THE UNIVERSITY BALL FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE – Gokhan (NETHERLANDS)
On the 1st of December, the 99th ball of the University of Tartu is to be held. Are you going, or would you like to go? And are you unsure whom you should go with if you have anything suitable to wear or know any ballroom dances at all? If not, have no fear: in this blog, I’ll provide an answer for some of your concerns so you can courteously make your way to the ball.
The idea of attending a ball might make you nervous, especially as an international student who just arrived here a couple months ago. You may not have a loved one or know people well enough to ask them to go to a ball with you. But it is also fine to ask a good friend to accompany you on this evening, or even gather a group of friends to go together. Tickets for students are 20 euros, but you can get a group discount if you go with a group of four and pay 13 euros each. Having taken care of your companion, we can move on to your outfit. Considering that most of us international students didn’t drag along their entire closet from our home country, it can be a challenge to get a suitable outfit together. I’ll give you advice from a gentleman’s point of view on how to be creative with the clothes you have or could easily get here in Tartu.
Suits and waistcoats
The official colors of the ball are going to be blue, black & white. Don’t worry if you don’t have any suits or matching waistcoat and dress pants in this theme. It is more important to have a proper ball outfit than to match the theme of the ball. So don’t even think of wearing your blue jeans to this evening. When it comes to suits; color and fit are important. A black or navy-blue suit is a good start, and subtle pinstripes can provide you with some extra flare. If you have a double-breasted jacket you can opt for that. If you don’t have a suit or don’t want to get one, waistcoats are an easy but classy alternative. You can get a black waistcoat easily and for a low cost in most stores in Tartu that sell formal menswear. Just remember that you wear dress trousers that match your waistcoat.
Shirt & Bowtie, necktie or ascot tie (cravat)
The most common and elegant shirt color to opt for is plain white since it will (usually) combine well with the rest of your outfit. If you don’t have a white shirt, you can go for a plain bright colored shirt like a light sky blue. My advice would be to wear a bow tie for the ball if you have one. You can also wear a necktie and add some extra elegance by, for example, choosing a polka dotted tie or a different tie knot. Instead of choosing for a standard tie knot like ‘Four-in-hand’ or ‘Windsor’, you can go for an ‘Eldredge’ or ‘Prince Albert’ knot. You may need a little practice beforehand but it will be worth it. If you neither have a bow or necktie you can be creative with the idea of an ascot tie (cravat). You might have a fancy scarf that you can wear in a loop under your slightly open shirt.
Shoes, belt & socks
When it comes to the bottom part of your outfit there are a wide variety of dress shoes you can wear. For example, you can opt for some classic oxford shoes, or choose something more extravagant like double-monks or tassel loafers. Just remember to avoid sneakers. When you are choosing the right shoes it is important that the color of your shoes matches your belt (if you’re wearing one). Finally, feel free to play around when choosing your socks on the basis of their color and pattern, so long as they complement your outfit.
As a finishing touch, you can choose some accessories to finalize your outfit. A pocket square is meant to complement your tie, not be a copy of it. You can wear a pocket square in various shapes depending on the look you’re going for. A ‘winged puff’ or ‘inverted puff fold’ will go well on a ball. In addition, you can also wear a (flower) lapel pin as a ‘cherry on the cake’.
By now you should have some ideas regarding your outfit for the ball. In case you’re going with a partner, you can complement your outfit to that of your partner’s by using the right accessories. As this is a ball, dancing is naturally included, but no one will expect you to be a professional on the waltz. If you really don’t feel like dancing you can choose not to and watch others gracefully move over the ballroom floor while listening to the University of Tartu Symphony Orchestra. Or you can try to cover the basics of, for example, a waltz to invite your partner for one dance during the ball. All in all, this university ball in the Vanemuine Concert Hall can be one to remember in your student period here in Tartu.