What to Wear to a Masquerade Ball

Wondering what to wear to a masquerade ball? Masquerade dress is quite different from costume parties. It's generally formal or semi-formal, and you'll need to consider the party's theme, if any.

Choosing Appropriate Costumes
While a masquerade party will have a general theme such as Victorian, Shakespeare or the 1920s, it differs from a costume party because the guests do not wear full costumes. They are usually dressed either formally or semi-formally, depending on the hosts' requirements, and have masks help flesh out the theme.

The masks serve the purpose of concealing the wearer's identity and adding a bit of detail to the outfit. Guests can also wear wigs, hats and perhaps some makeup, but these should be appropriate for a formal setting. Powdered wigs for women and period-style hats for men are the norm.

At a masquerade ball, there are no gruesome costumes. You may see a Phantom of the Opera or a tuxedo-clad vampire, but you won't see a zombie or axe-wielding manic. Even at a Mardi Gras or general masquerade, scary or gory costumes are out of place. You also can't substitute makeup for a mask.

Wardrobe Essentials
If you are invited to a masquerade ball, it is very important that you follow the dress code established in the invitation. If there's no theme or it's a Mardi Gras party, go with semi-formal attire.

If the dress code is formal, that means tuxedos for men and formal masquerade dresses for women. If it is semi-formal, women may wear dresses that are more casual and men may wear suits. No jeans, sneakers or T-shirts.

Masquerade masks can be small pieces that only cover the eyes to large masks that may include oversized noses or beaks. As a rule, there are no limitations on the type of mask you can wear. Some masks are very colorful and are adorned with gems and feathers. In fact, the sky is the limit for these masks. You can buy one that's already made, or get a plain one and decorate it yourself with glitter, feathers and paint. Make sure the mask complements your outfit, and you can't go wrong.

If you're attending a Venetian-style masquerade, a full-face mask is usually required. Otherwise, it's best to choose masks that don't cover your mouth, so that you can eat and drink easily. Masks on handles are better suited to women than to men, and they can be a burden to carry throughout the event.

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