Graduation season is upon us, highly anticipated by those students who studied hard for their degree, and also by those who supported them as they did so.
Famously known for the cap and gown that goes hand-in-hand with the ceremony, it’s no surprise that many new graduates are left wondering what to wear underneath, and how to wear it well.
Many university graduation ceremonies take place in July, not the month most of us would choose to wear a hat and cloak. With temperatures rising, it’s best to opt for an outfit that is light and airy. Choose materials that won’t cling but will sit neatly and coolly under heavy gowns, such as lace or linen.
Bright shades and pastels or white will add brightness, emphasising summer glows and standing out in contrast against the darkness of the gown. It’s usually best to avoid dark shades such as grey and black to layer under the graduation attire as it will merge together and drain colour.
Mid-length and knee-length dresses, in a simple, not overly flouncy style, will be a lady graduate’s best friend. Try to ensure that you don’t drown in material, which you may well do if you go long. If you keep it fitted or streamlined, you will be able to keep your silhouette beneath.
If fitted isn’t comfortable for you, there is a great range of belted dresses on the High Street as an alternative to create a more structured look underneath.
However, dresses are not for everyone, and if this is the case for you opt for co-ordinating separates instead. These can be fantastic for a day-to-night outfit with no awkward dash for an evening transformation. Pencil skirts are a safe formal choice but freshen it up with a matching top. Lace and pastel shades work well together for a seasonal uplift. Change to evening style with a shake-up of jewellery and a clutch bag.
Avoid flared long trousers which, under a graduation gown will drown and shape will be lost.
When choosing footwear, chunky heels will be a life-saver on a long day and the long walk to receive your degree. Heeled sandals are weather-appropriate and the High Street has a variety of styles from embellished to gloriously plain yet stylish. Just remember that stiletto heels don’t work for grass, can be dangerous especially on steps, and may well not be encouraged by venues with expensive wooden flooring.
Embroidered or quirky accessories will add a flourish, although you won’t be carrying your clutch bag onto the stage with you to collect your degree, so if you want to stand out, go for statement shoes instead.
For the gentlemen looking to graduate this summer, experiment away from the classic dark suit and instead find a shade that suits you and is lighter. Beige, navy and all manner of blues, light greys and checks are a fresh and easy way of adding personality. Block colour skinny ties add a hint of class, and matching the colour to shirts and pocket squares contributes to an overall well put together look.
If you’re not looking to wear a full suit, match a smart shirt with slim-fitting trousers. Summery and fresh, this is an easy way to look formal without leaving comfort zones.
Don’t overthink pattern. Stick to one unusual piece and work the rest of the outfit around it, using a imple colour palette.
There’s a variety of formal styles of footwear available in the men’s sections, many of which are a more interesting choice than a plain black shoe. Why not opt for a loafer or Presley style for a contemporary twist. No trainers though, no matter how smart and expensive.
The outfit worn for your graduation will be immortalised in a photo frame for years, so make simple, classic choices that you won’t regret.
Keep it stylish, and don’t forget to celebrate.