What to Wear to The Marine Corps Ball 2021

If you’re anything like me, you live for an opportunity to dress up! The Marine Corps Birthday Ball comes once a year and just the opportunity I’ve been waiting for to don my favorite black-tie attire for my hubby in his dress blues. I skipped this post last year because many of us didn’t have a ball or even a stand in event that required black-tie dressing, so I’m excited to share my guide for what to wear to the Marine Corps Ball 2021!

Lets go over the dress code and what’s not acceptable first because it’s pretty simple and will give you guidelines in which to stay when choosing your dress. The dress code is black-tie which means very formal. Floor length gowns, appropriate amount of flesh coverage; have the word “demure” in your mind when browsing and pass over anything that goes against that description. For petite ladies, tea-length gowns or dresses measuring around 50-59 inches from shoulder to hem are perfect floor-length options without alterations. Heels are the standard for black tie events, however if you are someone who has a physical limitation and cannot wear heels, there are evening flats, or low heels that will work as again, they will be beneath a floor length gown. I always encourage ladies to just try heels as you are sitting for most of the night anyway, and it is once a year to positively represent your husband and your family to all of his coworkers, so why wouldn’t you want to go above and beyond to look your best?

Popular color choices are reds, deep blues like royal and navy, black, and gold and silver. Any color that pulls from, and compliments the color palette of the dress blues is a good safe bet that always looks lovely. If you want to stand out a little more, go with a jewel tone like I did the last year we went. I have seen and have worn white myself, but in hindsight, if you’re going to wear white choose an off-white tone of ivory, ecru, or other winter white. Sartorial traditions bar bright optic whites after Labor Day and while many of us bend this rule, it’s better to go by it if you’re in doubt.

The next part of your presentation is even more important than what you’re wearing, and that’s your deportment and how you conduct yourself. Always stand with your back straight and shoulders pulled back so that you are straight and tall, but not rigid – remember to breathe! Take your time walking – especially if you’re not accustomed to heels and gowns. It’s ok to hold your hubby’s arm for a little extra balance but keep your grip light, more for stability than anything. When ascending or descending a staircase, keep your chin up, not tucked into your chest, and use your eyes to look down. Glide your hand down the hand rail instead of gripping and holding on at each interval. Be careful to hold your dress up just enough to avoid tripping, and if you have a beverage feel free to ask your hubby to hold it for you until you get to the end of the staircase. If you ignore all of this, please let this one section be the part you take away; DO NOT GET DRUNK. Nothing makes you, your date, your family, and everything you stand for look worse than getting sloppy drunk and all that follows. This is a work function, and even though most of the Marines and Navy personnel will be getting drunk, it’s never a good idea to completely lose control of yourself.

Keep scrolling for Marine Corps Birthday Ball gown inspiration and links to shop!

Need a little help? Book a personal styling session with me!

If you would like styling help for your Marine Corps Ball (or any branch), I am offering virtual styling services this year! After having attended 9 USMC Birthday Balls, I know this is an important occasion and for some of us really the only time in a year that we get to attend a formal event.

A styling session is for you if:

  • You have an idea of what you want but not sure where to find the pieces, or how to make it all come together.
  • You have no clue even where to begin.
  • You don’t have the time to search for everything.
  • You want to switch it up and do something totally fresh and different from past years.
  • You’re not sure what styles and colors would suit you best.

There’s no better feeling than knowing you’re exquisitely dressed and felling your best because of it!

This is a specially priced package specifically for military wives; $85 includes:

  • An initial consultation call (quick and easy- under 30 mins).
  • 2 complete outfit options (gown, shoes, bag, accessories) to choose from and shop.
  • Text, or email availability to walk through decision making process.
  • A massive boost in confidence, looking and feeling your best!

Let me do the work for you, book your styling session today!

This post contains affiliate links. If you’d like to read the full disclosure, find it here.

Black-tie formal attire.

For those who loved my green ball gown, this or this are very similar!

Great for petites! At 50″ from shoulder to hem, this dress will be ankle length if you’re 5’1″ like me.

Watch this space for an accessories edit coming next week! Over the years this is my most requested style tip, as it’s a bit trickier than you’d think to balance everything out just right.

xo, Mia


  1. […] to wear these with my Christmas outfit, which I will style around these divine drops. With the Marine Corps Birthday Ball coming up as well, I can’t imagine wearing anything […]

  2. […] still need some help choosing the right gown, see the companion post to this one from last week, here otherwise, keep scrolling for my black-tie and formal accessory […]

  3. This helped me so much as I slowly get ready for our first marine corps ball

    1. Oh, that’s wonderful to hear! Enjoy your first USMC birthday ball!!

  4. […] ***To see my updated 2021 post click here*** […]

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