What to Wear to Graduation

what to wear with a grey suit

If you’re having trouble figuring out what to wear to graduation, we’re here to help with this easy and headache free guide.

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You’ve spent three or four years slogging away in the library and pulling all-nighters during the week and now you’ve finally graduated! So, after spending this time in mainly comfy joggers and loose fitting T-shirts with various food stains on them, it’s time to spruce yourself up for your graduation.

But where do you even begin? Should you go for the three piece suit or mix and match your look to add an edge? You want to look as formal as possible without compromising your style. Here’s our easy guide on what to wear to your graduation.

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What to Wear to a Graduation Ceremony

As it’s one of the biggest days of your life, you’ll want to make an impression. So, by dressing to the nines, your fellow graduates will remember you even after you’ve all left.

Graduation Dress Code

Most graduations tend to go for a smart approach, however, they lean more towards the formal end of the spectrum, as it is a formal event. This is why most of the ladies wear dresses, and the lads will opt for a suit. It’s best to stick to this theme, although you can mix up the suit look, such as with a print or bold colour. It’s also a great idea to wear a buttoned shirt in order to attach your graduation hood to.

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Graduation Suits

The best graduation outfit ideas often result in a suit, and a suit will always serve you well. It’s entirely up to you whether you opt for a matching suit, or mix and match your jacket and trousers to add a bit of flair to your look. A matching suit will give off a more formal vibe. But you can mix up the colours and shades if you want to leave a lasting effect. 

The fit is entirely dependant on your choice and size, but by keeping to a slim fit, it’ll emulate a young style and can take you straight from the stage to the local pub for a pint. You don’t event have to fork out for a suit to look great.

david gandy grey suit mens street style
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Graduation Shirts

Wearing a shirt is the way to go, and going for a classic white number means you can’t go wrong. Worn tucked in or out, it’s sure to be a winner (especially in mum’s eyes). But if you’re wanting to go for a splash of colour, why not try a pink shirt? Perfect with navy or black trousers, it adds both colour and texture to your look, making it more of an eye catcher.

Steer clear of fabrics such as Oxford and Grandad collar shirts as these are less formal than the classic dress shirt. Also keep away from black. It’s best left for Oxford shirts, casual shirts and funerals, not graduations! Keep it bright and cheerful. 

adam gallagher grey suit white shirt mens street style
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Graduation Blazer & Trousers

Sometimes a blazer can be a bit too much, especially when you have your graduation gown over the top of everything and the hot lights are everywhere, but a simple, clean cut blazer will do you right. 

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With your trousers, you can go all out, wearing something plain and simple on top will draw the attention to your trousers. A printed or colourful trouser will help you to stand out from the crowd. Stick to a dark neutral shade such as navy or black if you want to keep your look clean. A tie is also optional. 

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Graduation Shoes

If you’re going for a full on formal look, then your shoes should match. Loafers are a great option. They can be dressed up for such occasions as graduations and carry you through to the after party. Your trousers should skim your ankles showing a bit of leg when wearing loafers (without socks) for a cleaner look. 

Although you can’t go wrong with a brogue, the go-to shoes for formal events. They’re a great equivalent if it’s rainy or chilly as they’ll keep your look smart and your feet toasty and dry. You also have endless options of fabric, from leather to patent to suede, colours and styles. It’s best to opt for neutral shades such as black, navy and tan in order to make the most out of them as they can be incorporated into any outfit with ease. 

david gandy grey suit plain t shirt
PHOTO CREDIT: GQ

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Graduation Accessories

There are ways to make your look stand out from the rest quite easily, and it doesn’t have to cost much. First off, you can just pop on a belt. Match the colour of your belt to your shoes, this makes for a cleaner image.

Additionally you can wear a silver chain or leather strap watch in order to add a bit of class to your look. Finish off with a tie. Opt for a coloured or print if you want to add a splash of colour, or stick to neutral shades to keep it smart. Go for a thin style in order to keep your look young. You could even throw on some sunnies for Summer graduations to keep your eyes protected, but keep the look slick.

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Summer Graduation Attire

You’ll want to keep cool with all of the waiting around and picture taking in the sun, so you’re best of looking for a thinner fabric, and/or a lighter colour suit. This’ll keep you cool yet suave, and add a bit of diversity to your outfit, as most likely everyone will be wearing a grey suit. You can also ditch the jacket as long as your shirt is slick. Keep footwear to a minimum by opting for loafers in order to allow some breeze on your feet. It’s best to leave the socks or go for invisible socks to show off your shoes.

Go for a tie in order to keep your look formal, although it’s not essential. If you do, opt for a pastel or light shade to keep up the summer vibes and match your light suit. You could additionally finish your look with a pair of slick sunnies to keep your eyes protected and your look 007.

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Winter Graduation Attire

It’s undoubtedly going to be a lot chillier, so you’ll be looking to keep your look clean but snug. In which case, you should opt for an overcoat. It will keep up the formality, but depending on the style and colour, will ooze your personal style. You’ll also want to avoid lighter shade suits as they’ll show the weather more with rain stains and mud puddles. Navy is a great choice for winter graduations as it steers away from the monotonous black and over popular grey, but has a flair to it. Finish off with brogues to keep your feet toasty and dry.

Toby Huntington Whiteley navy suit
PHOTO CREDIT: Daily Mail

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How to Wear a Graduation Gown

The usual protocol with graduation gowns is that they are hired for the day; it’s very unusual that they’re kept afterwards, but some allow you to keep them. The gowns will usually be of your university’s colours i.e. blue, purple or red, but a lot will be of a darker colour either black or navy.

In the UK the graduation gown is open, almost robe like, whereas in the US, the gown is a closed garment, meaning that it will go over the top of your head and be placed on that way.

What to Wear to a Graduation Party

Now it’s your time to relax and celebrate your hard three years of sleepless nights in the library and endless assignments, and your degree! You can finally dress up, which is a change from your joggers to lectures and fancy dress for the SU.

mens graduation looks

It all depends on who’s throwing the party. If it’s a family get together, it’s best to stick to a smart casual dress code, in order to keep everyone happy and look presentable. Opt for dark slim chinos and an oxford shirt, and finish off with either trainers to keep it casual or formal shoes such as boat shoes or brogues.

But if it’s a friends wild get together, then anything goes. Stick with the long sleeve Oxford shirt, but this time team it with light cuffed slim jeans and slick white trainers. The shirt will keep your look formal, but the fabric teamed with your jeans and colour block trainers will keep it nearer the casual end of the spectrum. Just don’t go spilling your beer or alcoholic beverage all over your white crepes and shirt.

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What to Wear to a Graduation Ceremony as a Guest

Graduation Attire for Guests

You don’t want to overdress, as it the graduate’s event! But you’ll still want to look slick and suave whether it’s your brother’s or best mates ceremony. In which case, keep it low key but formal with a crisp shirt, the colour or print of your choice (if you do choose a print, keep it minimal!) and dark formal trousers such as chinos to finish off. For footwear, go for some loafers or brogues. You’ll be going for a smart casual look, accomplished by mixing your formal shirt and shoes with less formal chinos. You can even finish off your look with a blazer is a different fabric, such as tweed.

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What to Wear to Graduation

  • Always keep it smart. A suit will always work the best in these formal situations.
  • Classic colours keep it smart and simple. Opt for colours such as black, navy and grey as these are classic. If it’s a summer graduation then a nice beige will work perfectly.
  • Accessories can work well. Keep it classic with a simple watch and a pair of sunglasses if it’s sunny. Jewellery is optional if you wear it everyday, but I wouldn’t specifically wear something just for the day.
Chuck Bass Gossip Girl navy suit for men
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On That Note

Dressing for your graduation ceremony is a big moment is anyone’s life, so you want to look as suave and slick as possible. In which case always mostly go for a suit. You can mix up the fabric and colours depending on which seasons it’s in and what you fancy. If you’re the guest keep it formal but low key, as you don’t want to take attention away from the graduate. The key is to stay formal but comfy.

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