15 Dresses I’d Gladly Wear To My Son’s Graduation

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Spring is finally here! Which means, in addition to the usual ‘birds chirping’ and jokes about florals… we’re also getting questions about what to wear to all sorts of springtime special events.

Readers have been asking us to find the best outdoor wedding guest dresses, spring & summer indoor wedding guest dresses, what to wear to garden parties, bar or bat mitzvahs, baptisms, and Mother’s Day celebrations. Additionally, we’ve gotten many questions about what to wear to graduation ceremonies…as the mom of the grad!

Which is where I come in. I love dresses, and while my kids aren’t at graduation age – yet – I do have very strong opinions on what constitutes the perfect graduation dress for the mom of the grad! To summarize? The best Mom of Grad dresses are sophisticated…but not boring.

Staud Wells Cotton Midi Dress

dress (4) | heels | bag
Where To Buy: Saks | Nordstrom | Bloomies
More Colors: Nordstrom | Saks | Neiman

What To Wear To A Graduation: Mom Of The Grad Dresses That Are Sophisticated, Not Boring

Since we’re all busy people, let me start with my top pick for the best Mom of a Grad dress this spring. It’s this absolute gem of a dress from STAUD, and completely hits that whole sophisticated-not-boring vibe I look for in this type of daytime, special event, spring dress.

Made from a luxurious cotton-poplin fabric that feels way more elevated than your average cotton, this dress is available in multiple colorways (including floral!), is soft, comfortable, and the style is absolutely perfect for a graduation: classy but definitely not dull.

dress (4) | heels | bag
Where To Buy: Saks | Nordstrom | Bloomies
More Colors: Nordstrom | Saks | Neiman

If this striking STAUD midi dress isn’t for you, though, I’ve found 15 dresses in total that I would absolutely be up for wearing as a guest at a graduation. Keep scrolling for a ton of fabulous graduation guest dresses (that could easily work for other spring and summer special occasion events as well).

My Personal Criteria For A Graduation Guest Dress

Staud Midi Graduation Dress

dress (4) | heels | bag
Where To Buy: Saks | Nordstrom | Bloomies
More Colors: Nordstrom | Saks | Neiman

For some background, my perfect “mom-of-the-graduate” dress search started with a Mom Edit team meeting.

During our weekly Zoom meeting, the question of what to wear to a graduation came up. There were lots of ideas being thrown around by our (incredibly talented) Gen Z’ers, but then I realized that they were chatting about what they wore to THEIR graduations (or the outfits they’re wearing to friends’ or siblings’ graduations).

I, however, was deep in thought about what I’d wear to my OWN kids’ graduations someday…which is an extremely different vibe. And, apparently, I had a mental checklist already mapped out:

  • Nothing too showy or over the top,
  • nothing that draws TOO much attention or makes my kids cringe,
  • nothing solid black (it’s a joyous occasion),
  • nothing solid white (often what graduates wear themselves),
  • nothing too short (I don’t want the back of my thighs sticking to the plastic seats),
  • nothing too long (I don’t want to trip)
  • Not too “young-looking,”
  • not too “old-looking,”
  • nothing too hot or too clingy,
  • not too dressy,
  • not too casual

Welcome to my brain…should I continue?

The 15 Best Midi & Maxi Dresses To Wear To Your Kid’s Graduation

If I simplify all that criteria, my ideal dress for my kids’ (future) graduations is one that hits below the knee, reads sophisticated, yet doesn’t lack personality. My top 15 picks below range in color, style, and budget, but they all have my sought-after combination in common. I included a few higher end picks that I happen to think are completely worth it (STAUD and La Ligne are two examples), as well as some under $200 picks from Anthropologie, as well. There’s plus size options, and sustainably-made dresses from Reformation also included.

Mom Graduation Dresses

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15


1. Reformation Tagliatelle Linen Dress

Reformation Tagliatelle Dress

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Extended Sizing at Reformation | Anthro
More Colorways: Reformation

Shana and I are both HUGE fans of Reformation’s linen dress line, but the Tagliatelle feels especially perfect for a graduation. The floral is very sweet and pretty, but I’m always drawn to a good stripe. Extended sizing available at Reformation. 100% linen.


 

2. Farm Rio Ocean Tapestry Suzani Cotton Midi-Dress

Farm Rio Graduation Dress

Where To Buy: Saks | Farm Rio | Anthro

I have to share Farm Rio’s description of this dress: “Perfect for any occasion, this dress will have you feeling both playful and elegant.” Ummmm…did they know I was writing this specific article? Some Farm Rio dresses can feel a little too overwhelming for my personal style, but I would HAPPILY wear this one. 100% cotton.


3. ME & EM Cotton V-Neck Maxi Dress

Spring Graduation Dresses ME & EM

Where To Buy: Me & Em

Me & Em is crushing it right now with gorgeous dresses. SO many stunners, but this particular green one stood out the most. I love the easy (and comfortable) elegance of the design. The bodice, the sleeves, the color, the maxi length…it’s all definitely working. 100% cotton.


