Dress Code for High School Graduations

grad and family

When schools adopt a dress code for high school graduations, they're trying to ensure that participants adhere to the dignity of the event.

While many teens are more than happy to live in casual gear like jeans and tee shirts, graduation ceremonies are a special occurrence. Wearing appropriate clothing helps graduates and their families appreciate the solemnity of the day. Some teenagers will balk at the idea of dressing up, but by following the dress code, they can begin to see how they'll be expected to dress and conduct themselves in the grown up world.

A Whole New World

For many teens, the prom is the first time they really get dressed up and see themselves as mature. Adults know that once children graduate and go on to college or directly into the work force, being able to present themselves through proper dress will help them. First impressions do count and events like the prom and graduation only help to reinforce the idea that by taking pride in one's appearance, teens let others know they respect themselves as well as other people.

Official Dress Code for High School Graduations

Some schools will adopt a formal policy, while others will give out general guidelines. Having everyone follow the same dress code allows for some conformity. Some teens may wonder why they need to bother. After all, they're wearing caps and gowns; no one will see what's underneath. However, most people realize that wearing clothes appropriate to the venue tends to make them behave in a manner appropriate to their setting. With that in mind, teenagers who dress accordingly tend to act in a more mature manner than at other times. Some points a dress code may cover include:

  • Shoes: Sneakers are a no-no. For girls, heels or other dress shoes will probably be called for. Boys may be required to sport dress shoes. Some schools will request that certain colors be worn for added uniformity.
  • Clothes: Girls may need to wear suitable dresses or dress slacks. This may mean nothing revealing or tight, but something that would fit into most dressy occasions. Boys might need to wear button up shirts with ties or without, dress slacks and belts. There may be rules in place that request no low-hanging pants and definitely no blue jeans.
  • Hair: While this may or may not be addressed, some schools may prohibit outrageous hairstyles that would be deemed distracting. Brightly colored Mohawks or neon orange hair might fall into this category.

Picture taking is one of the hallmarks of graduation. By requesting that graduates stick to a dress code, photos of the day will be much more flattering. Nearly everyone wants a picture not only of his or her cap and gown, but probably in an open gown. Wearing dress clothes underneath makes for a smarter looking photo than jeans and tees.

Positive Points

What are schools hoping to accomplish when they adopt a dress code for high school graduations? Mainly, they want the graduates to conduct themselves in a way that fits the occasion. By presenting a dress code, they can ensure that everyone is dressed modestly and will hopefully behave the same way they're attired.

While a dress code can't be enforced on the graduate's family and friends, school administrators always hope that everyone involved in the ceremony-from school staff to the graduating class to the audience-can make the celebration special without dissolving into immature displays. Many schools now request that applause is held until after all graduates receive their diplomas. For large classes, this is necessary to keep the ceremony flowing. If hundreds of children are graduating, and families catcall, cheer and clap for each one, the event can end up taking hours and hours.

Beyond proper dress, a graduation should encourage proper behavior as well. When teenagers forego their usual attire of jeans and sneakers and don more formal clothing, they can see how it feels to be grown up. This will only be a taste of what they can expect in the real world, but it's an introduction and one that, with any luck, they'll appreciate.

Dress Code for High School Graduations