February 9


What to Wear for a College Graduation

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Spring is here which means college graduation is just around the corner. And with that important day comes the ever important question, what exactly should I wear to graduation.

What to Wear to a college graduation

It’s a question asked by not only the graduate but by family members and friends alike. While graduation typically isn’t an incredibly formal affair, it is an event you’ll want to dress up for. Most schools ask that people wear at least business casual apparel. Of course, if you feel like getting dressed to the nines for your graduation go for it.

Below you’ll find plenty of suggestions on what to wear to your college graduation ceremony. If you’re the parent of a graduate or a friend I have a few suggestions for you as well. Just use the menu below to go to the appropriate section.

Advice on What to Wear for the Graduate

As the one that’s graduating, I recommend getting dressed up a bit. Remember, you’ll probably be featured in many, many pictures. Let’s be honest, there's a good chance your parents are going to plaster a giant picture of you from graduation somewhere in the house.

So take the time to figure out what to wear under your graduation gown, your makeup, and those shoes you’ll be walking around in for a few hours.

What to Wear Under Your Graduation Gown

Now you may be wondering why figuring out a graduation outfit is so important when you’ll be walking around in your plastic bag robe most of the time. Wearing something both comfortable and flattering under your robe can help you enjoy your graduation and snap some more enjoyable pictures.

The first thing to think about is the weather. While there’s a good chance your graduation ceremony is taking place indoors, you may still end up standing around outside for a while. Graduation robes are like plastic bags. If it’s hot out, you’ll feel like you’re in a sauna. If it’s cold out, that robe is doing basically nothing to keep you warm. So, dress weather appropriate.

Next, consider wearing a dress with pockets. That way you can stash your phone and any cards you may be handed under the robe without having to walk around with purse or clutch.

Also, try to stick to something that isn’t bulky. Graduation robes are often stiff and bulky so wearing a large, full dress may look a little odd. I recommend sticking to something a little more relaxed or form-fitting.

Lastly, there’s a good chance once the ceremony is over you’ll shed the robe and snap pictures with friends so you’ll want to wear something you’ll enjoy being photographed in.

Graduation Dress Ideas

Here are a few graduation dress ideas I’m in love with. I’ve included the link to the store so you can see what other options they have.

Graduation Shoes

There’s a good chance you’ll spend a considerable amount of time standing so I recommend wearing shoes that are fairly comfortable. And of course, there’s the whole walking across the stage bit so make sure you’re wearing shoes you can walk in without too much difficulty (this probably isn’t the situation to bust out those platform heels you love).

In situations like this, I tend to default to wedges as their a little more comfortable than most other heels and they are easy to walk in/stand around in. Of course, if you have a cute pair of pumps or flats those are great options as well. Here are a few of my favorite graduation shoe ideas:

Makeup Suggestions

Like I already mentioned, you’re going to have your picture taken at least a few dozen times so you may want to take a little extra time on your makeup. Don’t experiment with new looks but definitely take the time to get your eyeliner just right and your lipstick on point.

Jewelry & Purse

I definitely recommend wearing some jewelry at graduation. I like to keep it rather simple with earrings and a necklace or bracelet but rock whatever look you enjoy the most. 

Like I mentioned above, I don't recommend carrying around a purse during the ceremony, unless of course you can have your parents or a friend  who isn't graduating hold onto it. I did have a few friends who held a small clutch which worked well, so you could go that route.

What Parents Should Wear to the Graduation Ceremony

As a parent, figuring out what to wear shouldn’t be too stressful. Remember, this day is about celebrating your graduate's achievement and another step into full-time adulthood. Of course, you too want to look good since you’ll definitely be featured in at least a few pictures.

My main advice is to keep it simple. Wear comfortable clothing you won’t mind standing and walking around in. Actually, you’ll probably do quite a bit of standing as your graduate runs around to snap pictures with friends and say goodbye to those they won’t be seeing for a while.

Below you’ll find some of my favorite outfit suggestions for both mom and dad.

Graduation Outfit Ideas for Mom

Graduation Outfit Ideas for Dad

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What to Wear to a Friends Graduation

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a friend's graduation consider it a privilege. Especially if they are handed a limited number of tickets. While you figure out what to wear to someone's graduation here's a few things to consider.

While you probably don’t need to dress too formally, I suggest dressing up at least a bit (you may want to ask the graduate if their school has any kind of dress standard for graduation ceremonies).

The most important thing is to wear something comfortable. You’ll be doing quite a bit of standing around and walking before and after the ceremony. Comfortable shoes are a must.

I also suggest keeping it simple. A nice dress or sleek pants and a blouse can be a great look. Below are a few other ideas I’ve rounded up.

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  1. That’s a good idea to make sure that you get something cool to wear under the robes. I would think that would make the ceremony might more enjoyable with all the people in there generating heat. I’ll have to recommend that my daughter does that so she is comfortable with all the things like the gown and stole that she will be wearing.

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