The 237th Marine Corps Birthday Ball is right around the corner.
As wives, fiances and girlfriends, 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 five 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 the date whom everyone else is talking about – or even worse, the date who 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 you’re 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!
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 and 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 its birthday ball. Don’t wait until ball season to find a dress … way too much pressure!
- Check the internet, base yard sales, thrift stores … etc. If you’re crafty enough, you may even be able to tweak what you find into your own design.
- Renting a dress is a possibility as well. Have you always wanted to wear the glamorous gowns you see on TV? 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 you don’t want to look gorgeous, but find a color that compliments his uniform. Red, navy, gray, black and yellow are all great colors for the 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 flops or sneakers. This will ruin your look.
5. Hair, nails and makeup! Some women spend the extra money to let professionals 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. 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 makeup, you don’t want to go overboard. Yes, for the ball I wear a little more than I normally do, 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!
Editor’s Note: This blog was originally featured on “USMC Life”, an opinion-based website which provides an overview of every major Marine Corps base focusing on providing specific base information, military housing and photos, schools, youth programs and sports, getting to and from each installation and popular links helpful to Marines and their families. The site also provides resources for fiancés and new military spouses, Tricare, military discounts, free money for education, moving and PCS tips, separating from the Corps and more.