5 Top Tips to Find the Perfect Graduation Outfit

University of Leeds
4 min readJul 10, 2023

Graduation can be a stressful time, with making your way back to campus, organising all your guests and figuring out where you’d like to take photos.

Written by an upcoming graduate, Holly Phillips, this blog post is designed to help make one component of graduation — finding a graduation outfit — a little less stressful. Here are some top tips to find the perfect graduation outfit.

A group of graduates, family and friends stood around the wavy Bacon statue on a sunny day.

1. Remember to dress smartly

Graduation day is a very important day to many who have completed a degree. It is a day of celebration, where all of your hard work is recognised. It’s not one of the most important things to look nice on graduation day, but it’s an added bonus.

The University advises you to dress in formal attire such as a suit or dress but this also includes any formal attire relating to your cultural tradition or national costume. Don’t forget you’ll be wearing your gown over the top, make sure to hire yours in advance to get the best deal!

2. Check the weather

As evidenced over the last few weeks, the British summer weather is extremely unpredictable. It can be sunny and hot, rainy and cold, or a mixture of both, so ensure that your outfit is appropriate for the weather!

A screengrab of the Leeds weather forecast on the Apple Weather app.

Maybe ditch the waistcoat if it’s 30 degrees? Remember, you will be wearing a gown too, so that’s an extra layer. Bring extra layers if it’s due to be a bit colder. You might even want to pop an umbrella in your bag in case of rain. The last thing you’d want is a soggy outfit when you’re up on the Great Hall stage!

3. Comfort is key!

As much as you may want to look good on graduation day, it is also important to be comfortable. If you don’t usually whip out the six inch heels, or if you haven’t yet worn in your smart shoes, it may not be the most suitable option for graduation day. The day may consist of a fair bit of walking, taking photos and walking on stage (which is recorded), so make sure that your shoes, and clothing is comfortable and appropriate for the occasion.

Great Hall steps.

4. Unsure of where to shop for graduation outfits?

If you’re struggling to find a graduation outfit, why not browse the socials for some inspiration? Instagram and TikTok are great sources to use to feel inspired when looking for graduation outfits. Two of the top recommended places to find affordable graduation outfits are H&M and ASOS. They both have a wide range of options, with ASOS providing many branded options.

If you’re looking for some eco-friendly options, @galswhograduate on Instagram provided six eco-conscious brands to buy graduation attire from:

  1. Omnes — A company that only uses fabrics that are grown, sourced and manufactured responsibly, providing new clothes to buy.
  2. Hurr — One of the most popular clothing companies to rent from.
  3. The Cirkel — Providing secondhand options available to buy, elevating the second-hand experience.
  4. Reformation — Putting sustainability at the top of everything, they have great options of clothes to buy.
  5. By Rotation — With access to designer fashion, as well as more affordable pieces, they have amazing options available to rent.
  6. Hirestreet — Focusing on inclusivity and creativity, they have a wide range of green graduation outfit choices.

If you’re not planning on renting, ensure that your outfit is wearable again… maybe to a wedding or another event so your money isn’t wasted on an item of clothing that you are only going to wear once.

A range of different shirts lined up on shopping rails.

5. Graduation outfits also don’t have to be expensive

Why not look on Vinted, Depop or Facebook Marketplace to find cheaper, second-hand options? Filter by your favourite brands or search for fabrics and colours that you like, you might be surprised at how many pieces there are to choose from — not to mention having a unique vintage piece is much less likely to run the risk of having matching outfits with the person next to you! You could even borrow from friends or family for a super cheap option, with additional sentimental value.

Hopefully these five top tips have helped you in finding your perfect graduation outfit. But remember, it isn’t all about what you wear and what you look like, it is also about celebrating your years of hard work!

Enjoy!

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