You Can Nicely Dress for a Ball in Winter and Stay Warm

To dress for a ball when it is cold outside is quite a challenge. Ironically, most of these events are in the cold season. Read what to do to look your best at a ball in cold weather.



Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.


Always Be Aware of the Type of Ball to Don the Right Attire

There are various dress codes for balls. What to wear to a military ball differs from what to wear to a white tie, black tie, formal or semi-formal ball. Therefore, always check for the announced dress code.

Except for an Armed Forces Ball, the dress code might even differ from last time. The annual ball organized by the Fairbanks Ballroom Dancing Club, for instance, turned from a Black Tie event in the zero years to a Fairbanks Formal dress code in 2010s.

Knowing the dress code way ahead of time also allows you to alter a maxi high-low hem garment to a midi version to meet a semi-formal request. Not everyone feels better when over than underdressed.


mature woman in velvet formal attire with 3/4 sleeves for staying warm
Velvet fabric not made from cotton is a good choice to stay warm in an air conditioned room. Avoid cotton because when cotton is wet (from sweat) it provides zero insulation.



Why Mature Women Should Check the Fit When Shopping Their Closet for a Gown

When your significant other surprised you last minute with an invitation to a ball,  there might not be enough time to browse thrift stores or order an affordable gown online. When you have to shop your closet remember that ball attire typically has a long tenure in our closets. One wears them only now and then.

While in our 20s and 30s, keeping our weight was a guarantee the dress would fit as great as the last time, it’s not in menopause. Somehow our meat/fat just shifts around, and yep, fails to resist gravity. It turns south!

To be in control of your life, not menopause, try your old gowns on as soon as you know about the event. Wear the gown that fits best.


Advice: Don’t even rely on that it still was a great fit during your seasonal closet overhaul.



Examples How to Style an Evening Gown Different Ways

See this sleek velvet gown that I wore at the Governor’s Inaugural Ball in 2015 and 2003. In 2003, I had styled it with a garnet necklace and bracelet and a satin belt with a Swarovski crystal buckle. In 2015, I opted for an edgy look with the studded belt. The next time I went with an eastern vibe regarding the accessories for a different look. Swapping the bolero jacket for a caplet yields an on-trend look.


example how to style one gown two different ways
Example how to restyle the same gown in different looks.



How to Dress for a Ball in Winter

In the following, I explain the various problems of wearing festive attire in winter, and their solutions to look your best  as well as to stay comfortable and healthy.


Which Outerwear Is Best to Wear over an Evening Dress?

During the ride to the location, your car is warm because it just came out of the garage. However, it will be cold when standing in the parking lot for four or more hours at below freezing temperatures. Therefore, wearing sandals, a chiffon gown and a fake fur jacket in a cold car is a recipe to catch a cold. Recall your body is heated and sweaty from dancing.

A midi or longer faux fur coat is a no-brainer for temperatures around the freezing point. When temperatures are in the double negative digits (below -23.3oC, wear a thick down coat. More on which down coat is best for your climate zone. A shearling is a No-No because it would spread hair all over your attire.


Dancer’s tip: Before getting into the cold car, go to the restroom to towel yourself dry. Freezing sweat can lead to hypothermia. After the ball, pull on leggings or a pair of wool pants under the gown for extra insulation. Especially, when you donned bare legs.



Nicole walking in strappy sandals in a lace chiffon gown carrying a fish pearl embellished wrist clutch
Unbranded nude fishnets, festive jewelry, Very Fine Dance Shoes strappy sandals (all own), a fish pearl wrist bag c/o Bellorita and lace chiffon below the knee gown c/o JJ House




What Is the Best Footwear for a Ball in Winter?

Tall boots are best, and bring your sandals or dance shoes in a tote to the location. After changing the footwear check the tote with boots and the coat at the coat clerk’s.


Alaskan dancer’s tip: Bring a blanket in a tote inside and leave it with the coat clerk. On your drive home, it can help to stay warm.



two Fairbanks women showing how to stay warm in cocktail dresses
Left: Fairbanks woman wearing nude tights and a lace top under a cocktail dress. Right: Me wearing tall boots and a cardigan with a midi lace gown.



How to Stay Comfortable Inside?

Heating is very expensive. Therefore, hotels heat unused rooms only to 40F (5oC). While doing so saves money and protects the environment, their ballroom may be chilly. Consequently, how to dress for a ball in winter requires to have a shawl, evening jacket or cape to stay warm between dances.

Go for formal attire with long sleeves. Alternatively, you can wear a lace top under a short sleeve or no sleeve evening gown to stay Warm. The video shows how to style evening attire with a halftee or top underneath for insulation.





Dancer’s tip: Fishnets provide some insulation while you still have similar good contact of your feet with the dance shoes like with bare feet.



real woman dressed for a ball in winter in a long sleeve lace short prom attire
Baby boomer wearing a brown with gold metallic threads long sleeve lace dress with statement heels meeting a semi-formal dress code.



Examples of Fairbanks Formal Style to Dress for a Ball in Winter

Here some more examples of typical Fairbanks Formal Style.


examples of what Fairbanks people wear at a Fairbanks formal dance event
Examples of Fairbanks formal winter ball outfits. People wear clean dark jeans and short cocktail dresses.




Other Alternatives to Dress for a Ball in Winter

Don’t miss your opportunity to dress up like Princess when the above options seem unsuitable to you. What about

  • Planning to arrive an hour prior to the start of the ball. Then you can wear your normal winter gear, and change in the restroom.
  • Renting a room for the night and dress up there.



What Not to Wear to a Formal Ball

woman wearing no shoes at a ball
No words! Never kick off your shoes.


Dancer’s tip: Never don new dance shoes at a ball. Break them in at home first to not get blisters on your blisters,


Note that dressing for Valentine’s day bears similar challenges even when you don’t go dancing.


Photos of me: G. Kramm

Other photos: N. Mölders

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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