Military Formals Breaking the Bank?

Military Formal Event

Military Formal Event

Unwillingly Collecting Formal Wear?

After more than 10 years of dating and being married to my Navy husband, formal wear has become the odd collection I never anticipated would take over my closet.

And yet, there it is. Black and red and blue and beautiful! Some pieces are shoved at the back of closets, others placed in plastic bins, some folded neatly; each item only worn once or twice.

Yes, it’s a little shameful, but I know I’m not alone! I do my best to lend out my “collection” to whoever will accept the offer. I also try to give away clothing when I’m 100 percent sure something won’t fit or ever be age-appropriate again. However, none of this changes the fact that I’ve let holiday parties, Dining Ins, Dining Outs and formal balls marking all sorts of occasions add up to eat a decent chunk of my clothing budget over the years.

Was it worth it? In many ways, I think so. Military formals can be a lot of fun for those of us who enjoy dressing up for formal occasions. The hunt of finding a new gown and escaping the every day mundane is enough to persuade the glamor-lover to take any excuse by the horns and run with it!

Breaking Down the Cost

That said, when you break down the expenses and do the math, there is nothing cheap about attendance. If you do decide to go all out for the evening, you may be purchasing a dress, shoes, handbag, manicure and pedicure, hairstyling, and babysitting – on top of your ticket price! When I sit down and do the math, it’s almost embarrassing to think about how much money has been dedicated to these events over the years. Just this year alone, attending just my husband’s community ball could add up as such:

Tickets: $150

Possible Hotel Stay: $100

Dress: $150

Accessories/Shoes: $50

Hair: $50

Mani/Pedi: $50

Babysitting: $50-$100



The good news: SargesList can help you save money on almost all of these things!

(I wish we could help you with those tickets!)


SargesList is the perfect place to buy and sell used or new formal wear! We even have a special Military Ball Section dedicated to this type of service.

To enhance your shopping experience, we’ve begun adding listings from our partner, ThredUP, which specializes in gently used or new but pre-owned clothing. You can search directly through SargesList or visit ThredUP to do your shopping.

Not finding what you need? There are always great deals to be found online – especially if you can’t find what you’re looking for in your friends’ closets or local stores.

First, before you shop, find out what to wear and what not to wear (as well as what to do and what not to do by a First Sergeant in the Army). Click here for first hand tips!

Check out these example dresses for sale on SargesList:

More Shopping Resources


Even if you’re new to your duty station, you can find a reliable babysitter using the free, government-sponsored SitterCity Program. Read More.

Local Services

SargesList is a great way to advertise or find local services like nails, hair, dry cleaning, clothing repair, shopping and so much more. You’ll also be able to find people in your military network or, perhaps, offer up your own services in a safe barter agreement.

Looking for More Military Formal Resources?

 Veterans United Military Ball Etiquette

Dining Ins/Outs

 Enjoy your special occasion!














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