Picture Perfect Graduation Wear for Moms!

It’s important to dress appropriately for your son or daughter’s graduation, but remember to look picture-perfect, too! 

Many photos will be taken, and you’ll want to look your best on one of your proudest, most memorable days as a mom. Here’s how to look camera-ready in the latest graduation wear for mothers.


Pastel Pink Notched Neck Sheath Dress

Notched Neck Sheath Dress

1. Wear Business to Semi-Formal Attire

College graduation calls for an outfit more formal than jeans but not as dressy as a cocktail dress you might wear to a wedding.

Think business to semi-formal. Wear something similar to what you would wear to a respected workplace, special church service, or an important meeting. This means you should look professional, polished, and feminine, but that doesn’t have to mean boring! When in doubt, do err on the conservative side.

When you look back at those graduation photos years from now, you’ll be glad you wore a classic dressy outfit rather than something trendy that now seems dated.


Green Eyelet Embroidery Cotton ShirtdressEyelet Shirtdress

2. A Dress is Always Appropriate

A dress is a perfect choice for graduation. Timeless silhouettes work well, such as a sheath, shift, wrap, or fit and flare dress. This is not the time to experiment with unusual cuts and funky clothing since your child’s friends and parents will be there, and you want to ensure they are comfortable. A lovely skirt worn with a silky blouse and cardigan/jacket can also look stunning in photographs, or opt for a dressy pair of pants and a silky blouse. 


Blue and White Geometric Print Smocked Waist Midi Dress

Smocked Waist Geometric Print Dress

3. Coordinate Your Colors

Whether you wear soft pastels, cheery brights, or neutrals,  keep the school’s color theme in mind. Avoid wearing colors that clash with the surroundings or are too wild and overpowering in photos.

Blue is always popular. Soft pinks and peaches are favorites and 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 classy and often go well with traditional college colors. Neutral shades like navy, taupe, and ivory are always appropriate and beautiful to wear year-round. 

Black is acceptable, but instead of all black,  combine it with another color or wear it as part of a black print since all black can look harsh in photos and wash you out over 40. Also, you can fade into their dress since graduation gowns are black when you pose beside the graduate in the picture; if you want to wear black, consider navy, which is just as chic but livelier.

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


Navy Blue and White Crewneck Short-Sleeve Sheath Dress

Crewneck Short Sleeve Sheath Dress

4. Floral Prints Never Fail

Prints are not as timeless as solid colors, but they can be excellent for graduation if they aren’t too loud or busy.  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; if you are large, go with medium florals. If you are somewhere in between, you can wear medium florals. Large florals are complex for anyone to wear and are overpowering in photos.

Other prints that work? Try polka dots, tasteful geometric prints, and paisley.  Avoid loud, hippie boho, tropical, or dizzying patterns. 


pink and white floral print wrap dress

Floral Print Wrap Dress

5. Sexy Looks Silly

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. When you pose for photos with your grad, you want to look like a mom, not a cougar.


Shop Mother-of-the-graduate dresses here


Paisley Print Sleeve Shirtdress

6. Yes to Coordinated Pant Sets

It’s inappropriate to wear jeans or wrinkly khakis to graduation, but dress pants and a classy blouse with a jacket or cardigan will make you look pulled together and professional.  If you want to look taller and slimmer, create a column of color by wearing all black or white and then add a colorful open jacket or cardigan.

Jackets are also great because they cover the upper arms. Many women are self-conscious about their upper arms, especially in photos. A jacket also adds definition, making your shoulders look broader and your waist slimmer.


Black and White Printed Fit & Flare Belted Midi Dress

Belted Fit & Flare Midi Dress

7. Don’t Go Overboard with Bling

Avoid large, dangly earrings that whip around as you move or slinky necklaces that land in your cleavage. This type of jewelry is too sexy for graduation. Sparkle and shine are too much and don’t photograph well in the daytime. And watch the make-up. You’re not going to a nightclub. A classic hair and makeup look will make you look sophisticated, which is what you should aim for.

More Mother of the Graduate Posts to help you Decide What to Wear

Modern Mother of the Graduate Outfits from Real Graduations!

What to Wear to a Graduation Ceremony: Outfit Ideas for Mothers

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3 thoughts on “Picture Perfect Graduation Wear for Moms!

    1. Hi Carolyn, I’m pretty lucky because my teeth are fairly white. I might use Crest white strips a couple of time a year and I get my teeth cleaned every 4 months but that’s about it!

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

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