What to Wear to Graduation for Men: 2024 Style Guide


The Fashionisto


Updated April 30, 2024

What to Wear to Graduation MenPin
Find out what to wear for graduation for men.

Deciding what to wear to graduation for men, whether celebrating a high school or university milestone, involves balancing tradition with personal style. The right ensemble respects the occasion’s formality and allows for individual expression through the thoughtful selection of clothing, accessories, and colors that complement the traditional cap and gown.

This approach ensures graduates look polished and feel confident on their significant day.

What to Wear to Graduation for Men

The Classic Suit

Graduation Outfit Men SuitPin
A timeless graduation outfit features a classic dark suit paired with a light dress shirt and subtly patterned tie. Photo: J.Crew

A classic graduation ensemble features a well-tailored suit in a dark, neutral color like navy or charcoal. Pair it with a dress shirt in a lighter shade to create a pleasing contrast that enhances the suit’s sharp appearance.

Choose a tie with a subtle pattern or texture to add a personal touch without detracting from the overall formality. Complete your ensemble with a pair of polished dress shoes in a color that complements the suit, like classic brown or black leather.

Dress Shirt & Necktie

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A sophisticated ensemble featuring a dress shirt, trousers, and a sleek necktie is perfect for graduation day. Photo: Macy’s

For a refined yet comfortable graduation look, begin with a dress shirt in a neutral or pastel shade, which provides a crisp and professional appearance. Pair it with trousers in a complementary color, opting for a pattern or texture to add an element of interest and sophistication.

Select a necktie that subtly enhances the shirt and trousers, maintaining a polished look. Finish the outfit with classic dress shoes to ensure a traditional yet stylish finish.

Sweater & Dress Shirt

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A V-neck sweater layered over a classic dress shirt offers men a stylish and comfortable graduation outfit. Photo: H&M

Combining a V-neck or crewneck sweater with a dress shirt and trousers offers a smart yet relaxed alternative to the traditional suit. Start with a dress shirt in a classic color like white or a soft pastel, ensuring a clean and sharp base.

Layer a V-neck sweater over the shirt, allowing the collar to show for a sophisticated touch, or opt for a crewneck sweater for a seamless neckline. Pair these with well-fitted trousers in a contrasting dark shade to anchor the outfit in formality.

Polish off the look with dress shoes, such as oxfords or derbies.

The Cap & Gown

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Elevate your cap and gown with a bowtie. Photo: RDNE Stock project / Pexels

The cap and gown are traditional academic attire, rich with historical significance and symbolism. Originating in medieval European universities, this formal wear was adopted to create unity among scholars and signify a scholarly environment.

Today, it is a universal symbol of academic achievement and respect for the educational journey of college and university graduates and high school students completing their secondary education. The gown is a long robe that covers the body from shoulders to below the knees, with the style and color varying depending on the academic level and institution.

Black Cap and Gown MenPin
Traditionally, high schools typically use black or navy caps and gowns. Photo: Cole Keister / Unsplash

High school gowns, such as navy blue or black, are typically solid and may feature the school’s emblem or insignia. The mortarboard cap, the most recognized symbol of academic achievement, is usually matched to the gown’s color and worn with a tassel.

During the graduation ceremony, the tassel is moved from right to left, signifying the transition from student to graduate. These components create a distinctive visual presence at graduation ceremonies, celebrating students’ dedication and hard work at all levels, from high school to doctoral programs.

Coordinating Colors & Comfort

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Contrast the colors of your shirt and graduation gown for a stylish look. Photo: iStock

When selecting attire to complement your graduation gown, consider the color and symbolism of the gown, especially for university graduations where different hues may signify faculties or achievements.

Comfort is equally important, given the length of graduation ceremonies. Choose clothing that facilitates ease of movement and comfort throughout the event.

Linen Shirt Charles TyrwhittPin
For warm weather, opt for classics like the linen shirt. Photo: Charles Tyrwhitt

For summer graduations, opt for breathable, lightweight fabrics like linen, while layering with a fine wool blazer may be more appropriate for cooler conditions.

Subtly incorporate personal style and school spirit through accessories like neckties, cufflinks, and socks featuring school colors or discreet motifs. This approach personalizes your graduation ensemble, reflecting your achievements and unique identity without compromising the formal nature of your academic dress.

Dressing for Graduation

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Add solid leather sneakers to your graduation outfit for a smart casual touch. Photo: Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels

Deciding what to wear to graduation involves balancing tradition, personal style, and comfort. Choose an ensemble that complements your graduation gown, reflects the occasion’s formality, and allows you to express your individuality, whether it’s a classic suit, a dress shirt and necktie combo, or a sweater layered over a dress shirt.

Thoughtfully coordinating colors, fabrics, and accessories will create a polished, confident look that celebrates your academic achievements on this momentous day.

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