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What to Wear for Graduation

It’s that time of the year again. Graduation season has finally arrived, and like many other students, we bet you’re on the hunt for outfit inspirations under your gowns. Becoming part of any graduating class is equally exciting as it is scary, but now that you’ve made it to the final step, this will be one of the most important days of your life to date.


Whether you’re graduating or supporting someone who is, graduations are one of life’s most frameable moments. After all, you’ll probably find these pictures framed on your parent’s walls for the rest of the time. So with that in mind, here’s what to wear for graduation so you can celebrate in style!

Things to Keep in Mind for Any Graduation Outfit

When you’re deciding what to wear for graduation, there are a few things that you’ll need to consider. With the big day ahead, these factors could make or break your mood during the ceremony.


Remember, you’re going to be in your graduation outfit for several hours, if not all day. Of course, there will be walking, and a lot of standing around and posing for pictures. Your comfort is key to enjoying the special day; if things start to pinch or get blisters on your feet, it won’t be as enjoyable as it could be.


Of course, if you can handle it (pain is beauty, after all), then go ahead. But if you can avoid wearing completely new shoes, we suggest that you do. And if heels are on the agenda, have plasters at the ready or a spare comfier option available to avoid battling this throughout the day.


The clothes you wear under your graduation gown will be very different depending on what month you graduate in. The gown itself will add a layer of warmth – so if it’s going to be a warm day, make sure you’re wearing something light and not too tight underneath. 


On the other hand, if your graduation is in winter, make sure you wear layers that can be removed and added easily. If you find you’re too hot when inside but want some photographs outdoors in the cold weather, this is a great way to combat this.


Yes, graduation is definitely going to be a fun occasion. But remember, it is also considered a serious one. Depending on the university you graduate from, they will have different required dress codes so be sure to check. Some might be more relaxed, whilst others may require you to be dressed formally. Regardless, if you are dressed inappropriately, you may not be allowed entrance to the ceremony.

Focus on Your Shoes

We know we’ve already mentioned avoiding wearing brand new shoes on this occasion, so make sure to break them in beforehand. That’s because your shoes will be one of (if not) the most important parts of your graduation outfit. One, you’ll be wearing a cap and gown all day, so the only thing people will see as you walk across the stage is your shoes. So don’t leave them as an afterthought! 


If you ever wanted a pair of statement shoes, now is the time to get them. And second, after graduation, you’ll probably be outside taking pictures as you chat with friends and family, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t trip in a pair you’re not used to walking in. 


Depending on the look you’re going for, you may wish to tie up your hair or leave it down. Both can look amazing on anyone, but you need to be sure that however you style your hair, it will fit under your mortarboard cap in a way that leaves you feeling confident about wearing it. Here are some points you’ll want to keep in mind when deciding on what to wear for graduation:


  • For those wearing a headscarf or concealing a bun, bear in mind that you may have to wear a larger mortarboard than your head size alone would justify. The same goes for those with dreadlocks, cornrows or similar hairstyles. Don’t worry, though; your robemaker will always make sure you have a hat that fits.
  • If you do decide on wearing your hair up, make sure it’s in a low style because having it bulky means your mortarboard won’t fit over the top. Buns and ponytails are a good alternative look, but they should be at the nape of your neck rather than high.
  • To put it bluntly, spending a lot of time on your hair could be a waste of time. Mortarboards are notorious for covering and squashing hairstyles, so you’ll likely end up with hat hair no matter what you do.

Men’s Graduation Outfit Options

For men, choosing what to wear under a cap and gown typically comes down to finding a nice formal shirt and trousers. Ideally, neutral colours are a good fit as they go with any kind of coloured gown. Ties are optional in most cases but remember, they do add another formal element, so if that’s the look you’re going for, it can definitely elevate your look.


Blazers and suit jackets can cause you to be warm when worn under a gown, plus no one will really see it. So if you’re looking to wear one, consider asking someone to hold it for you if you want to take a picture with it on.


Regarding footwear, most ceremonies call for formal shoes as they don’t allow trainers. Why, you ask? Well, trainers usually aren’t appropriate for graduation (even fashionable ones), so try to avoid these. 


For men, deciding what to wear under a cap and gown typically comes down to finding a nice shirt and formal trousers. Neutral colours are ideal and dark trousers will look best under any colour gown.

Women’s Graduation Outfit Options

From dresses, skirts or two-piece suits, women have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a graduation outfit. If you prefer a skirt or dress, try to make sure it isn’t too long or puffy as combined with a gown, this can make the outfit look heavy and shapeless.


As we’ve previously mentioned, if you’re wearing heels, bring a spare pair of shoes that are comfortable. And similar to men’s attire, dark, neutral colours are always a great option – but if you’re looking to brighten it up, don’t be scared to do so!

Wrapping Up

Now that you know what to wear for graduation, get out there and take all the photos you can to remember the day. It’s a special one, after all. 

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