Your Guide For Choosing The Best Graduation Shoes

by Katie Hoffman

Graduation causes a lot of stress, but before you embrace all the change that's coming your way or accept the sense of impending doom lurking right around the corner once you step off that stage, you'll need to find the best graduation shoes. Styling yourself for graduation can be tricky, because it takes a lot of effort figuring out how to avoid graduation hat hair and compensating for that shapeless gown with a stylish graduation outfit underneath. You may have a lot going on under that cap and robe, but choosing what to wear on your feet is every bit as important.

When you're picking your graduation shoes, keep in mind that these are the shoes that will be taking you to the next chapter in your life. They're the things that will be on your feet when you take those momentous steps across that stage to accept a piece of paper you worked your butt off to earn, after all. When you're up there, all eyes will be on you, and since your cap and gown is going to look the same as all your classmates', a great pair of shoes is the best way to stand out from the crowd.

Unfortunately, "standing out from the crowd" often translates to "picking a pair of gorgeous-but-impossible-to-walk-in heels," and you have a stage to get across, missy! Falling onstage is every graduates' nightmare, but when you choose a pair of pumps that pinch your toes just by looking at them, you're only increasing your odds of going down in history as That Girl Who Fell At Graduation, a moniker that will follow you for the rest of your life — or at least for a week or so on Facebook. With the high-stakes stage crossing in mind, the ideal graduation shoes should be a perfect mix of practical and symbolic. To find your ideal, fall-proof graduation shoes, take these tips into consideration:

1. No One's Going To Measure Your Heels

Unless you have a conservative grandma, no one is going to measure how high your heels are at graduation. When you're dealing with the stress of planning the ultimate graduation outfit, it's easy to get sucked up in the, "Everyone's going to be wearing stilettos!" mentality. Not true! Some of your peers will be rocking stilettos, but others will be wearing flip-flops or ballet flats. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to not wear high heels. Don't try to measure up to anyone else on your big day. Kitten heels are cute, too!

2. Wedges Will Help You Keep Your Balance

Have you ever noticed that walking (and just generally staying upright) in wedges is a lot easier than it is in classic pumps? Well, that's because the ball of your foot is on a little platform, and your arch and heel have a lot more support. Your weight is distributed more evenly in wedges, which means they're a solid option for graduation footwear, especially if you might be a little clumsy.

3. Ankle Straps Are Your Friends

If wedges aren't your thing, consider looking for a pair of graduation shoes that buckle around the ankle. Ankle strap shoes make your legs look longer, which is great when you're wearing a huge robe. Not to mention, if you're an amateur high heels walker, it can help to have something holding your ankle in place.

4. Remember Your Family Will Be There, Too

Graduation is an important day for you and your friends, but it's important to your family, too. Don't forget that they're going to be out there in the crowd cheering obnoxiously and sobbing when your name gets called the same way you'll be ugly crying when you hear one of those meaningful graduation songs that make you cry. When you're shopping for shoes, try not to pick anything that's going to cause conflict between you and your relatives on this special occasion.

5. Don't Worry About Matching Your Footwear To Your Gown

Just because your graduation gown is white, red, or black doesn't mean your shoes have to be that color, too. It might feel weird wearing shoes that may clash with your cap and gown, but embrace it! Graduation gowns always look better with an unexpected pop of color. Your DIY graduation manicure doesn't have have to be the only part of your look making a bold statement at your commencement ceremony.

6. Don't Pick Shoes You Can't Even Walk In At The Store

There is no shame in admitting you can't walk in heels. It does not make you less of a woman, and you are not alone in your struggles. My ankles quake just looking at stilettos. You can totally practice how to walk better in heels, but it's never a good idea to buy shoes that you struggle to walk in, especially for an event like graduation, where walking across a stage in front of everyone is one of the most important parts.

7. Your Shoes Can Be Your Source Of Power

Whether it's sitting through boring speeches and names of people you don't even know or waiting nervously to get called to the stage, you're going to be staring at the floor a lot. You want a special pair of shoes staring back at you to remind you it's going to be okay. When you're picking your graduation shoes, remember that these shoes are special, and they're going to be there with you through one of the scariest, most joyous occasions of your life thus far. Pick a pair of shoes worthy of that responsibility.

8. Your Feet Are Going To Get Noticed

Remember that you're going to be wearing a cap with a tassel and a robe that looks like a hair salon smock. Graduation gowns cover up 80 percent of your body, but that gives you the opportunity to make a statement with a cool decorated graduation cap on your head coupled with a great pair of shoes on your feet. Most of your grad selfies are going to be from the chest up, but don't forget that everyone's going to see you from head to toe when you're walking on stage.

9. You Don't Have To Wear Heels

Cute, strappy sandals are the unofficial official go-to graduation shoes, but according to who? If you aren't feeling heels for graduation, ditch 'em and wear flats, sneakers or even boots! Graduation is your big day, and aside from the cap and gown, you're free to determine your wardrobe. You worked hard to get where you are, so don't let convention get in the way of showing off your style.

Images: Fotolia; mimizhusband, David Reber, Derek Bruff/Flickr; Giphy