a knee length party dress. This year (next weekend), I’m going all out with a floor length dress (not too poofy), strapless, long white gloves, matching heels and a beautiful necklace/earring set. OH and a sparkly headband! I WANT to feel like a princess! LOL

  8. WOW! I am attending my first ball this year 2010 and I am just searching on line and your site popped up. I am soooo excited and I have been looking at some beautiful dresses. I would like to wear a red dress, because that is my best color & it’s in there inifrm. I did read some where that you don’t want to over do it, since it’s all about the marines.

    • Totally! You have great color! I just had my toes done, “greige” is all ths rage this year. .. found out once the color was on, I am, indeed, greige! I don’t looks smashing in white but you do. . .solid colors seem to work best since the uniforms have so much going on. I hope you have fun!

      • Hi, so my question is, can you wear white in November?? I was thinking my only option for a dress is black, (I’m really not a fan of red) but then someone told me I could also do blue, navy, gold or white.

      • As Joan Rivers would say, you can wear white anytime you like these days, but, I think it looks a little Wedding-ish in photos to me (which isn’t that terrible) but by all means, if you have a dress you dig and it fits and it’s in your closet, it has three really awesome things going for it! Navy, gold and silver look especially nice with their medals etc. . .and Red, well, my jury is now out on that a female friend of mine, now retired herself but married to a still active duty husband said she felt that a red dress was like the red “blood stripe” on their slacks. . .and for that reason, for his events, she never wore red. . .but maybe that’s getting too deep for formal wear. I also point out wear what makes you comfortable, both in body and spirit. If you don’t feel pretty in it, you aren’t going to project it. . .and if you can’t keep that strap up or skirt covering what it is supposed to, you aren’t going to have a fun night either.

  9. I’ve been to many balls and I’ve seen every color you can think of and every length from hooker short (tacky) to dragging the ground long. Just have fun!

    • Exactly. . .fun is the name of the game and kind of like a prom or wedding dress, something that won’t make you wince too hard down the line when you see it in pictures. The worst ever was a ball in Wilmington. . .the outfit was a sherbert orange pantsuit with slits up both legs to the hips and the top didn’t efectively cover what it was there to cover. . .really, anything else as long as it makes you happy!

  10. OMG. You guys are amazing! I was just about to buy a dress & then I researched “What to wear at a Marine Corps ball.” Which is pretty bad on my part because my whole family is in the Marine Corps & I still haven’t been to a ball yet. Now that I’ve married a Marine.. I’m dragging myself to go to a ball. I don’t ever mind getting dressed up and feeling pretty, but I need some help in knowing if I should get this dress. I read a website where it scared me when they said not to look sexy, because the fellow wives would frown upon it. LOL, but thanx to SUZANNE.. I think I’m just gonna do what I do best & pull it off! Pls tell me what you guys think of the dress!

    https://www.dillards.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=301&catalogId=301&productId=502402921

    • Maria, it’s a pretty dress but in my opinion not very ‘ball’-ish. Kinda on the short side. But if you are comfortable, go for it. I’ve never seen anyone turned away from a ball for their dress so …. Hope you have fun! Ours is in a week and 1/2 🙂

  11. I wish y’all would post your ball pictures here, it would be a neat photo album later. . .I finally decided on my dress. . .the color is now sold out so here’s a link to the dress http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/dresses/weddingsparties/PRDOVR~19961/99102138613/ENE~1+2+3+22+4294967294+20~~~0~15~all~mode+matchallany~~~~~bow%20monde/19961.jsp

    Been working on getting back in shape and dropping weight, I always go floor length but this year figured showing off a little ankle and calf action with their new difinition a must! 🙂 PLUS this is not TOO dressy to wear for holiday work parties with new accessories. Hope you all are enjoying ball season! PS- I got my dress on Jcrew.com but if you ever see something on sale there or Ann Taylor’s formal treats but not your size, type in the article’s name on EBAY, there are several “consignment” shops that actually sell new, with the tags on. . .a great way to find a deal on a dress!

