What to Wear to Graduation

what to wear to graduation

Graduation is an exciting and scary moment; it’s the end of something familiar and the start of something new. You may be mourning the end of college or you may be ready to skip off campus the moment you can, but either way, with all the prep that comes with entering adulthood, figuring out what to wear to graduation may not have been at the top of your to-do list.

The best tip on what to wear to graduation: wear whatever makes you feel like a badass. You’re going to be taking a lot of pictures with friends and family, so wear something that will make you feel confident, but that you can also confidently look back at in a few years. You will likely be jumping from family event, to party, to dinner, to your friend’s rager, so you want to be dressed to rock whatever situation you’re in (multiple wardrobe changes is a fun option if your budget can swing it, but something your schedule that day might not allow for). This is the last thing you’ll ever do as an undergrad, so here’s how to go out with a bang.

The Dress

How do you find a dress that fits your style, makes you feel ready to walk the runway (aka the ceremony stage) and stun the paparazzi (aka your friends and family that came to town), looks mature enough to show you’re ready for the adult world but also turns heads at all the grad parties? I can’t grant you a fairy godmother to materialize your perfect dress out of thin air, but I can search the Internet for your best options so you don’t have to. Scan this list of dresses to find your perfect one. We got you, girl.

A-Line/Fit and Flare

what to wear to graduation - a-line
BB Dakota Renley Lace Fit & FlareElegant Evolution A-Line Dress in Ivory | French Connection Whisper Light Fit & Flare Dress

A flattering style, this option will look great under a robe plus it’s versatile enough for almost any event. Let’s be honest: mesh inserts may be hot now, but you don’t want to cringe when your grad pics pop up on your Timehop in five years. This classic cut is sure to stand the test of time.

Interesting Necklines

what to wear to graduation - interesting necklines
Keepsake the Label Night Dance Midi Dress | Mock Neck Keyhole Fit And Flare Dress | Calvin Klein Double V-Neck Sheath Dress

Staying away from complicated necklines is a good idea when there’s a robe over your shoulders and arms, but who says you can’t bend the rules a little bit? These necklines will make you stand out from the crowd while not competing with your graduation gown.

Sheath/Bodycon

what to wear to graduation - bodycon
Ivanka Trump Sunburst Pleated Zipper-Trim Ponte Knit Sheath DressHidden Talent Backless Ivory Lace DressLady Love Song Sheath Dress in Black

You’re going to be wearing a robe over your outfit, so now is not the time for layers or big textures to shine. Something sleek will fit much better, and owning this classic silhouette is a necessity for everything from conference rooms to date nights, so it’s well worth the investment.

Loose Midi

what to wear to graduation - loose midi
Lace Hi-Lo Fit And Flare Dress | Lush Blouson Chiffon Skater DressWindy City A-Line Dress in Navy

Flattering for many body shapes, these dresses won’t cling to you when you’re crammed together with a bunch of other grads, plus the loose hemline pairs well with a robe.

Prints and Pops of Color

what to wear to graduation - prints
Adrianna Papell Burnout Polka Dot Fit & Flare DressAplomb, Exemplified Fit and Flare DressGianni Bini Marcy Floral Bouquet A-line Dress

Want to break away from a sea of black and white? Then break the rules with one of these prints that stand out in the most tasteful way.

Long Hemline/Jumpsuit

what to wear to graduation - long
Lauren Ralph Lauren Cutout-Back Sleeveless GownEva Franco Jane Lace Halter Midi DressSatin Jumpsuit

Short hemlines and low necklines are great, but we don’t want Grandma to have a heart attack at the ceremony. If you’re looking for something a little more modest, these options have got you covered (literally).

After Party Outfit

what to wear to graduation - the after party
Silence + Noise Deep-V Strappy-Back Bodycon Mini DressSilence + Noise Satin Shine Cutout DressKeepsake Asymmetrical Hem Mini Dress

If you’ve got the time and budget: pick a day dress to wow the fam, and then slip into one of these numbers after the sun goes down.

The Shoes

After you figure out what to wear to graduation, you need the perfect shoes to pair with your killer outfit. The right pair of shoes can take your look to a whole new level, and in a sea of matching gowns, it’s the one way you can show off your personal style. Your shoes are especially important on graduation day because it’s all people see when you walk across the stage (yes, the “priority” here is being handed your diploma and finally finishing your degree, but we all know it’s really about owning the stage).

Remember: you need to be able to stand in them for hours, you may have to walk between buildings, you shouldn’t wear shoes for the first time that day, the stage may be slippery, and you are also walking in front of hundreds of people. So choose shoes that look great, but that you can confidently walk in.

Flats/Low Heel

what to wear to graduation - flats
Two-Piece Lace-Up Ballet Flat | BP. Moreover Pointy Toe FlatStudded Lace-Up SandalAdrianna Papell Sage Lace Ballet Flats

I love a good stiletto and feel like a boss when I’m in heels, but no one wants to be the girl that pulled a J-Law at graduation. These flats are a stylish and (basically) disaster-proof choice.

High Heels

what to wear to graduation - heels
Caged Heeled Sandal | Thin Ankle Strap HeelJessica Simpson Geela Laser-Cut Sandals | Low Heeled Sandal

Adding some height is an instant confidence booster — your frame looks great, everything seems to fit better, and it just makes you feel like a total girl boss. Stun the crowd in these options, but keep in mind that you’ll be walking in front of tons of people, and heels have the risk of getting stuck somewhere or sinking in the grass outside.

Wedges

what to wear to graduation - wedges
MICHAEL Michael Kors Berkley Weave Canvas Espadrille Wedge Sandals | Charles by Charles David Aden Platform Wedge SandalTubular Lace Wedge Sandal | H&M Wedge-heeled Sandals

Wedges seem to be the best option for adding height, but not sacrificing your ability to walk well. Plus, you don’t lose any fashion points and you won’t sink into the grass during outdoor photos.

Follow Bri on Instagram: @bri_stuepfert

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