Sterling & Navy Suit

What To Wear For Your Graduation

After years of hard work, long hours in the library and a stressful array of coursework and exams, you’ve achieved your degree. Congratulations! This means the next event in your social calendar is your graduation, a wonderful day that allows you to celebrate your accomplishments with your friends and family.

A graduation ceremony can be quite a formal event, and you’ll have your professional graduation photographs for years to come, so it’s important that you don the right dress code to look both smart and professional. 

As the experts for all formal occasions, we’ve created this handy guide that reveals exactly what the dress code is for a graduation, as well as some suit ideas and inspiration. 

What is the dress code for graduation?

A graduation ceremony generally requires a formal dress code. It’s an official ceremony that you can’t really overdress for, so don’t be worried that you’ll look too smart. 

The general rule is it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. We’d recommend that you avoid jeans and chinos altogether.

Do you need to wear a suit for graduation?

A suit is generally the preferred option for a graduation, because it looks smart and professional. Most universities do state that men should wear a suit, and that ties must also be worn, as this is considered proper professional attire.

Some universities state in their guidelines that they can actually prohibit you from graduating if you aren’t dressed appropriately, so a two or three-piece suit is likely your safest option. Instead, you would graduate in absence. 

You don’t need to wear a suit if you would prefer to wear national dress from your home country or military dress (should it apply).  

Just remember that, whatever graduation outfit you choose, you’ll also be wearing your cap and gown for the majority of the day. Your suit will still show underneath, but you may want to consider how the gown will attach (usually to the shirt buttons or the tie). 

Once the official part of the day is over (the photographs and the ceremony), you can relax and remove your suit jacket or tie if you wish.

What colour suits are best for graduation day?

Now that we’ve established you must follow a formal dress code for graduation, you may be wondering whether there are rules as to the colour of your suit. Generally, most universities will accept any colour suit, so don’t feel that you have to stick to the traditional black, grey or navy. If you want to wear something a little bolder, then you absolutely can, so long as it still comes under the ‘formal’ code. 

If you’re looking for ideas, then you can take some inspiration from the colours used in the gown collar. Each university offers gowns for hire via a third party, and have their own colours depending on the type of degree you’ve achieved (Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate, etc). Should your university have gowns with a blue and red collar, you may not want to choose a green suit, for example, but instead showcase consistency with a blue suit. 

If you’re unsure what colour your gown will be, you can check the graduation photos from previous years, or take a look on the university’s website. 

If you’re completely stuck, you can’t go wrong with a smart navy graduation suit, paired with a white shirt and brown accessories, such as a leather belt and brogues, or a black suit with black accessories.

Our most popular graduation suits

Our top three most popular graduation suits are:

Navy Carnaby


Navy Harrow

Silver Harrow



Shop the look now and book an appointment with one of our expert tailors who will help you look the part on your big day.

Suit accessories for graduation

Suit accessories, from ties to handkerchiefs, pocket watches to tie clips, can add a touch of sophistication and are the finishing touch to the overall formal look. There are tons of pairings to choose from so let’s explore some of your options. 

As we’ve already stated, a tie is a must. You could choose a regular tie or a bow tie, and you can experiment with various techniques and knots, including the Four In Hand Knot, Windsor Knot, Kelvin Knot and the Grantchester Knot. 

To go with the tie, choose a tie bar or tie clip. These are best suited to a two-piece suit (you may not be able to see them with a waistcoat on) and create a classic finish. 

For the ultimate formal style, consider adding a watch or cufflinks. Both these items will subtly peek out of your jacket sleeves, making their shine just about visible. Perhaps you have some cufflinks that have sentimental value, or you may even buy some especially for your graduation (yes, mortar board cufflinks are a thing). 

To add some colour or variety in your suit, you might add a pocket square or handkerchief that matches the pattern of your waistcoat. Just remember that these accessories may not be visible once your gown is on. This isn’t necessarily a problem, as your gown will be returned later in the day, but just something to keep in mind. 


We hope that this guide has helped you understand what you can and can’t wear for your graduation ceremony, and has given you some fun ideas on colours and accessories. Whatever you choose to wear, your graduation day is a happy celebration of all you’ve achieved, so enjoy it. 

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