The outfit choice for a graduation significantly depends on numerous variables, including whether you are the graduate or a guest, your plans after the ceremony, the venue and time of day, and the weather. Typically, graduations occur in late spring, which implies warm weather. Light clothing and breathable fabrics are optimal particularly if the venue is outdoors or considerable time will be spent walking outside.
There is a significant difference between being the graduate and a guest at a graduation. As the graduate, you must consider you will be wearing a cap and gown over your outfit. You definitely want to feel comfortable in the garment you will be wearing underneath, since you will be most likely sitting in one place for an extended period of time. Also, the shoes you wear as a graduate will be the only item you will see in photos, so take this into account when making your selection. Ensure the shoes are comfortable enough for walking and are not slippery (break them in if they are brand new prior to the ceremony in order to avoid falling on stage). If you do fall on stage though, just laugh about it; it will at least serve as a funny story to talk about with your family and friends afterwards. When deciding what to wear under your cap and gown, consider the plans for after the ceremony, especially since you will most likely be wearing your cap and gown for most photos. If you decide to wear pants or a maxi dress, take into account how the extra fabric will look underneath the graduation gown.
As the guest in a graduation, you have less to consider and more flexibility with options. The dress code for a graduation is smart casual, which consists of informal attire that is neatly put together and resembles what you would wear to a daytime party or event. Examples of these are summer dresses for women (think more casual than a cocktail dress code), skirts (steer away from denim and mini skirts), trousers, and jumpsuits. Men can wear buttoned down shirts, slacks, and polo shirts. Jeans can be worn if dressed up (i.e., worn with a blazer).
This is an example of an outfit for a guest in a graduation, although it can be adapted to an outfit option for a graduate as well. The maxi dress is airy and comfortable enough for warm weather and chunky block heels make walking and standing bearable. This outfit is also ideal for a celebratory meal afterwards. The floral maxi dress is accompanied with statement earrings and a cocktail ring, although you can opt for a more minimalist look. An alternative outfit idea is a jumpsuit with wedges or sandals. Not only consider the ceremony’s venue, but the plans for after when deciding on an outfit. If you opt for wearing denim, jeans paired with a structured blazer, blouse, pointed heels, and elegant accessories are appropriate for the occasion. A chambray jumpsuit or dress are other denim options.
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A midi length dress or skirt, or one that hits just above the knee is an ideal option for a graduate to wear underneath their graduation gown. These lengths will not show under the gown, which will benefit your photos, and are still appropriate for most celebratory activities after the ceremony. This cocktail dress is perfect for venues that call for a more sophisticated option and can be maintained minimal by not wearing bold accessories. A cork clutch and acrylic heels apply a more causal and trendy look to the ensemble. Keep in mind you can change accessories after the ceremony. Whether you want to dress an outfit up or down for post ceremony activities, stash your spares in your bag.
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A short, shift dress is a more casual alternative for a grad’s outfit, especially when paired with trendy platform shoes and a circle bag (which a family member or friend can hold onto until after the ceremony). Pair these with gold geometric earrings and a chunky link bracelet, and you have a complete outfit that is ready for the graduation ceremony and post graduation celebratory plans. Also, ensure that the earrings you select complement your hair with the graduation cap in order to achieve your preferred look for photos. For a sentimental touch, the Alex and Ani graduation bangle makes for a beautiful memento and gift.
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