#2 ASK KATARINA: What to Wear to a Graduation Ceremony? 🎓

#2 ASK KATARINA: What to Wear to a Graduation Ceremony? 🎓

Good morning, 

I hope you’re having a happy holidays! I wanted to reach out to you about how to conduct oneself/what a graduate should wear to a high school graduation ceremony. I’m graduating from my high school May of 2024 and have had a hard time figuring out what to wear specifically. I’ve been switching over to more elegant styles, especially for bigger events and I want to look elegant and classy for my graduation. I hope to hear from you soon and that you continue to have a happy holidays and happy new year! 


Dear A.A.,

Thank you for your question! I am happy to share some high-school graduation dress code tips with you.

Generally speaking, high school graduations usually follow a semi-formal dress code. This means we should skip casual outfits consisting of jeans, t-shirts, shorts, hoodies or sneakers, and instead, opt for a more formal attire to pay tribute to the event.
However, since graduations are usually a daytime event, it is not required to wear overly formal clothes such as a long gown, clutches or tuxedos which are reserved for more ceremonial venues happening after 6pm.

For ladies, I would recommend:

  • Dress or Skirt outfit: A knee-length dress or a blouse paired with a skirt or dress pants is suitable. Dresses or skirts should be modest and not too casual or revealing.
  • Blouse or top: If wearing pants, pair them with a blouse or a nice top. Avoid overly casual t-shirts, tank tops or crop tops.
  • Shoes: Closed-toe shoes (pumps or ballet flats),  or dressy sandals are appropriate. Avoid overly casual footwear like flip-flops or sneakers.
  • Accessories: Keep accessories elegant and minimal.

    For gentlemen, I would recommend:
  • Daytime Suit: A suit in neutral colours like navy, charcoal, or black is appropriate. Depending on the venue, if a suit is too formal, opt for dress slacks and a blazer.
  • Button-down shirt: A light-coloured dress shirt in white, light blue, or pastel shades paired with dress slacks, blazer and a tie (optional).
  • Dress shoes: Leather or dress shoes that match the outfit, typically in black or brown.

    Additional tips:
  • Weather considerations: Consider the weather and venue. Adjust your outfit in accordance to the climate of your location. If it's outdoors or in a warmer climate, choose breathable fabrics.

  • Venue considerations: Sometimes, graduation ceremonies are hold on grass or unstable surfaces. In such case, opt for shoes with a block heel or a wedge to avoid stilettos sinking into the grass. 

  • Versatility & wearability: When shopping for your graduation outfit, I would recommend investing into garments that you can use for other occasions as well such as birthday parties, weddings or job interviews. This way, you will ensure a good return on investment!

  • Respect the school's dress code: Some schools might have specific guidelines, so it's good to be aware of those before selecting your outfit. If your school has a specific dress code required, it should be respected above any general guidelines.
It's essential to aim for a neat, polished appearance to honor this once in a lifetime occasion. Ultimately, the focus should be on celebrating you and your fellow graduates, so the outfit should be respectful and appropriate for the event.

I wish you a wonderful graduation ceremony!
Yours sincerely,


If you have any etiquette-related questions you struggle finding answers to, feel welcome to share them at info@katarinaetiquette.com.

I am looking forward to hearing from you!

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