Graduation Cap and Gown

Graduate in cap and gown

After four years of hard work, the graduation cap and gown is a welcome addition to any teen's wardrobe.

Graduation Cap and Gown Colors

High schools tend to select graduation cap and gown colors to reflect school colors. However, some students wear gowns in their senior class colors, a selection voted on along with other favorites like class song and class flower. Yet another option is to dress students in a neutral color like black or white. Some schools choose one color of gown for all students to wear, while others pick one color for male students and a coordinating color for female students.

Purchasing a Cap and Gown

Schools select graduation cap and gown vendors, so students will not be left to shop on their own. A few of the available sellers include:

Seniors should listen carefully for announcements and read all communications from the school so they do not miss important information about placing cap and gown orders and required payments. You can't miss any deadlines if you want to walk down the aisle with your classmates, appropriately dressed.



In addition to being a well-known symbol of graduation, the tassel also plays an important role in the ceremony. When seniors enter the venue, the tassel is worn over the right side of the cap. At a designated time, the new graduates move the tassel so it is now hanging over the left side of the cap.The tassel is often used as a graduation memento; it is much easier to display than a full cap and gown. Some students will purchase an extra tassel and hang it from their rearview mirror, tack it up on a bulletin board, hang it in their locker, or otherwise display it during their senior year. Smaller tassels are also available in key chain form.


Stoles are strips of fabric worn over the shoulders so they hang down the front of the graduation gown. They are usually made of a shiny, satin material. Stoles are used to identify students who have achieved honors or are a member of an organization. When stoles are intended as an honor, they tend to be provided by the school, sometimes awarded at a separate honors ceremony. Stoles that designate membership in an organization, like National Honor Society or Key Club, may need to be purchased by the student. Some clubs budget for the stoles, considering them a gift to departing seniors, and a thank you for their involvement.


Cords are thick ropes worn over the shoulders of the graduation gown and left to hang down the front of the ceremonial outfit. Like stoles, cords are used to recognize honor students. They are selected to coordinate with the graduation cap and gown, often using school colors. For instance, if the school colors are black and gold, seniors are likely to wear a black gown with gold cords.


Some schools also award medals to high-achieving seniors, such as the valedictorian or those receiving departmental awards. It is appropriate to wear these types of medals with the graduation cap and gown in recognition of a student's success.

Appropriate Dress

It may seem like what you wear under a graduation cap and gown doesn't matter. After all, the gown is just going to cover everything. However, graduating seniors should strive to make a favorable impression on this important day. Here are a few pointers for dressing properly on graduation day:

  • Follow all school rules and dress guidelines. This isn't a time to make a last stand against school authority.
  • Avoid casual clothing. Male students should wear a pair of slacks or khakis along with a dress shirt and tie. A suit jacket is usually unnecessary. Female students should wear a dress, a skirt and a blouse, or slacks and a blouse.
  • Gowns for female students may come with a "fake" collar that can be worn around the neckline of the gown.
  • Graduates should wear dress shoes. Female students should avoid excessively high heels or any other shoes that could make walking across the stage perilous.
  • Plan a hairstyle that won't interfere with the placement of the cap. For instance, a ponytail might make it sit too far forward. Girls can attach the cap to their hair with bobby pins.
  • Dress for the temperature. Depending on your location, your late May or early June graduation ceremony may be pleasantly warm or swelteringly hot. The ceremony may be outdoors or in an air-conditioned facility. Wear clothing that will be comfortable when layered with the graduation cap and gown.
Graduation Cap and Gown