Being invited to celebrate a friend or family member's graduation is a huge privilege, especially considering some ceremonies have limited ticket numbers. You'll be super excited to cheer on your loved one, but one thing you might not have considered is your graduation guest outfit, or what to wear to a graduation that's not yours. Your choice of attire for someone else's graduation may seem like a simple decision; however, there may be a few things you hadn't thought about. Much like when you're celebrating anyone's milestone life event, you certainly don't want to take attention away from the person who has been kind enough to invite you to their celebration by wearing something exceedingly flamboyant.
Choosing an outfit for someone else's graduation is a little like picking an ensemble for a wedding: There may be certain dress codes you need to adhere to, you likely don't want to wear the bridal party's color scheme (or in this case, the school colors) because these shades should be saved for non-guests, and you'll want to wear something appropriate. Depending on the educational institute, the whole affair is bound to be pretty formal, or at least business casual, which means your outfit should be, too. However, you should always feel comfortable in what you're wearing. The graduate won't be pleased if their excitement is diminished by you feeling uncomfortable or out of place, or worse, moaning about your outfit and putting a damper on the day. So here are some ideas of what to wear to someone else's graduation.
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1. A Wrap Dress
Perhaps one of the most versatile pieces you can own, a wrap dress can be dressed up or down, making it a great option for attending a graduation. Not to mention, it’s comfortable and can be found in a wide variety of styles — mini, midi, or maxi — and in lots of patterns and colors. This short sleeve wrap midi dress from & Other Stories features a v-cut neckline and self-tie detail at the side. Wear it with some kitten heels or a pair of mules for a simple and put-together look.
2. A Trendy Blazer
Sporting a blazer instantly makes outfit look more sophisticated and chic. Plus, you can find one that suits the season of the graduation — be it spring, summer, fall, or winter — and your personal style. Maybe opt for a linen one for warmer weather or leather for the cold. There are a ton of styles to choose from, too: cropped, oversized, vintage, etc. Take this on-trend relaxed fit blazer from Oak and Fort, for example, which is detailed with notched lapels, two-button front closure, and front flap pockets. Made in two versatile shades of green to wear in any season, you can wear it dressed up or casually depending on the occasion.
3. Wide Leg Trousers
If pants are more your vibe, the good news is that trousers are having a major moment in fashion right now and there are plenty to choose from. These high-rise pleated pants showcase a classic relaxed silhouette and on-trend minimalism. With functional pockets and a relaxed dad fit, this pair looks effortlessly sophisticated and cool.
4. Elevated Loafers
Another comfy but chic option for a graduation attendee outfit is a pair of loafers. If you plan on standing around a lot while your grad takes photos with absolutely everyone, these shoes are a smart choice for those who are heel-averse. With mock-croc detailing and an apron toe, bring some edge to the classic loafer by wearing this pair from Topshop. And as an added bonus: You’ll be boosted in height by its chunky lug sole.
5. A Smart Casual Jumpsuit
You can easily elevate almost any jumpsuit with your accessories and styling. Made of soft organic cotton, this relaxed jumpsuit from designer Lisa Hsieh’s sustainable, size-inclusive brand, Mien, features easy wide legs and handy pockets. Whereas you may pair this über-comfy piece with a pair of slides or sneakers while visiting the farmer’s market, opt for something a bit more refined for a graduation, such as loafers or heeled sandals.
6. An Understated LBD
You can never go wrong with a little black dress. Whether you like more fitted silhouettes or flowy cuts, there’s a plethora of options out there. With fluttery lace sleeves, a scooped v-neckline, an empire waist, and a tiered mini skirt that’s not too mini, this dress from Urban Outfitters perfectly toes the line between casual and formal.
7. Chunky Kitten Heels
Save your feet from pain (graduations can be long) and opt for a pair of trendy chunky kitten heels. While still bringing the elegance of heels, this style won’t sacrifice comfort. These slingback, pointed toe block heels from Sam Edelman are easy to slip on — and easy to fall in love with their dreamy bubblegum pink hue. Or, if you want something more neutral, go for a black, brown, beige, or white pair instead.
8. A Midi Skirt
A midi skirt is another simple way to make a separates outfit feel a bit more formal. Reformation’s Bea skirt, for example, is fitted in the waist with a slim-fitting skirt for a refined but easygoing look. And if slim-fit isn’t your style, look for A-line, pleated, wrap, or circle midi skirt silhouettes. And when you’re done wearing a midi skirt for an occasion, you can also wear it casually with a t-shirt and other everyday tops.
9. A Delicate Blouse
If you like to wear hyperfeminine pieces, a blouse is always a safe bet for business casual occasions. Plus, dreamy, romantic tops are super on trend these days. This flattering short-sleeve, soft poplin fabric blouse from Abercrombie & Fitch features ruching details along the bodice, trendy puff sleeves with elastic details at cuffs and shoulders, a keyhole detail with O-ring hardware, back smocking, and a sweetheart neckline. Not to mention, it comes in several different colors and patterns.
10. A Sleek Button-Down
Channel some menswear styling and opt for a chic and simple button-down shirt that can be paired with a pair of pants, shorts, or a skirt. Inspired by and using the same fabric as its own men’s oxford shirts, Everlane’s button-down is modern and relaxed-fit version for those with smaller proportions. Tucked in or out, it’s a classic and classy option.
11. A Nice Knit
Another graduation outfit piece that’s great for transitional wear is a knit. Whether you wear a smart sweater, cardigan, or turtleneck on its own as a top or as a layer over a dress or blouse, knitwear can make an outfit look more sophisticated and formal. And it doesn’t have to be a neutral color, either. Take this sweet orange cardigan from Mango, for instance. With a medium cable knit wool fabric, cropped design, and button fastening, it would make any graduation outfit fun without being over-the-top or too casual.
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