How To Style A White Dress For Graduation Day

After finals and formal dances have been checked off the list, there is only one major event to think about: graduation. Graduation is indeed right around the corner, and with it the chance to exhibit everything you've learned over the past four grueling years — sartorially speaking, of course. Deciding how to style your graduation dress is not an insignificant decision in your final days of school: Unless you've firmly decided to remain the same wide-eyed and naive freshman you were when you first strode the halls of your school— and I strongly advise against this option — your personal style has metamorphosed to reflect your education and world views. While you may not be prepared to trot out a completely adult wardrobe just yet, graduation is the ideal time to demonstrate your newfound style chops. If you decide never to attend another reunion or set foot on school property again, a strong ensemble is integral to an unforgettable final bow.

However, many educational institutions require students to don white dresses or suits, respectively. Whether the rule is a final show of authority before students are let loose on the great wide world or simply a matter of tradition is debatable, but for many, white dresses are non-negotiable. If you're more of a motorcycle jacket and jeans type of lady or prefer to swath yourself in as many vibrant hues as you can squeeze into a single ensemble, a little white dress can seem horribly limiting. However, you can personalize your graduation dress with statement stilettos, chic sunglasses, and a cheeky clutch. Cue the graduation march.

1. Golden Haze

Choies White Dress, $30.99 / Topshop Geneva Heels, $85 / Unique Vintage Lockbox Clutch, $38 / Accessorize Chandelier Earrings, $19.50 / Topshop Lexi Round Glasses, $30 / Missguided Metal Plate Belt, $24 / Yves Saint Laurent La Laque Couture in Dore Orfevre, $25

Indulge in you adoration of metallic accents with a wide, golden belt and gilded nail polish. Polish off the ensemble with a pair of nude sunglasses, pointy-toe pumps with rose gold accents, and a pair of exquisite chandelier earrings.

2. Blue Mood

Choies White Dress, $30.99 / Maurices Drape Front Blazer , $39 / Oscar de la Renta Gladia Sandals, $358 / Kate Spade Splash Out Melly Clutch, $278 / Lulu's Chic Gold Bracelet, $14 / Unique Vintage Quay Mint Frankie Glasses, $34 / Benefit Dream Screen Sunscreen, $32

If the onslaught of hot weather has you craving days of poolside relaxation, infuse your graduation ensemble with quirky aqua accents. An aqueous-looking Kate Spade clutch embellished with a golden shark fin and intricate Oscar de la Renta sandals will keep eyes transfixed on your ensemble, while teal sunnies and Benefit sunscreen keep you from burning to a crisp as you wait for your diploma.

3. White And Tan

Choies White Dress, $30.99 / Gorjana Mika Necklace, $85 / Bling Jewelry Golden Arrow Ring, $14.99 / ZAC Zac Posen Shoulder Bag, $325 / Vince Camuto Kamella High Heel, $139 / Boohoo Cropped Faux Leather Jacket, $52

A white frock isn't everyone's sartorial jam, so spice up the basic piece with a leather jacket and strappy heeled sandals. Complete the look with a gold drop necklace and wrapped arrow ring for good measure.

4. Coming Up Roses

Choies White Dress, $30.99 / Cargo Limited Edition Gel Lip Color, $20 / Zara Pearl Bracelet, $17.90 / Lulu's Falling Fleur You Print Clutch, $30 / Nine West Deputy d'Orsay Flats, $59.99 / Choies Rose Ombre Mohair Sweater, $32.99

If you celebrate the Spring Equinox by fashioning a floral crown and tending to your window box daffodils, inject your white dress with rosy accents. A floral clutch and rich, raspberry-hued lipstick are perfectly complemented by Nine West's fresh D'Orsay flats, while an ombre mohair sweater takes the look's formality down a notch.

5. Gallerista Glamour

Choies White Dress, $30.99 / Stila Stay All Day Eye Liner, $20 / BCBG Novelty Cat Eye Sunglasses, $99 / Shop Latitude Coral Pom Pom Scarf, $105 / Jewelry By Ciner Triple Row Link Blue Bracelet, $229 / Yliana Yepez Color Combo Leather Clutch, $495 / Alice + Olivia Dina Pumps, $295

Indulge your inner art history buff and bring a bit of pop art flair to a plain white graduation dress. Use shades of coral and turquoise as your base palette with a kicky clutch and chic, color-splashed heels, finishing the look with — what else? — a swipe of black eyeliner.

Images: The Velvet Bird/Flickr; Polyvore