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What to Wear: Graduation Edition

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bucknell chapter.

When I graduated from high school, I sat on the stage, gave a speech, and shook my mayor’s hand all while wearing a jersey-knit, black, cap-sleeve dress (à la swimsuit cover-up) and a black pair of Penny Kenny flats that I had acquired two weeks prior at a consignment shop. To say that I was dressed to the nines would be a gross exaggeration or a flawless execution of sarcasm at its finest.  I’d like to think my sense of fashion has evolved since then to the point where I recognize that I have my own style. There are pieces I can pick up in the clothing store and say, “that’s cute”, but I would never purchase any of them because I know I wouldn’t wear them.  I’m currently awaiting the arrival of my graduation dress, which I purchased online. Bold decision, I know.  My mother had been hounding me for weeks to purchase a dress, so naturally I freaked out and thought about my way-too-basic ensemble from high school. This got me thinking, what should people wear for graduation? If you went to an all-girls, private school you probably wore white to celebrate your transition to college. If you went to a public school, like me, you probably wore something that kept you cool under your robes. Both are great ideas, but are they applicable today, as we prepare for graduation from college?  I’ve come up with a few tips to guide you as you figure out what to wear come Graduation Weekend.

  1. Take it one step at a time. In high school, I didn’t focus much on what shoes I’d be wearing on the big day. Do not make that mistake this year. Let’s think about this, shall we? For most of the ceremony, the procession through Christy Mathewson gates, walking along the quad, and heading up on stage to receive your diploma, the only part of your outfit people will be able to see is your footwear.  This means you should spend some quality time on your feet before the big day. Grab a group of friends and go get pedicures and then go shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. But remember, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style.  If you can’t walk in heels, don’t start on Commencement Day. Let’s be honest, you’ll probably make a fool of yourself and trip while reaching for your diploma. Embarrassing. Here a few options that should appeal to most readers…


JC Penney

Chinese Laundry

  1. Play it cool. For all that Commencement is hyped up to be, it’s really just a solid three hours of sitting on the quad in super stuffy and terribly toasty graduation robes — keep that in mind when you’re choosing what to don under those drab digs. Less is more in this case; just remember to keep it classy.  You can go the traditional route of a dress, or try something more daring. Shirt/skirt or shirt/shorts combo, or maybe even a romper! Here are some fun potential pieces to sport on the big day.

Jack Wills



Dorothy Perkins



  1. Accessorize.  Just because your super cute outfit won’t be seen until after the ceremony, doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with your accessories. Consider your robe as a black canvas on which you get to showcase your style! As long as you feel comfortable and confident, you’ll look fierce!







If you’re freaking out about what to wear for the smaller pre-ceremony events that are happening all weekend, relax. Just throw on something cute — think Spring casual.

BONUS: If you’re attending graduation to cheer on your Big or your best friend, here are some cute options for you as well!






Guys, don’t worry — I didn’t forget about you! My bestie is wracking his brain thinking of an outfit for graduation, so here are some options Angel. Shopping date soon?

Tip: Opt for summer colors (lighter colors: stone, light greys and blues) and cooler fabrics like twill, cotton, and linen.

Pants:  Slacks/pants and chinos are safe choices.




Tip: Try to stay away from jeans! I don’t care how dark they are, jeans are a huge faux pas. And don’t even think about cargo shorts…





Tip: Wearing a patterned shirt keeps your look sophisticated without the need for a jacket; so no sweating under robes for you! Just remember to keep the pattern subtle. 


Tying it all together:

Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers



Tip: Don’t feel pressured to wear a tie. They are not for everyone. Why not channel your inner Johnny Depp and leave the top button on your shirt undone?


Kick up your heels; you’re graduating:




If all else fails, you could just wear your birthday suit…  just kidding.

Sarah Dubow graduated from school in 2013 and is a Digital Strategist at Marina Maher Communications in New York City. After serving as Campus Correspondent at Bucknell University, she is so excited to continue being a part of the Her Campus team! Besides traversing the city and trying to figure out what being a "real person" really means, Sarah loves long walks on the beach, sipping pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain (kidding!). Real favorites include traveling, writing, kickboxing, and making up ridiculous lyrics to the latest songs. She absolutely loves anything that involves cupcakes, butterflies, glitter, and anything Parisian and specializes in baking with far too much chocolate and obsessively watching shows bound to be cancelled after the first season. Though the long term path for this post-grad collegiette remains unclear, she's looking forward to all the new 20-something adventures that await her!