The father and son guide to graduation


Congratulations! You’ve both made it through.
Image source: Shutterstock

Congratulations! Your boy made the grade. We’re talking, of course, about graduation – a celebration, of your child’s academic achievement and your excellent work in having produced such an accomplished young adult.

While he might be all sorted, possibly thanks to a rather helpful Samuel Windsor student discount, what about you? Here’s our guide to the big day – everything you need to know about what to expect, and what to wear.


Make sure you book your hotel or guesthouse early, because accommodation is often limited, especially in smaller university towns. The same goes for restaurants, which are likely to be very busy at graduation time; reserve your table now, or face the possibility of celebrating your son’s academic success with a Big Mac and fries.

Car parking is also likely to be limited, so make sure you get to the venue in plenty of time, or arrange for a taxi to take you there. Do also remember to factor in the time it’ll take for your son to collect his graduation robe.

The graduation ceremony and the reception may not take place in the same building; if there’s significant travel involved, think about how you’re going to get from one place to the other.



A degree being conferred.
Image source: Shutterstock

Graduation ceremonies consist of a talk followed by a very long roll call of names. It’s hardly scintillating stuff, but try not to nod off, because when it’s his turn, your son will mount the stage, shake hands with the conferrer of degrees and collect his certificate.

Time in the limelight is limited, so don’t miss it, and do clap, or cheer. Your son deserves it – unless he got a third class degree – in which case stony silence might represent a more accurate expression of your feelings.

There will probably be photos afterwards, both formal and informal, followed by the reception – drinks and nibbles.


Graduation days are long, involve a lot of standing around, and often quite a lot of walking too. For both of you, it’s vital to consider comfort as well as style. And do check the weather forecast; heavy woollens and hot summer sun don’t mix. Now, let’s cut to the chase – here’s what you should wear.


Model 2 wearing a linen blazer

A linen blazer is a comfortable and stylish choice for dads.
Image: Linen-Mix Blazer from Samuel Windsor

By all means make the effort to look your most dashing, but leave strict formality to your son and heir. For you the dress code, unless otherwise stated, is the smart end of smart casual. We suggest separates, although by all means wear a suit if you feel more comfortable in one. If you do, we suggest you avoid deeply formal colours like navy and charcoal in favour of tans, lighter greys, and blues.

Summer graduations mean linen gets a look in. Very comfortable in hot weather, linen’s wide weave keeps you cool and aerated, but it does crease very easily. We suggest you avoid the rumpled look by opting for a linen-cotton, or linen-wool mix.

Blazers and sports jackets are perfectly acceptable, helping to project an image of a man at at one with the world. Since the hard work of raising a child is done, this is likely to be true, at least until you’re called upon for the deposit on a deeply unaffordable first home. Enjoy your breather while it lasts.

Finally, why not ape the academics with a summer tweed jacket? With or without elbow patches, tweed offers elegance, texture and subtle colour. Twin with cotton chinos, and a crisp white or pastel shirt. For dads, ties are optional.



A classic blue suit will take you from graduation to job interviews.
Image source: Oxford Blue Men’s Suit from Samuel Windsor

You need to wear a suit, and unless you’re already the proud possessor of a wardrobe full of formal attire, this purchase is as much about your future as it is about your graduation. Put the academic ceremony to one side for a moment; unless you’re off on your gap year, you’re really in the market for your first interview suit.

What should you look for? The easy answer is, the best you can afford, because buy bargain basement, and your proud purchase will soon look like a sack of the proverbial.

Fabric-wise, you want something that will be comfortable under your graduation gown, but which will see you through at least your first autumn at the office. The suit you’re looking for is medium to lightweight wool.

Sober colours like navy blue make the best formal wear, but if you really don’t fancy that, go for subtle summer hues like tan, mid blues and browns. Unlike your father, we suggest you give linen a miss on the grounds it’s not formal enough for the graduate.

Just because you need to wear a suit doesn’t mean you can’t look supremely stylish. Go for a cut that suits your age and your shape – if you’re unsure, check out our infographic guide to choosing a suit.



Dads can’t go wrong with a pair of comfortable brogues.
Image source: Prestige Semi-Brogue shoes from Samuel Windsor

As the father of the graduate, your footwear choice is wider than that of your son. As long as you don’t turn up in sandals, you’ll be OK. Our top picks are brogues or Derbys, which aren’t quite formal shoes, but are still very smart; if you’re feeling daring, a pair of suede brogues are an option.

Sons should stick to Oxfords, although if you insist on dressing down, brogues or Derbys are acceptable. A formal suit and casual shoes may make a statement, but it’s not the sort of statement you want to make on your graduation day. Instead, show your individuality by choosing a snappy tie and matching pocket square.


Model 2 wearing a panama hat

A quality panama hat is the perfect accessory on a warm summer day.
Image: Panama Hat from Samuel Windsor

The rule for both of you is that less is more. Two or three accessories are enough. For Dad, that’s a panama hat, sunglasses and nice wristwatch; for the son, cufflinks, a watch and a pair of shades. Overdoing the extras ends up looking cheap.

Have you been to a graduation? Please do give us your hint and tips over on our Facebook page.

If your lad needs a pair of shoes or smart trousers for the big day, then check out our brand new Student Beans student discount.

Posted in Men's style guides.