What to Wear to a Graduation as a Guest


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Attending a graduation as a guest is an exciting event, but it can also leave you wondering what to wear.

While graduates often have a straightforward dress code (like a simple A-line graduation dress or a white graduation dress), guests have more flexibility in choosing their outfits.

Whether you're attending a high school or college graduation, I've got you covered with some fantastic ideas and tips to help you look your best. Continue reading to learn what to wear to a graduation as a guest – for women, men, and kids/teens.

So, let's dive in!

What to Wear to Graduation as a Guest – for Women

Below are ideas on what to wear to a graduation for females.

Floral Maxi Dresses

At the most recent graduation I attended, about 80% of the women wore floral or tropical-themed maxi dresses. If you are searching for something safe and popular to wear to a graduation as a guest, you can't go wrong with a floral maxi dress.  

blue and white maxi graduation dress for guest
Image via Amazon

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Not only are maxi dresses comfortable and perfect for spring, but they also add a touch of elegance.

Maxi dresses are also classy and affordable too!

In addition to Amazon, Tommy Bahama and Kenny Flowers have great floral maxi dresses. You will LOVE the Tommy Bahama dresses if you are a mom or aunt attending a graduation. The dresses on Kenny Flowers are perfect if you want something colorful and fun!

Lilly Pulitzer has great dresses for graduation guests as well!

Brightly Colored Maxi Dresses

If you aren't the biggest fan of floral dresses, then you can't go wrong with a brightly colored maxi dress.

At the graduation I attended, I saw women in tropical/resort wear maxi dresses and open-back dresses in bright colors like yellow, hot pink, and lime green. 

If you are curvy or a size 16 and larger, you may LOVE the maxi dresses from Pink Lily. Pink Lily sells lots of cute maxi dresses in plus sizes for women. 

Show Me Your Mumu is an awesome store for regular and extended maxi dresses for graduation guests too!

Floral Midi Dresses

Similar to floral maxi dresses, floral midi dresses are the perfect attire for guests to wear at a graduation ceremony.

what to wear to a graduation as a guest
Image via Amazon

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Amazon has lots of affordable floral midi dresses. I also love shopping on Lulus, Petal + Pup, and Vici Collection too! 

Knee Length Floral Dresses

Another popular choice among women attending graduations is knee-length floral dresses.

what to wear to graduation as a guest
Image via Amazon

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I personally wore a knee-length dress with long sleeves at the last graduation I attended.

Knee-length with an A-line shape are super flattering too!

Khaki Pants and a Dressy Blouse

If you prefer a more polished and sophisticated look, khaki pants or capri length pants paired with a dressy blouse are excellent choices.

Complete your outfit with a statement necklace and/or earrings for a touch of glam.

If you are a grandmother attending a graduation, you may want to try shopping at Chico's or Tommy Bahama for an outfit to wear to a graduatoin.

Midi Skirt and a Top

While skirts may not be as common at graduations, they can still make a stylish statement. If you have a pleated or midi skirt, consider pairing it with a dressy top or blouse.

This combination offers a classy and chic look that will make you stand out.

Best Shoes for Women to Wear to a Graduation

At the graduation I attended, almost every woman was wearing wedges. Below are some shoe options to wear to a graduation as a guest.

Tan Wedges

Based on my observation, tan wedges were practically a staple for women at the graduation ceremony I attended. They not only add height but also provide stability on grassy areas, where you're likely to take family graduation photos.

White Sneakers or Sandals

Younger teens and girls at the graduation I attended were rocking white sneakers or sandals. If you prefer a more casual and relaxed look, these options are perfect.

Dressy Sneakers

If you're looking for a sophisticated touch to your outfit, consider dressy sneakers.

Tip: I would recommend against wearing heels. Heels can sink into the grass (where you are likely to take family graduation photos). Plus, heels aren’t as comfortable and they make loud “click, click, click” sounds on the bleaches (if the graduation is outside).

I observed that younger teens/girls were wearing white sneakers or sandals, but every woman over the age of 25 that I saw was pretty much wearing wedges.

What to Wear to a Graduation as a Guest – for Men

When it comes to dressing as a male guest at a graduation ceremony, simplicity is key.

Here are some outfit ideas on what to wear to a graduation for guys.

Khaki Pants and a Collared Shirt

Most men opt for the classic combination of khaki pants and a collared shirt when attending a graduation. If the ceremony is held outdoors, consider wearing a short-sleeved collared shirt to stay cool in the heat.

Slacks, Collared Shirt, and Suit Jacket

For a more formal touch, you can take a cue from some fathers I observed at the graduation I attended. They wore slacks, a collared shirt, and a suit jacket. However, keep in mind that if the graduation ceremony takes place outdoors, you might feel the heat in a suit jacket, so dress accordingly to stay comfortable.

Dressy Shorts and a Long-Sleeve Collared Shirt

If the weather is exceptionally hot, you have the option of wearing dressy shorts, such as khaki shorts, paired with a long-sleeve collared shirt.

Footwear for Men at a Graduation Ceremony

Here are some ideas of what types of shoes to wear to a graduation as a guest (for guys).

Dressy Brown Shoes

A pair of dressy brown shoes is a versatile and stylish choice for men attending a graduation. Opt for loafers or oxfords.

Dressy Sneakers

If you prefer a more contemporary and casual approach, consider dressy sneakers. Look for sneakers in neutral colors, such as white or navy.

Graduation Attire for Teens and Girls

Most teens/girls at graduations were wearing knee-length floral dresses or sundresses at the graduation I attended.

For shoes, teens/girls wore sneakers (they are trending right now) or cute sandals.

Tips for Attending a Graduation Ceremony

If you haven’t attended a graduation ceremony recently, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Arrive Early

You never know if you are going to get lost finding exactly where to go for the graduation ceremony, or how much time it will take to park and find a spot. Depending on the school, the graduation may start right on time (the graduation I attended did!) or start 15 minutes late.

Either way, it’s no fun to be stressed out. Arrive early, and plan on chatting with your family/the people around you prior to the graduation ceremony.

Prepare to Be Sitting for 2-3 Hours

I have yet to attend a college or high school graduation that was under 1.5 hours. So, be prepared to be sitting for a long period of time.

If the graduation is on bleachers outside, you may want to bring cushioned chairs to sit on. Or, if you get antsy, you may want to go on a walk/run before the graduation.

Just mentally prepare to sit for a while…and know that graduations can sometimes be a little boring. 😉

Wear a Hat and Sunscreen

If the graduation is outside, be prepared to be sitting in the sun. The graduation ceremony I was attending was at 8:30am, but it was still hot and so, so sunny! I had a hat and was so thankful for it. You may very well be in direct sun, and a hat will keep you cool and protect your skin.

If Outside – Bring a Fan

If the graduation is outside, you may want to bring a fan with you.

Amazon sells mini fans that spritz water on you, and I wish I had one with me. Instead, I and everyone else were constantly fanning themselves with the graduation booklet. It was so, so hot!

 This fan on Amazon is PERFECT for both graduations (and for hot days at Disney!):

Bring Coffee with You

If the graduation ceremony is in the morning, then a cup of coffee in a thermos can help keep you awake. Totally optionally, but it helps keep you awake!

Park Near the Exit

It’s one thing to find parking for graduation, it’s another thing to be able to exit quickly. For an easy exit, park near the exit of any parking garage/parking lot.


In summary, if you are female, you can’t go wrong with wearing a floral dress to a graduation as a guest. Knee-length dresses, midi dresses, and maxi dresses with tan wedges are all great choices. If you are a man, then wearing khaki pants with a short-sleeve collared shirt is a smart choice.

Enjoy the Celebration!

More Graduation Outfit Ideas

Best White Graduation Dresses

Best College Graduation Dresses

Nursing School Graduation Dresses

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