What to Wear to a Graduation - Kohl's Blog (2023)

Whether you’re the one accepting a diploma, or are going to be congratulating and supporting a friend or family member who is graduating, you’re sure to want to look your best during that special occasion!

Finding the right outfit for a graduation ceremony is easy to do when you shop Kohl’s. We offer a selection of apparel that’s ideal for special events, no matter if you’re looking for men’s, women’s or kids’.


  • Picking the Perfect Graduate Outfit
    • High School Graduate
    • College Graduate
    • Graduation Party Outfit
    • High School Graduate
    • College Graduate
    • Graduation Guest
  • Other Graduation Apparel Tips
(Video) Graduation Party Lookbook / Outfit Ideas

Picking the Perfect Graduate Outfit

Since a graduate has worked so hard to reach their big day, it’s time for them to dress for the occasion! Any graduate can feel their best as they walk across the stage to accept their diploma.

Depending on the event, there are a variety of outfits and wardrobe options to consider if you’re a graduate.

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Girls’ & Women’s Graduation Outfit Ideas

  • What to Wear to a Graduation - Kohl's Blog (2)
  • What to Wear to a Graduation - Kohl's Blog (3)
  • What to Wear to a Graduation - Kohl's Blog (4)

High School Graduate

Girls graduating from high school are sure to want to choose an outfit that reflects their personality as well as their excitement. Look for a juniors’ dress that lets you feel stylish, but is also ready for any get-togethers you’ll be attending after the graduation.

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College Graduate

Graduating from college is a huge accomplishment. Your studies for the last few years have prepared you to enter the workforce, giving you lifelong lessons that will help you become a productive member of society.

To honor this occasion, take your look to a whole new level. Ladies can wear a women’s bodycon dress for a stylish look that’s still well put together. For additional comfort that’s also stylish, try a women’s jumpsuit or romper for a fun, yet elevated ensemble.

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If you’re celebrating a winter graduation, try a look with dress pants and a blouse or sweater, combined with dress boots. Ensure you’re comfortable during the ceremony. Even though the event will likely be inside, choose clothing that will keep you warm as you venture outside before and after the ceremony.

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Graduation Party Outfit

The graduation party is the time where you can relax and enjoy time with friends and family as you all celebrate your big accomplishment! Parties may range in formality, so choosing an outfit that works at a more elevated get-together, as well as an informal backyard cookout, is essential.

You can never go wrong with a simple, yet stylish midi dress. If the party is in late spring or summer, choose a dress with fun and seasonal patterns, like flowers. Pair the dress with timeless accessories like a classic clutch or handbag. And finish off the look with strappy sandals or heels for added sophistication. If the party is after a winter ceremony, look your best in dress pants, a longer skirt, a cozy sweater, or an elevated blouse that could even be paired with smart-casual jeans.

You can also try an ensemble with a button-down blouse and dress pants or capris for a versatile look that’s ideal for any graduation party setting. If the celebration is a casual affair, you can still aim to look stylish while being ultracomfortable! Try an outfit with wide-leg pants and a camisole, paired with trendy sunglasses and a glamorous purse. This will have you looking chic, while staying cool and feeling great!

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Boys’ & Men’s Graduation Apparel Options

  • What to Wear to a Graduation - Kohl's Blog (5)
  • What to Wear to a Graduation - Kohl's Blog (6)
  • What to Wear to a Graduation - Kohl's Blog (7)

High School Graduate

Boys will want to put together an outfit that provides a classic look that will help him look great, showing off a style that’s worthy of the occasion. Consider young men’s dress pants, dress shirts, a tie and dress shoes. For a more relaxed look, go with a polo or button-down shirt and khaki pants.

