The Modern Lady & Gentleman series: Graduating–BENEATH THE TOGA

Events, Fashion, People

Congratulations! After studying pretty much all of your life, you’re here, about to celebrate one of the greatest milestones in your life — GRADUATION!

Exciting as it seems, graduating from college/university may also be very scary for some. Leaving friends you’ve learned to love for the past few years is certainly one of life’s bittersweet moments. On the other hand, one surely will not miss cramming papers, examinations, and the all-nighters. But, the stress doesn’t end there as another problem meets your horizon — What to wear to your graduation? What should be beneath your toga?

Dozens and dozens of photos will be taken of you on that day, so that is not the time to look worn-out as if you didn’t sleep well the night before, or as if you forgot to take a shower. We know you barely made it out of college alive, but don’t show it. Looking and feeling your best on graduation day is your utmost priority.

Some people assume that what they wear on their graduation day doesn’t really matter because it will only be covered with a toga. But tradition says otherwise. It is wise to wear something a little bit better than your dressed-down pants and doll shoes. Commencement exercises are formal events, hence the need to dress up. But take heed–don’t be too extra. The solemnity and modesty of these kinds of ceremonies should still be preserved.


A formal frock is the way to go. Depending on one’s taste and proportions, a fitted or flowing dress will be just fine. Plain colors are the safest choices, but one can always experiment with bolder patterns such as floral, stripes, and abstract. Depending on your body features such as height, weight, skin color, among others, these colors and patterns just might do wonders for you.

Lifesaver tip: Wear a dress with hidden a pocket/s. This is very helpful as you wouldn’t want to carry a purse, or a cross-body bag while marching down to get your diploma. Just keep in hand some essentials like your phone. Wallets and others may be left in your parents’ or friends’ care. If you have no one with you, then you can bring a tiny coin purse with folded bills inside.

Make sure to wear shoes (closed/half-closed; formal pumps) with at least 2 to 3-inch heels. Anything higher than that may cause you discomfort throughout the duration of the ceremony which entails walking and standing for a long time. Heels are subject to an individual’s ability to walk in. If you can’t handle stilettos, then by all means go with wedges. Though that’s not a very popular choice for graduation fashion.

Makeup must be light and discreet. You wouldn’t want your face to be totally unrecognizable. Makeup is there only enhance your natural beauty, not to alter how you look. A youthful, sophisticated-colored lipstick and blush-on are the most important pieces you’ll ever need. Then a soft doodle on eyebrows, light eyeliner and eyeshadow, and some fine mascara. Of course, a little foundation and concealer for those with dark blemishes. Make up is very crucial as you will be looking at your graduation photos all your life, so make sure you get it right!


A long-sleeved polo is a must. The standard white, light blue, and gray never fail to impress. If you’re brave and quirky, don’t hesitate to take on colors you don’t usually wear. Go plain too. If not, pin-stripes will do just fine. And, PLEASE TUCK YOUR SHIRTS.

Pair the shirt with a necktie of your choice. Slim ties are great, but classic is better. Not too big, not too small. By the way, pattern-on-pattern is not very tasteful. Just go by these ‘standard’ rules instead:

plain shirt = plain tie
patterned shirt = plain tie
plain shirt = patterned tie

Denim pants are a no-no. You have to be clad in your black slacks to maintain formality. Gray or charcoal blue slacks are also appropriate to wear to your graduation.

Make sure you are well-groomed. Go with a classic hairstyle. You might regret having trendy ones, looking at your graduation photos years from now only to realize they’re not so flattering after all.

Lastly, don’t forget to literally put your best foot forward by wearing well-polished black leather shoes. Brown or burgundy brogues are also welcome as they are very fashionable nowadays. For a bolder look, ankle-high boots are great too. You’ll be amazed at the feeling of authority and superiority (stance) you get when wearing a pair. (Read up on my previous article regarding shoes)

More than anything, function and comfort in graduation fashion are the most important factors to consider. Wear something that is comfortable enough to move in and sit around to maximize the enjoyment of such a momentous occasion without having to be so conscious of how you look. After all, graduation is a celebration of your achievement, not your fashion.



You can learn more on graduation fashion (among many others) from and

One thought on “The Modern Lady & Gentleman series: Graduating–BENEATH THE TOGA

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