Have you heard that graduation dresses should be white? In this day and age, that’s just not so. You should check to see whether there’s a dress code, then check the weather. After that, on your graduation day, the world is yours, and you have plenty of style options.

Modern graduation dress is comfortable but stylish, a relaxed semiformal unless otherwise stated. White is the most traditional, but if it’s not your best color, the fashion police won’t arrest you. You earned that diploma, or a ransom note until you pay for it, so express yourself and be you.

Whatever color you choose, comfort is key. Along with pockets, of course, because you’ll have no room or time for bags and purses.

With those aspects of your ensemble considered, the fun part can begin. What is your style, who are “you”? What’s under the robe matters, and you should also take into account the robe. Is your style boho chic, a little bit rebellious, punk, preppy, demure, girlie, color-free, colorful? Whoever “you” are, you can find a few graduation dresses that are right for you.

Boho chic

For the inner flower child or maxi-skirt lover of any denomination, it’s hard to go wrong. Long, flowy palazzo pants are even an option with your favorite spiritual blouse and a layer of necklaces. Just make sure your comfy shoes are still a little fancy.


There’s never a bad excuse for spikes and leather, flannel, or whatever definition of anti-girlie is. It is best to leave some drama and frills, not to mention tears and holes at home, though. “What would Wednesday wear?” along with some bold but not cumbersome accessories, is a good way to go.

Flannel dresses are also an option, and who says you can’t wear comfortable yet stylish boots or limited edition Converses?


Preppy is the new Mod, and Mods always had a great sense of style. Think the Royal Family but fun. And because it’s a special occasion, a standout piece or two of jewelry will complement the ensemble. If Kate Middleton would wear it to a barbecue, it will do.


If Grace Kelly wears it to a barbecue, it’s demure. Minimal but elegant, subtle but finely crafted and plotted is the definition of demure. Being demure is also a safe option, or a go-to option if you just can’t decide.

Hemlines and colors are key, though if you go a little wild with either of those, then thing start getting girlie.


Girlie doesn’t automatically mean pink, flowers, and pearls. There are many other feminine colors and elements of style. However, too much frill and poof can be cumbersome. If Elle Woods would wear it, but to work, it works.


Some people hate the color or don’t have a lot of it in their wardrobe. That’s fine, but to make the ensemble special, try color blocking or a bold pop of color. Minimalist doesn’t mean boring. Sleek, sophisticated, on-point statement accessories also pair well with more versatile, basic dresses.


If your outfits light up a room, it’s a good thing the robe is usually black. Too much color can be a literal headache, so balance the urge to paint the world rainbow with things that are more neutral. Have a standout dress and simpler shoes or accessories, or vice versa.

Your graduation day is a special day — your day. So be you — but comfortable, practical, and stylish.

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