3 Chic Graduation Outfit Ideas

Whether you’re taking the stage to receive your diploma or taking a seat to cheer on a grad, high school and college commencements call for an ensemble that balances formal and fun. Here, a few outfits that will earn you one final A+.

If you’ll be receiving your diploma, chances are you’ll be in a gown—take your school colors into account to avoid a chromatic clash (also bear in mind that those polyester gowns act as insulation, so if your commencement will be taking place outside and the weather calls for warm temps, plan on wearing something lightweight and breezy underneath).

Guests of grads aren’t off the hook either. You may not be the “main attraction,” but you will make an appearance in many a photo, so an equally appropriate outfit is a must.

Not sure what to wear? Celebrate in style with one of these warm-weather ready graduation outfit ideas.


Polished Pants

Photo by baublebar.com, jcpenney.com, ninewest.com, topshop.com, jcrew.com, asos.com

With fashion-forward built-in details (like this belt) and worn with a sleek pair of heels, pants can look just as feminine as any dress or skirt. Add some playful accessories and a roomy tote in a neutral tone that won’t overwhelm your outfit (but will have enough space for all of your day-of essentials).

To buy: JCPenney Worthington Short Sleeve Lace Blouse, $42; jcpenney.com. Topshop Tapered Peg Trousers, $75; topshop.com. J. Crew Two-tone Link Bracelet, $58; jcrew.com. Nine West Tayley Pointy Toe T-Strap Pumps, $89; ninewest.com. Paul’s Boutique Winged Tote Bag, $106; asos.com. Bauble Bar Romany Drops, $38; baublebar.com.


Breezy Dress

Photo by shopbop.com, adornmonde.com, clubmonaco.com, chineselaundry.com, mango.com

Opt for a dress that hits above the knee, and you won’t have to worry about it clashing with your school colors (since your robe will cover it). Post-ceremony, this frock’s frills and pretty print will feel just right for the springtime soiree on the quad.

To buy: Mango floral ruffled dress, $80; mango.com. Chinese Laundry Jambi sandal, $70; chineselaundry.com. Adornmonde Powell Gold brass ball choker, $78; adornmonde.com. Kayu Piñata clutch, $125; clubmonaco.com. Quay Ukiyo sunglasses, $60; shopbop.com.


Pretty Pencil Skirt

Photo by hm.com, anthropolgie.com, bananarepublic.com, tedbaker.com, kennethcole.com

For a more minimalist look, opt for pared down pieces, like a below-the-knee pencil skirt and a sweater (design details like cut-out ruffled shoulders make these pieces anything but basic). Sturdy wedges will make navigating grassy spaces a breeze—without sacrificing any height.

To buy: Ted Baker Silaas high waist split pencil skirt, $259; tedbaker.com. H&M knit open-shoulder sweater, $35; hm.com. Kenneth Cole Oda espadrilled wedge, $130; kennethcole.com. Banana Republic tortoise flower bracelet, $58; bananarepublic.com. Misa white earrings, $108; anthropologie.com.