What to wear under a cap and gown

Use good sense when selecting what to wear under a cap and gown

Use good sense when selecting what to wear under a cap and gown

Comfort or style? Does it really matter what you opt for if no one is going to see what you have on under your graduation gown? How do you decide what to wear under a cap and gown?

If you arrive at the commencement ceremony, already wearing your cap and gown and there is not a requisite body search involved, no one is going to know what you?re wearing underneath. Kids have been spotted wearing shorts, long black socks and dress shoes for a look that is positively ridiculous (underneath) although no one knows but them and their parents.

Depending on the rules of the institution that you are graduating from, you have pretty much free rein regarding what is underneath your cap and gown. However, if you want to please your parents and grandma you might want to wear something decent. That means nothing vulgar or inappropriate for the occasion. You are a high school or college graduate. Use good sense. This is an important occasion. Do not belittle it or minimize the importance by dressing shoddily. There is a time and place for grandstanding and your graduation ceremony is not it.


Girls generally wear dresses. Short party dresses work easily under a gown, or knee length, as opposed to maxi length. Your dress should not hang below the graduation gown hemline. Some schools require that girls wear white dresses and white shoes, but this once-common requirement is fading. 

Some females opt for heels while others wear flats. Most girls find that the best way to make a fashion statement in a cap and gown is to wear stylish shoes – they will be very visible as you walk across the stage. Think twice about wearing thong sandals or grungy combat boots. Your shoes also need to be comfortable because you may be on your feet for a long time.

In a ?proper? world, graduating guys would wear dress shirts (preferably white), neckties, long, dark dress pants, dark shoes and socks. A more comfortable option, like khakis, dark casual slacks and dress shoes is acceptable under a cap and gown. A casual sport shirt with a collar works well, but beware of the sloppy look that a t-shirt creates.

Keep in mind that it may be very hot on the day that you graduate, since most graduations occur in May or June. You may be nervous.  Hot and nervous are not a good combination. You may have to stand or sit for a long time.

And, yes, you college grads may be hung-over due to your celebratory behavior the night before. Wear something that is comfortable, not too tight and not too warm. Take bottled water with you to keep you hydrated and pile on the antiperspirant. Eat before you go.

Here?s a toast to the graduate! Cheers!