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A ball is a formal dance party. Social dance forms a large part of
the evening; actual ballroom dancing may or may not occur.
A ballroom or ballhall is a large room inside a building, the
designated purpose of which is holding large formal parties called
balls. Traditionally, most balls were held in private residences; many
mansions contain one or more ballrooms. In other large houses, a large
room such as the main drawing room, long gallery, or hall may double as
a ballroom, but a good ballroom should have the right type of flooring.
A ball gown or ballgown is a type of evening gown worn to a ball or a
formal event. Most versions are cut off the shoulder with a low
décolletage, exposed arms, and long bouffant styled skirts. Such
gowns are typically worn with a stole (a formal shawl in expensive
fabric), cape or cloak in lieu of a coat, couture or vintage jewelry and
opera-length gloves. Where "state decorations" are to be worn, they are
on a bow pinned to the chest, and married women wear a tiara if they
have one. Although artificial fabrics are now sometimes used, the most
common fabrics are satin, silk, taffeta and velvet with trimmings of
lace, pearls, sequins, embroidery, ruffles, ribbons, rosettes and
The term goes back at leat to the 1850's. In previous years,
the same type of dress might have been called an evening dress, having
very similar features; low-cut neckline, a tight bodice, a large skirt
and sometimes-bare arms. The ball gown at this time had similar
features, a full skirt supported by a petticoat, a tight waist achieved
by a corset or bodice with a stay to keep the subject upright and with
perfect posture, off the shoulder style and with bare arms.
The first forms of the 21st century term “Debutante ball"
or “Cotillion" emerged in the mid 19th century with what was called a
“coming out ball". These events were meant to show off the women who
were now of marriageable age.
In the United States, a promenade dance, most commonly called a prom,
is a semi-formal (black tie) dance or gathering of high school students.
This event is typically held near the end of the senior year (the last
year of high school). The
prom dress can
be similar to a ball gown.
If you are buying a ball gown, you may also want to learn
about glass slippers. We know someone very special that wore
glass slippers with a beautiful ball gown.
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