What to wear to your graduation


You’ve passed your exams, your parents are elated. You are soon to become a graduate. There’s just one final hurdle to overcome; the graduation ceremony itself. The walk across the stage, remembering which hand to shake with (the right one) and the dreaded photographs can all throw up a whole host of issues. Luckily for you the answers are all right here.


The problem: “I don’t want to look too conservative.” You will want to be fashionable but there’s no way your hemline can be as high as on a night out. So how do you avoid looking like lamb dressed as mutton?

The solution: There’s no need to dress like your Nan. Your skirt or dress can be a few inches above the knee, just make sure your modesty remains intact when you’re a metre or so higher than the front row. A bright colour or some fashion-forward detailing can make a sensible dress feel younger – why not check out the dresses range at M&S for some inspiration.


The problem: “It’s long way from my seat to the stage, I want to be practical but not boring” If your graduation is going to take place in an arena then it will involve a brisk march from your seat, to the backstage area, across the stage and back. This is not the time for vertiginous heels and a skin tight pencil skirt.

The solution: You may think you look fantastic but sore feet and a ripped seam are sure to spoil your day. Opt for comfortable shoes like kitten heels, wedges or pretty flats teamed with a practical, yet stylish dress. You can always pack a pair of heels for the after party in your handbag. M&S also do some great practical yet fashionable shoes.


The problem: “I’m worried I’ll trip over in front of everyone”

The solution: Even if you have a proven track record of being horrendously clumsy you probably won’t fall over. However you can minimise the risk even further by keeping your wardrobe simple. As above, sky high heels present all kinds of problems so they are best avoided. Maxi dresses, wispy handkerchief hems and flared trousers are all items of clothing that those who lack coordination should steer clear of.


The problem: “Won’t I be really warm under my gown?” As most graduations happen during the summer you probably will find it a little stuffy under all that black polyester.

The solution: As your arms will be at least partly covered by your gown you can afford to go sleeveless. Spaghetti straps, however, will flash far too much flesh. For optimum breathability, it’s also worth considering what your dress is made from. A cotton or linen dress will be breathable whereas something in a man-made fibre my leave you a little hot or sweaty, especially with the nerves!


The problem: “A mortar board! That’ll play havoc with my hair!”

The solution: Hairspray and lots of it! Wearing you hair down will look better with the graduation ensemble. Tresses around your face will help soften the severe academic dress; just spray liberally to keep them in pace as much as possible. Unfortunately you can’t really avoid the dreaded hat hair. The best thing to do is pop a hair brush and some dry shampoo into your handbag for after the ceremony.


Don’t forget:

• Pack a few Kirby grips to keep your mortar board in place

• If you are wearing a dress you will need safety pins to attach your gown and sash to your clothes

• Pop a few make-up items and spare accessories in your bag to make your look appropriate for hitting the town later

Under no circumstances wear a uniform unless you have a regular commission or hold the office of Constable.