What to Wear Under Your Graduation Gown: A Comprehensive Guide

Graduation day is a memorable milestone in every student’s life. From years of hard work and dedication, you’ve earned the right to walk across the stage and receive your diploma. As the big day approaches, there are a lot of things to consider, including what to wear under your graduation gown.

Understanding Graduation Attire Etiquette

Before we dive into the specifics of what to wear under your graduation gown, it’s essential to understand the graduation attire etiquette. Traditionally, graduation attire comprises a cap, gown, and hood. The cap is worn so that the mortarboard is level with the ground, and the tassel is on the right side of the cap. Once you’ve received your diploma, you can move the tassel to the left side.

The history of graduation attire

The tradition of wearing a cap and gown for graduation dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Scholars and students wore long robes and hoods to keep warm in the unheated buildings. As time passed, these robes and hoods became an official dress code, symbolizing academic achievement. Today, graduation attire is still a part of the tradition.

During the early years of graduation ceremonies, the gowns were worn every day by students and professors alike. The gowns were made of heavy wool, and the hoods were lined with fur to provide warmth in the cold, drafty halls of academia. Over time, the gowns became less cumbersome and more streamlined, but the tradition of wearing a cap and gown remained.

Dress code guidelines for different institutions

Some institutions may have specific dress code guidelines for graduation attire. It’s essential to check with your school to see if there are any restrictions or requirements. In general, traditional graduation attire is appropriate for most institutions. However, there may be differences in the cap and gown colors, so it’s best to double-check beforehand.

At some universities, students wear a stole or sash to represent their academic achievements or affiliations. These stoles or sashes are usually worn over the graduation gown. Some schools also allow students to wear cords or pins to represent their academic achievements or membership in academic organizations.

It’s important to note that graduation attire should be respectful and appropriate for the occasion. Avoid wearing anything too flashy or attention-grabbing, as the focus should be on the academic achievement of the graduates. It’s also important to dress comfortably, as graduation ceremonies can be long and require a lot of standing and walking.

Overall, graduation attire is an important part of the graduation tradition. By following the proper etiquette and guidelines, you can ensure that you look and feel your best on this special day.

Choosing the Right Outfit for Your Body Type

Graduation day is an important milestone in your life, and you want to look and feel your best. When it comes to what to wear under your graduation gown, comfort and fitting are key. You’ll want to choose an outfit that not only flatters your body type but also allows for ease of movement. Here are some tips to consider when choosing your outfit:

Dressing for a Flattering Silhouette

Graduation gowns are designed to be loose-fitting to accommodate different body types. However, you’ll still want to wear a fitted outfit underneath to avoid looking bulky. For apple-shaped bodies, consider wearing an empire waist dress that cinches at the smallest part of your waist and flows outwards. For pear-shaped bodies, choose a dress that accentuates your waist and flares out at the bottom. Hourglass-shaped bodies can wear a form-fitting dress that hugs their curves. A knee-length dress or a dress shirt and pants are stylish and comfortable options that will look great under your gown.

Comfort and Mobility Considerations

Remember, you’ll be wearing your gown and outfit for several hours, so it’s essential to choose an outfit that’s comfortable, breathable, and allows for mobility. Avoid tight-fitting clothes, high heels, or anything that may restrict your movements or airflow. Opt for comfortable shoes such as flats or low heels that you can wear all day without discomfort. If you’re wearing a dress, make sure it’s not too short or too long to avoid tripping.

Accessorizing Your Outfit

Accessories can add a touch of personality and style to your graduation outfit. Consider wearing a statement necklace or earrings that complement your outfit. If you’re wearing a dress, you can add a belt to cinch your waist and create a more defined silhouette. A clutch or small purse is perfect for carrying your essentials such as your phone, wallet, and lipstick. Don’t forget to bring a jacket or cardigan to keep you warm in case of chilly weather.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right outfit for your body type can make all the difference in how you look and feel on your graduation day. Remember to choose an outfit that flatters your body type, allows for comfort and mobility, and accessorize it to add your personal touch. Congratulations on your achievement, and enjoy your special day!

Dressing for the Weather

Graduation ceremonies are a momentous occasion in any student’s life, and with the excitement of the day, it’s easy to forget about the weather. However, dressing appropriately for the weather will ensure you’re comfortable and not distracted during the ceremony.

When it comes to graduation ceremonies, you never know what the weather will be like. It could be hot and sunny, or it could be cold and rainy. Therefore, it is essential to be prepared for any weather condition.

Preparing for hot and sunny graduations

If your ceremony takes place in hot weather, you’ll want to choose light-colored and breathable fabrics that won’t trap heat. A cotton or linen dress or dress shirt and pants will keep you cool and comfortable. You may also want to bring a lightweight jacket or shawl to protect your skin from the sun.

