What to Wear to Graduation 🎓
How to Dress for Graduation
Graduation is one of the most exciting and memorable moments of your academic career. There will be plenty of pictures taken, so you want to look your best for the ceremony! Dressing for graduation involves picking your regular outfit for the day and putting on your academic regalia for the ceremony. You can look your best for graduation by dressing professionally and comfortably!
Getting Your Academic Attire
Measure your height to find the right gown size.Most schools require all graduating students to wear this traditional regalia for the ceremony. Use your height and weight to decide which size you should order according to the sizing chart for the brand. Gowns range in sizes from 38-66, and caps and tassels are generally one size fits all.
- If you’re having trouble taking or understanding your measurements, check with your school to see if a brand representative can help you find your size.
Purchase a regalia set through your school for convenience.In general, schools will partner with manufacturers and retailers to offer packages that include all of the components you need for the ceremony. Before you buy, take your measurements to ensure that you get the right size, and double check that you’re ordering the correct package for your school. This is the preferred method for most schools to ensure that all students look exactly alike at the ceremony.
- Some schools have a tassel with their logo on it, while others just use a plain one with the school’s colors.
- If your school is more traditional, they may choose to have men and women wear different colored robes for the ceremony. Make sure you get the color that best represents your chosen gender, and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if you need it.
Look into buying a pre-used package online for a discounted rate.Some alumni try to sell their caps and gowns online to recoup the cost of these items. Check out Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to see if there are any listings for the color you need. If you plan to go this route, buy the gown well in advance to ensure that the fabric is exactly the right color.
- Keep in mind that you might still have to buy a tassel through the school, especially if you buy a set from someone who didn’t go to the same school as you.
- If you buy the wrong color and try to wear it to graduation, you may not be allowed to participate in the ceremony.
Borrow a cap and gown from a friend who graduated before you.One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to get a cap and gown for graduation is from an alumni. Ask an older friend or sibling if they’d be willing to loan you their set for the day. Most people don’t mind since they normally only wear the set once.
- If you’re borrowing a cap and gown, take good care of it and make sure you don’t rip it or spill anything on it. As soon as the ceremony is over, put it away and return it to them as soon as possible.
Choosing Clothes for Under Your Gown
Follow your school’s dress code if they have one.Some schools might require you to wear business casual or professional attire to the ceremony. Check your school’s website or contact the office in charge of graduation to confirm the dress code.
- If there isn’t a dress code, you should still make an attempt to look put together and professional.
Wear a dress shirt, tie, and pair of slacks for a more masculine outfit.Pick a solid-colored or striped dress shirt with a collar, and add a coordinating tie. Opt for a pair of neutral-colored slacks or dress pants to round out the outfit, and wear a belt with your shirt tucked in.
- If you live in a warm climate, you could also wear polo shirt with a collar.
- To show off your school spirit, you can match your tie to the color of your robe or the school colors.
Opt for a dress or a blouse and a skirt for a feminine look.Choose a dress in a neutral color, like white, tan, gray, navy, or black. If you’re wearing a skirt and a blouse, stick to a solid-colored top that’s easy to pair with a bright color. Pick a knee-length skirt in a solid color to add dimension to the outfit.
- Make sure the skirt or dress is an appropriate length for a professional occasion, but not so long that it sticks out of the bottom of the gown.
Avoid bringing a bag to the ceremony.Leave your purse or backpack at home for graduation, and stick to just the necessities, like your keys, phone, and wallet. If you’ll see your family before the ceremony, drop off your bag with them to retrieve it later.
- If you’re wearing a dress or skirt, look for one that has pockets to inconspicuously hold your phone, wallet, and keys during the ceremony.
Pick a pair of comfortable shoes that are easy to walk in.Graduation isn’t the best day to break in a new pair of shoes, since you’ll be doing a lot of walking and standing. Pick a pair of comfortable dress shoes or loafers if you’re going for a masculine look. For a feminine outfit, opt for flats, comfortable wedges, or chunky heels.
- Avoid wearing stiletto heels or very high heels for the ceremony, especially if it’s outside. Your heels might get caught in the grass, or you might trip while you’re walking in the processional.
- Wear your shoes for a few hours the day before the ceremony to practice walking and make sure they’re comfortable.
Wearing Academic Regalia
Slip your robe on over your clothes and zip the front zipper.Take the robe off of the hanger and unzip it before you put it on. Slide your arms in like a jacket, and then hook and pull the zipper from the bottom all the way to the top, where the neckline becomes a V shape. Then, raise your arms to make sure the fabric isn’t caught on your clothes.
- To get rid of wrinkles in the fabric, remove your gown from its plastic bag and put it on a hanger 3-4 days before graduation.
Wear your cap with the pointed headpiece facing the front.Put the soft, fabric portion of the cap on the crown of your head, with the pointed part resting on your forehead. Make sure the elastic part of the cap is at the back of your head.
- If you have longer hair or the cap is loose on your head, use hair pins to keep it in place throughout the ceremony.
Hook your tassel onto the button at the top of the mortar board.The top of the tassel will have a loop of sting on it. Open the loop and slide the string under the button on the top of the mortar board. Position the tassel to the right side of the cap before the ceremony.
- At the end of the ceremony, the speaker will instruct all of the graduates to “turn their tassels” by moving the tassel from the right to the left. This signifies the completion of your degree or diploma!
Drape honor cords or stoles around your neck to show your achievements.Position these so that they rest behind your neck with the ends hanging down on either side of your body. Try to make sure the sides are an equal length to avoid looking disheveled in pictures. If you graduated at the top of your class, you may be asked to wear a medal or a special cord to the ceremony.
- Honors cords are thinner, braided cords in various colors that signify membership in honors societies and other academic groups.
- Stoles are thick pieces of fabric that represent membership in a club or other organization.
Video: Guide to wearing your graduation gown
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