The Perfect Graduation Outfit

Ruth, from the Churchill Gowns team, takes us through choosing the perfect graduation outfit so you feel your best on the day.

After you’ve spent three years at university living in tracksuit bottoms and pyjamas, the prospect of dressing up in formal clothes and parading across a stage can be a little unnerving. Your graduation photos may well be adorning your parents’ wall for the foreseeable future, so it’s important to wear something that you’re comfortable in, that reflects your personal style, and which won’t have you face-palming in ten years time!

Research your University's dress code

Different universities have different dress codes for graduation. At mine we were required to wear a white blouse, a black skirt and black shoes, so that didn’t really leave much room for the imagination. Most universities are less strict on colours but pretty much all of them will stipulate that students have to dress formally, so make sure you check the university website and don’t end up standing out because you turned up in flip flops.

Take your academic dress into consideration

Most students will be required to wear a gown, hood and mortarboard for their graduation, so it’s important to take these into consideration when planning your outfit. The majority of UK universities use a black gown, so wearing something underneath that contrasts with the black, such as a bright or pastel colour, tends to work best. Hood colours will vary depending on which university you attend and what course you’re studying, so check in advance what yours will look like and think about choosing outfit colours that will complement it. Many hoods will have a coloured trim or ribbon, so picking out that colour detail in your outfit could be a great approach.

The hoods can also be a little tricky to hold in place if you aren’t wearing a button down shirt, so if you can find a dress or top you like that includes buttons on the front you’re onto a winner! If not, don’t despair, just make sure you have a few safety pins to hand on the day to hold the hood in place. If you aren’t sure how to correctly attach the hood, check out the How to Wear page on the Churchill Gowns website.

Consider a sustainable option

At Churchill Gowns we’re committed to environmental sustainability, which is why our gowns are made from recycled plastic. If this inspires you too, then why not consider choosing a sustainability focussed brand for your graduation outfit as well as your gown?

Lots of high street stores now offer a sustainable product range, such as H&M’s ‘Conscious Collection’, and there are also plenty of specialist brands. If you’re looking for something colourful we’d recommend looking at Mayamiko's beautiful prints on fair trade materials. People Tree also have a great range of floral summer dresses for those who want to opt for something a little more traditional.

The image on the left is the 'Emma Dress in Retro Pop' by Mayamiko and on the right the 'Magdalena Wrap Dress' by Free People

Alternatively, if it’s luxury you’re after and you have a little more money to spend, check out the crisp and modern tailoring on offer at Dai or the on-trend designs from LA based Reformation.

The image on the left is the Trail Blazer and Trousers in 'Midnight' by Dai and on the right the 'Lemongrass Jumpsuit' by Reformation

Practice, practice, practice

We guarantee that most of your graduation day nerves will evaporate if you do a little bit of practice before the day. Luckily your Churchill Gowns graduation gown, hood and mortarboard will arrive at least two days before your ceremony, which means you have plenty of time to try on your full outfit, make any last minute adjustments and master walking up stairs wearing heels and a flowing gown.

Represent yourself!

Finally, remember that this is your chance to represent yourself in front of your family and peers, so the most important thing when selecting your outfit is to choose something that you’re comfortable in and that is unapologetically ‘you’. Don’t let university traditions get in the way of expressing your personality!