A ball gown is the most formal female attire for social occasions. According to rules of
etiquette, a ball gown must be worn where " white tie" or "evening dress" is specified on the invitation. It is traditionally a full-skirted gownreaching at least to the ankles, made of luxurious fabric, delicately and exotically trimmed. Most versions are cut off the shoulder with decolletenecklines. Such gowns are typically worn with a stole (a formal shawl in expensive fabric), capeor cloakin lieu of a coat, "good" (couture or vintage) jewellery and opera-length gloves. Standard accessories are dancing shoes and a clutch style evening bag. Where " state decorations" are to be worn, they are on a bow pinned to the chest, and married women wear a tiaraif they have one.
The ball-gown shape has changed little since the mid-19th century. Although man-made fabrics are now sometimes used, the most common fabrics are
satin, silk, taffetaand velvetwith trimmings of lace, pearls, sequins, embroidery, ruffles and ruching.
The elements of ladies' white tie attire
According to rules of
etiquetteand attire, ladies must wear a ball gown to events where men are required to wear white tieattire.
The elements of ladies' white tie attire could include:
*ball gown - ballerina (to the ankle) or full-length (to the floor)
shoes - formal pumps, sandals or ballet slippers
jewellery- earringsand necklace; rings and bracelets are optional. A watchis not considered appropriate except for jewelled versions in which the face is covered so that it resembles a bracelet.
gloves - if worn, should be opera length
capeor cloak, or an opera coat
handbag- clutch style or small evening bag
state decorations - if specified on invitation; worn on a bow pinned to the chest
For their debuts, debutantes wear long white ball gowns. They also wear long white leather gloves that go well above the elbow and that close with small pearl buttons at the wrist. Their jewellery is understated and suitable for a young lady about to be formally presented to society for the first time.
* [http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/search.aspx?__VIEWSTATE=%2FwEPDwUKMTAwNTY3MzM4MGRk2VIBUl0c8JJ0OrrEMBcNzXoTvg8%3D&term=ball+dress Ball gowns in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa]
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