During the 15th century, masquerade balls are held to celebrate private events like weddings. It changed from private celebrations to public ones like the Venetian Carnival during the 17th century. Then now, we have the “Mardi Gras”. Masquerade balls have become a popular event among the many having themed parties from those periods. From birthdays to proms, and even to marketing events, masquerade balls have been an inspiration.
The practice of having masquerade balls originated from Europe then was adapted in United States in later years, and is still celebrated even now. Participants of such parties tend to opt for Victorian dress styles and masks than from other periods if there are no definite themes to follow.
Before shopping for ball gowns, make sure if the masquerade ball is a period-themed event. Here are some of the themes:
- Victorian (mid-late 18th century) – Victorian ball gowns are fashioned with corsets and bustles then completed with masks decorated with colourful feathers and stones.
- Edwardian – Ball gown styles of early Edwardian period looks alike from the Victorian era. The masks are more conservative though.
- Medieval/Goth – Gowns are in dark colors with simple, full-faced masks. Gothic themed costumes are not so much a reproduction of the period dresses but more of stylized costumes.
To complete your themed look, select the masks that partners well with your gown. Typically, masks are home made with a use of papier-mâché, adding a personal touch to it. But now there are ready-made masks available from plastic materials and papier-mâché. If masks are not provided like in some events, choose one that is comfortable and at the same time light. Listed below are 4 mask types:
1. Stick masks – Normally half masks that come with a stick attached to one side for holding.
2. Half masks – These masks cover the forehead to the cheeks leaving the mouth open.
3. Full-face masks – The masks covers the face completely but for convenience reason, some may leave the mouth area open for easy talking and eating. These masks are best appreciated if worn together with a hood so ears and head are fully covered as well.
4. Head masks – The masks not only cover the face but the head also completely. These are made out of papier-mâché and not plastic for breathable purposes.
You can easily find ball gowns ranging from small sizes to plus sizes in your local shops. Particularly in your local thrift stores, there will be also suitable masks to accompany your costumes. Ball gown styles from Victorian and Gothic era are more aplenty than Edwardian themed ball gowns. But you can simply go to a tailor who has an experience with making a gown of the style you like and have a ball gown made of your own choosing.