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A ball gown is the most formal female attire for social occasions. It is traditionally a full-skirted gown reaching the floor, made of luxurious fabric, delicately and exotically trimmed. Most versions are cut off the shoulder with decollete necklines. Such gowns are typically worn with a stole (a formal shawl in expensive fabric), cape or cloak in lieu of a coat, "good" (couture or vintage) jewellery and opera-length gloves. Standard accessories are dancing shoes and a clutch style evening bag. Where "state decorations" are to be worn, they are on a bow pinned to the chest, and married women wear a tiara if they have one. The ball gown shape has changed little since the mid-19th century. Although artificial fabrics are now sometimes used, the most common fabrics are satin, silk, taffeta and velvet with trimmings of lace, pearls, sequins, embroidery, ruffles and ruching.
The elements of ladies' white tie attire 
- ball gown - always full-length (to the floor)
- dancing shoes - formal pumps, sandals, flats or ballet slippers
- jewellery - earrings and necklace; rings and bracelets are optional. A watch is not considered appropriate except for jeweled versions in which the face is covered so that it resembles a bracelet.
- gloves - if worn, should be opera length
- stole, cape or cloak, or an opera coat
- handbag - clutch style or small evening bag
- state decorations - if specified on invitation; worn on a bow pinned to the chest
- tiaras - If married and the event does not take place in a hotel.
For their debuts, debutantes wear long white dresses that were once similar to ball gowns. They also wear long white leather gloves that go well above the elbow and that close with small pearl buttons at the wrist, even though nowadays it is very common for girls to wear long satin gloves. Their jewellery is understated and suitable for a young lady about to be formally presented to society for the first time.
See also 
- Caroline Davies (2002-03-17). "Single girls shouldn't let diamonds go to their head". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2009-04-13.
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