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Finding the right outfit for graduation, while always a challenge, is made more challenging when factors like weather, formality, family expectations and comfort are thrown in.

What to wear on grad day

Leave school behind in style


Karlena Franz / The Collegian

Finding the right outfit for graduation, while always a challenge, is made more challenging when factors like weather, formality, family expectations and comfort are thrown in.

This year’s fashion trends consist of coral colors, pale pinks and nude, much softer than the neon trends of last year. Bohemian-inspired dresses that seemed to have leaped right out of the 70s have proven themselves to be popular styles this spring.

“We are getting tons of dresses in,” Katey Martin, manager of Stella Laguna Beach in River Park, said. “We get a lot of people looking for graduation dresses.”

Fresno State’s graduation, because it’s always the last weekend of May, can take place in unpredictable weather ranging from cool and windy to hot and dry. Wearing certain fabrics and styles can help keep soon-to-be-graduates cool and comfortable.

“Wear nothing made with polyester, you will die,” Martin said. “The fabric doesn’t breathe.”

Anything that is light in weight, airy or has cotton fabric won’t be stifling in the heat, while dresses that have a halter or strapless neckline prevent sweat. “Wearing dresses with patterns, not just solid, can help hide any sweat marks,” Martin said.

Shoes can make or break an outfit. Lady grads want something that is cute but comfortable. Wedges, due to their versatile nature, are perfect for summertime.

“Wedges are great,” Martin said. “You can wear them with shorts or you can throw them on with a dress.”

If heels are the shoe to wear, the best fit is one that is more like a sandal, not a stiletto.

“Strappy heels with a giant heel and a little platform is perfect for summer,” April Curran, president of Fashion, Inc., Fresno State’s fashion club, said.

Some people may be on a budget and can’t afford to buy a whole new outfit. There are a few things that, added to a dress, can reinvent the look.

“Try adding a belt or different accessories,” Martin said. “With accessories, you can make a completely new look.”

Other things that can spruce up an old dress is by adding rhinestones or other jewels to the dress. Adding a broach to your ensemble or a sporting a flower-festive hairdo can make an old outfit look brand new.

“You can find some rhinestones or other things like fabrics to add some embellishment,” Curran said. “Places like Jo-Ann’s and Michaels would have them.”

Dresses that fit the length of the graduation gown or shorter won’t look as out-of-place as a longer dress.

“It’s all about the little summer dress, something fitted,” Curran said. “And floral prints are all in.”

Men can follow some standard guidelines, too: Wearing dress pants and dress shirts that are made of a fabric will keep you looking and feeling cool. Finding shoes that fit comfortably but are still professional is a good idea. Even though most of all the commencement ceremonies are indoors, that doesn’t mean it will be cool inside.

Students know all too well how bi-polar the heating/air unit at Fresno State can be.

“Men pretty much dress in nice slacks, a nice shirt and a tie,” Curran said. “Usually a solid color rather than a pattern looks best under a gown.”

Unlike girls, guys don’t seem to worry too much about what they are going to wear.

“I actually didn’t think about what I am going to wear until you asked,” Kenny Borg, a business entrepreneurship major, said. “I will probably just wear something I already have, like a nice shirt, tie, slacks and some dress shoes.”

While some think of what they’ll wear to graduation is an afterthought, but some know exactly what look they want to pull off.

“I plan on wearing a pencil skirt and a nice blouse,” Krystal Kitahara, another business entrepreneurship major, said. “I want to look professional.”

There are several clothing stores in town where the Class of 2011 can go to find their perfect graduation outfit. Fashion Fair offers a slew of stores to meet anyone’s budget.

Seniors can see what their fellow graduates are sporting on graduation weekend, Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21.