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What to Wear to Graduation as a Guest

by Dominic Chandler
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So you’ve been invited to the graduation ceremony for a close friend or family member. You’re excited and proud of them for making it to this big moment and want to celebrate their big day with them in style. 

All you have to do is pick the perfect graduation guest outfit for the day. To help you out with this decision, we’ve put together a guide to choosing the best outfits and accessories that suits the formality and joy of your loved one’s momentous occasion. 

Why Wear a Graduation Guest Outfit

Graduation ceremonies are an important day in your loved one’s life. Choosing and wearing an appropriate graduation guest outfit therefore holds significance as it respects the solemnity and formality of the occasion. 

Graduation ceremonies mark a significant milestone in someone’s academic journey, symbolising years of hard work, dedication, and achievement. By dressing appropriately as a guest, you honour not only the graduate but also the institution and the gravity of the event itself. Dressing in a stylish and appropriate manner demonstrates your understanding of the importance of the event and your appreciation for being invited to share in the celebration.

Your attire as a graduation guest contributes to the overall ambiance and creates a sense of unity and cohesion among attendees. With everyone dressing formally for the occasion, a sense of community and shared respect is fostered for your loved ones’ accomplishments. 

A well-chosen graduation guest outfit can also enhance your confidence and make you feel more engaged in the festivities. Whether it’s a sleek suit, a stylish dress, or smart casual attire, your outfit can convey your enthusiasm and support for the graduate as they embark on the next chapter of their journey. 

Style of Graduation Guest Attire

When it comes to selecting the perfect graduation guest outfit, there are various styles to consider, each reflecting a different level of flair and formality. 

  • Classy graduation outfits – a classy graduation style will help you to feel sophisticated and elegant during the ceremonial proceedings. Choosing classy items and accessories will help you to look polished and put-together.
  • Formal graduation outfits – you should always try to select formal or casual-formal graduation attire to fit in with the celebratory atmosphere of the ceremony. Formal style outfits will be more memorable and help you to look great in the photos you take with the graduate.
  • Comfortable graduation outfits – comfort is key, especially if the graduation ceremony involves a long day of sitting or standing. Make sure to choose an outfit that doesn’t restrict your movement or breathing so you can focus all your attention on enjoying the ceremony. 

Regardless of the style you choose, don’t be afraid to infuse your personality and personal flair into your graduation guest outfit. 

Unique accessories that let your individual style shine through will help your graduation guest outfit to feel authentic. After all, dressing up for a formal occasion such as this is the perfect moment for self-expression and whether you’re going for a subtle look or a bold look, you will be able to pay tribute to your graduate’s big day in style.

Graduation Guest Attire for Men

Men’s graduation attire should fit the appropriate styles of fashion listed out above. Luckily, there are a number of options you can choose from to help you look sharp and formal while your loved one collects their certificate. 


Suits can be a classy choice for graduation ceremonies but keep it on the more subtle side. You’re not attending a black-tie event so tuxedos and elegant three-piece suits probably aren’t necessary. 

A normal well-tailored suit will more than suffice to match the formality and keep the attention of the event on the graduates. Classic colours such as navy, charcoal or black are popular choices but brighter colours can create great contrasts as well. Make sure the dress shirt underneath is freshly ironed to get rid of any wrinkles.

You can also add a tie for added contrast or to add a splash of colour and personality to your outfit. Solid colours or simple patterns are the best choice but you can also go open-neck if you prefer. If you do opt for a tie, make sure it’s tied properly and neatly.

Young elegant man 

If wearing a suit isn’t your style, you can also opt for a more casual-formal approach. Well-pressed and smart trousers or chinos paired with a shirt or a sweater will guarantee you are both comfortable and polished and allow for more self-expression than a more traditionally formal approach. 

Pair the look with a blazer for added style and warmth which can come in handy if the ceremony is taking place during the colder months. 


Appropriate smart footwear is also a must when selecting graduation attire for male guests. Avoid trainers and sandals as these can be too casual and won’t match the formality of the celebration. 

Polished dress shoes in black or brown will help to complete your look perfectly. Oxfords or loafers are excellent choices that strike the right balance between formal and stylish. Ensure your shoes are clean and well-maintained to make a positive impression.

on white


Accessories are great for allowing you to express a little bit of your personality in the outfit, tying everything together, and helping you to feel more comfortable and at home in your chosen attire. 

Quirky novelty cufflinks are an easy way to give a sense of boldness to your outfit without it becoming too overpowering. You can even go for your favourite pair of brightly coloured socks as these can be hidden by the rest of your outfit and therefore not detract from the formality of the event. 

Classy simple accessories can also help bring a look together. A well-looked after leather belt where the material hasn’t cracked from wear and tear is always a good choice, especially if it matches your shoes. You can’t go wrong with a classic watch either. Keep it polished and clean and make sure it’s working – you don’t want to be late for the graduate’s special day!

Finish the look with a decorative pocket square if you’re wearing a blazer or a suit jacket. The splash of colour can help to make your look more unique and add a touch of style to the proceedings.

