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Graduation Preparations: Outfits and Photos

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

Graduation is right around the corner, and the end of the semester can be very stressful for seniors. 

Between planning your family’s attendance for graduation weekend and ensuring your grades and assignments are in order, some things can get lost in the shuffle.

One thing that has taken up a decent chunk of my time this semester is planning my outfit for graduation and getting professional pictures taken.

I started shopping for a graduation dress in January, which feels like such a long time ago. Everyone I know talked about what type of dress to order, when we should order and what stores and websites would be the best to order from.

It is just another thing on the to-do list that cannot be forgotten. It’s almost more overwhelming than the thought of graduating itself.

No dress. No shoes. The day is ruined.

I did the whole song and dance with many dresses that all had to be returned to different websites. 

Shopping at the beginning of the semester when it is still winter is not the best idea. Many brands have yet to come out with their entire spring and summer collections, and there usually won’t be many options for people who want white dresses until around March.

I started searching at the beginning of February and freaked out because there were not many options in styles that felt like something I would choose to wear. I felt like I would have nothing to wear, and my graduation photos were just around the corner.

I’ve listed some great places to get white graduation dresses that aren’t super expensive. 

Princess Polly offers white dress options in a variety of styles, sizes, lengths and price ranges.

Make sure to read the reviews for sizing and fit. I ordered a dress for graduation from here and had to return it because it was too big and more sheer than I would’ve liked. 

Lulu’s is another site that has a wide variety of white dresses. 

Lulu’s was always a go-to in high school for homecoming dresses and continues to pull through for all types of events. There’s even a wedding section if no white dresses from other categories grab your attention. 

Altar’d State is another good option. It has lovely dresses in many different styles and a wide price range. 

I ended up getting my graduation dress from Altar’d State. After multiple returns and countless hours spent online shopping, I went home for a weekend to shop in person and try on dresses before buying, and that’s where I found my perfect fit.

Anthropologie also has some cute options. They’re a bit more on the expensive side, but their wedding section has a lot of white dress choices all year round.

Finding shoes was the easiest part for me. I just looked up white platform heels. I knew I wanted platforms, which would be easier to walk in than a regular heel.

I ordered my shoes from Lulu’s. They had a whole section of white shoes with many different styles and shades of white. 

Betsey Johnson is a great place to shop if you’re looking for more fun shoes or even bridal shoes with more detail. 

She has very funky designs and bright colors that would stand out. I love the wedding collection featured on the site because it has fun shoes but is still more neutral to match a white dress. 

The cap and gown are the critical component in a graduation fit. You can’t graduate without it.

Be sure to look at the height and weight specifications for your school’s cap and gown because each one is different. People at the store or online can help you buy the right one. 

Graduation photos are also something that soon-to-be graduates must think about. We have to ask all sorts of questions, like “Are they something I want? When will I do them? Who will take them?” and more.  

Many student photographers will start to post their prices and advertise their businesses as the grad season approaches. I started to see many Instagram stories about people’s photo prices and availability recently.

People often post about their photography accounts on the Penn State Facebook page. I think it’s a good idea to ask friends who have already graduated about who took their photos, too.

Graduation can be stressful, but pictures and your outfit for this big day should be fun aspects of this huge life change.

Whatever you decide to do, graduation should be a great weekend. I think we will always look back at our time in college fondly, regardless of the photos and outfits.

Olivia Pettyjohn is a fourth-year journalism major at Penn State, planning to graduate in 2024.