4. Rails Maris Swirl Print Tiered Cotton Maxi Dress

Rails Dress Spring

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Rails | Shopbop

Many of my favorite cotton dresses throughout the years have been from Rails. 100% cotton, but similar to Staud dresses, their cotton feels more elevated than typical cotton dresses. I’m also a huge fan of these types of dresses that can be dressed up with kitten heels and an elegant structured clutch (for graduation), but will look equally good worn with flip flops and a straw bag. 100% cotton.


5. ME & EM Textured Pleat Front Midi Dress

ME & EM Chic Graduation Dress

Where To Buy: ME & EM

I told you ME & EM is crushing the sophisticated special occasion dress game, right? This one has especially beautiful and well-designed details (shoulders, ruching, neckline), and my suspicion is it’s even better in person when you see the movement. This orange zing is one of my favorite colors to wear in spring, but it also comes in “hot mint”. Looks especially elegant from the side. Textured viscose blend fabric.


6. The Tommie Cap-Sleeve Smocked Front-Zip Shirt Dress

Where To Buy: Anthro

This dress is back at Anthropologie for spring in LOTS of exciting colors and prints and is just so freaking cute. Which is why you unfortunately have to click around a bit to find sizing/colors still available. I like the fresh yellow for spring but am also eyeing the gorgeous brown. The zipper gives you some room to play with how much leg (or décolletage) you want to show for various occasions. Plus sizing and petite sizing available. Cotton with modal lining.


7. Delfina Dress By La Ligne

La Ligne Spring Dress

Where To Buy: La Ligne

La Ligne dresses are breathtaking. This one, in particular, stood out in their spring line-up. A classic navy dress, but with so many subtle details that make it special. Ruffle detailing at the neck, cap sleeves with tiny pretty pleats at the shoulder, pleat detailing at the waist, pockets, and a functional 2-way zip. 100% cotton.


8. The Somerset Maxi Dress: Poplin Halter Edition

Somerset Maxi Dress

Where To Buy: Anthro

The Somerset collection at Anthropologie is a best seller and top rated collection for a reason. These dresses work extremely well for a variety of occasions, are easy to wear, come in interesting prints and colorways, and feel great on. I’m especially drawn to the print and halter style of the one above. 100% cotton.


9. Priya Israni Puff One-Shoulder Maxi Dress

One Shoulder Maxi Dress

Where To Buy: Anthro

This might be my favorite of the bunch (other than my Staud dress). I love the combination of the playful print with SUCH an elegant one-shoulder puff-sleeve design. Add in the fitted waist and the flowy tiered style, and you’ve got yourself one HECK of a gorgeous dress. Plus and petite sizing available. Rayon, cotton lining.


10. Cinq a Sept Zelda Denim Belted Dress

Cinq a Sept Dress

Where To Buy: Saks

Saks always carries such a well-edited selection of elegant and sophisticated special pieces, and this dress from Cinq a Sept is a prime example. The combination of the structured classy details (but with a playful asymmetrical design) has such a unique feel…especially in this gorgeous lightweight denim. Cotton/poly/elastane blend.


11. Tropical Print Shirtdress

Budget Friendly Graduation Dress

Where To Buy: Nordstrom

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option in a pretty print, this is a fabulous option. I love the colorway in addition to the polished belted shirt-dress style. Also…pockets! 100% Tencel.


12. Cruz Floral Dress By La Ligne

La Ligne Spring Dress

Where To Buy: La Ligne | Neiman

Another stunner from La Ligne. Gah!!!! So glamorous AND fun! Stretchy middle, beautiful sweetheart neckline, statement-making full skirt, and this colorway is spring perfection. 100% cotton.


13. Puff Sleeve Cotton Midi Dress by Estelle

Plus Size Graduation Dress

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Similar (more sizing)

I am NOT a pink person, but I found myself these past several weeks thinking more and more about this dress. I especially like that there are adjustable side ties so you can get the fit JUST how you like it, and this particular pink hue in this simple style feels statement making, but not in a showy kind of way. It totally works! Plus sizing. 100% cotton.


14. The Somerset Maxi Dress

Somerset Maxi Dresses

Where To Buy: Anthro

The famous Somerset dress. Here it is! It’s top rated and a best seller at Anthropologie for good reason. Lots of colorways, lots of prints, looks great and feels great on, and is the perfect style for a huge variety of occasions. It’s a really good one to have in your closet for those times when you are stuck last minute with “what-to-wear”. Plus sizing available. 100% cotton.


15. Staud Wells Midi Dress

Staud Dress

Where To Buy: Saks | Nordstrom | Bloomies
More Colors: Nordstrom | Saks | Neiman

My dress that I’m wearing in the photos at the top of the post. SUCH a good special occasion dress if you’re searching for elegance with personality. Luxurious cotton-poplin fabric that feels way more elevated than your average cotton, it’s available in a bunch of chic colorways, and the style is perfect for a graduation.


If any of you are attending a graduation this spring, share with us below what you’re wearing!!! As always, I LOVE hearing from you, especially when you share some of your own fun finds!

Happy Spring!

-Linzi