What Do I Wear?


Are you a new debutante? If you’ve never attended a debutante ball or if you just aren’t sure what’s expected in your attire, then your first step is to check with the organizers or hosts. New debutantes are usually provided an orientation of the dress code for your night.

Debutante Don't's


Standard dress code for debutantes is:

  • Floor-length, white ball gown;
  • Ample support in the bodice;
  • Minimal cleavage (better known as “boobage”);
  • Minimal flourishes in textures and appliques;
  • White formal heels;
  • Minimal “trendiness”; and
  • Well maintained and tastefully styled hair.
Debutante Do's


Stay away from “trendy” looks in hair, dress, shoes and cosmetics. (Looking back on your photos, you will kick yourself in twenty years if you’re covered in glitter lotion.)

I made the mistake of letting an “aspiring” make-up artist do my face. It was all very 1980s. Luckily the ballroom was candlelit with mood lighting…but I digress.

Everyone wants to stand out, but don’t let that longing force you to lean toward trend. You may look fantastic and hip that day, but you’ll look like a fashion victim in hindsight.

There are classic elements that will always keep your look tasteful:

  • Make-up that enhances rather than hides your features:
    • Stick to natural or berry-hued matte lipsticks. Glossy, gloppy lipsticks will look grossly exaggerated in spotlights and ballroom lighting.
    • Keep any blush soft and natural. Avoid harsh streaks of color.
  • Hair that is neatly maintained in a chignon (bun), French roll or softly upswept is always acceptable:
    • Avoid harsh, plastered down bangs or any bangs.
    • Keep hard, crunchy “ribboned” hair for your other events.
    • Choose a style that requires minimal maintenance once it’s done.
    • Natural hair should be neatly pinned or secured with a rubberband.
    • Locs (“dreadlocks”) should be kept off the face and neatly secured.
    • Avoid distracting hair decorations if a tiara is not required. Pearl and diamond/rhinestone combs or pins are acceptable if kept tasteful and minimal.
  • Keep your gown free of distractions like sequins, appliques, colors and contrasting colored embroidery:
    • Your gown should be floor length and full enough to include a petticoat if it doesn’t have one.
    • Full, quarter, short, cap and gathered sleeves are always acceptable. Avoid exaggerated “bell” or Dolman sleeves.
    • If your gown is sleeveless, make sure that your bodice has ample support with no boob “spillage” on the top or on the sides.

Your presentation rule doesn’t have to break the bank, but the rule of thumb is to keep your look tasteful, neat, and well edited.

Below are excellent examples from designer and design house Amsale: