Outdoor graduation ceremonies can be a grueling ordeal during the summer months. Although you should demonstrate respect for the graduates by wearing appropriate attire, you should also strive for comfort while baking under the hot sun. Fortunately, the appropriate attire styles are easily modified to accommodate outdoor ceremonies.
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Men's Business Casual
Business-casual attire is appropriate for most graduation ceremonies and will ensure that you appear polished in photos from the day. Men’s business casual includes khakis, chinos and dark slacks; open-collar, casual button-down, polo and dress shirts; an optional blazer and tie, and dressy footwear such as leather loafers. Avoid blazers and slacks that are constructed from heavy materials such as wool or tweed -- seersucker, cotton and other light materials are suitable for hot summer weather. Male graduates typically wear a white button-down dress shirt, tie, belt, dark slacks and black-leather dress shoes with dress socks. Graduates should be clean shaven and leave facial piercings out for the day.
Women's Business Casual
Although not necessarily an official dress code, women’s business casual is often the most appropriate attire for female commencement attendees and graduates. Women’s business-casual attire typically includes skirts, khakis and pants; open-collar, button-up or knit shirts; casual dresses or nice sundresses and dressy shoes. Your attire should be neat, pressed and modest. Choose colors and patterns that you would feel comfortable wearing to a business lunch such as blue, black, brown, gray, tan or beige, and select materials that breathe and wick moisture. Female graduates typically wear dresses or skirts and dressy tops. Keep in mind that your skirt should not be lower than your gown and that graduation robes may rub off on light clothing.
Men's Dressy Casual
Dressy-casual attire is similar to business casual, but can be more comfortable in summer months. Dressy-casual attire should be relaxed yet polished and reflect your personal style. Comfortable dressy attire includes dark-wash jeans or linen pants instead of heavy slacks or khakis. Dressy-casual shoes, such as loafers or boat shoes, can be worn without socks to keep you cool. Outdoor ceremonies in the summer months are sometimes too hot for either a blazer or tie to be worn comfortably; wear a casual button-down short-sleeve shirt with a vest and good jeans as a comfortable but dressy alternative. Stick to loose-fitting clothes that breathe well, but take care to ensure that your clothes don't appear slouchy or baggy.
Women's Dressy Casual
Although female graduates may wear business casual or dressy-casual attire, pants and khakis are not traditionally appropriate. Female guests may choose to wear a skirt with a nice top, a dressy pants ensemble or jeans that are in good condition with an embellished top and dressy shoes. Stick to light materials such as silk, silk blends and cotton. Comfortable, summer-appropriate options can include a light-cotton sundress with wedges or skinny jeans with strappy heels and a lightweight top. Dressy-casual attire allows for brighter colors and bolder patterns than business casual -- select an outfit that exudes your personal style. Open-toe shoes and dressy sandals are one way to stay cool. When wearing open-toe shoes, however, your toes should be tidy and polished.