If your son, your daughter, step child, grandchild, or other loved one is graduating, you must be incredibly proud. And, with good reason. It’s time to celebrate their hard work and achievements before they start a new life chapter. So, what should you wear to celebrate with them? Let’s consider what to wear to a graduation as a guest.

First, some general thoughts on what to wear to a graduation as a guest…

Over dressed is better

If you’re wondering what to wear to a graduation and are worried you might be overdressed, I would always err on the side of being overdressed rather than underdressed. But also think about choosing something that is a timeless classic. Just like a for a wedding, you will have photographs from this special day that you will be looking back on for many years to come. You will want an outfit that can stand the test of time and choose for something that’s timelessly chic.

what to wear to a graduation – Think daywear

What to wear to a graduation as a guest - a sweater and full skirt combination | 40plusstyle.com

While, you want to wear something special, a graduation isn’t a cocktail or evening party, so don’t go too glitzy. Of course, you may celebrate from day to night, so be sure that your outfit is adaptible.

Patricia @madamechicbcn (read her style interview here) opts for a sweater with her full skirt. If you’re heading on to an evening dinner or event, you could always change your top.

Steal her look with this similar top (another option here), midi skirt, sandals, handbag, belt and earrings.

Should you wear colors and prints at a graduation?

When you’re standing next to your son or daughter, it’s likely they will be wearing a gown in a block color. So, you’re fine to contrast with them and wear a different shade or a print.

Are you prepared for the weather?

Perhaps the ceremony is indoors but there’s a gathering outdoors afterwards, or vice-versa. You may want a wrap or a jacket to stay warm.

Think about the shoes you wear to the graduation

What to wear to a graduation as a guest | 40plusstyle.com

Where is the graduation happening? Will you be inside or outside? Are you likely to have the graduation on grass? A block heel, low heel or flat will be more comfortable if you will be on your feet for some time.

Annette @theladyofstyle above (read her style interview here) chooses block heels and a matching bag.

Recreate her outfit with this similar dress, sandals, handbag and earrings.

Dresses or pants are both great for a graduation

Wear a dress or a pair of stylish pants. Either will look great for your loved one’s special moment. Or, of course, you could choose a hybrid of the two, and opt for a jumpsuit.

Graduation guest outfits

Now that you’re thinking about what might be suitable outfits for a graduation, let’s put together some suggested outfits that will ensure your son or daughter is just as proud to be with you as you are to be with them on their celebratory day.

1. maxi dress and block heels

A maxi dress can look effortlessly glamorous. You can pair with a blazer to add an extra element of formality. Statement jewelry will add modernity to your look, and block heels will be more comfortable than a thinner pair of heels.

Maxi dress and block heels | 40plusstyle.com

1.STATE One-Button Stretch Crepe BlazerCOS Midi T-Shirt DressCL by Chinese Laundry Go On Platform Dress SandalNina Crystal ClutchShop LC Jewelry Set

2. A little black jumpsuit

You might already have a little black dress in your closet, but how about a little (or long) black jumsuit? I like the idea of a monochrome color palette with a pop of red.

A little black jumpsuit | 40plusstyle.com

Karen Millen Linen Edge To Edge Cropped JacketKaren Millen Soft Tie Knotted Wide Leg JumpsuitCole Haan Goto Park PumpNina Crystal ClutchShop LC Jewelry Set

3. wide leg pants

What to wear to a graduation as a guest - wide leg pants | 40plusstyle.com

Wide leg pants look very stylish as well as being very much on trend right now. Angela @angelamashelle above opts for a pair of pink pants and teams with a black top and black accessories.

Get her look with this similar blouse, pants, pumps, handbag and earrings.

Wide leg pants | 40plusstyle.com

Karen Millen Floral Batik Belted Premium Linen Viscose Woven JacketMisook Cascading Lapel Sleeveless TopFRAME Le Palazzo Wide Leg PantsCL by Chinese Laundry Go On Platform Dress SandalThe Drop Addison Soft Volume Top Handle BagShop LC Jewelry Set

4. A dress and slim pants

You don’t have to choose to wear a dress OR pants. You could team a pair of slim leg pants with a shirt dress.

A midi dress and slim pants | 40plusstyle.com

NIC+ZOE Stamped Flowers Sleeveless Midi ShirtdressAnne Klein Slim Stretch Woven PantsCole Haan Goto Park PumpThe Drop Addison Soft Volume Top Handle BagWeinuo Hoop Earrings

5. A midi skirt

Rather than a dress, you could also think about wearing separates. Team a mid length skirt with a silky top and blazer.

A midi skirt | 40plusstyle.com

CAPSULE 121 The Elphis Gilette Blazer VestTed Baker London Nethiia Floral Print CamisoleZeagoo Satin Midi SkirtCL by Chinese Laundry Go On Platform Dress SandalNina Crystal ClutchWeinuo Hoop Earrings

6. A print shirt dress

What to wear to a graduation as a guest - a print dress | 40plusstyle.com

Jess @elegantlydressedandstylish above (read her style interview here) matches some of the tones in her dress with the beautiful shade of her hair.

Steal her look with this similar printed dress (other options here and here), booties, handbag and earrings.

A print shirt dress | 40plusstyle.com

Masai Copenhagen Norana Printed Tie Waist Long Sleeve ShirtdressCL by Chinese Laundry Go On Platform Dress SandalNina Crystal ClutchWeinuo Hoop Earrings

7. A belted blazer and print pants 

As well as a printed dress, you could choose a pair of printed pants. Keep the top half of your look in block colors if you don’t want it to look too busy for the photos.

A belted blazer and pants | 40plusstyle.com

MANGO Belted BlazerM.M.LaFleur Vicky Silk TankAnne Klein Slim Stretch Woven PantsCole Haan Goto Park PumpThe Drop Addison Soft Volume Top Handle BagWeinuo Hoop Earrings

8. Stripe dress

While some prints and patterns can have a dated look, choosing a graphic print will ensure that you look modern and timeless at the same time. I like the mix stripes going in different directions on the striped dress below.

Stripe dress | 40plusstyle.com

Misook Stripe Knit DressCL by Chinese Laundry Go On Platform Dress SandalThe Drop Addison Soft Volume Top Handle BagWeinuo Hoop Earrings

9. A classic suit

What to wear to a graduation as a guest - a matching suit | 40plusstyle.com

Matching suits did fall out of favor for a little while, but are having a moment again. Cathy @themiddlepageblog above (read her style interview here) chooses a well-fitted gray suit.

Steal her look with this similar top, blazer set, sandals and shoulder bag.

A classic suit | 40plusstyle.com

YUNCLOS Suit SetMisook Cascading Lapel Sleeveless TopCole Haan Goto Park PumpClare V. Foldover Leather Clutch with TabsShop LC Jewelry Set

Your choice of graduation outfits

Below, you can see the outfits from above together in one capsule. You can see you could mix and match the different jackets and tops to get different looks.

Graduation guest outfits | 40plusstyle.com

shop some of graduation outfits above here:

What to wear to wear to a graduation as a guest? What do you think? If you’ve attended a graduation recently, I’d love to hear around your outfit

Continue reading:

  1. How To Dress When You Are The Mother Of The Bride (Or Groom)
  2. The Midi Dress Is Back And We Show You The Best Midi Dresses For Women Over 40
  3. The Best Low Heel Party Shoes That Look Even Better Than Stilettos

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What to wear to a graduation as a guest | 40plusstyle.com

Feature image by Annette @theladyofstyle

Sylvia

Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. She is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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