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College Graduate

Guys graduating from college can take similar advice. Perhaps a well-fitting men’s suit is ideal for wear under your cap and gown on graduation day. However, going laid-back and comfortable is another option, so consider those ever-versatile khaki pants paired with a dress shirt or polo. Seasonality plays a role here, too. If you’re having a late spring outdoor ceremony, the weather is likely to be unpredictable. If it’s quite warm, consider lightweight materials and short-sleeve shirts like a polo. If you’re graduating in the winter, opt for men’s dressy sweaters, khakis and boots. Be sure to pick up a stylish winter coat to ensure complete comfort.

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Graduation Guest

You’ll want to be sure that you also look your best if you’re attending a graduation as a guest. Consider the time of year the graduation will take place, as well as the venue in which the ceremony will be held. Some graduations are held in an indoor location, like a gymnasium or auditorium, while others might be held in large outdoor spaces.

For women, a look that includes a timeless pencil skirt and a button-down shirt or blouse with a blazer is a classic look. It’s one that will look great for any graduation, even outside events if the weather permits. If the temperature is chilly during an outdoor ceremony you’ll attend, try a fashionable sweater with dress pants. Wear comfortable shoes that match your look—anything from heels to flats or even dress sandals for a warm-weather day will fit the bill.

Men can stick to a standard smart-casual look, including khakis or other casual pants, paired with a polo, a button-down or a sweater or pullover. Add a tie if you want to elevate the look. Smart-casual sneakers will keep your feet comfortable, but consider wearing dress shoes for men if you’re going the route of more formal attire.

No matter how you decide to dress, be sure to do so in a way that honors and respects your graduate! They worked hard for this moment, so be sure to consider how you’ll be representing them during the event. But be mindful that graduation ceremonies can be lengthy, so consider comfort to be of utmost importance as well.

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Other Graduation Apparel Tips

A tradition for female graduates is to wear white, as it symbolizes a new start and fresh beginnings. But it’s not a requirement. That said, white is a color that pairs well with lots of wardrobe accents, like various accessories and shoes, so you can opt for white and still get a pop of color with additional outfit pieces.

Graduates should wear shoes on the day of the ceremony. You’ll likely be on your feet for a fair amount of time, so your shoes should be as comfortable as possible. Also, make sure your shoes are easy to walk in—the last thing you want is to trip as you cross the stage to accept your diploma! Shoes are an important part of the graduation outfit, as they are likely the most visible part of your ensemble. The apparel you wear under your gown will be covered for most of the day, so the shoes will be the only thing others see.

Ladies wearing a dress to their graduation should opt for a dress which has a length that’s shorter than that of the graduation gown. This provides a more clean look. Lengths that will work great here include midi dresses, knee-length dresses or short dresses.

There will be plenty of pictures taken on graduation day. You’ll want these memories to be captured with you looking your best. Consider clothing that is timeless and flatters your body type. This will ensure you feel great about how you look in the photos for years to come. Since pictures last many years both in physical form and online on social media (which prospective employers are sure to scope out as you apply for jobs), you want to be able to look back on your graduation and see that you knocked your look out of the park and were proud of how you presented yourself that day.

Choosing a stylish, comfortable, and on-trend look is essential for any graduate. You want to look your best on the big day, while ensuring that you feel great during the ceremony. With a look built from clothing at Kohl’s, you’re sure to craft a graduation day style that earns a passing grade!

Kohl’s is also the place to pick up other graduation essentials, like gifts for graduates, a frame in which you can display your diploma, and even dorm essentials for your high school graduate that’s moving on to college in the fall.

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Shop Kohl’s and pass your graduation day style exam with flying colors.

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What should a guest wear to a graduation ceremony? ›

Unless the invite requires a certain dress code, we recommend a smart casual approach. Since high school commencements typically take place in late spring or early summer, be sure to select lightweight fabrics. Cotton, linen and rayon will keep you cool while sitting outdoors on a warm day.

What should a female wear for graduation? ›

It's always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

If the invitation doesn't specifically state the dress code, go with a nice dress or skirt/slacks with a blouse combination. It's a safe bet and you'll always feel more comfortable dressed up than dressed down. Don't wear jeans!

