Born Lucinda Davis Goldsborough in New Orleans, Louisiana, Ballard studied at the Art Students League in New York City. Her first professional credits was as the scenic and costume designer for a 1937 production of As You Like It. In 1945, she won the Donaldson Award for the costumes she designed for I Remember Mama. Two years later she was the first person to win the Tony Award for Best Costume Design, an acknowledgement of her contributions to Another Part of the Forest, Street Scene, and The Chocolate Soldier, among others. Her second Tony was for the 1961 musical The Gay Life. Additional theatre credits include Annie Get Your Gun, Allegro, A Streetcar Named Desire, Flahooley, The Fourposter, Carnival in Flanders, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending, and The Sound of Music.
Ballard and her first husband, William Fitz Randolph Ballard, divorced in 1938 after eight years of marriage. They had two children, Robert F. R. Ballard (b. 1933) and Lucinda Jenifer Ballard Ramberg (1934-1989). In 1951, she married lyricist Howard Dietz, and the couple resided in Sands Point, New York until his death in 1983.
Dressing Broadway: Costume Designs of Lucinda Ballard (Harvard Theatre Collection, 1987)