What to Wear to A Graduation

What to wear to a graduationBeen invited to a graduation this year?

If you’re like me, you have. Kids, relatives, friends, you name it – someone you know hits this milestone every year.

So what should you wear?

It depends on the time, formality, and location of the graduation ceremony. If you’ll be traveling a far distance, that can also impact your choice of apparel.

With all these factors in mind, let’s take a closer look:


Ceremonies held in the morning or afternoon (before 6 pm) tend to be less formal than evening ceremonies.


What to wear to a graduationGraduations in cities and big towns tend to be more formal than those held in the suburbs or in rural areas. If the ceremony is held outside, you’ll need shoes that can go the distance over gravel, concrete, or grass. Don’t wear too high a heel, too thin a heel (you’re not there to aerate the turf) or fabric shoes that can be stained by a stroll through the grass. If it’s cool, you’ll need a sweater. If it’s exceedingly hot, you’ll need sun protection and sunglasses.

If the ceremony is held indoors, consider the distance you’ll be walking to get there when selecting your shoes. Also, you might want to opt for layered clothing. If the air conditioning is set really high, you’ll be chilly. If it’s too low, you’ll get hot quickly in the crush of people.


What to wear to a graduationJunior High and High School ceremonies are generally more casual than university events. Opt for a pretty dress, a blouse and skirt, or a social suit in a pastel color.

University ceremonies typically call for a nice dress or suit. They’re often held in the football stadium or indoor sporting arena, and usually require a long trek from the car. Wear shoes that can go the distance.

Professional or Military School ceremonies tend to be more formal. If you’re going to watch a doctor, lawyer, or officer collect his or her diploma, opt for a dressy dress or suit and heels when attending such events.


Most graduations involve the ceremony followed by a social gathering at the school or at a relative’s house. Wear clothes and shoes that are comfortable, allow you to move and eat freely, and that you can wear for several hours.

Wardrobe MagicFinally, remember that these kinds of milestones mean lots of pictures, so opt for clothing colors and styles that are flattering to your skin tone and figure. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, download a copy of Wardrobe Magic to find out.


  • Janet

    Reply Reply May 29, 2014

    Tonight we attended our daughter’s 5th grade promotion celebration. The school had sent home instructions about what to wear. The boys were to wear long pants and a dress shirt. The girls were to wear a dress or skirt and blouse with no lingerie showing. By and large the kids did well. The parents on the other hand, did not. The school requested that the parents wear business causal. Only about 60 percent of the parents opted to follow those instructions. Do these parents really not understand that faded blue jeans, tennis shoes, Birkenstocks, flip flops, t-shirts with athletic logos and ball caps do not constitute business casual? Where do these people work?

    • Diana

      Reply Reply May 31, 2014

      Hi Janet,

      I’ve never understood the “do as little as you can get away with” attitude, but it’s everywhere. My parents taught me that you should always leave things better than you found them. I wonder what kind of message these folks are sending THEIR kids? Sad.

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