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What to Wear Under a Graduation Gown

Hugo Totty is passionate about clothing and lifestyle. I love sharing my experiences about different fashion aspects that I've picked up.

You don't have to be super formal on your special day!

You don't have to be super formal on your special day!

What Should You Wear Under Your Graduation Gown?

Congratulations! You have made it, and now it's time to celebrate! If this is the first time you have actually gone to pick up your certificate in higher education, chances are you are going to need to wear a graduation gown. However, it might not be immediately clear to you what you need to wear under the graduation gown.

This article aims to help you with just that. You should start by checking with your educational institution to see if they have a specific dress code for you. Some are more casual than others, whereas others can be quite formal.

If they are quite relaxed, you can keep it simple by simply dressing for the weather. If it's cold, don't hesitate to opt for trousers and even a jumper if need be. You can wear smart shoes to fit as well. Likewise, if it is warm, feel free to opt for a skirt and even potentially shorts or at least lightweight trousers.

Keep the colours relatively dark to not interfere with the dressing gown. Apart from that, I would tend to advise a business casual look underneath the gown. Ensure you wear something comfortable but not overly casual.

Let's get into it for those who want a more thorough breakdown.

You can't go wrong with a classic white dress.

You can't go wrong with a classic white dress.

Shirts and Dresses

Generally speaking, you can't go wrong with a stellar crisp shirt. Personally, I would avoid getting something that is overly bright (apart from white) or is patterned as it can clash with the gown (that's even if the shirt is visible through the gown in the first place).

Again, if you're thinking about a full-on dress, then you should keep in mind that the gown will probably completely cover it when zipped up. However, when the gown is unzipped, you'll be able to see it, so you should pick a colour that is complementary to your gown. If not, I'd just go with a plain type colour that's on the darker side.

Bright shoes can be a fun addition to your graduation outfit.

Bright shoes can be a fun addition to your graduation outfit.

Bottoms and Shoes

You can wear shorts, if it is particularly hot, however, generally speaking, I'd advise going for chinos (darker coloured if you can) or a pair of standard business trousers, if possible. You can't go wrong with these choices since they look great with gowns.

If you're going more casual, you could even sport a pair of white trainers. However, I tend to opt for the more formal approach. Going for a smart pair of Brogues or Oxford shoes, then if you're feeling more confident, even a pair of high heels too which can work great.

Generally speaking, I would just avoid anything that is too outright casual, such as a pair of jeans or some sort of sports shorts. Sure, they might be more comfortable but they can give that look of being underdressed and not taking the occasion too seriously. On the flip side, you definitely wear something you are comfortable in because afterwards, you're likely to go celebrating with your friends after your achievement and having fun because you've deserved it.

Check In on the Weather

Another factor that you might want to take into account is the weather. If it is a particularly hot day, a short sleeve shirt might be a better option; likewise, if it is going to be cold, it might be worth opting for trousers over a dress. That said, if your gown largely covers what you're wearing, you can get away with pretty much anything underneath. It's just what's exposed that matters.

The only real things that get exposed are your shoes and legs, and it can be the case that your arms and the V-neck get shown too. Apart from that, you can wear what's comfortable.

This is a good example of what not to wear.

This is a good example of what not to wear.

What Not to Wear Under Your Graduation Gown

There's not much you shouldn't strictly wear when it comes to dressing up for graduation. Unless there is a dress code policy, you will find that many people will wear a whole range of clothing.

That said, there are some general guidelines of what can look good and what doesn't look so good. For instance, wearing a white shirt often looks smart and on point and has been a tradition for many institutions for a good reason. The rule is more relaxed these days; however, if you want to look the part, you can't go wrong with a white top half.

Likewise, bright colours can be a bit of a contrast to the gown if visible. For instance, a lime shirt might not work particularly well with the gown you will wear. There's nothing wrong with it per se. However, it just might not have the look you quite want.

Again, you might not want to go for the too casual look with the risk of feeling underdressed. You can't get too overdressed if you want to play it on the safe side. So there's nothing really wrong with any of the clothing you opt for; it's just what's comfortable for you.

Happy Graduation!

Have you been to a graduation before and had to get dressed up? What did you wear under your graduation gown, and do you regret it, or do you actually think that you made the right decision?

We'd love to hear about your experience on what clothes should be worn under a graduation gown, and future readers will be able to benefit as well. Just head down to the bottom of the article and leave a comment in the comment section.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Hugo Totty