What to Wear to a Graduation Ceremony

What to Wear to a Graduation Ceremony

I’ve been getting a lot of requests for what to wear to a child’s graduation ceremony and the surrounding events, so I’ve created several different graduation ceremony-appropriate outfits for your consideration!


I’ve had two high school graduates, and I’ll have my third (and last) child’s high school graduation to attend this spring. *sob* My son declined to walk at his college graduation, so I haven’t attended one of those since my own, but I have a lot of friends in that stage of life. It seems like college graduations tend to be dressier than the high school variety, but it depends on the institution.

If in doubt about the dress code, the best thing to do is ask around, but it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. A nice dress or slacks with a blouse is always a safe bet. I love my denim as much as the next girl, but this is one occasion where I would not recommend wearing blue jeans.

At the end of the day, what really matters is that you feel confident and comfortable in what you’re wearing so you’re able to enjoy the event. And, of course, consider those family photos! They will be around for a long time, so make sure you like how you look.

6 Wearable Graduation Guest Outfits

When deciding what to wear to a graduation ceremony, first consider the venue. Is it outside, or inside? Will you need a top layer if it gets cold in the air conditioning, or will you need to prepare for heat and humidity?

Also, be sure to choose your shoes carefully. If you’ll be walking on grass, you need a block heel or a flat-soled shoe. If you’ll be climbing up bleachers, you want some freedom of movement, and you don’t want to wear anything too short.

I’ve created six graduation ceremony-appropriate outfits at varying levels of formality, and for different weather conditions. I hope it’s helpful!

Option #1: Wrap Dress with Sneakers or Metallic Sandals


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Personally, I prefer a dress for graduation ceremonies. For one thing, it makes for an easy one-and-done outfit, and I also just think it looks nice in photos. You can top it off with a sweater or jacket if it gets chilly, or you can wear a moisture-wicking material if you will be outside in the heat.

This first look is what I might wear to my daughter’s high school graduation next month, if the weather is warm. I remember being uncomfortably hot at my son’s outdoor graduation, sitting on the bleachers in the full sun, and this dress will keep me cool and comfortable. (It also comes in solid black and a few other color ways. I linked several options.)

This faux wrap dress is flattering on most body types, and it’s a classic style that won’t ever look terribly dated when you look back at pictures in a few years. It also doesn’t wrinkle, so it will look good in photos even after sitting through a long graduation ceremony.

Let’s face it. They’re ALL long, amIright!?!

I showed this dress with two footwear options — a clean white leather sneaker for those of us who might be relegated to a sneaker for some reason, and a low-heeled gold sandal for those fortunate enough to be able to wear a dressier shoe. It’s still practical for walking on grass or climbing bleachers, due to the low block heel. Also, don’t forget to carry an appropriate bag that complements the outfit.

Option #2: Floral Dress with Strappy Sandals


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For the second look, I chose a splurge-worthy floral dress by Rails, with a flowy tiered hem that’s pretty for those who prefer more of a boho-chic vibe. It has elbow-length sleeves, for those who prefer some arm coverage, and a flattering v-neckline with optional self-ties. The brushstroked blooms in this timeless print are eye-catching, yet subtle enough that you won’t steal the show from the graduate.

I paired this ultra-feminine dress with strappy neutral sandals that have just enough of a block heel to be practical for walking on grass or turf, and I chose an assortment of gold-toned jewelry to complement the look.

Option #3: Ribbon V-Neck Midi Dress with Cognac Accessories


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I’ve got one more dress option, and I chose this one for those who might be in a chilly venue. This affordable midi dress (marked down to $50.99 at LOFT!) is polished and flattering, with a split neck and cinched waist and a flowy skirt. It has long sleeves with button cuffs that you can roll or cuff, if the weather ends up being warmer than anticipated, but it has plenty of coverage if you need it.

I paired this one with comfort sandals in a neutral coganc color, and I added a complementary handbag. Since the dress is fairly busy, I just added a simple pair of gold hoop earrings for jewelry, but you could certainly add a cuff or bracelet stack, if you plan to wear it with the sleeves rolled up.

These sandals are by Vionic, and they have good arch support, soft and supple straps, and a stable block heel. I thoroughly vetted these (before my injury) when I wore them walking all over Sarasota, Florida, back in February, and I can attest to their comfort and practicality. Highly recommend!

If you live in area where it’s still quite cold at a spring graduation ceremony you will be attending, swap the sandals for pumps, and add a classic trench or even a neutral wool coat, if necessary. There’s nothing worse than being cold for hours at an outdoor graduation ceremony!

Option #4: Chambray Linen Jumpsuit


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If you like the one-and-done aspect of a dress, but prefer pants, this chambray linen jumpsuit is the perfect solution! It’s currently 30% off at LOFT, and it gives you an effortlessly polished look with the belted waist and subtly wide legs.

This jumpsuit also comes in black, and I also linked up some other jumpsuits for anyone wanting more options in this category.

I paired this jumpsuit with these gorgeous PAIGE sandals with the nautical-inspired knots and flared block heel. I’m partial to the cork, but they also come in ivory.

If you think you might need a topper, I like the look of the white cotton Rails Collins jacket, but you could also do a cardigan or blazer.

Option #5: Pintucked Flare Pants + Geo Print Blouse


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You might recognize this outfit from when I wore it back in February. I was thrilled to see these flattering pintucked flare pants still in stock! These are a summer wardrobe staple almost any woman could use in her closet, and they’re perfect for a graduation ceremony if you’re going for more of a business casual look.

I went ahead and paired them with that same geo print blouse for the graphic above. It has long sleeves, if you’re worried about being cold, and I love the polished navy and white geo print. It’s also a great price right now. Almost any blouse would look good with these pants, though; you probably already have something in your closet!

This time I chose closed-toe slingback pumps with a low block heel, and I love that classy Tory Burch shoulder bag with this look.

Option #6: White Jeans + Floral Blouse


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My final look is for those who prefer to go more casual, but still want to look polished and put together. White jeans and a floral top is my old stand-by outfit for semi-dressy spring/summer events, and it’s perfect for a graduation ceremony in a more low-key setting.

I chose a modern kick crop style for the white jeans, but you can wear whatever feels most authentic to you. This wide leg pair would also be a good option, or you could go with a more timeless style such as these straight ankle jeans or these linen trouser jeans.

If you do go this route, I would choose dressier footwear like the block heel sandals pictured above, or perhaps an espadrille wedge for a closed-toe option.

I hope you found some inspiration here, if you’re looking for a graduation guest outfit this spring!



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