Graduation from high school is a momentous occasion, not only for graduates, but for their parents. Wearing proper attire will show that you put some thought into your appearance and considered how you would look in front of your graduate’s friends, teachers and school administrators.
Whatever parents decide to wear to their children’s high school graduation should be respectful to both the school and the graduate.
Schools with uniforms or strict dress codes might expect graduation guests to dress accordingly. Some high schools specify what parents and guests should wear. For example, a public high school in Chesapeake, Virginia, sent out this announcement to parents: “Appropriate attire for guests attending the graduation exercises will include dress pants and shirts for the gentlemen; dresses, suits, or pantsuits for the ladies. Admission will be denied to graduation guests inappropriately dressed.”
Many high school graduations take place during the day, so parents should choose outfits that are appropriate for a morning or afternoon event. A cotton button-down shirt, sports jacket and slacks, or a light-colored suit, collared shirt and tie are good choices for men. For a woman, proper attire would be a cotton dress, a skirt and blouse, or a nice pantsuit. If the ceremony occurs at night, parents may wear darker or more formal clothing, and jackets would be suitable for either mothers or fathers.
Most graduation ceremonies occur at the beginning of summer when the weather is quite warm. A woman would be comfortable in a summer dress or lightweight pantsuit with low-heeled shoes. Sleeveless dresses may be too casual unless you wear a light sweater. A man wearing light colored slacks and a short-sleeved shirt could carry a lightweight jacket and still be appropriately dressed. If the day is hot and sunny, don't forget sunblock.
Graduations held outdoors in summer lend themselves to less formal clothing than graduations that take place in theaters or auditoriums. One way to describe the style is “business-casual attire.” If commencement exercises are indoors, both men and women should bring or wear a nice jacket or sweater.
For an outdoor ceremony, pick shoes that are comfortable to wear when walking up and down stairs, from the parking lot to the seating area, or on grass and dirt.