The Best Places to Find a Military Ball Gown
You have a military ball coming up and you are understandably excited – and perhaps a bit nervous – about finding just the right dress. Most of us these days don’t attend too many formal events, so finding the proper attire can take a bit of work. While the evening is about celebrating your significant other’s service, and the traditions of their branch, you also want to look your best, make a great impression, and also be comfortable, all without breaking the bank.
Thankfully, there are many great resources available today to find a suitable formal dress that not only looks great but fits your budget. But before you start your search, it’s a good idea to keep in mind a few basic guidelines:
- Compliment the level of formality of your date’s uniform dress; most military balls encourage floor length or tea length dresses. Avoid short, super-tight, overly decorated, and skin-barring.
- Keep the colors basic and elegant. Try to avoid neon and overly busy patterns, and the toile-filled, puffy styles will have you looking more like prom than military ball.
- Find a style and fit that keeps you comfortable and feeling great; it will show in your confidence level! The event includes sitting, standing, and receiving lines, so you’ll be on your feet quite often. Practice different moves you’ll be making to ensure you’ll have no wardrobe malfunctions. Here are more great guidelines from a military spouse.
With thousand of designer dresses to choose from, this new concept in online shopping and formal attire rental seems to have thought of everything. With an extensive formal dress section of floor-length dresses, you can save substantial cash – for example, this Nicole Miller gown retails for $960 but you can rent it for four days for $80 – and have it delivered directly to you. The online listings include literally thousands of customer photos showing how the dress looks in real life, and you can also shop by dress color. You can also add a second, back-up size of the dress for a small fee, and staff members can even overnight you a new size if needed. Returning the dress (you can choose to rent for 4 days or 8 days) is simplified as well, as the dress comes with a pre-printed shipping label and package, and the company takes care of the dry cleaning. Another option is shopping from the site’s clearance section, where you’ll find dresses in great condition for purchase at similar conditions.
Craigslist and Facebook
You might have to do a bit more legwork and be prepared to inspect carefully before purchase, but free online groups like Craigslist and local Facebook resale pages (there are often several specific to your location, just do a quick search) are great options for finding a gently used ball gown. Consider searching for terms like “bridesmaid dress,” “formal,” “prom dress,” and “floor-length.” Even some informal and simple wedding dresses might fit your requirements. Be sure to adhere to the dress standards recommendations, and confirm with the seller that you can try the dress on before purchase (and consider that when setting your meet up location; a public place like a library with a restroom is a good idea). It’s always a good idea to take along a friend when meeting an online seller, and in this case, a second honest opinion on the dress can be very helpful. Remember to build in time and funds to have the dress dry cleaned beforehand.
Thrift Store and Consignment Shops
You can find some amazing options in your local thrift stores of consignment shops, but there are some ways to make the experience more efficient and comfortable. Thrift stores are typically benefitting charities and have different levels of what they will accept and resale; you may find a “diamond in the rough” with some luck and good searching. Consignment shops tend to have higher standard of what they will accept, and sell items on behalf of a seller, giving the seller a percentage of the sale. A quick online search will show you consignment shops and resale shops in your area. Since you’re looking for a formal dress, consider also looking in more affluent areas of your city, and confirm that the location does have a dressing room onsite. Some resale shops may also buy your own items and give you store credit, which you can then use in your purchase of a dress, saving you even more money. Finally, many consignment shops have mark-down schedules, where they further reduce the price of an item for each week it hasn’t sold. If you’re willing to take a chance and have the time to spare, you might be able to get your dress at an even lower price.
With some planning and a little time, you can look amazing for your upcoming military ball without spending an outrageous amount of money. If you find the perfect, simple yet elegant dress that fits your requirements, you can even use it multiple years, changing it up with new accessories and shoes. Just remember that the evening is about celebrating your date and the U.S. military; you are there to support them, so take some of the pressure off yourself, remember the purpose of the evening, and have a great time!
Written By Megan Hammons