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What to Wear Under Graduation Gown and Cap?

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Congratulations you have made it and now it's time to celebrate! If this is the first time you have actually gone to pick up your certificate in higher education, chances are your going to need to wear a graduation gown. However, it might not be immediately clear to you what you need to wear under the graduation gown.

This article aims to help you with just that. For those who want a quick and easy answer though, first check your educational institution to see if they have a specific dress code for you, some are more casual than others whereas others can be quite formal.

If they are quite relaxed, you can keep it simple by simply dressing to the weather. If it's cold, don't hesitate to opt for trousers and even a jumper if needs be. You can wear smart shoes to fit as well. Likewise, if it is warm, feel free to opt for a skirt and even potentially shorts or at least lightweight trousers.

Keep the colours relatively dark as well to not intervene with the dressing gown. Apart from that, I would tend to advise for a business casual look underneath the gown. ensure you wear something comfortable but not overly casual.

For those who want a more thorough breakdown, let's get into it.


Shirts & Tops

Generally speaking, you can't go wrong with a stellar crisp shirt. Personally, would avoid getting something that is overly bright (apart from white) or is patterned as it can clash with the gown (that's even if the shirt is visible through the gown in the first place).

Again, if you're thinking about a full-on dress, then you can do away with the shirt obviously, however, it can be the case that the gown does cover the dress. Where you can see it though, it can work really well but you are open to a lot of colours. If you want to get particularly savvy, you could work out the colour of the gown and get a dress that compliments that colour. If not, I'd just go with a plain type colour that's on the darker side.


Bottoms & Shoes

If you're wearing a dress, again, you don't really have to worry about this section. You can wear shorts, if it is particularly hot, however, generally speaking I'd advise going for chinos (darker coloured if you can) or a pair of standard business trousers, if possible. You can't go wrong and looks great with the dressing gown as well.

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If you're going more casual, you could even sport a pair of white trainers, however, I tend to opt for the more formal approach. Going for a smart pair of Brogues or Oxford shoes, then if you're feeling more confident even a pair of high heels too which can work great.

Generally speaking, would just avoid anything that is too outright casual, such as a pair of jeans or some sort of sport shorts. Sure, they might be more comfortable but they can give that look of being underdressed and not taking the occasion too seriously. On the flipside, you definitely wear something you are comfortable in because afterwards, you're likely to go celebrating with your friends after your achievement and having fun because you've deserved it.


Check in on the Weather

Another factor that you might want to take into account is the weather. If it is a particularly hot day, a short sleeve shirt might be a better option and likewise, if it is going to be cold, it might be worth opting for trousers over a dress. That said, if your gown is largely covering what you're wearing anyway, you can get away with pretty much anything underneath, it's just what's exposed that matters.

The only real things that get exposed are your shoes. legs and it can be the case that your arms and the V neck get shown too, apart from that you can wear what's comfortable. Also consider, what you might be up to after the graduation ceremony, chances are you're going to be going elsewhere after you have picked up your certificate, so you don't want to be too uncomfortable there.

What Not to Wear Under Your Graduation Gown?

There's not much you shouldn't stricly wear when it comes to dressing up for a graduation gown, you will find unless their is a dress code policy, that a lot of people will wear a whole range of clothing.

That said, there are some general guidelines of what can look good and what doesn't look so good when it comes to pairing up clothes to a dressing gown. For instance, wearing a white shirt, often looks smart and on point, and was tradition for a lot of institutions for a long time and for good reason, the rule is more relaxed these days, however, if you want to look the part then you can't go wrong with a white top half.

Likewise, bright colours can be a bit of a contrast to the gown if it is visbile. For instance, a lime shirt might not work particularly well with the gown your going to wear. There's nothing wrong with it per se, however, just might not have the look you quite want.

Again, you might not want to go for the too-casual look with a risk of feeling underdressed, you can't really go too overdressed if you wanted to play it on the safe side either. So there's nothing really wrong with any of the clothing you opt for, it's just what's comfortable for you but keep in mind the event you're going to.

Have you been to a graduation before and had to get dressed up, what did you wear under your graduation gown and do you regret it or do you actually think that you made the right decision? We'd love to hear about your experience on what clothes should be worn under a graduation gown and future readers will be able to benefit as well. Just head down to the bottom of the article and leave a comment in the comment seciton.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Hugo Totty

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