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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here some more examples of typical Fairbanks Formal Style.
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
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
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