How to find the perfect look for graduation day on a budget

Published by adviser, Author: Katie Ellis - Campus Life Editor, Date: April 30, 2015

Once again the end of another school year is on the horizon as finals week looms ahead, quiet hours go into effect and the average student’s caffeine consumption nearly doubles in preparation for all-nighters. While the end of next week signals the start to another summer vacation filled with trips to the beach and days spent with friends for some, it’s the end of an era for the class of 2015 as we prepare to put on our caps and gowns and say goodbye to Slippery Rock forever.

With the stress of the end of the semester, it’s likely that many of you haven’t chosen your outfit for graduation day nor have you thought about how to decorate the top of your cap. There’s no more important outfit in a student’s college career than the one they choose to wear on graduation day, and going out in style no matter what your budget may be is just as important as picking the perfect first day of school outfit was four years ago.

Choosing a graduation dress doesn’t need to be a major investment because aside from the obligatory photo op with your parents before the ceremony, you’ll likely be wearing your black gown throughout the day as you say farewell to your college friends and pose for pictures in front of the famous senior rock. For $100 or less, you can find the dress of your dreams at your favorite store and still have money left over to buy supplies to decorate your cap.

Topshop’s Embellished Neck Skater Dress in pale blue is the right blend of sophistication and femininity for the graduate that wants to make a statement on her special day. Coming in sizes 0-12, the dress will work on a number of body types thanks to its halter neckline and flirty skater skirt. Keep the accessories to a minimum with this $65 look and let the beaded, multicolored neckline do the talking.

There’s no occasion that industry favorite online retailer Asos doesn’t have the perfect look for, and graduation is no exception, with so many looks to choose from including pieces from their own line and from a bevy of celeb favorite brands like River Island. The Asos Floral Mesh Insert Fit and Flare Mini comes in two prints, bright blue and bright pink, and its lightweight chiffon feel makes it the perfect choice to wear underneath your gown on graduation day. For just $99 you can buy this figure flattering dress with crew neckline and pleated mesh skirt that will have you standing out amongst your friends come time for the perfect photo op.

The Loft is a great place for young professionals looking to assemble their post-graduation wardrobe to shop, and there’s no time like the present to start building that wardrobe, especially when all dresses are selling for 50 percent of their original retail price. The Fringe Trim Shift dress currently retails for $89.50, but after applying the code “halfsies” at the checkout it’ll only set you back around $45.

Whether you choose the cobalt blue or whisper white look, both dresses feature delicate fringe details on the hem of its short sleeves and on the trim of its front pockets, which will hold your cell phone to ensure that you’ll have it to take a mid-ceremony selfie. The loose fit of this 60s-themed shift dress will also help keep you cool throughout the day.

The little black dress (LBD) is a look that will never go out of style and to find one in a classic silhouette that you’ll be likely to wear again after graduation, look no further than Gap’s Tank Flared Sweater Dress for $69.95. The sleeveless cotton dress features a fitted bodice and full skirt that hits just above the knee, making it a modest and practical look that can be worn for a job interview in the future.

Now that you have a dress, it’s time to worry about how you’ll be decorating the top of your graduation cap. No statement is too bold, as this is the time to let your personality shine through whether you want to pay tribute to your sorority, your parents or even give a nod to your future career.

Doing a Pinterest search for inspiration can help you find the right look, and once you’ve settled on a design, head to the nearest craft store to pick up the necessary supplies like stencils, glue and glitter to execute your design. If you’re struggling to decide what to do with your cap, keep it simple and trace your initials onto your cap and fill them in with glitter in your favorite color like Sharpay Evans did in “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.”

With the end of an era comes new beginnings, new friends and new dreams once your post-graduation life begins. May your graduation outfit be sharp, your cap be sparkly and your future bright.

Farewell, fashionistas!


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