How To Avoid Graduation Hat Hair & Other Cap Tips

by Melodi Erdogan

Your graduation day should be a time to rejoice. But in reality, it usually ends up being all about the stupid, floppy, no good hat that refuses stay on your head and the subsequent perils of graduation hat hair. I know: It should be a time when you get an excuse to kick back with friends and family, and enjoy each others' company. It should be a time to reminiscence on the years it took to finally earn that diploma, and every paper and exam that made you question your sanity. It should be a time to finally take a breath and prepare for the next big move in your life. But it's just not!

Let’s throw it back to my high school graduation. It was the final event to finish off that four-year experience. And after homecoming, prom, banquets, and various dinners, I was ready to be done. But I still wanted a good, classic, movie-type graduation where everyone was happy and looked like they could be photographed for a magazine. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen. Although I was with family and was glad to be around my peers for one last hurrah, I couldn’t stop fiddling with the stupid hat I had to wear that kept on sliding down my head, ultimately ruining the hair that I'd worked so hard to make look good.

So, in preparation for my university graduation (University of Tennessee — Knoxville, Class of 2015!), I did some research on how to make that awful hat not only look nice, but also fit well, stay on, and keep my hair looking the way I want it. I won’t let this silly hat ruin another graduation, and it shouldn’t ruin yours either. Here are five tips to avoid letting a graduation cap ruin your big day.

1. Practice Putting It On

The idiom “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer” doesn’t just apply to people you hate. It also applies to hats you hate. And if you’re like me and can’t stand your graduation cap, the best way to remedy the situation is to spend time with said cap, understand it, and take it for what it is. No, your graduation cap isn’t going to look as cute as your favorite wide brim fedora — you know, the one that makes you look like a bohemian goddess. But you are unfortunately required to wear it nonetheless.

Most schools make it mandatory that you buy or rent your cap and gown a few weeks before the actual ceremony, so in that time try on your cap and examine how it works best on your noggin in front of a mirror and away from one. This way, when you’re sitting at the actual event and someone knocks your cap off your head, you’ll be able to carefully place it back on without the help of a mirror.

2. Clips And Bobby Pins Are Your Friends

While I tried the bobby pin trick at my high school graduation, what I didn’t realize is how strategic the bobby pin placement must be to work. Thanks to Pinterest, now I have all the keys to making those bobby pins actually work with my cap instead of against it. Instead of lining the pins against your cap, cross them together, as pictured above. This way, the cap will stay fixed in the correct place even if a gust of wind comes by. Also, try and pick bobby pins that are close to your hair color, and avoid placing them close to your face if possible. You don’t want your bobby pins to be the star of your graduation photos. Trust me.

3. Try Out Different Angles

Sure, you might be graduating, but you still have some last minute homework to do. So after you’ve practiced putting your cap on and securing it with pins, practice taking photos in it as one of your last assignments. Ask a friend to take your photos, or put your selfie-taking skills in use to experiment with how the cap looks best on your head. This will not only help you with placing and securing your cap, but you’ll also know exactly what angle to give the photographers who will inevitably be taking your photo that day, whether it’s a professional or your aunt Cathy who is determined to embarrass you as much as possible.

4. Style Your Hair Accordingly

Because you’ll be wearing a cap, you don’t exactly have the opportunity to do much with your hair. Unfortunately, a bun or ponytail or even a braided up-do won’t do you any favors with combating the terrible cap. So, you are essentially limited to having your hair down and relatively coiffed. That being said, it’s probably for the best. The last thing you want to do is look at your graduation photos and regret putting it in a long braid or crimping it (who even crimps anymore?). So even though you might think it’s boring, leaving your hair down is probably the best option.

5. Avoid Cap Hair

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Last, but not least, this tip is for when you’re finally through with the commencement, the ceremony, and taking photos with everyone you know. You can take off your cap! Huzzah! But now you have cap hair and it’s not your best look. To avoid frizzy and flat cap hair, invest in some travel size bottles of hairspray and dry shampoo. Before you head off to your next gathering, pop into the bathroom and run some dry shampoo through your roots to infuse some volume back into your hair. Next, tame fly aways with a spritz of hairspray (that should also help with any humidity that might be in the air). No one likes hat hair, especially on your graduation day.

So, con-graduation! It's finally time to say goodbye to school, and hello to the next step in your life. With any luck, you'll survive through graduation without that silly hat giving you any trouble!

Show that hat who's boss!

Images: Author's Own; Giphy