It’s also important to stay hydrated during hot and sunny ceremonies. Bring a water bottle with you and drink plenty of water throughout the day. You don’t want to feel dizzy or lightheaded during the ceremony.

Another thing to consider is footwear. It’s best to wear comfortable shoes that you can walk in for an extended period. High heels may look great, but they can be uncomfortable and difficult to walk in, especially if the ceremony takes place on grass or uneven surfaces.

Staying warm during cold or rainy ceremonies

On the other hand, if your ceremony takes place in cold or rainy weather, you’ll want to choose warm and waterproof clothing. A sweater or blazer paired with pants or a long skirt will keep you warm and comfortable. Don’t forget to bring a waterproof coat or umbrella to protect yourself from the rain.

It’s also a good idea to wear layers, so you can adjust your clothing as needed. If the ceremony takes place indoors, it may be warmer than outside, so you’ll want to be able to remove layers if necessary.

When it comes to footwear for cold or rainy ceremonies, it’s best to wear waterproof shoes or boots. You don’t want to end up with wet feet, which can be uncomfortable and lead to colds or other illnesses.

Finally, don’t forget to bring a towel or extra clothing to dry off if you do get wet. You don’t want to spend the rest of the day feeling damp and uncomfortable.

By dressing appropriately for the weather, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your graduation ceremony without any distractions or discomfort. Congratulations on your achievement!

Coordinating with Your School Colors

Dressing in your school colors is a meaningful way to show pride for your institution. Graduating is a significant milestone in your life, and it’s only fitting that you celebrate it in style. Here are some tips to help you incorporate your school colors into your graduation outfit:

Incorporating School Colors into Your Outfit

When choosing what to wear on your graduation day, it’s essential to consider your school colors. You can incorporate your school colors into your outfit through the accessories you wear. A scarf, tie, or jewelry in your school’s colors will add a touch of school spirit to your graduation attire. If you’re feeling bold, you can even wear shoes in your school’s colors to complete the look.

Another way to incorporate your school colors is by wearing a stole or sash in your school’s colors over your graduation gown. Not only will it add a pop of color to your outfit, but it will also make for a great photo opportunity. Just make sure to check with your school’s guidelines to ensure that it’s allowed.

Accessorizing with Pride

Your graduation day is a time to celebrate your accomplishments and show pride in your school. Don’t be afraid to accessorize your graduation outfit with meaningful items. For example, you can wear a family heirloom, such as a necklace or bracelet, to add sentimental value to your outfit. Alternatively, you can wear a pin from your school’s organization to show your involvement and dedication throughout your academic journey.

However, it’s important to remember that your accessories should not interfere with your graduation attire or exceed your school’s dress code guidelines. You don’t want to be the one student who stands out for the wrong reasons on your graduation day.

In conclusion, incorporating your school colors into your graduation outfit is a great way to show school spirit and pride. By accessorizing with meaningful items and following your school’s guidelines, you can create a graduation look that is both stylish and respectful. Congratulations on your achievement, and enjoy your graduation day!

Formal vs. Semi-Formal Attire

Depending on your institution, the level of formality for your graduation attire may differ. Here are some tips to help you decide on the appropriate level of formality:

Deciding on the appropriate level of formality

Most graduation ceremonies call for semi-formal attire, which means dressing up without being too formal. For women, a knee-length dress or skirt and blouse are appropriate. For men, dress pants, a button-down shirt, and a tie are a good choice. However, some institutions may require formal attire, such as a cocktail dress for women or a suit and tie for men. Check with your school to know the level of formality required.

Examples of formal and semi-formal outfits

If you’re unsure about what to wear under your graduation gown, here are some examples of formal and semi-formal outfits:

Semi-formal outfit ideas for women:

  • A knee-length dress in a solid color or floral pattern with wedges or flats
  • A skirt and blouse combination with flats or sandals

Semi-formal outfit ideas for men:

  • Dress pants, a button-down shirt, and a tie with dress shoes
  • A suit without a tie with dress shoes

Formal outfit ideas for women:

  • An elegant cocktail dress with heels
  • A dressy skirt and blouse combination with heels

Formal outfit ideas for men:

  • A formal suit with a tie and dress shoes
  • A tuxedo with a bow tie and dress shoes


Graduation day is an exciting event that marks the end of a chapter and the start of a new one. Choosing what to wear under your graduation gown is an important part of the celebration. Remember to dress for your body type, consider the weather, and incorporate your school’s colors into your outfit. By doing so, you’ll not only look great but also feel comfortable and confident during the ceremony.

Katie Sophia

Hey there! I'm Katie Sophia - your go-to gal for all things style at WhatKatieWore.com. With a love for fashion and a knack for picking the perfect outfit, I'm here to make dressing for any event a breeze. I believe in looking fabulous without the fuss. Join me as we conquer the fashion world one outfit at a time!

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