Military Families

formalwear?! XP

Hello everyone.  I am not a regular poster on this board although I do lurk from time to time.  My husband works full time (AGR) for the National Guard.  He's away on a long drill weekend and just texted me to tell me that we will be going to a formal military dinner in April.  I'm pretty excited because he has never had one in the 5 years we've been together.  The tricky part is I will be 8 months pregnant at that point.  My two questions - how formal should I dress, and does anyone have any tips on where to find a nice formal maternity dress?


Re: formalwear?! XP

  • I'm not familiar with the National Guard, but in the Air Force the formality of your attire is based off of the uniform your husband is required to wear.  For instance if my husband wears his dress blues or is allowed to just wear a regular suit and tie then my attire is usually a nice cocktail dress or really nice dress slacks and blouse.  If my husband is required to wear his mess dress (tux) that is when it is appropriate for me to wear a floor length gown.  Find out which uniform your husband will have to wear before you purchase your dress.

    As for where to find your dress while extremely pregnant, if you find out you need a floor length gown David's Bridal has a maternity collection for their formal gowns/bridesmaids dresses at fairly reasonable prices.  However, you have to order them in advance.  I didn't have that option last year when 8 months pregnant and my husband got home early from a deployment leaving me with a two week notice of us having to attend a ball.  I shopped around at local department stores and found a non-maternity dress with a true empire waist so that it was fitted around my chest, but was long and flowing over my belly.  It looked great and I received a lot of compliments on it.

    If you find out that you just need a cocktail dress I would suggest trying a store called the Motherhood or Destination Maternity (they are the same store, just different names depending on the part of the country you are located).  They sell cute cocktail dresses and run sales on them for $20-$40 frequently.  I bought several cocktail dresses there last year for various events I had to attend while pregnant such as weddings and one military dinner.  David's Bridal also has a few cocktail dresses in their maternity collection.
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  • PP is right. Floor length, formal, don't show too much skin.


    CJ 05/29/2013

  • I attended a military ball last minute (had a week to shop) a little over 28 weeks prego. I had never been to one and asked my SO what the women typically wore and advised floor length. Anyway I struggled to find something that I liked, felt good in and fit! In my area nowhere carried maternity formal wear and it was too late to order something offline without having time to return if it didn't fit right. I ended up buying a formal dress that was stretchy 2 sizes larger than what I would normally wear and got many complements on it even though I still wasn't crazy about it. I got there and the dresses where all over the place, many floor length, some prom looking type ones for the soldiers with younger dates, some short dresses that looked more like new year dresses and then some less than formal looks as well. Most of the men had ASU's on, a few wore the really formal jacket. Look online and you can find some places that carry dresses, also there are places online and in some cities (i found out after that there were a few in my area) do rentals as well.
  • Make sure you make him look.good in front of his higher ups
  • image bripratt2:
    Make sure you make him look.good in front of his higher ups

    This is true!  That's why it is better to avoid the prom-like skin revealing formal dresses. For functins requiring Mess Dress of the military member it is always better to play it safe with a floor length dress that doesn't show too much skin. Believe me, my husband is an officer and he hates to see it when the men below him bring dates to events that look like they left the prom and went immediately to the military ball.  

    To paraphrase my husband, when his men show up with a date that is dressed like she is in high school it reflects the maturity level of the man she is with.  He doesn't care if both of them are only 19, if you are in are in the military you need to hold yourself to a higher standard and act accordingly.  It is not a high school dance, it is an adult function and if a guy thinks it looks good to his commander to show up with a date that looks like a high schooler ready to give out the goods, he's wrong.  It shows his commander that he doesn't have any respect for himself, the girl he brought, or his commander.  As much as it may seem unfair, your appearance as a spouse/date to a military member does have an effect on the amount of respect a commanding officer holds for the military member. There is a level of sophistication that is expected to be upheld at all military functions.

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  • I am a NG wife as well. DH says, "the shorter the tie, the longer the dress." That has proven to be very true in the balls that I have been to. You can PM me for any other questions if you'd like!

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  • image Oops34:
    I am a NG wife as well. DH says, "the shorter the tie, the longer the dress." That has proven to be very true in the balls that I have been to. You can PM me for any other questions if you'd like!

    I love this!

    Thank you all for your help!  DH has since clarified that it is very formal, so I will definitely be going floor-length.  Luckily I have some time to look around.  At the ripe age of 32 I am definitely past dressing like I am in high school :)  

  • Enjoy!  Military balls and dinners can be very dry and drawn out at the beginning when you have to toast to everyone and everything, but the food is always delicious and once all of the pomp and circumstance is done with the socializing and dancing is a lot of fun!  

    And just for clarification, I wasn't trying to imply that I thought you in particular would dress like a high schooler :), I just felt that since it was brought up that some girls dress that way that it should be addressed that it's not appropriate, in case someone else might read this post for ideas.  

    Have fun at the dinner! 

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