What Not to Wear on Graduation Day

Do Not Let Poor Clothing Choices Ruin Your Celebration

Graduates celebrating in formalwear

Tom Merton / Getty Images

Deciding what to wear for graduation requires more than merely picking up your cap and gown and making sure you put on the tassel correctly. You have to choose something to wear under the academic garb, too. There's no dress code, but you don't want to wear something that's so uncomfortable you can't enjoy yourself.

What you end up wearing will ultimately depend on your personal taste and the style of the time. No matter the trend, there are a few major fashion don'ts that you probably want to avoid, for practical purposes, once "Pomp and Circumstance" starts playing.

Uncomfortable Footwear

If you are going to buy some new shoes for graduation, make sure you break them in before graduation day. Even if they feel comfortable at first, wear them around your room or apartment for a bit. That way, you can stretch them out and make sure they really are comfortable. Shoes that you've never worn before are the height of discomfort.

True, treating yourself to a new (and cute!) pair of shoes might be the special splurge you feel you deserve after your years of hard work in school. But you'll likely be on your feet most, if not all, of the day. If you want a pair of shoes to help you stand out, go for bright colors that your friends and family can see beneath your graduation gown. Comfort, however, should definitely take priority, no matter if your shoes are old or new. You don't want to be hobbling around with blistered feet on a day when you should be jumping for joy.

Wrong Weather Wear

Nothing is worse than clothes that are inappropriate for the weather. If you're going to be graduating when it's 100 F outside, dress for the occasion. You don't want to faint from heat exhaustion or wear something that will show sweat (you'll take pictures both in and out the graduation robe, too). Be smart about what the weather is and how you need to dress.

Being Underdressed or Overdressed

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. That means a nice dress, nice pants, nice shirt/blouse, and nice shoes.

An Outfit That's Unflattering in Photos

Be careful about clothes that won't look good in pictures. If you aren't sure what style to pick, going for a classic and classy look is always wise. After all, you don't want to look back at your graduation photo and wince at your wardrobe choice. Pick something nice and professional that looks good on you, which will represent you well over the years.

Anything Inappropriate or That Might Get You in Trouble

You're ready for the next step, but you're still a college student for the day. Any poor decisions you make could still lead to serious consequences with the administration. Wearing clothing with an offensive slogan or putting an offensive or inappropriate message on your graduation cap might seem amusing to you, but not to the administration. Also resist the urge to go entirely nude under your robe. After everything you've done to earn your degree, don't sabotage your chance to celebrate it.