What to Wear to a Graduation for a Stylish Send-Off

May 14, 2018 by Eliza Huber

Whether you’re approaching your own graduation or simply preparing to attend one, graduation season can be stressful. After all, those early May months involve everything from final exams and thesis papers to party planning. With so many things to do and so little time, it’s no wonder that many find themselves forgetting about the dress. Okay fine, so the dress you wear to your graduation, or to the graduation of someone special to you, probably isn’t as life-defining as your wedding dress, or even your prom dress; but your loved ones, and more importantly, you, might only graduate once. So we think it’s best you make the most of it.

It’s no surprise to be bogged down by the endless options to choose from and things to keep in mind when deciding what to wear to a graduation. Think of us as your own personal tutors for all things graduation style. Below, we’ve created a study guide of sorts to take the stress out of graduation season and leave behind only cause for celebration. From outdoor ceremonies to dresses that look good with any gown color, we’ve got you covered.

What to Wear to a Graduation Ceremony

Graduate-or-Guest-Hero


LEFT: THEIA, RIGHT: THE JETSET DIARIES

There are a lot of little things to think about when it comes to figuring out what’s best to wear to graduation festivities. For example, someone who is actually graduating has to consider a completely separate set of style options compared to someone else who’s merely going to be in attendance. Additionally, a small, art school graduation requires a look that differs significantly from a ceremony at a large institution. Length of ceremony and whether the events will occur inside or outside are just a few things to take into consideration when planning your unique graduation look.

Graduation Dresses to Wear Under the Gown

For those of you who are graduating, congratulations! But, seriously, don’t get bogged down about what to wear on graduation day. You’ve got enough to deal with, and we’re here to help you decide what graduation dress to wear under the gown.

A graduation ceremony calls for a combination of two things: sophistication and comfort. The latter is important when a ceremony could last three to four hours in a stuffy auditorium and it’s usually best to opt for short-sleeve graduation dresses in situations like this. As for the former, think business casual and you will not go wrong.

LEFT: ERIN FETHERSTON, CENTER: SLATE & WILLOW, RIGHT: ML MONIQUE LHUILLIER

For the lucky few who get to don black or white caps and gowns, you’re in the clear—why not rent something new for Spring, like a floral graduation dress? We recommend bright colors that will ooze confidence as you walk across the stage!

If you’re dealing with a not-so-easy-to-match graduation cap and gown situation, there is nothing safer than a white graduation dress. While it may not be post-Memorial Day, you get a pass because you’re graduating.

Graduation Ceremony Dresses for Guests:

LEFT: FINDERS KEEPERS, CENTER: SLATE & WILLOW, RIGHT: BAILEY 44

If you’re just attending the graduation of a friend or family member, it’s best to avoid outshining the woman of the hour. Given that with most graduation ceremonies, each graduate is only allocated so many tickets, it’s a huge honor to be one of the chosen few. To steer clear of stealing anyone’s thunder, we suggest wearing a dress that’s simple in terms of colors and patterns. The benefit of a rotating closet is that you have lots of options to choose from.

What to Wear to a Graduation Party

Graduation Party Dresses for the Graduate:

LEFT: DRESS THE POPULATION, CENTER: OPENING CEREMONY, RIGHT: SLATE & WILLOW

As the guest of honor, you should dress however you want. After all, it’s your party. Rent a dress out of your comfort zone or stick to what you like. Metallics and sequins will definitely stand out and make you feel exceptionally amazing. This graduation season, it’s okay to make it about you.

What to Wear to a Graduation Party as a Guest:

LEFT: VINCE, CENTER: TRINA TURK, RIGHT: TIBI

While guests should still do their best to avoid outshining the graduate, it’s still a party. When figuring out what to wear to a graduation party, it is usually a safe bet to wear a sundress. You can’t go wrong with a midi wrap dress or a button-up dress. The party’s outside? Don’t forget a light jacket, just in case.

What to Wear to an Outdoor Graduation

Gradutation-Jumpsuit-Hero


JUMPSUIT: TEMPERLEY LONDON

For an outdoor event, you can’t lose with a jumpsuit. You never know what the weather could bring, so don’t forget the essentials, that is, an umbrella and a light jacket. Sometimes, parties can run late into the night and it will probably start to cool off once the sun goes down. You won’t regret throwing a denim jacket into the car, just to be safe.

Graduation Jumpsuits for Outdoor Celebrations:

LEFT: LINE + DOT, CENTER: SANCIA, RIGHT: ADELYN RAE

Depending on the school’s environment, graduation ceremonies can differ significantly. No matter the ceremony or party, it’s always best to clarify dress code prior to choosing what you’re going to wear. After all, it’s no fun being over- or under-dressed if you can avoid it. Always check with other graduates or guests and find something that lets you celebrate in comfort! Check out our other picks for graduation dresses and let us know what you wear on your or your special someone’s big day with #myrtr.