Hunt Ball Attire - Help
I'm attending my first hunt ball and am wondering women are expected to wear a black or white dress? I've asked several friends who have attended in the pastas well as the member who invited me and have been told that while black or white is traditional, that women wear other colors as well. I don't want to feel out of place, but on the other hand, the dress that I would prefer to wear is a cranberry color.
Would it be more appropriate to wear a black or white dress or would it be OK to wear a different color dress?
Having been to a gazillion hunt balls in Virginia, Maryland and Connecticut, 1970s to 1990s, I remain mystified over allegations of the 'tradition' of black and white dresses. I've worn whatever color gown I had in the closet at the time, and had a grand time. Including balls hosted by then-MFHA Presidents' hunts, and not struck by lightning or attire police.
Certainly it makes sense if one's hubby/so is wearing evening scarlet, that one wouldn't want to clash- that would be the only sensible reason for electing black/white. In my case, hubby being a non-hunter, he wore a basic black tux.
Come to think of it, last ball I went to was at Red Rock a couple of years ago- that one was 'denim and diamonds' and so I went appropriately cowgirl.
Now, if the hunt ball invitation specifies that women should wear black or white, that would certainly be a clue to latch onto. But otherwise, no worries IMO.
As a Red Rock member, generally only men wear Scarlet's.. So I steer clear from Red's of any color on my dress. I will wear gold, black, white, heck I've even done zebra print! Of course, Red Rock is a little different (esp. when we had denim and diamonds) but our formal huntballs usually consist of VERY nice dresses, skirts, or even formal pant suites of all colors and prints! Most women just don't go in red's of any sort, even Lynn!
This is the dress I wore my first year, most formal and very will liked.
The second year was Denim & Diamonds, so I went just like the title says :D
The third year, when I recieved my colors, I was all zebra and got many compliments also!
This past year I went more formal again, yet shorter not so long as my first year. It was all black with a little bit of a gold shimmer to it and just a tad bit of gold beading, flowy on top so it moved while we danced. It was also well liked!
I would say steer away from reds! That can sometimes get tricky. Anything else is a go, at least with Red Rock.
Ask your hunt secretary
and the more, ahem, mature ladies with colors. In our hunt the invitation reads ladies, black or white, and that is exactly what it means.
Not that you can't have embelishment, good jewelry often helps.
If the hunt has a website, see if there are any hunt ball pictures from previous years.
But with many men likely to be in scarlet, I'd shy away from anything remotely red.
I personally think the tradition was started by some men who said, well, once they each buy one dress in each color, they can just alternate from year to year and we won't have that expense and 30 dresses in the closet they've worn one time.
Yes, I am young (almost 21) so I can get away with more prints (seeing as MFH Gayle Horn was alive then and she didn't beat me for my dress, I believe its acceptable no matter what age), but more "mature" ladies with colors in our hunt have wore prints and different colors and furs! I was trying to dig up more pictures of hunt ball to show, but I could only find mine as our past pictures are gone. I know our invites for our formal hunt ball say "Formal attire, men may wear scarlet's" but if if your invite says black and white, I would say go with that. Here are a couple more examples of "mature" women if you must put it like that.
Black, Gray, Silver, White.. All very acceptable to ANY hunt ball, but so are greens, golds, bronze, purple, yellow, and yes... even zebra & leopard print (god forbid). Asking is always another option and so is looking at pictures. These particular pictures are from two years ago.. This past year there were many more people and a lot more COLORFUL outfits (again, god forbid).
Also like I said, Red Rock is a little different! We just want you to come and if you can't find the perfect, super fancy, formal dress that is okay. So call! To every hunt and PERSON their own.
I guess my main point of this all is stay away from the red colors, because MEN usually wear that color. Again, to each hunt and person their own.
If it is a Black and White Ball the invitation will say so.
If gentlemen are requested to wear scarlet- the etiquette is - scarlet and white tie for gentlemen with colors, white tie and tails for gentlemen without colors, ball gown for ladies (no red)
Black tie - tuxedo for gentlemen without colors, evening gowns for ladies. That invitation will also indicate that a black tie is permitted by saying, "Scarlet if convenient". This is a less formal than a truly formal event - (but still formal- business suits or knee length dresses would not be appropriate)
That's the etiquette - but you don't usually see women in ball gowns that much anymore - not real ball gowns. Evening gowns of all kinds seem to be normal now.
Usually what you see at a semi-formal ball is gentlemen with colors wearing scarlet and white tie (formal), gentlemen without colors wearing a tuxedo (black tie), and women wearing evening gowns or cocktail dresses.
If the ball has a theme, or if the ball is truly less formal - then the attire etiquette isn't a big deal, not that anyone follows it much anymore anyway. I'm just telling you what the etiquette is, because few people know such stuff anymore (just like what glasses to use or which fork to use first in a formal table setting) The diamonds and denim theme sounds like it was a lot of fun - I bet that was a helluva party.
If you are unsure it is always safest to go with the more conservative and formal choice-black or white. You would hate to feel self conscious the whole evening if you were the only lady in a color. Our ball is most definitely black or white for the ladies, no deviation. Members are expected to remind their guests of this tradition as well. There are lots of opportunities throughout the year to wear whatever you like to social occasions, I think it's lovely to preserve this particular tradition (and to let the men shine for a night in their scarlet).
Definite no vote for your cranberry dress (sorry :( ) Black or white will always be appropriate (and a black dress can be very flattering), but if you wish to wear a color, an understated color choice would probably be best. Certainly nothing in the red family. The men's scarlets, bought from several sources will likely clash enough by themselves!
I agree that any shade of red probably won't win you any favors--plus you don't want to blend in like that!
One trend that I'm a fan of is wearing your hunt colors (ie, I wore green last time), so that your attire is "coordinated" that of the gentlemen in their evening scarlet if they're wearing their colors.
If you are anywhere near Washington, D.C., there are lots of evening dresses for the Presidential Inauguration in the stores. Every 4 years, we can find dresses!