What To Wear To Graduation | Style Hints And Tips

What to wear to GraduationIt has nearly been a year since I graduated (wow time has gone quick), and looking back I remember the real struggle with trying to find a graduation outfit. Graduation is usually a one-off event which most people have never been to before, meaning most people are clueless when it comes to what to wear. Below I’m going to try and give you all some tips about graduation outfits from my experience.

Luckily for me, I had worked at many graduations during my summers at university, meaning I had seen my fair share of graduation wear. I’ve learnt a lot from studying girls outfit choices over the years and believe me it is quite easy to go wrong. Therefore, when I began the daunting task of searching for the ideal dress, I had some ideas in my head of what I wanted to go for. In this guide, I will aim to give you some tips on what to look for in a graduation outfit, and also give examples to brands which make the most ‘graduation-like’ dresses.

Tip 1. – Be Smart

Graduation is most definitely a formal occasion, this is not the time to be showing off too much skin. Not only will your parents and your friends’ parents be there, so will your lecturers and some of the most important people in the university, so it is not the time to go crazy or look scruffy. For boys, I think it’s a bit easier, as long as they wear a suit and tie, then they’re sorted, but for girls, it can be a bit more of a task. If I were to compare the occasion to anything, I would say it’s similar to a summer wedding or the Royal Ascot, minus the fascinator…

Tip 2. – Think Bright

One thing that is very important to remember is that you will be wearing an unflattering big black gown. And to be honest there’s not really a way to make the gown look good but there are definitely ways to improve it. First of all, and my most important tip is to not wear black or dark colours. If your outfit is dark, it will blend in to the gown and will just make you look like one giant blob! It is much better to go for brighter and lighter colours, I especially think white and pastels work especially well.



Tip 3. – Spend A Little Extra

Graduation is one of those events where I think you’re allowed to spend a little extra. Most of the brands I suggest on this post are a little more on the expensive side, but they are also the brands that do the most suitable outfits. My dress was £140 when I bought it, and although it did break my heart a little when I got it, I can now see that it was an investment that will last me a long time. Graduation dresses also make great wedding outfits and interview dresses, so try not to let the price tag sway you too much.

Tip 4. – Bring Safety Pins

One of the most annoying things about the gowns is that they were not made for women. The design of gowns is exactly the same as it was hundreds of years ago when men were the only ones to graduate. The shoulders are far too big, and there is no good way to stop the hood part from riding up to your neck. This is why I suggest bringing safety pins, you can use them to pin the hood in the correct place, and then forget about it for the rest of the day. Also, I recommend bringing hair pins if you will be wearing a cap/hat, as these are also prone to falling off.

Tip 5. – Stay Comfortable

There’s no point wearing your crazy high stilettos to graduation, because believe me, you will regret it. Walking around all day, posing for photos in as many places as possible, and let’s not forget about the dreaded walk across the stage. Graduation day is not one for spending time off your feet, so please wear sensible shoes. Whether that means sandals, wedges, or your best pair of comfy heels, just put your feet first on the big day.

Brands I Recommend

Ok, so this list does in no way mean you have to buy your dress from one of the brands. It is simply there to provide inspiration from someone who has been at a lot of graduations. So here you go, hope it helps:

Phase Eight (This is where I got my dress from, which is now half price, cry..)


Ted Baker

Karen Millen


Mint Velvet




I recommend going to a department store like John Lewis or House of Fraser, which stocks lots of these brands. That way you can try on lots of dresses from the brands at the same time.

Hope this little guide helped anyone struggling with the graduation outfit search. In case anyone was wondering my graduation dress is the Phase Eight Carly Weave Dress, and it is only £70 now!

 If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to tweet me @MariellaKennedy. I would also love to hear what other people decide to wear for graduation, comment below with your outfits, you never know it may help people still on the search!

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