13 Graduation Guest Outfits That Won’t Steal The Graduate’s Thunder

Look chic without stealing the spotlight.

Originally Published: 
Women wearing different graduation ceremony-appropriate outfits.
Courtesy of ASOS, Mango, and Anthropologie
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Cue: “Pomp and Circumstance” — it’s graduation season once again. If you’re part of the next batch of tassel-moving, hat tossers, my biggest congratulations to you! If you’re not the graduate, however, but happen to snag an invite to a ceremony, no worries, you can still celebrate the season by way of a cute ‘fit. Because, really, the best way to honor a loved one achieving such a humongous milestone is by showing out, all dressed up to the ceremony. That, and cash. (I’m not kidding.)

If you’re at a loss for what to wear, the first thing you need to note is the venue. These events are often held in schools or big convention centers and the crowd will likely be a cocktail of parents, teachers, grandparents, siblings, and school staff. So even if you’re the Emily Ratajkowski of your family (or friend group), best save those spicy see-through ‘fits for the afterparty and don a look that swings toward the more formal end of the pendulum.

That doesn’t mean your looks need to be boring, though — proof of which, you’ll find right ahead. You can still channel the year’s buzziest trends by donning bold Barbie pink, going for a fun print, or even rocking your favorite cool-girl brands. Ahead, some ideas of what to wear to someone else’s graduation — looks that will shine, but won’t upstage.

1. A White Button Down & A-Line Skirt

Riff off the classic white-button-down-and-trousers pairing by reaching for an A-line skirt instead and topping it off with loafers. If you want to go the extra mile and make it a touch more feminine, consider this top with bows printed all over.

2. A Textured Co-Ord

Throwing on a luxe metallic piece instantly elevates any outfit — even the most basic silhouette. And when co-ords come into play, that rule applies double. For extra decadence, consider this textured pair of pants from Good American, Khloe Kardashian’s brand.

3. A Suit Vest & Trousers

Vests are back — just ask supermodels Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid. You, too, can absolutely rock the vest-as-shirt look at a graduation ceremony by pairing it with trousers. For a more fun and whimsical take on the trend, a springy floral print goes a long way.

4. A Slip Dress & Ballet Flats

If you’re looking to style your favorite slinky slip dress, consider pairing it with Mary Janes, a huge trend this year. What more fitting event to sport the nostalgic schoolgirl shoe than during an academic affair?

5. A Little White Dress & Slingbacks

You can’t go wrong with an LWD (the LBD’s summery sister). It always looks elegant, even if the hemline veers short. Pair it with slingbacks for the ultimate sophisticated look. Simple, but high-impact.

6. A Playful Jumpsuit

A jumpsuit is basically no-fail going-out attire, but it’s not too formal either. Go for one with playful details like this gilded number with a long-sleeve one-shoulder detail and a funky pattern.

7. A Cropped Blazer & Skirt Set

For a tailored look that’s also summer-friendly (it gets sweltering in those school gyms) a cropped blazer and mini skirt set is a stylish, airy option. Emily Ratajkowski has been sporting the co-ord look too, so you’ll be in good style company.

8. A Midi Dress & Heels

While a fitted dress could easily branch into the saucy category, a midi like this — with its long sleeves, abstract print, and vivid hues — definitely keeps it ceremony-appropriate. The colors are especially cheery and perfect for the occasion.

9. A Crop & Slip Skirt

Channel the effortless romance of ‘90s-era dressing with a slip skirt paired with a cropped top. Trust me, the minimalist look won’t fail you.

10. A Wrap Dress & Heels

IMHO, everyone needs a wrap dress in their closets — they’re easy to wear and effortlessly chic. Throw on your favorite wraparound style and pair it with heels for an instantly stylish, no-brainer ‘fit. Consider one with an eye-catching print like this snakeskin option with a spicy off-the-shoulder detail for that extra oomph.

11. A Blazer & Jeans

Can you wear jeans to a graduation ceremony? If the dress code is smart casual, then, yes, you absolutely can. You can still keep your denim ‘fit polished, however, by topping it off with a classic blazer.

12. Print-On-Print

If you’d feel more powerful (and more yourself) in a fully-printed ensemble, go for it. Even if the print is ultra-fiery — like this leopard print look, for example — you’ll look more polished by going for a matching printed set instead. If you want to stand out even more, mismatched prints are the best way to go.

13. A Bold Three-Piece Suit

For a playful take on three-piece suiting, go bold with a vibrant hue. Pro tip: if you want to avoid looking too corporate, trade your heels in for sneakers with the most drip.

This article was originally published on