  12. I’m going to my 1st Marine corps ball nxt wknd with my boyfriend he will be the youngest marine at the ball I’m still not sure want to wear he’s wearing his blues so I was thinkin a red n black dress but I’m still not sure what I should wear.

    • FUN! He will be part of the ceremony then, along with the oldest Marine in the room and part of the cake cutting. Think of it as sort of prom, there’s usually a dinner at the event, drinks, dancing, the ceremony and then some folks plan to stay and dance and drink and hang out and, in particular if your ball is out of town, some folks opt to check out the local hot spots so I say plan for a change of clothes in case that sounds like a fun idea and like a wedding or prom, it’s a giant banquet hall with banquet hall chairs. . .so there’s a good portion of the evening spent sitting, so make sure your dress is comfortable and with shoes you can stand up and sit down a few times (presentation of the colors, etc.) and I suggest not high slits in the dress. Your dress sounds great and if you love it, it fits and it’s comfortable, by all means. I’m wearing one that’s a little more green than planned (think the color of their green undershirts), oh well, that’s what I get for picking something online. It’s strapless, knee length and I can think of at least two more formal shin digs I can get away with wearing it. Take lots of pictures (as long as that’s ok with the command) and maybe even video (again, if that’s ok with the command) as him being part of the evening’s events is a nice thing to be able to share with his family and friends.

  13. umm…I’m going to my first Marine Ball this November and I don’t know what to wear at all..in fact, i’m not really a girly girl lol…i don’t wear make up and i’m not good with choosing a dress or anything…any advice would be nice…thanks

  14. I’ve been to a few balls. Some ladies wear nice pant sets too (usually older ladies). I’ve seen super long, super short, modest, hoochie mama, etc. Good luck! I’m hoping to lose 10-15 lbs by November so I can fit into a dress I already have LOL

  15. I am going to my 9th ball I believe with my husband. I never really had a hard time finding a dress or even a style of dress for that matter, but now that he has made Gunny I am stressing out more than normal. I have no idea what to wear, and it is driving me crazy we are stationed 3 hours apart so I have never met anyone in his unit, nor has he met anyone in mine, I really want to make a good impression…….anyone have any ideas?

  16. I have been to multiple balls in Wilmington NC, and I always wear a longer gown. But I have seen very short ones. We are in San Diego now and we went to the ball out her last year. So this year I plan on yet another long gown. I usually wear dark blue as my color. I hope that helps, just remember it’s a birthday so have fun, perfect time to feel beautiful like a princess.

  17. I have an old prom dress that I think is absolutely gorgeous and I was planning to wear it to my first ball in November. It has some sequins on it and a friend told me that it would be inappropriate to wear. He’s a male and a self-proclaimed cynic I might add, but I really need some advice from someone who has been to at least one of these things.

    • LOL @ self proclaimed cynic. Honey the only thing I can say is if you feel comfortable then go for it….short of showing way to much skin :). There is nothing wrong with wearing sequins, as a matter of fact my very first Marine Corps Ball ever I wore a green sequins dress and fit right in so like every one has told me it is a day to dress up and look beautiful, its a birthday have fun.

    • Congrats on your first ball. The best thing about going to a ball is the shopping for the dress. I have always worn a long gown, but I am seeing more and more tea length. I have also seen very short dresses that look as though some were “working”. I have always tended to stay with the formal gowns (long) since it is a formal event. Just make sure you feel comfortable and everything else will fall into place.

      • LOL @working and @cynic. . .formal dress uniform is the military equivalent to “Black tie/tuxedo” so yes, traditionally, long is the way to go. . .however, in this day and age of shoe lovers or just plain tall folks (guilty of both)-short but very formal is popping up more and more. I agree with @sisi, confidence is key, and so are spanx lol. Wear something that covers all the important battlefronts and that you don’t have to fiddle with all night, have some dinner, a slice of birthday cake and get at least once dance in!