Close up of businessman wearing cufflinks. Elegant young fashion business man wearing suit.


Your personal grooming will help to bring the whole graduation guest outfit together. A clean shave or neatly trimmed beard and well-groomed hair contribute to a polished appearance. A shower or visit to the barber before the ceremony should help you to achieve that perfect look. 

Remember, graduation is a formal affair, and your overall presentation should reflect the pride you have in being invited to your loved one’s important day.

Graduation Guest Attire for Women

Female guests have a lot of choices to make when it comes time to pick out the perfect graduation attire for the upcoming ceremony. Balancing style, comfort and formality is key to helping you look and feel your best. 


A formal pant suit for graduation guest attire can help to elevate your personal style and keep you looking classy at the event. Contrasting colours will work great and a relaxed fit will help you to stay comfortable. Remember, you’re at the ceremony to enjoy yourself. 

A stylish blouse and a blazer jacket makes for the perfect summer graduation ceremony, paired with well-tailored trousers that will help your skin to breathe and allow you to personalise your outfit to your own sense of style. You can also opt for a more classic suit ensemble with a tie and dress shirt. 

Jumpsuits are also a fancy option that will keep your outfit understated yet elegant. Cool colours like blue, black or grey are the most formal options but brighter colours such as orange and green will also work depending on your preferences. Just try to avoid overly bold or extravagant patterns as these may take away from the formality of the event and shift focus away from the graduates.

You can also opt for a casual-formal trouser look by pairing smart trousers with a blouse or shirt, paired with the cardigan or blazer of your choice, allowing for more freedom in your look and prioritising comfort for the ceremony.

Gorgeous woman in smart casual wear keeping arms crossed and looking at camera while standing against grey background

Graduation Guest Dress

Dresses and skirts are popular options for women attending graduation ceremonies as a guest due to the sheer amount of variety on offer. A knee-length or midi dress in a single block colour or a subtle pattern is always a strong choice pairing formality with comfort. 

Cocktail dresses come in a versatile range of styles and fabrics allowing you to find the perfect sweet spot between casual-formal and formal. Let your personality shine in the pattern and colours, perfect for a summery graduation. 

You can pair your dress with a blazer jacket or elegant cardigan if you need to bundle up for a winter ceremony, giving you more options for layering and contrasting colours to find a suitable style for the occasion. 

If dresses aren’t your preference, consider pairing a tailored skirt with a stylish blouse. A knee length skirt is best suited for formal occasions with a range of styles available to choose from including box pleat skirts and circle skirts. Coordinate the colours and fabrics for a cohesive ensemble. 

Black evening dress and shoes on a wooden background. Fashion concept. Top view, space for text


Comfortable and stylish shoes are a must for graduation ceremonies as there may be a bit of walking involved in getting to the ceremony’s location. Try to select shoes that won’t hurt your feet if they are being worn for long durations. Like with men’s footwear, avoid trainers and other overly casual shoes. 

Pumps and flats with closed toes are the best option and go with every type of graduation guest outfit from pantsuits to dresses and skirts. You can also wear sensible heels as well but make sure to forgo high heels as these might make walking on difficult terrain such as grass harder. Co-ordinate your shoes with your outfits by choosing matching or contrasting colours.

Black business woman shoes versus high heel red footwear


Female guests can choose from a wide range of accessories for the graduation ceremony, so long as they avoid excessive and flashy jewellery that will draw attention away from the main events of the ceremony. 

A stylish necklace, set of colour co-ordinated bangles or rings can help you to bind your outfit together as well as affording you some control over how your personality shines through your attire. Quirky earrings are a great way to add a touch of personal flair and make you feel more comfortable in your curated outfit. 

If you’re taking a bag with you, a small handbag or an elegant clutch that matches your outfit will enable you to store your phone and wallet in style if your ensemble doesn’t come with pockets. 

a young beautiful adult woman in a green dress stands against a background of flowering bushes and holds a small green purse in her hands.

Hair and Makeup

Choosing the right hairstyle and makeup is a vital component of any outfit and graduation guest attire is no different. You’re not attending a black tie event so there’s no need to get overly fancy or complicated with your choices. 

A sleek ponytail or a bun placed elegantly high or low on the head are always popular choices that allow you to accentuate the formality of your outfit. Braids meanwhile can offer a sense of casual playfulness while also being timelessly classic, depending on whether you go for a simple plait, french braids or fishtail braids. 

Complement the colours of your graduation guest outfit with your makeup choices. Subtle shades will help to maintain the formal elegance suited for a graduation ceremony while also helping you to enhance and highlight your best features.

The graduation ceremony you’re attending is all about celebrating and honouring the journey of the graduate. Paying careful consideration to what to wear for someone’s graduation can make a big difference to their day and can be a strong way for you to show them you’re proud of everything they’ve achieved and proud that you were chosen to witness this important step on their journey. 

For more information on how to make your loved one’s graduation even more special, you can read our guides on how to celebrate graduation day and getting ideas on choosing the perfect graduation gift. </span

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