Attending your first military ball is an awesome experience, but can also be a daunting one. We covered do’s and don’ts for what the ladies should wear in this post; now it’s time to tackle attire for the guys.
Lucky for you, gentlemen, it’s pretty straightforward. I’ll give you the scoop from my own experience attending countless military balls and events, and seeing what NOT to do firsthand.
To Tux or Not To Tux?
Many guys squirm at the idea of going to a military ball because they think they have to wear a tux. I will tell you from experience that you certainly CAN wear a tux, but it’s not a requirement. A nice, dark suit with a tie will do just fine.
I suggest a dark-colored suit (like black, navy or charcoal) because it tends to look a little more formal than a light-colored one. Also, it’ll look great with your date’s uniform. And don’t skip the tie!
Listen, guys. I know lots of you aren’t getting dressed up for fancy events that require a suit on a regular basis. There’s a good chance the suit hanging in your closet is 5 or 10 years old.
Styles and trends change a lot in that amount of time, and if you wear an old suit, the cut can make it look outdated. Not to mention if you’ve gained or lost a few pounds over the last few years; if you’ve gained weight your suit is going to be bulging at the buttons, and if you’ve lost weight you’re going to look like a little kid dressing up in clothes!
Do yourself a favor and opt for a nice, new set of slacks and a jacket. It doesn’t have to be from some fancy designer. A department store suit will work just fine, as long as it’s a good color and FITS.
Your shoes complete your classy military ball look. Whatever you do, don’t wear sneakers!
Stick with nice pair of dress shoes that complement your suit. Here’s a basic color pairing guide:
Black suit – Black shoes
Navy suit – Black or brown shoes
Charcoal suit – Black or “burgundy” shoes
Piercings, tattoos and facial hair
If you have piercings and tattoos, do you need to take them out/cover them up? This one requires you to use a bit of discretion and talk with your date about what’s acceptable. In some units, it’s perfectly commonplace for dates to leave their piercings in, while others will balk at things like gauged earrings. It’s the same way for tattoos.
As for facial hair, groom that sh*t! Don’t arrive at the ball looking like a scruffy mess. Your goal is to look classy and help your date look good in front of their boss.
One more note: if you’re attending as a date and also happen to be in the military, by all means, wear your uniform. Just make sure it’s the correct uniform for the function.
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