Is it appropriate to wear sneakers to graduation? ›

The next thing to keep in mind is the unwritten dress code. Make sure your shoes fit the expected attire of the day and avoid wearing tacky sandals, sexy stilettos or stinky sneakers. These shoes have no place in a commencement ceremony. Stick to dress shoes, Redbirds, and as always, stay away from flip-flops.

Can I wear a polo shirt to a graduation? ›

If it's quite warm, consider lightweight materials and short-sleeve shirts like a polo. If you're graduating in the winter, opt for men's dressy sweaters, khakis and boots. Be sure to pick up a stylish winter coat to ensure complete comfort.

What should you not wear to graduation? ›

Jeans, t-shirts, trainers and other casual clothes are not considered appropriate and some universities might not let you into your graduation ceremony wearing them.

Can I wear jeans to a graduation party as a guest? ›

First thing's first: don't wear jeans or denim to your graduation party. While your outfit doesn't have to be too dressy and can lean on the casual side of things, a pair of distressed bottoms or a classic jean jacket definitely takes away from the fancier nature of the event.

What color dress is best for graduation? ›

The traditional white gown for graduation has been a tradition since around the 19th century at schools across the country.

Can girls wear jeans to graduation? ›

Clothes that are too formal, or not formal enough, will make you feel out of place when you should feel relaxed. Wearing jeans to your college graduation probably isn't a smart choice, but a ball gown isn't quite right, either. Aim for business or business casual for the ceremony.

What to wear to graduation if you don't like dresses? ›

A Jumpsuit or Romper

Like dresses, jumpsuits are a one-and-done ensemble — just add accessories! Grab a pair of strappy heels or pumps for a more formal look, or sneakers to keep things casual.

Is it OK not to wear a dress at graduation? ›

Although there is no dress code, many guests like to dress up for this special day. Parents and alumni can often be seen donning Tech colors and gear, and sometimes international guests wear their country's traditional dress clothes.

Is black okay to wear to graduation? ›

Black is a perfectly acceptable color to wear to a formal event like graduation. In fact, black is often seen as a sign of respect and seriousness. So, if you're looking for a graduation dress that will make you look and feel your best, consider a black dress.

Should I wear makeup to graduation? ›

On your graduation day, you should wear whatever you are most comfortable in, whether that is a colorful, dark, or natural makeup look. The day is all about you and everything that you have accomplished.

Do you wear a long or short dress to graduation? ›

These graduation dress do's and don'ts will help you light up the stage. DO stick to a knee-length dress or shorter with a simple cap sleeve. Off the shoulder dresses also work well and even show a bit of your décolletage from beneath your gown. DON'T pick a skirt that's too layered, too long, or cut on a diagonal.

What is the thing you wear around your neck when you graduate? ›

A graduation or academic stole is a decorative vestment worn by students who are members of various organizations for the purpose of denoting outstanding achievements in academics. Stoles (or sashes) may also be used to indicate membership in a professional organization.

What goes around your neck at graduation? ›

Draped around the neck and over the shoulders of the gown, graduation stoles are typically worn to highlight a student's academic or extracurricular achievement, or their affiliation with a particular group or field of study. Valedictorians and salutatorians wear stoles, as do commencement speakers.

What kind of shoes should I wear for graduation? ›

Graduation Shoes: Flats

If you prefer something closed-toe but still don't want a heel, flats are the perfect option. Ballet flats are coming back in style and have been trendy lately. They look so elegant with dresses and add a classic, feminine look to your outfit.

What do ladies wear under graduation gown? ›

Women are best wearing either dress pants or a shorter skirt underneath the gown, while men should choose khakis or dark-colored dress pants. Avoid brightly coloured bottoms if you choose to wear dress pants or a longer skirt, as they can be seen below the hem of the gown and stick to darker colours.

