You are currently viewing What You Can Wear at Commencement as a Guest
Quince sweater, Ralph Lauren denim skirt, Hipstik pantyhose, Ivanka Trump pumps, Ann Klein scarf, VO bag, citrine and bone necklace.

…. without looking like Mrs. Robinson. When you have watched the movie The Graduate you know Mrs. Robinson goes after her daughter’s boyfriend. Now what to wear to your kids graduation? Read this post to get some inspirations what to wear at commencement for the various venues of the celebrations dependent on weather, and the location.


Disclosure: This post has affiliate links.


Your Kid’s Graduation Means You Made It

When you have to attend a graduation, you should celebrate the graduate of course, but also that your money can now be redirected to you, and what you like, for instance, fashion and style. 😉

The graduation may be a sort of family reunion. Many photos will be taken. Therefore, avoid to wear the latest It trend of this year. It may look ridiculous in a decade from now, and you don’t want to be the amusement of the graduate’s future kids. 😉

Sure, you don’t want to wear what Mrs. Robinson was wearing in The Graduate. A bombshell style look is not a good idea. Instead, create an outfit that is comfortable for sitting thru three hours, and can go from the early morning festivities to the reception after commencement.


outfit ideas how to dress as a commencement guest denim skirt floral top cardigan long knit jacket
Left: Bell-sleeve knit coat c/o Femme Luxe, VO bag, Hipstik panty hose, Ivanka Trump ankle strap pumps, watch c/o Nordgreen. Right: Ivanka Trump pumps, Hipstik pantyhose, black pearl necklace, Ralph Lauren denim skirt, Notations cardigan, Isaac Mizrahi cardigan.


Graduation Must-haves

Create an outfit that is classic, but sassy and comfortable for a day long marathon of inside and outside events. You will be on your feet a lot running from one event to the next where you will sit or stand for a long time before running to the next event. You are actually only interested in the graduate who invited you (when you are the mother, aunt or a family friend), which means that sitting thru 3 to 4 hours of names read and graduates passing the stage will be pretty boring. So have something to read. Put the book into the commencement book, so it not so obvious what you actually read.


2 festive posh casual outfit inspiration for what to wear to commencement as a guest
Commencement guest looks for cold weather. Left: Statement belt, Hipstik pantyhose, Liz Claiborne shirt dress, Camel bag, long cardigan c/o Femme Luxe, sunglasses c/o Messyweekend, Nordgreen watch, and pointy-toe ballet flats c/o Vivaia. Right: London Jean BF, Moda International sequin blazer, statment belt, DIY necklace, Nordgreen watch, sun-protective top c/o Coolibar, sunglasses c/o Messy Weekend, and flats c/o Vivaia.


What to Bring When the Location Is an Open-Air Sports Arena

If the graduation ceremony is in an open-air sports arena, taking these aspect into consideration. What to pack for commencement:

  • Sun-cream and sunglasses
  • Reading glasses and a book
  • A camera to take better quality photos than with your cell phone
  • A wrap or cardigan to stay comfortable in chilly air conditioning or the shade
  • A water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Rain protection (packable trench coat is stylish and works best) in case the weather becomes nasty (thunderstorm or rain)
  • Sun hat. No large brim as it will block the view for the people behind you when the event is in an open sports arena.


Tip: A backpack is unsuitable for a commencement guest. It can hit kids in the face when you turn around, and invites for theft.


If the graduation celebrations are in an indoor ice arena, the location may be chilly. Therefore, a layered outfit is best.


example how to dress at commencement as the mother of the graduate
Left: Lulu Roe Nicole abstract print jersey dress, floral tights, Very Fine Dance Shoes sandals, Hermes collier de chien bangle, citrine and moonstone statement necklace, coordinates bangle c/o oNecklace, and Cami Confidential layering top. Right: 18K gold plated onyx and white jade necklace c/o Almo Jewellery, Calvin Klein sheath dress, Esprit shoulder bag, Ray Ban Jackie O. sunglasses, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Christian Louboutain pumps, and Moda International cardigan.



What to Wear at Commencement Outfit Suggestions

Outfit-wise you want to be comfortable at all the different events like mass, commencement, reception, and later dinner. Think business casual style with a festive vibe. Go for a modest outfit in fabrics that cannot be caught in folding chairs or sport arena chairs. Also pick fabrics that are not too sensitive to spills from cake frosting, juice or coffee. Look for wrinkle-resistant items, because you will sit for a long time. For your own comfort, avoid anything that can cut in and become uncomfortable.


over 50 years old woman in wrinkle-resistant commencement guest outfit
Karina paisley print dress, Kieselstein Cord belt, pantyhose, Gloria Vanderbilt pumps, and halftee c/o Halftee.



Outfit Ensembles to Try

Here are some outfit ensembles of what to wear at commencement that look great and permit enjoying the celebrations in comfort:

  • Sundress with statement belt, fabric tote, and flat sandals
  • Straight or full skirt with button-down blouse/shirt, 2.5 inch (5 cm) block heel pumps, a cardigan and a lady-like tote
  • Wrinkle-free jersey dress like the one in the OOTD with cropped jacket or wrap, bucket bag and espadrilles
  • Dressy joggers (not sweat pants) with white button-down shirt, long leopard print or striped jacket with shoulder satchel and open-toe pumps
  • Shift/A-line dress with medium size bag and wedge heels
  • If you are an immigrant, consider wearing a traditional festive outfit of the country of your origin



2 outfit ideas for the mother of the graduate with dress and jacket
Left: u-knit summer dress, GNW short sleeve cardigan, L.K. Bennett wedge pumps, Moschino belt, Hermes collier de chien bangle,  necklace, and bracelet. Right: Banana Republic abstract floral print dress, Tahari scuba jacket, Covington ankle strap pumps, Modalu Pippa bag, DIY brooch, Hermes collier de chien bangle.


Commencement Don’ts

Here is a list of things to avoid in addition to dressing like Mrs. Robinson 😉 :

  • Forgetting to check the weather forecast.
  • New shoes – blister alert.
  • Wide brim hats.
  • Tight clothes.
  • High heeled shoes.
  • Too much skin (large cleavage, cold shoulder trend, hanger dresses, micro-mini).
  • Backpacks.
  • Not switching off your phone.


The event may be more interesting when you know how to decode regalia.

Details of featured look: Quince sweater, Ralph Lauren denim skirt, Hipstik pantyhose, Ivanka Trump pumps, Ann Klein scarf, VO bag, citrine and bone necklace.

Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved