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What to Wear to Graduation: A Style Guide

what to wear to graduation
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Graduation is an exciting and scary moment; it’s the end of something familiar and the start of something new—hope you sent out your senior announcements! 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

A-line, fit and flare graduation dresses
Lulus Celebratory Looks A-line Dress           Nordstrom Halter Tie Neck A-Line Dress      Macy’s Tie-Shoulder Sleeveless Fit & Flare Dress

Ladies, get ready to slay your graduation day with some serious style. A-line and fit & flare dresses are here to give you that classic elegance with a touch of sass. These dresses are like your BFF, hugging your curves in all the right places and flaring out just enough to make heads turn. Choosing this timeless style will have you feeling like the queen of the ceremony. So strut your stuff as you rock this gorgeous style while collecting that diploma.

Interesting Necklines

Three graduation dress options with interesting necklines
Marcella NY Manhattan Sleeveless Midi Dress          Princess Polly Masen Mini Dress          Cupshe Diza Lace Butterfly Sleeve Mini 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? If you’re looking to make a statement at your graduation, it’s all about the neckline, darling! Say goodbye to boring and hello to fabulous with dresses featuring unique necklines. From plunging V-necks that add a touch of allure to sweetheart necklines that scream romance, there’s a neckline to suit every personality.

Not to mention, halter necks that show off your shoulders with a hint of sophistication or off-the-shoulder styles that bring a dash of trendy charm. These captivating necklines will ensure all eyes are on you as you walk that stage. So go ahead, dare to be different, and let your neckline do the talking as you celebrate your achievements in style.


Three sheath/bodycon graduation dresses
Windsor Hearts Aflutter Crepe Butterfly Dress   Lulus Party for Two Bodycon Mini Dress   Calvin Klein Plus Size Tulip-Sleeve Sheath Dress

If you’re ready to show off your curves and make a bold statement at your graduation, look no further than sheath and bodycon dresses. These figure-hugging styles are designed to accentuate your silhouette and leave a lasting impression. The sheath dress offers a streamlined look, skimming your body from top to bottom, while the bodycon dress takes it up a notch, embracing your curves for an ultra-sexy vibe.

Whether you opt for a sleek and minimalist sheath dress or a bodycon dress with intricate detailing, these styles are sure to make heads turn. Choose from an array of necklines, sleeve lengths, and fabrics to find the perfect match for your personality and the occasion. Just remember to rock your confidence, because these dresses are made for fierce graduates who are ready to take on the world!

Loose Midi

Three midi graduation dresses
Steve Madden Tie Strap Midi Sundress             Ailsi Tie Back Square Neck Smocked Mini Sun Dress           Macy’s Cotton Eyelet Midi Dress

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. It’s like wearing a cloud of style—relaxed, breezy, and totally on-point. Whether you go for a pretty lace or a chic solid, this dress lets you slay your ceremony with ease and a touch of class. So get ready to celebrate in style, all while feeling comfy and confident!

Prints and Pops of Color

Three colorful, printed graduation dresses
David’s Bridal floral patterned lace a-line             Taurus Swiss Dot Summer Mini Dress        Lulus My Favorite Day Floral Print Midi 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. Embrace vibrant prints and colors for your graduation! From bold florals to electric hues, these eye-catching dresses will turn heads. Express your unique style, radiate positivity, and celebrate in a dress that speaks volumes. Get ready to shine on your special day!

Long Hemline/Jumpsuit

Two jumpsuits and one long hemline graduation dress
Lulus Feel Your Love Black Ruffled Wide-Leg JumpsuitEtsy Corset Top Wide Leg Jumpsuit | Newshows Spaghetti Strap Maxi Dress

If you’re aiming for a chic and sophisticated look at your graduation, long hemline dresses and jumpsuits are your go-to options. These elegant ensembles offer a touch of glamour and ensure you make a lasting impression. Whether you prefer a flowing maxi dress or a tailored jumpsuit, the long hemline elongates your silhouette and adds an air of gracefulness. So step up your style game and exude confidence as you walk across the stage, embracing the beauty of these timeless pieces.

After Party Outfit

Three night-scene dresses
Macy’s Juniors’ Asymmetrical-Hem Dress          Saved By The Dress Strapless Short Dress       VIP Moves Mesh Ruched Mini Dress

The graduation ceremony is over, but the celebration is just beginning! Get ready to hit the town in style with the perfect after-party dress. It’s time to let loose and have some fun, so opt for a dress that’s flirty, bold, and ready to dance the night away.

Choose a mini dress with shimmering sequins for that extra touch of glam, or go for a bodycon number that accentuates your curves. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a chic jumpsuit that combines comfort and sophistication.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with vibrant colors, plunging necklines, or cut-out details. This is your time to shine, so pick a dress that reflects your personality and makes you feel like the life of the party.

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

Flats and low heels for graduation
Lulus Quin Black Flat Sandals    Iliana Slide Sandals – A New Day     Bandolino Edition Ballet Flat      a.n.a Womens Darell Ballet Flats

Who says you have to sacrifice comfort for style? When it comes to footwear for graduation, flats and low heels are your best friends. These practical yet fashionable options will keep you on your feet from the ceremony to the after-party without any pain.

Flats provide a laid-back and effortless vibe, perfect for those who want to prioritize comfort while still looking chic. Opt for ballet flats or trendy loafers in metallic finishes or bold colors to add a touch of personality to your outfit. A low heel provides a subtle height increase without the risk of a twisted ankle.

High Heels

High Heels for graduation
David’s Bridal sparkly platform heels     Karl Lagerfeld Royale Pointed-Toe Pumps    Lulus Laura Black Velvet Ankle Strap Heels                          Audra Mule Heels – A New Day      Trary Black Lace Tie-Up Chunky Heels

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 for Graduation
Macy’s Sabeena Bootie      Joyce Wedge Heels – A New Day     Esme Black Lace-Up Espadrille Wedges    DREAM PAIRS Elastic Ankle Strap Wedge Sandals      Mix No. 6 Prunela Wedge Pump

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.

Last modified on May 30th, 2023

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