Last Updated on January 3, 2024 by Eve Dawes
What shoes should I wear for my graduation ceremony? 12 top tips for choosing your perfect graduation shoes and sandals without sacrificing fashion
Graduation shoes and sandals are one of those things that often get overlooked but there’s no hiding them. They’re what hundreds of eyes see under your graduation gown when you walk across stage to collect your diploma. That’s already nerve-wracking enough! So the last thing you want to be worrying about is your shoes, falling or being uncomfortable when you should be celebrating. So lets check this off the list while being functional and fashionable. After all, your graduation photos are something you’re going to look back on for years to come. Don’t let bad shoes ruin it for you! Whether you’re walking on grass, prefer flats or stilettos (hear me out, I’ll get to that), these are some tips and graduation shoe ideas to help you pick out the most appropriate shoes and graduation sandals for you. As well as the best pairs of flats, block heels, stilettos, wedges and comfy shoes for graduation to graduate in style without breaking an ankle!
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Tips for choosing the right graduation shoes for you
There are lots of things to consider when hunting for your perfect graduation shoes before handing over your credit card:
- The dress code
- Location: indoors or outdoors.
- Heels of flats
- Support the shoe offers
- Breaking them in
- Practicing walking in them
- Style: classic or on trend
- How they make you feel
How to choose your perfect graduation shoes
12 top tips for finding your perfect sandals and shoes for graduation and everything you need to consider:
1. What shoe color should I wear to my graduation ceremony
Some people say to avoid brightly colored shoes in favor of neutrals. Whether that’s black, white, nude or blush. Other people recommend doing a pop of color as a way to show your personality in a sea of graduation gowns. I say, you do you. Wear whatever makes you feel the best, that you can walk in and won’t regret choosing when you look back at your graduation photos in 20 years.
When deciding on heels or flats, think about how long you’re going to be on your feet for. If it’s a long day of pre, during and post ceremony celebrations or you’re not used to wearing heels, a pair of block or low heels, wedges or flats is probably going to be a better bet than a pair of stilettos or strappy high heel graduation sandals. If you’re a pro at wearing heels or it’s a short day it might not matter.
Just because your graduation gown is white, red, or black doesn’t mean your shoes have to be that color, too. It might feel weird wearing shoes that may clash with your cap and gown, but embrace it! Graduation gowns always look better with an unexpected pop of color.Bustle
2. Graduation shoes: should I wear heels or flats
You can always wear flats for walking on grass and the ceremony and then have your family or friends hold onto a pair or heels for you to swap into for photos. Another idea is to bring a back up pair in case your original pair cause blisters or break. A lot of people avoid flats as they don’t thin they look as good but there are some really cute and on trend comfy shoes for graduation in both the flat and heels categories.
3. Material of your shoes
As much as I love satin and suede shoes they don’t tend to do too well on grass, rough or damp ground. Obviously leather will hold up better than suede, lace or satin. So definitely consider the location when choosing your shoe material. If you go for a suede or satin pair you might want to use a stain protector on them before wearing them to your graduation
4. Check the weather
If it’s looking like it’s going to be rainy or damp closed toe pumps, loafers or shoes that will hold up in the rain are your best bet. As often rain boots aren’t allowed and do you really want to be wearing rain boots in your graduation pics.
5. Check your schools graduation dress code
This is probably the first place you’re going to want to start to help narrow down your search for graduation shoe ideas. Some dress codes require closed-toe dress shoes for graduation ceremonies only. Others don’t allow boots or sneakers. So check your dress codes before wasting money on inappropriate shoes.
6. How to wear stilettos or heeled sandals to graduation
Stilettos, am I mad?…bear with me. If you love stilettos as much as I do, a tip I picked up from working on set and going to the races is to slip on heel caps. That way you don’t sink into the grass or clonk across the stage. They’re easy just to pop on and off and are designed for walking on grass and gravel.
I’m all about function and practicality without sacrificing fashion. Because as much as you’ll want something comfortable, you also want a style that reflects you and looks great.
7. Find graduation shoes that provide support
A lot of the time graduation ceremonies are on the most unstable ground from grass to gravel. Look for styles that offer as much support as possible. Whether that’s ankle straps, arch support or a chunkier heel. Only you know how well you can or can’t walk in certain types of heels.
8. How to choose the right type of graduation heels for you
There are so many types of heels to choose from. Square, block heels and wedges do great on grass, for comfort, support and balance. Square heels are probably the most fashion forward option right now, like a cute pair of braided mules.
However, block heels are one of the best options. I’m not talking stumpy, frumpy shoes but a fashion forward heel that gives a similar height as a stiletto but with more stability and that are a more sleek and dressy alternative to wedges. They also tend to be one of the easier styles to walk in and well as one of the more comfortable and supportive. Thanks to it’s thicker heel and the fact that a lot of them also come with thicker ankle and foot straps than a lot of other strappy stiletto heel graduation sandals.
9. Break them in and practice walking in them
If you’re splurging on some new shoes for graduation make sure you’ve at least worn them around the house for a bit to break them in first. You can also tell if you’re going to want to wear insoles too for extra padding if you’re going to be on your feet a long time and see if there’s any spots that might rub.
It’s always a good idea to put a couple of bandaids in your purse as well, just in case. It’s better to have them and not need them than to not have them when you need them.
Make sure you can actually walk in them confidently and comfortably before wearing them for your graduation. No one wants to face plank on their big day and to be remembered for that reason.
10. What are the best flat graduation shoes
Flats are another great option for comfy shoes for graduation. There’s nowhere that says you have to wear heels. Classic loafers, crystal embellished ballet flats and Mary Jane’s are 3 on trend options. Otherwise pointed toe ballet slippers or mules balance out voluminous gown.
11. How do they make you feel
Most importantly, how do your shoes make you feel. You don’t necessarily need a new pair of shoes but you do need something that makes you feel confident. Even better if they reflect your personal style.
12. Make sure your graduation shoes fit
It sound obvious, but make sure they fit. Don’t just try to make them work because you love the way they look or because your size was sold out.
What footwear not to wear to your graduation ceremony
Check your dress code and what shoes are acceptable for your graduation ceremony but for the most part, these styles are inappropriate:
- Athletic shoes
- Knee high boots
- Over the knee boots
- Flip flops
- New shoes – break them in before graduation day.
Shop our top picks for the best graduations shoes
A lot of these graduation shoe ideas work for more occasions than just shoes for your graduation ceremony so you can get more than one wear out of them. From comfortable flats and loafers to trending platforms, Mary Jane’s, classic heels and chic graduation sandals. Many of these styles come in more than one color. So if you like a style click on it to see what the options it comes in. I also added everything from affordable styles under $50 to the best designer shoes for graduation so there’s something for everyone.
Congratulations on graduating!
If you haven’t picked out your graduation dress yet, check out these 50 cute white dresses for graduation.