Graduation Outfit Etiquette: Do's and Don'ts for May Outdoor Commencement

Graduation Outfit Etiquette: Do's and Don'ts for May Outdoor Commencement

Graduation season is upon us, and it's time to pick an outfit. While it may seem straightforward, there's much to consider when picking the perfect commencement outfit. We're here to give you the Dos and Don'ts of dressing up for that upcoming ceremony.

When getting dressed and ready for commencement, do these things for a fun, appropriate outfit that will be comfortable for the entire ceremony.

Do Dress Up

When picking out your outfit, opt for more formal than casual. Although business casual is typically a solid dress code to aim for with a commencement ceremony, don't lean towards casual. You'll feel more comfortable in slightly formal attire that shows you made the extra effort.

Do Plan for Inclement Weather

We've all heard the expression "April showers bring May flowers," but do we all know that, unlike the saying, showers don't just stick to April? Weather in May can be as unpredictable as anything. That's why we recommend expecting the unexpected. If you're unsure about the weather, packable jackets are the way to go. A puffer will be perfect for cold weather, while women's rain jackets are essential for precipitation. Many ceremonies are "all-weather," so keep this in mind.

Do Pack Entertainment for Little Ones

Did we mention that these ceremonies can go on for a long time? We're talking hours. So if you can't secure a babysitter for the afternoon and have little ones, be prepared to keep them entertained. Children's toys are going to be a lifesaver. Even if you have to bring an iPad and plug them into the headphones, it will be worth avoiding managing a fussy baby in the crowd. For squirming children, it might be nice to have throw blankets to keep them comfortable, especially if there's a chance they might fall asleep.

Do Dress Comfortably

As was said before, commencement ceremonies can go on forever, so you need to plan for this. While you might want to opt for the cutest outfit, comfort will win on this particular day. You want to wear an outfit you can sit or stand (if you're in the ceremony) in for hours on end. So while a formfitting dress may look cute, make sure you can sit in it comfortably.

Do Have an After-Ceremony Plan

This one isn't about the outfit, but it is still sound advice. Planning what you'll do after the ceremony is essential, especially if you've had family members travel from out of town. The question is already answered if everyone has to work in the morning and no one has time to get together after the ceremony.

However, if you and the crew are looking to get together after the event, planning where you want to go and what you want to eat is helpful. It might sound too detail-oriented, but after commencement, there will be a whole mess of people taking pictures and trying to pull out of the parking lot simultaneously. It's great to have a plan where you'll all meet afterward to avoid confusion and indecision. Everyone is going to be tired, hungry, and, dare we say it, possibly a little grumpy. So having light at the end of the tunnel will be helpful, as everyone will know food is on the horizon. Plenty of other families will also go to local restaurants and places may pack up quickly, so call ahead to make a reservation. Large parties can be challenging to accommodate last minute.

Now that we've encouraged some of the major Dos, it's time to go over some of the Don'ts so that you can avoid pitfalls that might put a wrench in your afternoon.

Don't Wear a Tall Hat

If you'll be in the audience, thinking about the people sitting around and behind you is considerate. Everyone is there to see their loved one, and they want just as good a view as you do. Especially if everyone is on level ground, wearing a tall hat will directly affect the folks behind you.

Don't Wear a Short Skirt

While your dress or women's skirts might be charming and appropriate length when standing, sitting might be an entirely different animal. You don't want to sit down, have your skirt ride up, and be self-conscious about it the entire ceremony. Knee-length or longer is typically a good length that will provide enough fabric to feel comfortable when sitting.

Don't Opt for Casual

As was stated earlier, graduation is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime occasion, so be sure to show up all the way and opt for a more formal look that will show well in photographs.

Don't Wear Stiletto Heels

While stiletto heels are stunning and give great height and posture, they are of no help on uneven ground. Slender heels will sink into the grass and easily roll your ankle on gravel surfaces. If you're yearning for some height, a women's wedge heel is better, as it provides more surface area.

Now that you've read our Dos and Don'ts, you can feel more prepared for the big day ahead.


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