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How to Look Your Best at the Marine Corps Ball


How to Look Your Best at the Marine Corps BallIt’s time for the USMC Birthday Ball! As spouses, we are lucky enough to be invited to share in this event. The evening is about honoring the traditions of the Marine Corps. You are a direct reflection of your Marine and you want him to be proud to have you on his arm.

I have been attending the USMC Birthday Ball with my Marine for the past 7 years. In the few Birthday Balls I have attended, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Trust me; you don’t want to be that date that everyone else is talking about – or even worse, the date that is not welcomed in!

I am taking my past experiences and sharing with you some tips on how to dress for the Ball.

1. Be Classy! Pretend you have just been invited to the Oscars. Go for a Sandra Bullock or Gwyneth Paltrow look, NOT Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj. This event is considered black tie, so long dresses are appropriate.

However, I have seen some women wear tea length gowns and they looked stunning. Just remember below your knees! Stay away from too much poof or long trains on your dress, they just get stepped on while your socializing and dancing. Also, keep your skin exposure to a minimum.

There is a time and place for the little black strapless dress and the ball is not it. No one wants to see your boob pop out on the dance floor!

A dress not appropriate for the ball. Save this one for the trip to Vegas.

2. It’s not your High School Prom! Your prom dress may have been fabulous in high school but this is not high school. Save the glitter, neon colors & high slits for the 16 year olds. I understand that buying a brand new dress may not be in your budget, but there are plenty of ways to find a classy, age appropriate dress.

A few tips I have for shopping on a budget:

            • Get together with your fellow spouses and throw a dress swap party!
            • Start looking in sale racks months before. Usually every November, your Marine’s unit will have their birthday ball. Don’t wait until ball season to find a dress … way too much pressure!
            • Check craigslist, base yard sales, eBay, thrift stores… etc. If you’re crafty enough you may even be able to tweak what you find into your own design.
            • Rent a dress from Rent the Runway. Have you always wanted to wear a D&G or Monique Lhillier gown? Well, for the night you can. The ball is your red carpet!

3. No insane prints or outrageous colors! Animal print and sequins are trendy right now, but don’t do it for the ball. You don’t want your neon cheetah print dress to draw all the attention. This night is about your Marine and how handsome he looks in his uniform. I’m not saying that you don’t want to look gorgeous, but find a color that compliments his uniform. Red, Navy, Grey, Black, and Yellow are all great colors for the ball.

Great for prom, not so great for the Marine Corps Ball.

4. Shoes! You are going to be standing, walking, sitting, and dancing all night. You want to be comfortable! If you can rock the five inch heels, by all means, do it up! On the other hand, don’t wear flats, flip flop, or sneakers. You will ruin your look if you wear your gorgeous gown with a pair of TOMs.

5. Hair, Nails & Make up! Some women spend the extra money to get the professionals to do the work. Usually you can find a salon in your hotel or close nearby. If you are not into spending the extra cash, get together with a group of girlfriends beforehand. It’s a fun way to get ready and help each other out, especially now with websites like Pinterest and Youtube; you can find great ways to style your hair and makeup.Back to my “this-is-not-your-high-school-prom” comment, this advice also goes with your hair and makeup look.

No need for glitter, butterfly clips or crazy huge up-dos. Keep your hair simple and pretty. I am always a fan of loose curls or an easy up do. When it comes to make-up, you don’t want to go overboard. Yes I wear a little more than I normally do for the ball, but I don’t go overboard. If you do a smokey eye, then have subtle lip color. If you want bright red lips, then make sure you tone it down on your eyes.

The Marine Corps Birthday Ball is a highlight of our year! I love getting dressed up and honoring the Corps. I am so proud of my husband and this is the night to celebrate that. And in the end, don’t stress. You will look fabulous!

Check out more Do’s and Don’t Photos on our Pinterest Board.

A great dress choice for the ball.
A great dress choice for the ball.

Other Marine Corps Ball Related Articles

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    • KristenMakesArt –

      The dress is darling but unfortunately, it is not appropriate for the Marine Corps Ball. The Ball will require a floor length dress. Perhaps you can borrow one from a friend.

      Best of luck and have fun!

  1. […] If you’re a planner like me, you may be scoping out the dress section at Macy’s or Nordstrom’s months before the Birthday Ball. You can typically find a pretty good deal when they hold their major sales around the holidays or before a new season. The Junior’s Department will always have dresses on sale after prom or homecoming, but just make sure that it’s still appropriate to wear. Check out my past article on “How to Look Your Best at the Marine Corps Ball”. […]

  2. Hello, I need help. I have really short hair and I need some help finding a dress. I would go for my classic black dress but it’s strapless and my shoulders look big enough. Any ideas as to dresses that won’t make my head look small ?


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