Evening of the Event
With Le Bal Masqué, the tradition of masquerade comes alive and you may be wondering, “what do I wear?” A mask of course is a must. If you don’t have time or can’t find the right one for you - despair not. We’ll have a wide selection of distinctive masks available for purchase (~$10) at the door.
Le Bal Masqué is a black tie optional event, but we certainly don’t want to dampen your creative spirits - or restrict you to gown, suit, cocktail dress, or tux. For those of you “on the hunt” for the unusual, unique, or more grand read on…
Whatever you choose to wear, we look forward to seeing you on the 22nd and to unveiling the mystery of who lies beneath the mask!
The History of Masquerade Balls
Masquerade balls first became popular in the fifteenth century in Venice, Italy. They were associated with the Venetian celebration of Carnivale (which we now know as Mardi Gras). Members of the upper class would dress up and wear ornamental masks, dance, and make merry (the cool term amongst the in crowd in the fifteenth century). The balls became extravagant public spectacles.
In time, the tradition of le bal masqué spread to other countries and to other times of year, eventually reaching the American colonies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Often, the balls were public events, while at other times they were completely private affairs.
Masquerades were sometimes set as a contest among guests. The masked participants dressed in elaborate costumes. Identity shrouded in mystery, the division between reality and illusion, between past and present, indistinguishably merged. This lent a playful and often humorous air to said gatherings that continues to this day.
Types of Masquerade Costumes
The most popular masquerade costumes are inspired by the heyday of masquerade, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. For this reason, you'll often see individuals at masquerade balls dressed in ornate gowns and old-fashioned tuxedoes with long coats and tails and top hats.
Other period costumes are also popular, such as Victorian-era costumes, antebellum-era dresses, even Renaissance outfits (the tradition did start during the Renaissance, after all). Now it seems almost anything goes.
Other popular choices for masquerade costumes are king and queen costumes. Because the masquerade ball is linked to Mardi Gras, costumes donned for that occasion are often found as well, such as colorful jester outfits or ruffled dresses with a Latin American flair.
Masquerade Costume Accessories
Of course a masquerade wouldn't be a masquerade without masks. Masks can be simple, just covering the eyes, or much more elaborate with feathers or sequins that cover the face. Some masks even do double duty as a headdress.
Other accessories that might be appropriate include a crown or hat, a scepter or fan, long gloves, or loads of beads and sparkling jewelry. Masquerade costumes are about going all out and wearing something glamorous and fun. We provide some links below to help get you started.
Buying Masquerade Costumes
There are many sources for buying costumes and accessories online.