Proper Attire for High School Graduation

Graduation portrait
Family photos are an important reason to dress appropriately for graduation ceremonies. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The end of the school year is a time of celebration for high school seniors and their families. Graduation season can also be a hectic time in which parents and students often overlook major details. Before you send out graduation invitations or organize a party, plan ahead by familiarizing yourself with the most appropriate attire options for both graduates and guests.

Men's Business Attire

There are two distinct variations of men’s business attire: formal and casual. Emily Post notes that men’s business formal attire typically includes a dark business suit, dress shirt, tie and dress shoes and men’s business casual includes dress shirts, slacks or khakis, loafers and an optional tie. Graduating male students usually wear a dress shirt with a subdued tie, dark slacks or khakis and dress shoes. Guests should wear weather-appropriate clothes. If the ceremony is indoors, male guests might wear a blazer and tie, but if you expect to be outside for several hours in hot weather, they may opt to leave off the tie and jacket.

Women's Business Attire

As with men’s business attire, women’s business attire can be either formal or casual. According to Emily Post, women’s business formal includes suits, professional style dresses, skirts with blazers and heels, while women’s business casual includes dressy pants or khakis, open-collar or knit shirts and dresses. Graduating students should strive for a neat, polished appearance. Keep in mind that your skirt should not reach below your graduation gown and your shirt should not be low-cut. If necessary, use your school's official dress code as a guide. Guests should also have a tidy appearance and avoid flip-flops, sandals and spaghetti straps.

Men's Dressy Casual

Men’s dressy casual is strong potential option for crowded outdoor graduation ceremonies, particularly in extremely humid or hot regions of the country. Although dressy casual is not typically appropriate for graduating male students, parents and guests may wear dressy-casual attire. Men’s dressy casual includes khakis, slacks and dark-wash jeans that are in good condition, a button-down casual shirt or dress shirt and loafers or other dressy casual shoes.

Women's Dressy Casual

Women’s dressy casual is a comfortable alternative for female guests, but should be avoided by female graduates. Women’s dressy casual includes dresses, skirts with a nice blouse, dress pants or dark-wash jeans that are in good condition. Although heels are not necessary, your shoes should nevertheless have a clean, polished appearance -- avoid sneakers, sandals and other athletic or casual footwear.

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