What to Wear to a Graduation Party

Graduation is one of the biggest events in someone’s life. The ceremony marks the end of one chapter of your life and your entry into the next. Most importantly, though, it’s a great excuse to party with the people you’ve spent the last four years with.

The graduation ceremony itself usually has a specific dress code. You’ll probably have to wear a graduation gown all day, and you might want to wear something comfortable and demure underneath it for pictures with your family. For a graduation party, though, you can really express your personal style without restriction and focus on your own preferences plus current trends.

What you wear to a graduation party can depend on what kind of party it is. If you’re struggling to decide what to wear for your own graduation party or one you’ve been invited to, we’ll help you narrow down some options so you can look your best for graduation season.

Tips for Choosing Your Graduation Party Outfit

There are a few things to keep in mind for a graduation party outfit regardless of what kind of party it is.


Graduation parties are often well-photographed events because it may be the last time everyone will be together for a while. Make sure the outfit you choose is one that you’ll be happy seeing in photos for years to come.


You want to look and feel your best, so wearing a comfortable outfit is essential. If you’re tugging on something that’s too tight or can sit or move comfortably, you aren’t going to enjoy yourself.


Always check the weather forecast before going to your graduation party, especially if it will be an outdoor event. Make sure you have the right shoes and outer gear to wear on the way to the party either way.

Formal vs Casual

It’s important to consider how formal or casual the graduation party is going to be. While most people go a little more formal for the graduation itself, graduation parties can vary a lot. If your party is happening directly after your graduation ceremony, most people will be wearing their graduation outfits, but many parties will happen around graduation time.

Understanding what kind of party it is and what kind of activities are happening will help you know how dressed up (or down) you should be.

At the end of the day, how you dress should be a reflection of you. If you want to wear a cute dress because it makes you feel good, don’t let everyone else wearing jeans stop you. Just be aware that some games and activities may not be conducive to short hems and high heels.

Dress for Your Graduation Party

No two graduation parties are exactly the same, but there are typically some general types of parties you might find yourself at. Here are a couple of typical styles of graduation parties and some outfit ideas to go with each type.

Outdoor Graduation Party

Since many graduations happen in the summer, outdoor parties are pretty common. You’ll definitely want to pay more attention to the weather for an outdoor party. If it’s a hot day, make sure you wear light colors and light layers, as well as a hat and sunscreen if the UV is high.

Outdoor parties might start in the day and transition to the evening, so packing a light jacket might be a good idea as well so you’re comfortable after dark.

Afternoon Picnic Outfit

For an outdoor party that revolves around an afternoon picnic, you can embrace a sweet cottagecore look. A light cotton sundress, leather sandals, and a straw hat will keep you cool and cute for the afternoon.

If you want an extra layer to take you into the evening, a lightweight cardigan is a good option that works with the sweet vibe of your outfit. You could also choose a light button-down shirt as a top layer, knotting it in the front to give your outfit more shape.

Barbecue Party

Barbecues are a favorite summer activity, so rolling one into a graduation party is perfect. Barbecues tend to be casual affairs with family members of all ages enjoying messy food and outdoor games, so dress accordingly. 

A pair of denim shorts, a tank top, and canvas sneakers create a classic and barbecue-appropriate look. A denim jacket or button-down shirt could make a good top layer for this outfit as well.

Bonfire Party

The long evenings of summer make them ideal for bonfires. Bonfires can stretch a party into the evening, or be the main event. When sitting around a bonfire, you have to balance being warm from the fire and being chilly from night air.

You can choose a sundress or shorts outfit, or a cute romper. Add a denim jacket or even a hoodie to your outfit when needed. Bonus points if your hoodie has the school logo on it.

Pool Party

Since graduation parties are often heralding the start of summer, pool parties are also popular for graduation parties. For a hot day, nothing beats cooling off in a pool. Pool parties, of course, can make some people feel self-conscious, so choose a bathing suit that fits comfortably and gives you enough support.

You should also make sure you have a cute cover-up so you don’t feel like you have to wear only a bathing suit all day. You can wear a big over-sized tee-shirt, a cute sheer dress, or whatever kind of cover-up you prefer. Make sure to bring sunscreen and wear a hat or sunglasses as well, for style and practicality so you can enjoy a long day in the sun.

Indoor Graduation Parties

Some graduation parties are held indoors. Indoor parties tend to be a little less casual and have the benefit of temperature control.

Evening House Parties

House parties usually have some food, but are not about sitting down and eating. They are usually more about dancing, socializing, and grabbing a snack in between conversations. A house party is an opportunity to dress up a little bit, wearing your favorite dress and playing with dramatic makeup. You can go with more of a cocktail look for an evening event.

You could also wear a jumpsuit and some wedge heels for a more modern vibe. Add some statement jewelry for an extra splash of boldness.

Afternoon Lunch

Some people might choose to have a more low-key graduation party with just a few of their closest friends. A quiet meal earlier in the day is a great option for introverts. You could have a tea party, a board game night, or just a lunch.

At a smaller, daytime event, you might go a little more casual. After all, you’re not looking to impress a big group, just enjoy time with your closest circle. Wear your favorite and most comfortable dress or jeans.

Alternatively, you could have fun choosing a theme for the party, inspired by a color like white or a time period like the 90s. Then everyone can dress up to that theme and you can decorate to the theme as well.

Graduate From Style School

Sometimes graduation parties can feel bittersweet. They might be your last chance to spend time with a big group of people who have been important in your life for years. It can feel like your last chance to make an impression with your style as well.

Graduation parties can take many different shapes, so you can tailor your look to the event or simply use the party as an excuse to wear a fabulous outfit you’ve been saving. No matter what, enjoy your party and dress in an outfit that makes you feel good. Not to mention, an outfit you’ll be happy looking at in photos for years to come.