ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA9) ---Shoes, dresses, hair and makeup. At the Army Navy Country Club, local military spouses and active duty military women prepare to get dolled up for free.
"I was working full-time, and I had a child, and a lot of times, you don't get that, even just a few hours to spend on yourself," said Tanya Gehrig an expectant-mother and spouse of an active duty sailor.
"So it's nice to say, 'Ok, now I have a chance to do this, princess kind of thing, Project Cinderella.' "
Experienced military spouses share their knowledge. Mrs. Suzie Schwartz, the spouse of former Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz said she learned ball etiquette "the hard way."
"Mingling in the cocktail hour, not sitting down. What formal is, what semi-formal is, sort of how to eat, how to walk, how to hold your wine glass, just all the little things, believe it or not, no one ever tells them any of those things," said Schwartz.
Schwartz's stories get the women laughing:
"Before I was married, I sat at this formal dinner, and I am not lying to you, when I say, I tried to eat a cherry tomato that landed in the Colonel's lap. I wasn't married yet, that was kind of iffy."
Military balls and formals can be fun and "not scary" if you have the confidence, according to Mrs. Lynn Pace, wife of retired U.S. Marine corps general Peter Pace who served as the 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first Marine to be appointed to the country's highest ranking military office.
This year's Miss Maryland, Jade Kenny, also holds conversations with the women during the reception hour.
"This is nothing norm for me," said Lydia Ortiz who is active duty with the U.S. Army.
She steps out of her uniform and listens to fashion advice in the workshop, "Beauty on a Budget."
In the Makeup and Hair workshop, Jana Vicario observes her natural lip color. Vicario says she has attended three military balls with her spouse who is in the Honor Guard with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Makeup tip: Purchase a lip liner that is the color of your nude lips. You'll be able to match and contour your lips to any lipstick color.
The Formal Etiquette and Protocol workshop includes interpreting and responding to mailed invitations to the military gala. Volunteers for the workshop work for the professional services firm, EY (Ernst & Young), the sponsor of Project Cinderella.
"I actually am a graduate of the National War College, so we had a military ball as well that we went to, and I think that people who haven't experienced it before, it's very nerve wracking and you don't know what to do and how to handle yourself," said Susan Haidah of EY.
After a day of fashion, the attendees get to pick out a formal gown for free. Saving money on a dress may help Gehrig this year. She says she might be able to attend the Navy Ball this fall before the arrival of her second child in December.
Reported/Produced by: Elizabeth Jia