What Not to Wear: Commencement Edition…and Other Tips For Your Graduation Day

Atlanta, GA

With Commencement right around the corner, many of you already know what you’re going to wear. Some of you may have planned your outfits months ago. (Hopefully you've at least taken your regalia out of the plastic to let the wrinkles fall out.)

There is no official Commencement dress code, but for those who are still scrambling for picture-perfect attire, here are some practical tips to help dress and prep for the big day.

Commencement Dress DO’s:

Leave bags at home. This will save you the hassle of carrying around a purse and going through bag check. Any belongings brought with you will have to be taken into line-up and to your seat for the ceremony — so leave the bags, laptops, or tablets at home. If you’re wearing a dress or skirt, try to find one with pockets to easily carry small items like keys and your cell phone. Consider a wristlet or small clutch if you need to take a purse. 

Tell your guests to dress business casual. Although this dress code is not required, many guests like to dress up for this special day. Parents and alumni can often be seen donning Tech colors and gear, and sometimes international guests wear their country’s traditional dress clothes.

Dress comfortably. You will be at McCamish for about three and a half hours. The event will be a combination of standing and sitting, so make sure you’re dressed comfortably enough for both. If you’re wearing pants, consider dark pants and shoes. If you’re planning to wear heels, consult the “don’t wear new shoes” section, and consider a low heel. Keep in mind that if you wear a coat or jacket, it will have to go with you into the ceremony. (Consider light layers instead.)

Whatever you choose to wear, these photos will be around for a while, so pick something you won’t mind seeing a few years down the road. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with white and gold.

Commencement Dress DON’Ts:

Don’t think that because you’re wearing a robe it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing underneath. Throughout the day you’ll be taking numerous photos with friends, attending graduation parties, and maybe going out with family. And, you may get hot and need to take off your regalia. Plan your outfit knowing that the day doesn’t start and end with Commencement. 

Don’t wear new shoes. Commencement is not the day to break in new shoes. Another tip: Don’t wear high heels if you are not used to walking in them. On your walk across the stage you should be focusing on shaking hands with Tech's president, not worrying about tripping.

Don’t spend too much time styling your hair. Keep in mind you’ll be wearing a graduation cap for a few hours. If you’re planning an elaborate hairstyle, try it out with your cap before graduation day to make sure that the cap still sits properly.

Don’t forget your regalia. Make sure you have your cap, gown, tassel, cords, and stole (and hood, for graduate students). There will not be extras at McCamish.

Other Commencement tips:

Set an alarm, especially for morning ceremonies. Late students will not sit with their degree program and extremely late students may not get the chance to walk. Set your alarm and have a buddy system to make sure you wake up. (See the full Commencement schedule).

Stay hydrated and take a bathroom break before for during line-up. Once you’re on the floor, water and bathroom access will be limited. The weeks leading up to Commencement are a mix of studying and celebrating, so try to be well-rested, fed, hydrated, and prepared to sit through the ceremony. There will be water coolers stationed throughout the line-up tunnel, but water bottles will not be allowed on the Commencement floor.

Plan in advance where you want to meet your family afterwards. Students are escorted out of McCamish following the ceremony, so it can get hectic if families can't find their graduates as they leave the building. Suggest a specific meeting spot beforehand, such as Fowler Street or the baseball stadium, so that you can reunite easily.

Most importantly, remember to enjoy the day and reminisce on all that you’ve achieved at Georgia Tech. Congratulations, graduates!

Additional Photos

Graduates at McCamish

Download Image

Child at Graduation

Download Image

President's Graduation Celebration

Download Image

Family with President

Download Image

Graduate Student Selfie

Download Image

Last revised November 30, 2018