What to Wear to an Outdoor Graduation Ceremony

What to Wear to an Outdoor Graduation Ceremony

The spring season is a celebratory one in many ways. It’s a popular time of year for weddings, baby showers, family reunions, and, we must not forget, graduations. High school graduations, college graduations … even kindergarten graduations. With the end of the school year, many new graduates and their loved ones come to celebrate the start of their next chapter in life. 

If you are attending a graduation ceremony this spring (or several), and it just so happens to be outdoors, you want to ensure you've dressed appropriately for the occasion. Think in terms of looking good, but also dressing practically for the weather. The weather can be all over the place in the spring. So, you’ll need to keep this in mind as you plan. In this piece, we’ll go over the different types of weather you might encounter, how to prepare for them, and talk about some outfit options that will look amazing on you!

Be Prepared for Changes in the Weather

With any event that is going to be held outside—be it an anniversary party, a wedding, or graduation—it’s important for everyone attending to keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Much of our weather and forecasting has to do with weather fronts. If you don’t know a lot about weather fronts, The Weather Network put out a great video about them explaining how they can effect the weather.

It’s important to remember that changes happen when you’re inviting Mother Nature to an outdoor event, though. Especially because you probably are relying on a weather report and there’s a running joke that the weatherman seems to be wrong a lot of the time. 

In an article put out by KSHB in Kansas City entitled "Meteorologists are 'always wrong' right? Wrong" they focus on how it might seem like the weather reports are incorrect, a lot, but in fact, according to the article, “On average, weather forecasts are correct about 80 percent of the time overall. Looking at just a 24-hour period, our forecasts are accurate 90 to 94 percent of the time.” So, you might be able to rely on the forecast the closer it gets to the event date because the probability of the weather report being correct goes up. However, you probably don’t want to wait until 1-3 days before to plan your outfit. So, you’ll want to make educated decisions based on the reports and the normal weather patterns. Then, keep an eye on the weather. 

However, it’s always important to be prepared. Maybe the school hosting the graduation ceremony has a contingency plan and will be able to move everything to an outdoor tent, but there’s no guarantee of that. So, make sure you are prepared. Whatever the case, check the weather the evening before the ceremony and make sure your outfit is right for the weather.

In Case of Rain

Should there be rain on the day of the outdoor graduation ceremony, be sure to protect yourself from the elements. If there is any chance of rain, pack an umbrella and a light women’s raincoat or poncho. Both of these items are easy to carry so you will only need to take them out if you need them. 

Clear Blue Skies

If you are anticipating sunshine and clear blue skies, then that’s the best news you could hope for! With beautiful weather, you can put together the outfit you really want to wear and not have to worry about rain, blustery winds, or any other weather elements that will get in the way of the big day. Because graduation ceremonies—especially high school and college graduation ceremonies—are very special, important events, the attire should always be on the more formal side.

Sneaky Gusts of Wind

Something you might not be anticipating as far as the weather goes is wind. Wind can be tricky because unless it’s going to be unusually gusty, it might not be part of the normal weather report. So, to help you out, The National Weather Service, or NOAA, has ways to estimate wind speed with visual cues. You can learn more about the techniques and levels here. So, you can look outside and make some inferences in an easy manner. If it’s going to be windy, take along a scarf that you can tie over your hair, if needed, as well as a light jacket in case the wind is chilly.

Things to Remember and Clothing to Consider

It’s not uncommon to be at graduation for up to four hours. This means that you not only want to look nice but also dress with comfort in mind. Smart casual is generally a good way to dress. Stick to women's dresses, trousers, skirts, and blouses or shirts. Men can opt for trousers, dress shirts (no tie needed), polo shirts, and dress shoes.

A Word About Dresses

Rocking a dress for graduation is always a good choice if you aren't sure what to wear. Either a knee-length sundress or a tall maxi dress will do. Graduation ceremonies are a happy time that typically takes place during the spring. With that said, you don’t want to go overboard on colors or patterns. After all, if you are a guest at the graduation ceremony, it’s someone else’s big day and you don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder with an outfit that’s making a big fashion statement. Not feeling the dress idea? Opt for a midi skirt or pencil skirt with a blouse instead. Ultimately, you just want to pick an outfit that you know looks great on you and will make you feel great even after sitting for several hours.

Some Other Smart Casual Looks

A nice, flowy sundress is an easy go-to if you are scrambling to find something to wear to a graduation ceremony. You can put together a look with a sharp blazer and a pair of trousers. If it’s something you would wear to the office, you can count on it being an appropriate look for a graduation ceremony. Just keep in mind that it’s happening outside. If it happens to be a humid, 85-degree day, you may want to dress lighter. Make sure to have a cute blouse or another top on underneath in case you need to take your blazer off.

Your Shoes

An outdoor graduation ceremony could mean that the seating area is on the grass. High-heeled shoes on green grass could be tricky. If you know the ceremony is going to take place on hard ground, then, by all means, wear whatever shoes you’d like! But if you have to walk on the grass at any point, avoid stiletto heels and stick to flat sandals, wedged shoes, ballet flats, or anything else that’s easy to walk in.

While controlling the weather at graduation is out of the question, with these tips, it will look like you did! Being prepared and planning your outfit ahead will keep you more comfortable and help you look stunning.


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