What to Wear Under Your Graduation Gown

In the 12th and 13th centuries, when academic dress for graduation ceremonies first began, the scholars receiving their diplomas wore long gowns to fend off the cold

Although we have since put our degrees to work and learned how to better control the temperature of our rooms, the traditional academic garb of caps and gowns has stuck around.

While it certainly looks nice having everyone in uniform school colors, you can still bring a little personality to your look.

It comes in the form of what you choose to wear under your graduation gown.

In the words of Edith Head, “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” So let’s get ready to get your degree!

Let’s start with some basics, then we can add some flair to really make you feel great!

Most students look their best under their gown when donning one of the following outfits:

  • Slacks and a nice blouse
  • Khakis, a dress shirt, and a tie
  • Your favorite dress (or a new dress)
  • A new suit that you can also wear to interviews after you graduate

When choosing your graduation outfit, you’ll also want to make sure the colors compliment your graduation gown. You might look back on these photos years later and regret wearing red pants with your bright green cap and gown.

You’ll also need to choose the right shoes. After all, you don’t want to end up with blisters or worse — trip walking across the stage to grab your diploma! *knock on wood*

When styling your hair for the big day, remember that you’ll be wearing a cap most of the time. Style your hair in a way that allows the cap to stay on. Sadly, ponytails and updos will not be invited to your commencement ceremony. 

Pro tip: Bring a few bobby pins with you to secure that cap to your hair!

Another thing to note, those gowns don’t breathe! So be sure to choose clothing that does. You’re going to be nervous and excited, which means you might be a little sweaty, too. 

Now for some real inspiration to make your graduation outfit uniquely you!

We looked to your peers for examples to slay graduation day. 

This LSU graduate took the style to another level, incorporating her school colors into her outfit. I have to admit, she looks ready to take on the world. 

This grad decided to go for a more monochromatic look and let me tell you, I am here for this! 

This newly graduated Doctor decided to go colorful, which paired with a sleek black gown, really lets her personality shine through. 

This grad looks ready to take on the board room in a chic and stylish suit. 

Whatever you wear, just make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with and feel great in. After all, you’ve worked so hard and graduation day is a time to celebrate in style!

Last but not least, remember to iron everything before you wear it — the last thing you want is to look like you slept in your grad outfit in all your photos.

You’ve just pulled off something incredible, and now it’s time to celebrate with your family and friends.

No matter what you end up wearing, be sure to take lots of pictures! To make your outfit even more uniquely you, you can decorate your mortarboard like one of these students did!

Your graduation is a day you’ll likely remember for the rest of your life. Congrats, grad!

And remember: tassel goes right, then left.