Is There A Strict Dress Code At A Graduation Ceremony?

The vast majority of universities require students to wear a gown and often a cap during a graduation ceremony. The colours of your gap and gown will differ depending on which university you're graduating from. Many universities also have differently coloured gowns for each degree.

Plus, the colours may vary depending on which college within the university you're graduating from, and whether you're an undergraduate or a postgraduate.

For example, it's fairly common for postgraduate students to wear coloured hoods and sashes that differentiate them from undergraduate students.

If you're unsure what your school's dress code is then you can usually find this information on the university's website. The university should also be able to provide you with a list of approved places where you can hire a gown for the big occasion.

What Should You Wear Under Your Gown?

Generally, university dress codes require you to wear smart clothing underneath your gown. This usually means a dress or a suit for graduates.

If you're graduating with a postgraduate degree (and you're required to wear a hood) then it's recommended you wear a blouse and skirt rather than a dress. This is so the buttons of the blouse can be used to support the hood while you're wearing it.

The colour of the clothes you can wear underneath your gown depends on your university's dress code. However, this will typically involve neutral colours like black, white, and grey.

If you're wearing a dress or skirt, make sure it's comfortable and that you're happy to wear it for a long period of time. Remember, graduation ceremonies last for quite a while.

Graduation halls can also be really warm so a floor-length dress might not be the best choice. You may also want to opt for light tights that won't be too warm.

If you'd prefer to wear national dress under your gown, then this is usually permitted. Still, it's best to check with your university beforehand.

What To Wear On Graduation Day For Women

On graduation day, women are typically required to wear dresses or skirts and smart shirts, or suits.

If you do decide to wear a suit, then you might not need to wear a jacket if you're wearing a smart blouse. As previously mentioned, you should avoid overly short dresses and skirts - just remember, you'll also spend part of the day walking in a procession so you don't want something too long either.

When it comes to shoes, the dress code will most likely require you to wear formal footwear. Again, the colour code depends on your university but it's often neutral colours.

As you'll be walking up onto a stage to accept your parchment, it's usually best to go for a flat or mid-heeled shoe. You should feel confident walking around in them and you don't want to worry about any mishaps during your proud moment.

Overall, you want to balance comfort with looking great for those all-important graduation photos.

What To Wear On Graduation Day For Men

The typical dress code for men is a suit and a formal dinner jacket. Most universities ask you to wear a black tie, white shirt, black jacket, black trousers or smart pants, and black socks. Men usually also need to wear smart shoes in black or brown.

If your university allows it, you could wear a tie or bowtie that matches your hood or sash - which will make you look extra dapper.

What To Wear On Graduation Day For Parents

Parents may not be the ones who teach students during their studies, but they're the ones who give them all the support they need to succeed. That's why graduation day is just as special for them as it is for their children who are graduating.

But what should parents be wearing for graduation?

Usually, the dress code for parents is similar to the one for students (apart from the cap and gown). You'll most likely need to wear a suit, a dress, or a smart skirt and blouse.

However, parents and other guests are not typically expected to stick to any sort of colour code. Most of the time, they also don't need to be dressed quite as formally as the young women and men who are graduating.


Can I wear shorts to my graduation ceremony?

Unfortunately, even if it's very warm you probably won't be allowed to wear shorts to your graduation ceremony. A graduation is a formal occasion and as such, it requires formal dress. If the weather is going to be very warm then you could consider wearing linen trousers underneath your robes. These should keep you cooler than trousers made of heavier materials like wool.

Is graduation attire expensive?

Generally, you need to hire your cap and gown from a supplier so the price will vary depending on which one you choose. In terms of the clothes you wear under your robes, the price depends on how much you decide to spend on them. If you want to save money, then you could rent your graduation clothes and return them after the ceremony. This is a fairly common practice among graduating students.

Final Thoughts

Most universities still have relatively strict graduation attire guidelines that you need to follow. Yet, there is a bit of room for you to inject your personality into your outfit. Make sure you check the guidelines for your university well before the date of your graduation. That way, you can prepare everything you need to look the part on your big day.