What color should you not wear to graduation? ›

Graduation may not be a formal event, but you need to be modest. Avoid colors that are too bright or too dull. Colors like white, blue, grey, peach, black, and silver are among the best. However, you do not need to restrict yourself to any of these.

Can you wear black jeans to a graduation as a guest? ›

Guests generally don't wear T-shirts, jeans, casual shorts, casual sandals or revealing garments, like strapless tops. For footwear, dress shoes or dressy sandals are the standard choices. Think about where you'll be sitting and walking when choosing your shoes.

Can I wear a jean jacket to a graduation? ›

Graduations often happen in May and June, when the weather is a bit unpredictable, so it's a good idea to bring a layer. You could easily throw a denim jacket or cardigan on top of this dress, and it would still be appropriate for the festivities.

Can I wear casual to graduation? ›

Graduating is a formal occasion so attire will always be formal. Recommended wear are dress…

What are grad colors? ›

All fields of engineering wear orange stoles or hoods at graduation. Purple or Scarlet. Traditionally, scarlet was the province of law school graduates, who now sometimes wear purple instead, perhaps to distinguish themselves from theology students, who also wear scarlet.

What colors are good for graduation? ›

For college graduation and university ceremonies, a black or royal blue is usually an appropriate suit. If you're attending a master's degree ceremony, then you can wear a lighter color such as khaki or beige. The location also matters when it comes to choosing colors.

What color symbolizes graduation? ›

Sky Blue. This soft blue shade designates graduates in Education. Eagle Scout graduates also wear sky blue cords to their commencement ceremony.

Can you wear leggings to a graduation? ›

Your structured go-to jeans could pair nicely with a blouse. Consider wearing leggings under spring dresses. You can also opt for something that you might wear to the office or a meeting, such as sleek trousers in a shade like black, gray, or brown.

Why do girls wear white when they graduate? ›

It's the traditional color of a wedding gown, with symbolism steeped in purity. It was also the color chosen by the suffragettes—women fighting to procure the right to vote in Great Britain in the early 20th century—again, in part for its representation of purity.

Can I wear jeans under graduation gown? ›

If you want to dress down a bit, you can also go with khakis or slacks, or even solid dark-wash jeans instead of dress pants. However, you will want shirts that look good buttoned-up showing above the gown collar, and it's the best not to take the casualness too far and keep it business casual.

What do black people wear to graduation? ›

A Kente Graduation Celebration, also sometimes known as a Sankofa Ceremony, is a pre-commencement ceremony practiced in the United States, typically by African-American students graduating from high school or college, where participants are presented with a Kente stole to be worn over their gown during the graduation ...

How do you look good in a graduation picture? ›

Here are seven ways to stand out and make your graduation pictures look really good.
  1. Find the perfect editing app. ...
  2. Customize your cap & gown. ...
  3. Use fun and creative props. ...
  4. Look for a meaningful backdrop. ...
  5. Search for perfect lighting. ...
  6. Try out different poses. ...
  7. Just have fun.
24 Apr 2018

Why do people get Hooded at graduation? ›

The Hooding Ceremony is a special recognition ceremony for masters or doctoral degree candidates. During the ceremony, a faculty member places the doctoral hood over the head of the graduate, signifying their success in completing the graduate program.

Can you wear a dress that is longer than your graduation gown? ›

Dress or skirt hem length should be the same or shorter than— without being too short— the length of the graduation robe. A hem that is an inch or two longer than the robe looks disproportionate and distracting. If covering your shins is a concern, opt for slacks instead.

Is it okay if my dress is longer than my graduation gown? ›

Length: Graduation dresses should be shorter than the academic gowns worn for the ceremony.

Is floral dress OK for graduation? ›

Florals are always a good choice

And there are plenty of graduation-worthy floral dresses to choose from. Whether you want something short and sweet or long and flowing, you'll be able to find a floral dress that's perfect for the occasion.

