How to Dress for Graduation

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About to graduate, and want to be completely prepared for the big day? Read on to learn what to wear to graduation!

While most of you are busy studying for finals and gearing up for summer vacation, some of you have something else on the horizon — GRADUATION!

While graduating college is exciting and a relief in some ways, it can also be a scary time in a girl’s life. Sure, you won’t miss the stress of exams, papers, and their associated all-nighters, but leaving the home and friends you’ve grown to love over the past 4 or 5 years is certainly bittersweet. Commencement is the main event of the month, and you’ll want to make sure you look AND feel your best during this exciting time — and CF is here to help!

About to graduate, and want to be completely prepared for the big day? Read on to learn what to wear to graduation!

Tips on What to Wear to Graduation:

Dress to impress.

You’ll be taking a ton — and I mean dozens and dozens — of photos. Today is not the day to sleep in and forget to shower. Pick out something conservative but still sassy to wear. You’ll want to look like the mature adult you’re about to become, but still look great and age-appropriate. Take the extra time to straighten or curl your hair, throw on a little concealer, and put your best face forward. Trust me — you’ll be thankful you did once those photos hit Facebook (or, are framed and placed over the fireplace at your parents’ house!).

Plan what to wear under your robe.

Some people assume that what they wear on graduation doesn’t matter because it will be covered up by a bulky robe. I completely disagree — wearing something great underneath your robe is important for several reasons:

  • First of all, you might not have time to change between the ceremony and dinner with your extended family, your best friend’s graduation rager, or your last night on the town with your best friends. You’ll want to have something on that’s cute and stylish so you can leave college with a bang.
  • Secondly, I have one tip for you all that I wish someone had told me a year ago when I graduated — wear a dress with pockets! Carrying a purse –even a cross-body bag — will look really strange while marching down the procession with 500+ of your classmates. Leave your wallet and such in your car (or with your parents if possible) and only keep your keys, phone, and a camera with you.
  • Also, it’s important to wear something somewhat sleek. A graduation robe will add enough bulk on its own, so a really full skirt will look strange under it. If a skin-tight bandage dress just isn’t your thing, look for relaxed-cute items that will be comfortable but not add any extra volume.
  • Lastly, check the weather. Nothing will cramp your style quite like freezing (or burning up) while you’re trying to listen to a graduation speech.

Cute dresses for graduation:

Products L-R: Red Crochet Dress – Revolve, Lace Halter Dress – Nordstrom, Off-Shoulder Dress – Nordstrom, Black Dress – Revolve

Here are some cute options for graduation — none are crazy short or revealing and all of them are super pretty and practical. The black dress includes pockets, as well. If you want more graduation dresses, we’ll have a full post with tons of options coming soon!

Consider footwear.

The only part of your outfit that people will be able to see is your shoes, so wear a cute, somewhat dressy pair, and be sure to paint your toenails, too! Sexy, sky-high stilettos might be a little inappropriate, but the occasion calls for something fancier than a pair of sandals or ballet flats.

I would recommend a pair of wedges or 2-3 inch heels — this way, you’ll look great but still be able to walk the long distance they’ll probably have you march. Be sure to break in your shoes and practice walking in them before the date arrives – the last thing you’d want to do is fall down or be uncomfortable during Commencement!

Cute shoes for graduation:

Products: Pumps – Sam Edelman, Cream Espadrilles – Castaner, Brown Espadrilles – Steve Madden, Black Wedges – Jessica Simpson

Step up your makeup.

Now is definitely not the day to experiment with new looks, but it’s not a bad idea to wear eyeliner, mascara, blush, and lipstick if you’re comfortable with it. This way, you’ll look great in the far-away pictures your parents will take from the audience!

For ideas on makeup for graduation, see our list of college makeup essentials. You can’t go wrong with something classic and pretty.

Have some fun!

Small pranks — like decorating your graduation cap or writing your fictitious Facebook middle name on the card you give to the announcer before walking across stage — can be a fun way to personalize your experience. Of course, this all depends on what kind of school you go to and what kind of rules have been laid out. Be sure to keep it very subtle though; don’t be the girl that brings a blow-up beach ball or blowhorn to the fancy event!

Graduation Outfit Idea

Products: Dress – Macy’s, Necklace – Zappos, Lipstick – Kylie Cosmetics, Bracelet – Alex + Ani, Ring – Kohl’s, Shoes – Steve Madden, Nail Polish – Etsy

An outfit like this would be absolutely perfect to wear during commencement. This silky sheath dress is lightweight and won’t look bulky under your robe, but will still look great for any activity you’ll attend after the ceremony (plus, it has pockets!). Wedges like these will look great with your robe, but are easier to walk in and a little more dressy than spiky stilettos.

Soft, wavy hair will look amazing flowing out from underneath that funny looking graduation cap, and a medium pink lip color will flatter any skin tone. Finish with simple jewelry — be careful with earrings due to your cap, but you can’t go wrong with an elegant ring and graduation-themed bracelet. This quirky necklace can easily be tucked underneath your graduation robe during the ceremony, but it’s a super cute and not-so-serious accessory for afterwards.

More Graduation Day Outfit Ideas

Need more ideas for what to wear to graduation? We’ve got you covered. Look no further than these other College Fashion articles:


Are you about to graduate? What are you most nervous about? Have you already graduated? What advice to you have for other seniors? Are you having a graduation party? What are you most excited for? Leave a comment and continue the discussion!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2012; it was completely updated and revamped in 2018 with new photos, products, and information.

Source: #Fashionblogger #fashiontrends

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