What To Wear to Graduation: A Style Guide for Women

graduation outfit ideas for women


It’s officially graduation season: let the honors commence! Whether you’ve snagged an invite from a beloved family member or you’re the scholar being fêted, there’s one last final to pass: what to wear to graduation. Don’t worry! Our professors of style—er, Stitch Fix Stylists—have a syllabus ready to celebrate this major milestone, your’s or a loved one’s.

graduation outfit idea for women under gown

What to wear under a graduation gown: ideas for women 

formal indoor graduation outfit idea for women

Fashion tips for the grad: formal indoor commencements

For an indoor ceremony with a formal dress code, women’s dresses for graduation are the standard attire. (As a general rule, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.) A dress can peek out beneath the robe to add interest with a long hem, or you can wear the robe open to show off a coordinated dress-and-gown ensemble. 

Pull it all together with coordinating heels or flats—our favorites are simple slides or strappy sandals. “For your post-ceremony celebration, trade your robe for a classic cardigan or chic blazer,” recommends our Stylist, Alicia. 


outdoor afternoon graduation oufti for women

Outfit ideas for the grad: outdoor afternoon ceremonies

If your graduation ceremony is set outside, it can be tough to know what to wear to stay comfortable in the sun. Plus, graduation gowns are typically thick and can cause you to overheat quickly. Stylist Alicia advises, “try a wide-leg pant with a high waist detail and a simple tank under your gown, plus a comfortable shoe like a mule or flat.” Lightweight material such as cotton or linen are ideal layers under a heavy robe. If your ceremony is happening during the summer, lightweight summer dresses in a classic color like white or cream will go with any gown color while keeping you cool. 


graduation guest outfit idea for women

Graduation guest outfit ideas for women

Graduation guests will want to strike a balance between dressing up and being comfortable. When researching what to wear to a graduation ceremony as a guest, check the invitation for any dress code requests. If there aren’t any, we recommend a smart casual approach. Alicia says, “Even though you’re there to watch your loved one shine, it’s still fun to wear something that makes you feel special as a way to mark the occasion.” Fun colors and bold prints make you stand out in the crowd, while smart shoes like strappy sandals will guarantee comfort if you need to walk or stand. 

While you can’t go wrong wearing a dress, why not try an academic approach? Don a pleated skirt with a bodysuit for a sleek ensemble. A plaid blazer in a pastel shade lightens up the outfit while also keeping you polished. A pair of loafers add a bit of whimsy to your graduation guest look. Don’t forget a polished yet practical crossbody to hold your phone, lip gloss, sunscreen, program and tissues! Now you’re ready to hear that special name called.  


graduation outfit idea for mom

Grad outfits for moms

Moms, guardians and aunties of the grad, congrats! Your time and endless encouragement helped your graduate achieve this milestone. When it comes to what to wear for this special day—and all the precious family photos to post and frame—think complementary. Instead of matching your son or daughter’s commencement gown, wear colors that will pair well while still allowing your grad—and you—to shine. Stylist Alicia adds, “Plan ahead by coordinating looks with the graduate with the goal of striking a balance. If they are going for a simple neutral look, consider a subtle print or complementary color for the perfect photo opp!”

Always flattering, a classic wrap dress in a breezy botanical print is a simple graduation outfit for moms. Jumpsuits are another effortless style. A wide-leg cropped silhouette is equal parts comfortable and chic and can stay unruffled even after sitting for several hours. Bring a blazer to match in case it gets chilly. Feel confident as you beam with pride, watching your child turn the tassel. 


graduation outfit shoe ideas for women

What shoes to wear to graduation

Now that we’ve established what to wear to graduation as a guest, it’s time to find the perfect pair of shoes. Unless you know the ceremony will take place on hard ground that’s navigable in shinny heels, stick to block-heel or wedge styles that are easy to walk in (think: espadrilles, loafers, ballet flats). “Metallic flats are a fun and neutral way to add some glam to your graduation look,” says our expert Stylist Alicia. 

How to dress for the weather at graduation

Protection from the sun should be top of mind when deciding what to wear to graduation as a guest during sunny season. It’s always smart to apply SPF before an outdoor ceremony (keep extra on hand in case you need to reapply). A wide-brimmed sunhat and sunglasses are the perfect (and protective!) finishing touches to your outfit on graduation day. 


graduation party guest outfit idea

Graduation party outfits for women

Not attending the ceremony, but hitting the party circuit? We’ve got you. For a backyard barbecue, stay casual with high-rise paper bag shorts and a coordinating blouse and slide sandals. 

If the grad party invite includes a garden gathering or restaurant patio, opt for a more charming ensemble to match, like a strappy midi dress in a floral print. Or, forgo the florals and go understated in a “minimalistic dress or jumpsuit in a solid neutral or deep, bold color,” says Stylist Alicia. And just like that, you’re looking fresh and ready to mingle.

Get styled by Stitch Fix for graduation

Looking for a new outfit to wear to a loved one’s bestowal of honors? Our Stylists are here to lend a helping hand. Take your style quiz and request a Fix with an outfit suited for a graduation ceremony or party—whatever you need. Keep what you love and send back the rest. Shipping, returns and exchanges are always free. 

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