  18. I am going to my first ever marine corp ball in november. My bf is in the marines and well lets just say i am not a girly girl at all. and i just dont know what type of dress to wear. i have a floor length blue one i wore to prom last year but mom says that wouldnt be very appropriate because it is a halter top and would show to much skin. So if someone could plz put some pics on here of what dreses they have worn that would be GREATLY appreciated

    • Looks lovely, my only fear with something with such a high slit, is “managing” it all night, consider you’re meeting all of your man’s bosses and colleagues. . .I’m not a fan of having to tug or adjust a dress all evening. . .so making sure it stays mostly closed all evening might make you feel self conscious. . .but that’s just my opinion, wear what makes you happy and feel confidant!

  19. I’m also going to my first Marine Ball here in Colorado in a few weeks. I’m pretty nervous about how to act especially since I don’t know anyone there. I got a strapless dress and it has sparkles on it, but it’s not gaudy. Is that okay? Also, I have a tattoo in the middle of my upper back, should I cover it up or is it not a huge deal? I hope it’s fun! I’m surprised how many people are responding to this and that the thread is still going! Any advice would be VERY appreciated. Thanks! (:

    • As I said above, you’re not only having a nice and dressy evening out, you’re also meeting all of his bosses and colleagues, people he’s deployed with and formed strong bonds. There might be some moments where you feel just like arm candy as they retell stories of deployment or “shop talk” but that’s what the event is all about so don’t take it personally. And, respect that it is a work event. . .imagine how you’d expect him to act with your boss or meeting your parents. The Tattoo if your call, it’s your body art and up to you if you want it exposed. I do think it’s nice to take a light wrap or pashmina for the evening in case the ac is too much etc. . .and that would give you the option to cover it up if you’re feeling self conscious about it.

      I love this thread. . .folks, if you have advice or a great photo to share, please do!

  20. @Sisi, I wasn’t in panic mode until I read your “Gunny” comment… ugh… This is my first Marine Ball. We’ve been dating off and on for the last 12 years… (Deployment).. Now he’s been promoted to Master Gunnery Sergeant. I haven’t picked out my dress or even the color. I don’t want to ask him since he busy handling all the MB business. Anyway – HELP!!!!!

    • Sarah, wow congrats on your first ball, and with a Master Guns no doubt. You will be fine, after the shock settles you will find your perfect dress and color. I just decided on a color and then found my dress. I like to be different from everybody else so I figured I would pick a color no one would wear……apparently I was wrong lol alot of ivory dresses this year from what I have heard. 🙂 Anyhow the most fun is picking the dress, just go out and have fun decide on a color and a style and you will be fine. Like my mother has always told me they will talk about the classy woman more than a trashy one…..lol. I would love to see what you pick though.

  21. Is this dress too short for the Marine Corps ball. It’s our first ball (he’s been deployed and haven’t been able to make it to any) and I am not a fan of long gowns/dresses

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/68916521@N02/

    I plan to get a long dangly earring (no necklace), a nice bracelet on one hand and wear the dress with peep toe pumps. Also my hair and makeup will be done professionally

  22. My now, boyfriend, asked me to the ball last year and I denied his invite only because I didn’t have a dress to wear. He made it seem like it wasn’t important but I know that he just wanted me to come up and see him really bad. I have been looking online for this years USMC ball and I can’t seem to find just a simple elegant dress. Everything looks prom and too revealing. I want something conservative. I am 22 so I want to look like an adult, but I want a dress that isn’t for older women. The searching will commence until I find a proper dress. I can see why your page gets a lot of views on this topic, but it good to know other ladies are searching so they don’t embarrass there partner.

  23. Hello! This will be my first ball (yey!!) and I’ve got the dress already hanging in my closet (I LOVE dresses … if I could wear them to work all day every day, I so totally would!! BUT … I have a huge tattoo on my back and the dress I’m wearing has a mid-back V shape … it most definitely will showcase my tattoos.

    I’m just wondering I need to cover it up or leave it as is — the ball we’ll be going to is in Wilmington, NC. This is a photo my tattoo …

    The back of the dress is also included in that link. Please let me know if I should cover it up or just wear as is! We’re both very excited, but I do want to represent him respectfully at the ball! Thanks in advance!!

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