What Not to Wear to a Military Ball? (Do’s & Dont’s)

Blog Written by JOHN COTTON / Fact-checked by LOGAN MILLER

what not to wear to a military ball

A military ball is a formal event that consists of celebrations in honor of those who have served the country. Attending a military ball is a great way for citizens in the area to meet our military personnel.

While attending a military ball is sure to be an exciting experience, it is important to know what to wear and what not to wear to a military ball.

The military ball dress code is similar to that of other formal events. Any gown above the knee is considered a casual dress. Men are welcome to wear tuxedos and suits.

Keep reading to learn more about the proper dress code for the military.

What Not to Wear at a Military Ball?


A military ball is a formal gathering; guests should not dress casually.

1. No short or informal dress

Dresses that are too short for a formal occasion, such as cocktail dresses, or are above the knee, are inappropriate for the dress code. Also, avoid exposing too much skin when you dress.

2. Avoid too-flamboyant dresses

The dress’s length is the most important factor, but the color should also be taken into account. Let’s stay on the side of elegance and simplicity.

Bright colors, especially neons and glittery fabrics, are not recommended. You should also not dress in any bold patterns, such as leopards, etc.

Elegant hues like emerald and purple, or even neutrals, are recommended.

3. Avoid uncomfortable cloth

The number one unsaid rule is that you shouldn’t wear uncomfortable clothes. If your dress is too tight or your shoes are giving you blisters, you might as well stay home and avoid the party.

You’ll want to engage and chat with other guests at the event, so ease of movement is essential.

Also, let’s not come with a dress with a long tail, as it can be inconvenient for you and the guests around.

4. Avoid slippery shoes and too many accessories

You can wear high heels, which are the standard for formal events, yet make sure the soles are not slippery. If possible, scuff them to ensure they are stable when you dance.

Also, you can wear simple accessories, but avoid going overboard with large items that might make noise when you move around.

What Are the Dress Codes for the Following Military Branches?


  • Air Force Ball Dress Code – Military members are expected to dress for the mess in their mess dress outfit. In this case, a member of the Air Force should follow the Air Force ball etiquette.

The mess jacket, pants, white dress shirt, and black bow tie are standard components of this uniform, which is often accessorized with orders and medals. Similarly, retired military personnel can wear their old uniform to the event.

On the other hand, non-military female guests should come in a formal gown or cocktail dress. And there are no rules about dress color.

  • Military Ball Attire – Attendees at the Military Ball are expected to dress in full dress uniform. Dresses between knee length and floor length are ideal for females.

Ladies can wear a cocktail dress, but keep the embellishments simple. There is a strong recommendation against using vivid hues.

  • Marine Corps Ball Dress Code – Women can wear formal attire that isn’t too revealing or garish in terms of color or pattern. For the marine ball dress code for ladies, it must be a floor-length gown. Dark suits and bow ties are acceptable for the men attending.
  • Navy BallAttendees at a Navy ball are expected to display their uniforms with honor, just as they would at any other military ball. Visitors need only wear a formal gown and a suit or tuxedo to fit in with the elegant atmosphere.

What Are the Air Force Ball, Military Ball, and Formal Army Ball Etiquette?

Military ball etiquette includes wearing formal attire. Adhering to the event’s stated dress requirement is a matter of common courtesy.

Attendees and guests are encouraged to stay until the end of the program, as they will be providing transportation to help visitors and guests get home safely.

Next, make sure to go through the receiving line and return to your seat before the receiving line so you can leave your drink.

As a rule of thumb, you hold a drink through the receiving line, and if gloves are worn, you have to remove the gloves on your right.

Although alcoholic beverages may be provided at the event, you are expected to enjoy them responsibly and in moderation.

Most importantly, know the ball’s purpose, enjoy it and make it memorable.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the worst military ball gowns?

Semi Formal or casual clothes, such as cocktail dresses and those that fall above the knee, are the worst option for women serving in the military. Most people agree that the showiest ball gowns are the most unpleasant.

What colors can you wear to a military ball?

First of all, you can wear anything that suits you! However, you should think about the theme of the party. For most military balls, attendees are required to wear elegant colors such as Royal Violet, Burgundy Red, Gold, Silver, Neutral Skintone Colors, Emerald Green, and many more.

It comes down to what looks good on you and what makes you feel comfortable wearing it.

Can female soldiers wear dresses to military balls?

Yes, they can wear dresses in military balls. However, it must be a long gown and not too revealing in the front and back of the gown. It must be decent-looking and not attention-grabbing dresses.

What is considered inappropriate marine ball dresses?

Wearing a dress that reveals too much skin is inappropriate for a marine ball dress. In addition, short dresses are a big no-no.

What are army ball uniform regulations?

Military attendees at a military ball are expected to dress in full dress uniform. Military personnel are expected to dress to impress by sporting either their dress blue or class-A uniforms.


Now you know what to wear and what not to wear to a military ball. The regulations on what to wear to military ball, air force ball, marine ball, or navy ball. Because these ball events are so formal, it is essential to dress appropriately.

It is expected that guests to a formal function will dress appropriately. It’s also inappropriate for women to wear loud, distracting designs or fluorescent hues. It’s best if you dress up accordingly for the occasion!

5/5 - (1 vote)