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Graduation Attire Etiquette

Whether you're the graduating student receiving your certification or the proud parent attending the commencement, wearing the proper attire is essential to properly representing your school, university or parent. Nobody wants to be the person in jeans where everyone is wearing formal wear, or be the person in a long gown at a jeans and t-shirt event. Dressing appropriately for your graduation ceremony is a way of showing your respect for the other graduating students as well as to the educational institution. These guidelines will help you ensure that you will be dressed appropriate for this special occasion at hand.

Attire for the graduating student - Being the graduating student, you'll likely be wearing a cap and gown, which will primarily cover your outfit, however it is essential that you dress appropriately underneath. There will be photographs taken before and after your commencement, and such a special ceremony deserves special attire.

Graduating Women
Female graduating students should consider dressy casual attire with a sleeveless dress, heels or dressy sandals. A great rule of thumb is to "wear your Sunday best" or what you traditional would wear to Church on Sunday. A simple colored or patterned dress is appropriate, with simple (not gaudy), jewelry. Remember if graduating in a warm climate location that your graduation gown may make you very hot. Avoid long sleeve or wool clothing items.

Graduating Men
Male graduating students should consider khakis or pressed dress slacks and coordinating dress socks and shoes, along with a button-up dress shirt, (either short or long sleeve is appropriate). A tie is typically optional, however as each school has their own dress code, you may want to make sure you are not required to wear a jacket and tie underneath your gown.

Attire for the parents of the graduating student - Being the proud parent of the graduating student, you will want to represent your child in the best way possible, which means dressing appropriately for the occasion.

Female Graduation Ceremony Attendee
Female graduation ceremony guests should wear proper dressy attire with a linen dress or dress pants and a dressy blouse. A cardigan sweater is appropriate and understated jewelry. Flip flops are not considered appropriate for such a dignified occasion, however sandals are acceptable.

Male Graduation Ceremony Attendee
Being such a special occasion, blue jeans are not acceptable for attending a student's graduation. Pressed dress slacks are appropriate, with a dress shirt and a jacket (optional). If you're unsure as to whether your outfit is too formal, always go with the dressier side than the under-dressed side.