What is the proper high school graduation attire? Think about this. You are “walking the stage” in front of hundreds, maybe even thousands of people. This is your very first official chance to say to the world, “I am an adult. Hear me roar.”
You may think that just because you have on that long graduation gown, it doesn’t matter what you have on underneath. Ah, but it does.
High School Graduation Attire
- Bags. Leave all your bags at home. You simply don’t need them during the ceremony. If you’re from a larger high school, you’ll have to go through a security bag check. Cell phones and keys can easily be carried in pockets. Ladies, make sure to buy a dress or slacks with pockets. If you must carry a purse, consider a wristlet or very small clutch purse.
- Shoes. Your shoes should not be brand new. Make sure they are worn in well and comfortable. You will be on your feet for hours. You want to enjoy your milestone and that will be nearly impossible if your feet are screaming at you. Ladies, six-inch stilettos are not necessary and actually create all kinds of chances for a freak and very embarrassing accident—I’m talking YouTube™ viral worthy. Choose shoes that are classy, timeless and sensible. Ballet flats or wedges are good options.
- Dress. I recommend your dress not being any longer than your robe, especially if the color or pattern clashes with your robe. You want all the images of you receiving your diploma to look their best. They won’t if you have some sort of bright, crazy floral pattern sticking out from underneath your robe. Also consider the fabric (itchy is out), zipper placement and how tight it will be when you sit. Try to choose a dress that is sleek. Adding bulk under the robe will make you look less flattering. Remember to keep the weather in consideration too.
- Slacks. Again, slacks should be a neutral color. Black, grey, beige and brown are all good, safe choices. Choose the color that complements the color of your gown the best.
- Accessorize. Your senior ring is a must, but again, make all other jewelry choices with the long haul in mind. Choose pieces that are not trendy, but timeless. The less you “date” the images you’ll be taking on this special day, the better.
- Hair/Makeup/Hands. Keep all three simple and sophisticated! Ladies, choose a hairstyle that isn’t fussy and gentlemen, make sure your cut is fresh and please don’t forget to shave. Choose a hairstyle that will work well with your graduation cap. Remember, you’ll be wearing this beauty for a few hours. Ladies, your makeup should be waterproof. You might cry and if you have an outdoor ceremony, there’s always a chance of rain. Your hands should be well groomed and manicured. You want to look your best as your reaching for that piece of paper you’ve worked 12 hard years to earn.
- Regalia. Make sure to remember everything you’re going to need for the actual ceremony: cap, gown, tassel, medals, cords and stole.
Other Graduation Tips
- Set an alarm. Don’t be late! Set an alarm (or two) especially if you have an early morning commencement exercise. Late students may be denied the opportunity to sit with their degree program or even walk.
- Stay hydrated/bathroom break. Before you line up, make sure you are well-hydrated and be sure to take one last bathroom break before lining up for the ceremony.
- Smile. Smile when your name is called, as you approach center stage and until you exit. Many people will be taking pictures of you and you want to look excited and happy!
- Take it all in. As overwhelming as it is, try to pay attention to all the speeches. There will be some valuable life lessons in there for you. Enjoy the moment and bask in this crossroad. Otherwise, it will just be a blur that happened. You’ll want to remember this as clearly as possible. I promise.
- Meeting plan. Prior to the ceremony, make a plan where to meet your family and friends after the ceremony. It might be a nightmare finding each other otherwise.
- Camera. Make sure someone in your family brings more than their cell phone to capture your achievement and print these images. Don’t let them live on a computer hard drive forever. Always purchase at least one print from the professional photographer who covered the event for you.
The bottom line is that no matter how fashionable and trendy you normally are, this is one instance when you want to play it safe and dress in a more traditional and classic sense. You are now officially a young adult and this is your first chance to say it loud and proud to the world. Don’t flub it up by making some outrageous fashion statement. All eyes will be on you as you cross the stage to collect your diploma.
Relax!! Take a deep breath! This day is yours! You’ve earned this! You’ve got this! Congratulations!!
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I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journey and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.
When I’m not photographing a wedding, family or high school senior, I love to spend my spare time hiking, camping, cycling, reading, listening to Elvis and Prince. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents and grandson would be proud of!
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