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How to Dress for Army Graduation Ceremonies

I receive many emails each week from Army wives and Army moms wondering what they should wear to their soldier’s graduation ceremony. First, congratulations to you and your soldier for making it to this point. Graduation from any military course or program is a great accomplishment. Of course, your soldier will appreciate that his family is there to witness his rite of passage as he moves on to more training or to his unit.

When attending any military graduation ceremony, you will see people dressed from one extreme to the other. At my husband’s graduation from OSUT at Ft Benning, Georgia, there were people who were very nicely dressed (overly so in my opinion), those who looked like they just rolled out of bed and headed to graduation, and every thing in between. The lesson? No need to worry about being over or under dressed. No matter how you choose to dress, you will fit in with the others.

For basic graduation, your soldier will be in his dress uniform. My advice is always to wear something you are comfortable in and dress for the weather. Yes, your soldier would love to see you in a cute, short strapless dress. But if its 20 degrees outside, you’ll quickly be regretting that decision. A nice, simple dress or even jeans with a nice top are perfectly acceptable for graduation.

Keep in mind most military graduation ceremonies are outdoors so you’ll be exposed to the weather. You will also most likely be sitting on metal bleachers. Either bring something to sit on or leave the white pants or skirt at home.

Finally, I always give this advice somewhat jokingly and somewhat completely serious. It will have been many weeks by the time you attend graduation since you last saw your soldier. You’ll have a large grassy and sandy field between you and your soldier when they finally announce family is welcome on the field. If you’re wearing high heels, it is going to take much more time to get to him! Always keep that in mind when you’re choosing your shoes for the day.

Congratulations and don’t forget your camera. More Army graduation ceremony tips.

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • ashley May 16, 2011, 9:57 pm

    My husband is graduating bct in late june at ft leonard wood, mo. I was wondering what do I wear and if there is any thing that will go on after the graduation that I need to dress formal for.

    • Stacey Rosd August 10, 2014, 2:37 am

      Thank you Stacey for the advice. I almost wore heels and something off white to my sons graduation from the Marine’s this October. Your advice is very much appreciated. Keep the good work up!

  • anon March 10, 2012, 8:06 pm

    Actually – I was advised in AFTB training that you should NEVER wear jeans to an army event. Especially graduation.

  • Leta April 17, 2012, 9:53 pm

    Sorry, I forgot to ask if my sister is able to attend Family Day, or is this strictly for immediately family only. Thank you again!!

    • Stacey April 21, 2012, 11:29 am

      Yes! All family members and friends are welcome.

  • Tracy January 30, 2013, 12:12 am

    This is somewhat unrelated but my son will be graduating BCT in April and I simply don’t have the means to watch him graduate because I don’t have the money to do so. Do you know if the Army helps parents do this? Unfortunately I can’t even save the money to do this as there would be two of us flying.

    • Stacey February 12, 2013, 7:16 pm

      I’m not aware of the Army assisting with this. I’m sorry!

  • Kelly Thorpe October 29, 2013, 7:43 am

    Thank you! This info made me feel much more comfortable about what to expect at my son’s ceremony!

  • SHERLEY DUFFUS January 28, 2014, 4:10 pm

    I wanted to know what color do the soldiers wear is it blue or green for graduation?

  • Jane October 1, 2015, 9:53 pm

    Hi! I have a graduation ceremony to attend in early December at Ft. Leonard Wood. I’m at a loss for what to wear and was hoping for a suggestion or two, please 🙂

  • Em May 19, 2016, 3:47 pm

    Okay so my boyfriend is graduating in 2-4 months and I’ve been doing my research and what not but I can’t find any actual examples of what is suitable to wear to his graduation. Any suggestions?

    • Stacey Abler May 21, 2016, 8:22 pm

      Wear whatever makes you comfortable. You will see extremes from one end to the other. I’d personally recommend Sunday dress.

  • Elke Steele August 25, 2016, 6:35 pm

    Hi, I was invited to Attend one of our Soldiers WLC ( former PLDC) Graduation… can you please let me know what the Dress Code is for Friends or Familiy Members… Casual or Formal?

  • P. Brierly-Jones April 6, 2017, 11:50 pm

    So my fiancé is graduating from Bootcamp in the middle of May in SC. He said that he has a family day, then the Ceremony , but all together he will have 4 days to see me before he goes to AIT Training. Is he allowed to stay with our son and I at the Hotel at all or leave base at all during those 4 days? I would really love some. Alone time with him.

  • brittany bowers June 29, 2017, 9:28 am

    Hi! My boyfriend is graduating at Fort Benning in about two months. I was planning on wearing Sunday dress since it is a big day for him but considering heels probably aren’t the best idea what do you think would be a good outfit to wear since I don’t want to wear jeans. Also would he be allowed to leave base after the ceremony?

    • Stacey Abler July 8, 2017, 1:31 pm

      You could still wear a dress, I would just recommend flats or cute sandals/wedges. Is he graduating from basic or another school?

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