Mature woman can look stunning at commencement
Doctoral regalia. The three blue velvet stripes indicate that the wearer has a doctoral degree. The hood shows the colors of the school where the wear earned the degree.

…. without looking like Mrs. Robinson

When you are over 40, you probably have watched the movie The Graduate where Mrs. Robinson goes after her daughter’s boyfriend.

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. 😉

#maturestyle Commencement outfit suggestions for women in midlife
Karina wrap dress with Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, and Gloria Vanderbilt pumps (all own)


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. 😉

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.


Styleover50 Outfit suggestion for commencement
Karina paisley print dress with Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Gloria Vanderbilt pumps (all own) and halftee c/o Halftee


Taking these aspect into consideration you will need a tote to pack

  • 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 won’t work as it will hit kids in the face when you turn around and is an invitation for theft.

#fashionover40 outfit to wear at commencement as a guest
Karina paisley print dress with Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Gloria Vanderbilt pumps (all own) with halftee c/o Halftee

Commencement outfit tips

Outfit-wise you want to be comfortable at all the different events like mass, commencement, reception, and later dinner. Think business casual, i.e. go for a modest outfit in fabrics that cannot be caught in folding chairs or sport arena chairs, are not too sensitive to spills from cake frosting, juice or coffee, and don’t wrinkle when sitting for a long time. Go for a celebratory look. Avoid anything that can cut in and become uncomfortable.

Commencement outfit suggestions

Here are some outfit suggestion to look great and enjoy the celebrations in style and 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
  • Jersey dress like the one in the OOTD (as it won’t wrinkle when you sit) 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

fashionover50 Outfit suggestion for commencement guest Victoria Victoria Beckham silk cat-print dress with GNW cardigan, and Esprit bag (all own)mother of the graduate commencement outfit suggestion Sheath dress c/o Lookbook Store with own Great Northwest suede safari inspired jacket, Salavtore Ferragamo Vara pumps, and Jaeger tote

mature woman in an outfit suitable to wear at a graduation celebration Siren India Hicks scarf c/o Tammy Gray with own Coach bag, Via Spiga slingbacks, Paloma Picasso sunglasses and jersey dress c/o Blue Vanilla

Nicole of High Latitude Style in abtract floral print work dress, cropped scuba jacket and ankle strap pumps
Banana Republic sleevesless abstract floral print summer work dress, Covington ankle strap pumps, Modalo Pippa bag, Hermes collier de chien bangle, DIY brooch (all own)

maturestyle Graduation guest outfit G-III skirt with Moda International sweater, steal blue blazer, Aldo leopard print pumps, vintage Esprit bag (all own) and statement necklace c/o Almo Jewelleryfashion blogger over 50 in commencement guest look Ariana wedge slides c/o Vionic Shoes worn with own eShakti jersey fit-and-flaredress, and GNW floral print cardigan

over 40 style Commencement guest outfit Calvin Klein striped sheath dress with GNW cardigan, and L.K. Bennett wedge patent leather heels (all own)

#fashionover50 woman in blue white tan summer office attire with briefcase
Karina polka dot wrap, Tommy Hilfiger ankle strap sandels, Jord watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, blue Kieselstein Cord belt (all own), white frame sunglasses c/o, and work briefcase c/o thirty-one

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

Are you attending a graduation this year? Are you looking forward to the event? Where will it take place? Have you already picked your outfit? Let me know, I am curious. Also let me know when you have a fashion or style question you want help with, advice or an opinion on.

Here you can find further inspirations on what to wear to a graduation. You may also be interested in how to decode regalia.

When you liked the outfit recipes of this post, and want recipes for all kind of dressing situation in midlife, buy my book How to Dress for Success in Midlife.

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Photos: G. Kramm

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