What to Wear to a Graduation Ceremony

By Angela Marshall, 14th Jun 2012

graduates -Cap & Gown

I was recently asked by a client what they should wear to their daughter’s graduation? As always there is no one answer.

What to consider:

What type of college or university you are attending? For example: Is it London School of Fashion, Royal College of Arts or a more traditional college such as University of Edinburgh or Imperial College of London?  People are more likely to be fashionable and relaxed in an art and fashion college compared  to a college for medicine or law. If you are attending the top universities such as Oxford or Cambridge I suggest a smart suit for a man and dress or skirt with a jacket for a woman.

My Tips:

I suggest you wear something smart, but it doesn’t have to be as smart as a wedding. If in doubt stick to something plain and simple and add some elegant and stylish accessories.

  • Be well groomed with attention to detail e.g. clean nails, hands and hair; no creased clothes – avoid linens that crease easily.
  • Ensure your clothes fit you well and you are comfortable in the outfit.
  • Wear clothes that reflect you and your personality, so that you are confident and feel good.
  • Avoid high fashion styles, otherwise they will look dated in a few years when you look back at the photos.  Stick to more conservative chic styles, but stay true to your personality.
  • Check what the weather will be on the day preferably a day or two before, then add a jacket or smart cardigan (women), if necessary.
  • The Place – where is the graduation being held? Is the place cold or very warm, ask the person who has invited you or contact the university.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, you could be standing a lot of the time.
  • Don’t purchase items you will never wear again.



  • Dresses are fashionable – choose a plain or patterned item, but avoid loud patterns. Then add a jacket or cardigan especially if the weather isn’t warm. Add some stylish accessories with smart plain shoes and bag, plus toned in tights.

Or  choose

  • a  suit – dress or skirt with a matching jacket.
  • Trouser suit or smart trousers, colourful blouse and if you have a  jacket with toned in accessories.


  • If you have a suit it is an easy option and the smartest with a tie, if you wish to be less formal then without the tie.
  • If you do not have a suit suggest a smart jacket or blazer with chinos and possibly a tie .
  • If you don’t have a jacket and don’t wish to buy then suggest a smart casual jacket such as a leather jacket with trousers, which you can then wear again.

Ideas from House of Fraser

Remember! When you attend the event be confident, have positive body language, smile and be friendly and sociable to other guests and students.

Picture credits: Fifyplus, Marks and Spencer and Pal Zileri.

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Welcome to Angela Marshall's Blog. Angela Marshall
"I am in the third phase of my life and having been a successful image consultant for 18 years, I now enjoy the freedom of blogging about life in general, especially fashion, grooming, etiquette and manners." Angela Marshall
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