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Dressing up for your graduation ceremony

For some of us it’s the first time and for some it’s the 5th. Nonetheless a graduation ceremony is a happy occasion marking the end of years of hard work but also a time of great pressure. The the last thing you should be worrying about is your attire. For those who had time to pre-plan your attire months in advance and the ones who are now scrambling through catalogs, here are some obvious and not so obvious do’s and dont’s.


· Dress appropriately for the weather. We all know how much the weather fluctuates in the Bay Area, so check the weather and if you feel it’s going to get cold, grab a cardigan or thin coat.

· Wear a dress that is you and makes you feel confident in the ceremony as well as when you take your gown off for graduation parties and events. But don’t forget that it needs to be comfortable because you will be spending at least 4-5 hours in it.

· Try to wear a dress with pockets for the functional reason of being able to carry a phone. This will make it easier for you to coordinate with your family after the ceremony.

· Accessorize: Since the gown is going to cover most of your dress, accessories like a necklace, earrings or bracelets can help you stand out, especially accessories in your hands like bangles or a classy bracelet since it is the area that is most visible.

· Try something different with your hair: Go for the opposite of your regular hairstyle. Practice in advance so that you don’t have to rush on the morning of your graduation day. There are many YouTube tutorials for hairstyles to wear under your graduation cap. A classic would be to straighten your hair then give the ends some big curls which will end up looking like waves.

· Do your makeup: It helps enhance your facial features and helps you look great for pictures.

· Shoes: Wear formal shoes you’re comfortable with since you will be walking across the stage and around for pictures. Other than gym shoes or sneakers, anything that you are comfortable with that matches your outfit will do. Wedges or block heels are the most popular picks because they are heels which are comfortable.

· Mani-pedi-facials: Not the most important tip, but everyone likes glowing graduates with clean, painted nails.


· Don’t think that because you’re wearing a robe it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing underneath because you will be taking it off either for pictures or for lunch/dinner.

· Don’t wear long floor-length ‘prom’ dresses under your gown: Apart from the fact that it looks off when your dress is considerably longer than your gown, dragging the dress all over the floor may result in you or someone else tripping on your dress.

· Don’t wear something that will peek out from your dress in an awkward manner like a full-length sleeve.

· Don’t wear new shoes and high heels especially stilettos - Instead of enjoying the day, you will worry about tripping or be constantly thinking about the pain in your feet. And you don’t want to sink in the lawn area of the Scottish Rite Center, Lake Merritt.

· Don’t spend too much time styling your hair - You will be wearing your cap most of the time and it will be difficult to keep it intact so try to keep the hairstyle as simple as possible.

Do’s and Don’ts about the graduation cap

Do: Design your cap - It is a nice way you to showcase your personality, send across a statement or simply make a style statement.

Don’t: Decorate with something that you may regret later like an obscene or an offensive image or text.

Wearing the tassel:

Do: Wear your tassel on the front right side: You need to position the cap in the correct position for the tassel to hang off at the front right edge of the cap. During the ceremony, you will be provided with instructions to move your tassel to the left, which signifies that you have received your degree or certificate.

Don’t: Don’t allow tassels to hang off the back of your cap. Everyone must wear the tassel on the same side.

How do I wear my cap?

Do: Wear your cap so that the Mortar Board is level and parallel to the ceiling. Place the crown of the cap approximately 1 inch above the eyebrows and the rest approximately 1-1 ½ inches above each ear and consider using bobby pins to secure it.

Don’t: Don’t tip your cap to the back or the side of the head.

What is the difference between the front and back of the cap?

Do: Look at the inside of your cap to see where the front of it is indicated.

Commencement ceremony tips:

Make a list of everything you need: Make sure you have your cap, gown, tassel and invitation letters.

Hang your gown: Take it out of the plastic, make sure you have it all, and hang it up to let some of the wrinkles straighten out. You can also iron or steam it if you’re feeling super confident.

Set an alarm, make sure you’re on time.

Stay hydrated and take a bathroom break before getting in line: Since there is a lot of excitement mixed with anxiety, people normally get dehydrated so make sure you feel hydrated.

Plan where to meet your guests after the ceremony: It can get hectic if families can’t find their graduates as they leave the building in the sea of robes so decide on a location beforehand like the parking lot or visitors center by the lake so that you can reunite easily.

Suggest that your guests dress business casual: Although there is no dress code, many guests like to dress up for this special day so you can suggest business casual so they can avoid feeling the pressure of choosing the right attire.

Do you feel that the tips were useful? Let us know if you have some of your own tips at chronicle@lincolnuca.edu