Picture Perfect Graduation Wear for Mothers

It’s your son or daughter’s graduation day, and besides looking appropriate for the occasion, you probably want to look picture perfect too! 

There will be lots of photos taken of you with the grad. It’s natural to want to look your best on one of the proudest and most memorable days you’ll have as their mom. Here’s how to look camera-ready in graduation wear for mothers.



1.  Choose a Classic Style Dress

One of the biggest questions moms ask is, What should I wear to my child’s graduation? While there are no official rules, I think you will agree these guidelines make sense. College graduation calls for attire that is dressier than jeans but not as fancy as what you would wear to a wedding.

Think semi-formal – classic, feminine, like what you would wear to church or an important business special event. When in doubt, err on the side of conservative.

A dress is a perfect choice. Timeless silhouettes work well, such as sheath dress, shift, wrap, or fit and flare dress. This is not the time to experiment with unusual cuts and funky clothing. A pretty skirt worn with a silky blouse and cardigan/jacket can also look lovely.


2.  Don’t Be Afraid of Color

A graduation is a happy event, so wearing something colorful is very appropriate. Try a cheery color or a soft pastel if the graduation is in spring or summer. Blue is always lovely; soft pinks, peaches are popular too and work well to enhance your skin tone in photos. In the fall and winter, classic fall colors like burgundy, teal, plum, or jewel tones like sapphire or emerald look very rich and classy.

Neutral shades like navy, taupe, and ivory look are beautiful to wear year-round if you prefer a quieter, conservative look. Some women wear all black; I wouldn’t recommend it unless it is mixed with another color or is part of a print. Black can look harsh and wash you out over 40. And since graduation gowns are black, in photos, you can fade into your child’s graduation gown. If you are going to wear all black, navy is a livelier color, but just as chic as black.

Other colors to steer clear of? Neons, metallics, or unusual of the moment colors or color combinations that are too attention-grabbing or will also look dated in a few years.


3.  Floral Prints Never Fail

A print dress or top is not as timeless as a solid color dress in photos, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear one.  A lovely floral dress, for example, is highly appropriate for the mother of the graduate.

The size of the floral should be in sync with your frame. If you are petite, go with small florals, and if you are large, go with medium florals. If you are somewhere in between, you can wear medium florals. Large florals are hard for anyone to wear and will overpower you in photos.

Don’t like florals? Try polka dots ( they’re classic), tasteful geometric prints, paisley, and tweed as for which prints to avoid, any loud prints, hippie boho prints, or dizzying prints. 

4.  Sexy Looks Silly at a Grad

A graduation ceremony is not the place to try to prove you still look like a sexy mama now that your baby is all grown up. Avoid clothing that is too revealing, i.e., low-cut tops, skirts with high slits, short skirts, sky-high heels that you can barely walk in, leopard or animal prints, dresses with edgy cut-outs or wide-open backs, etc.

Mother of the Grad pants - Pink Blazer

Stay away from long, large dangly earrings that whip around as you move, slinky necklaces that land in your cleavage. And go easy on the make-up. You’re not going to a nightclub. A classic, pretty hair and makeup look are best….you know what I mean.


5.  Pants Can Make You Look Polished and Pretty

Worried, you have to wear a dress to a graduation ceremony? Not at all. It’s not appropriate to wear jeans or wrinkly khakis, but a pair of dress pants and a classy blouse or a cute jacket worn over a column of color will make you look pulled together and professional. I think a pop of color ( a colorful jacket) looks great worn with all white or all black.

MOG Pants - Navy Pants

The other great thing about a jacket worn with pants or a dress or skirt is that It covers the upper arms. Many women are self-conscious about their upper arms, especially in photos. A jacket and adds definition, making your shoulders look broader and your waist look slimmer.

shop the look


What will you be wearing when they are handing out the diplomas? For more ideas, check out this post on graduation outfit ideas for moms.

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One thought on “Picture Perfect Graduation Wear for Mothers

  1. Thank you for searching out some new dresses for graduations. I’ve been looking but not successful in the mall. Appreciate your help and insight, always!

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