10 Ballroom Dress Code Etiquette

Ballroom Dress Code Etiquette
The ballroom dress code is formal. A fitting black suit with a white shirt for men and a long gown or a cocktail dress for women is appropriate. Take care of your hygiene – a fresh shower and clean, well-groomed hair and nails are necessary.

1. Strictly Formal

ballroom footwear for men and women
Ballroom footwear for men and women

Ballroom events ranging from competitions to social dances to weddings require formal attire. Each event has its level of formality. For example, a black-tie ballroom event will require a more formal dress code than a casual dance. Research beforehand to ensure you’re dressed appropriately.

On dress codes, for men, a classic black tuxedo is always a safe bet for any formal ballroom event. Wear the tuxedo with a white dress shirt, black shoes, and a black bow tie. 

For women, a floor-length gown or cocktail dress in a dark, rich color is appropriate for most ballroom events. As for shoes, high heels are ideal, but they should be comfortable enough to dance in for several hours. 

2. Why Dress Appropriately?

When you dress appropriately for a ballroom event, you respect the occasion and your fellow attendees. It demonstrates that you understand the occasion’s significance and are willing to honor it. 

When you wear a dress that is too casual, revealing, or flashy, you risk drawing attention away from the event and onto yourself. This is especially disruptive during events where the focus should be on the performers or speakers.

3. Suit Up, Gentlemen

When dressing for ballroom events, go for a polished and put-together look without going overboard. Different suit options exist, depending on the event’s formality. If it’s a black tie affair, wear a tuxedo with a black bow tie.

A dark suit with a white shirt and a conservative tie is appropriate if the formal dress code is not quite a black tie. A lighter-colored suit and a patterned tie might be more fitting for less formal events.

A well-fitted suit can make a difference in how gentlemanly you feel and how others perceive you.

On accessories, pocket squares can add a pop of color and personality to your outfit. Your accessories should complement your suit, not clash with it.

4. Women’s Dressing

Dressing etiquette is a crucial element of ballroom etiquette. The length and style of the dress you choose will largely depend on the type of event you’re attending. 

Long dresses like floor-length gowns are the way to go for formal events. For a casual dance, a shorter dress is appropriate. Choose a dress that allows you to move freely and comfortably while dancing.

On footwear, heels are the go-to choice for ballroom dancing. They provide support and stability while elongating your legs and adding a touch of glamour to your look. If you’re not used to wearing heels, opt for a lower heel or a pair of flats to avoid discomfort. 

While jewelry and accessories can add a touch of elegance to your ballroom look, don’t overdo it. Keep it simple and classy with a necklace and a pair of earrings. Avoid wearing large or chunky pieces that could get in the way while dancing.

5. Dressing No-No’s

Dressing appropriately for a ballroom event is a matter of etiquette. While wearing your favorite pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers might be tempting, it’s important to remember that ballroom events are formal. 

Dressing down shows a lack of respect for the event and the other attendees, making you feel out of place. A well-tailored suit or a stunning evening gown will make you feel confident and ready to take on the dance floor.

6. Polished And Presentable

ballroom couple getting ready
Ballroom couple getting ready

Your grooming and personal hygiene play a significant role in making a good impression at ballroom events. Sweating and dancing can make you hot and sticky. So it’s important to balance with some hacks.

Here are some tips to ensure you look and feel their best:

  • Hair: Style your hair to complement your outfit and not obstruct your partner’s view during dances. If you’re wearing an updo, ensure it’s secure and won’t come undone while dancing. If you’re wearing your hair down, consider using a hair tie or clips to keep it out of your face.
  • Makeup: Keep your makeup natural and elegant, and bring touch-up supplies like lipstick and powder to the event.
  • Perfume: Use a light, subtle perfume to avoid overwhelming others.
  • Hygiene: Shower before the event, brush your teeth, and use deodorant.

7. Group Dressing

When dressing up for ballroom dancing as a group, coordinate your outfits. Communicate with your partner or group and decide on a color scheme or a theme that works for everyone.

Matching or complementary outfits are also a popular choice for groups. You could wear the same color with different styles of dresses/suits or complementary colors that work well together. 

8. Dance-Specific Dress Code

The dress code for ballroom dance can vary depending on the type of dance you’ll be doing. For example, if you’re dancing the waltz, you’ll want to wear a long flowing dress that accentuates your movements. A tango calls for a slit or shorter hemline dress to show off your legs and footwork.

Another important consideration is the level of formality of the event. A black-tie event calls for more formal attire, such as a floor-length gown for women and a tuxedo for men. A semi-formal event may require a cocktail dress or a suit and tie.

9. Accessorizing

Ballroom events can take place in large and often chilly venues. This is where a shawl or wrap comes in handy. It will keep you warm and comfortable and add a touch of elegance to your outfit.

Another crucial accessory to consider is the bag or purse you’ll bring to the event. A small clutch or wristlet is often the best option for a ballroom event. These bags are elegant, easy to carry, and can fit all your essentials, such as your phone, ID, and money. 

If you need additional items like a makeup bag or a pair of flat shoes, consider a slightly larger bag that can still complement your outfit.

10. Compete In Style

A classic black or dark-colored tuxedo with a white shirt and bow tie is standard for men. Some competitions may allow for more colorful options, but it’s always best to stick to the traditional style. 

Women have more flexibility in their dress choices. They can opt for a ball gown or a Latin-style dress if it follows the competition’s length, fit, and design guidelines.

Not following the dress code could result in point deductions or even disqualification. Judges are looking for precision and attention to detail in every aspect of the performance, including attire. As a competitor, it’s crucial to research the specific dress code requirements for the competition you’re attending.

What is the significance of excessive petticoats?

In Final Fantasy XIV (ffxiv), Ballroom Etiquette – Excessive Petticoats is “An illustrated manual of how to cool oneself with at least some semblance of dignity after a rousing circuit of the dance floor.” It’s used for unlocking sweat emotes.


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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