What do seniors wear when they graduate? ›

Men generally wear dark trousers and a dress shirt and tie under their gowns. Women usually wear a lightweight dress or a blouse and a skirt that is shorter than the gown so it does not hang below the robe. 2.

What do flowers around neck mean at graduation? ›

When the graduate receives this gift, it is customary to bow their head and place the beautiful flowers around their neck. Some people also conclude this ceremony with a kiss on the cheek. Offering a graduation lei to someone means that you wish them good luck in the next chapter of their life.

Why do graduates wear flower necklaces? ›

It is a wish for good luck as well as a way of commemorating a special event- and a special person. The lei is a beautiful representation of the spirit of aloha that welcomes people and shows them love. For graduation, it lets the graduate know how much support they have from loved ones.

What does a white cord mean at graduation? ›

These white honor cords are typically used for recognition of individual achievement and participation. They're generally worn during a commencement ceremony. Honor cords (chords) are used by colleges, universities, community college, high schools, and some middle schools and homeschools.

Why do graduates throw their cap? ›

This started the tradition at the US Naval Academy for every graduating class to symbolize the shedding of their midshipmen titles and preparing themselves for the role of Navy officer. Other institutions began to follow suit, viewing the act as a symbolic gesture for starting a new chapter in a graduate's life.

What hand do you shake with at graduation? ›

As the presenter hands you the diploma, reach with your right hand to shake hands. Be graceful with your hand motions, and don't just grab the diploma and hold it at your side. While you're on stage, keep the diploma raised up after you've accepted it and shaken hands.

What color should you wear to someone's graduation? ›

One of the most popular colors to wear for graduation is white, but this is not your only choice. Shades of light blue, ivory, lilac, grey, and even pink are pretty and cute. The idea is to keep it simple, choosing a muted color palette.

Do you wear a suit to graduation as a guest? ›

Formal, ie men in suits and women in smart dress/skirt and top. Basically no scruff bag, ie jeans, trainers, t shirt. . .

What kind of clothes do you wear to a graduation party? ›

What should I wear to a graduation party as a guest? You can wear whatever you want! The dress code is formal so if you don't feel like wearing a gown, choose something simple and flowy. You can choose sandals, flats or heels depending on your preference.

Can you wear a short dress to graduation? ›

DO stick to a knee-length dress or shorter with a simple cap sleeve. Off the shoulder dresses also work well and even show a bit of your décolletage from beneath your gown. DON'T pick a skirt that's too layered, too long, or cut on a diagonal.

What color do girls wear to graduation? ›

The traditional white gown for graduation has been a tradition since around the 19th century at schools across the country.

Can you wear any color dress to graduation? ›

As what I have mentioned above, colors for graduation dresses should be modest . So you can choose white, lilac, pale yellow, light green, blue, pink, peach, grey, black, silver and etc. Flawless white and elegant ivory are the two most important colors used in graduation dresses .

Can you wear black to a graduation? ›

Black is a perfectly acceptable color to wear to a formal event like graduation. In fact, black is often seen as a sign of respect and seriousness. So, if you're looking for a graduation dress that will make you look and feel your best, consider a black dress.

Is a black suit OK for graduation? ›

Since your graduation gown will also most likely be black, choosing a black suit creates a seamless look. If being dressed in all black doesn't work for you, choosing a blue suit, especially navy, is also an excellent neutral option that reflects calm confidence. The other neutral worth considering is gray.

What is a casual wear to a graduation party? ›

For guys that means nice pants and a button down shirt (maybe even a tie). And for ladies, that means a casual dress/skirt or nice pants. Graduation dresses can be as simple as a little black dress or something bright and colorful. Just make sure your pretty graduation dress doesn't clash with your cap and gown!

What should parents wear to a graduation party? ›

A cotton button-down shirt, sports jacket and slacks, or a light-colored suit, collared shirt and tie are good choices for men. For a woman, proper attire would be a cotton dress, a skirt and blouse, or a nice pantsuit.


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