This year it is estimated that 300,000 people will graduate from University. With events being held at Universities all across the UK throughout July, the B Sunglasses team thought it best to share their wisdom on how to look good on your Graduation Day and in those eternally present graduation photos…
Graduation Day is one of the landmark events in the academic calendar as it celebrates the receipt of a University degree of which (most) students will have spent up to three or four years studying for. Traditionally the ceremony is held in front of friends, family and trustees of the University after the competition of a course with all graduates and staff donning academic dress of a black robe, hood and mortar board to accept their diploma. However, what it’s really about these days is waving goodbye to a life of lie-ins following tense all-nighers, cramming before exams, foam parties in the Student Union, a worrying aggression towards the printer in the campus library and finally, the moment you get to hold all you’ve achieved in your hands. This is all of course all captured in print for all to see by your family and the official photographer as mercilessly snap you as you search silently for that complimentary glasses of champagne they give out after the ceremony.
Graduation can be stressful but we understand that one less thing to be stressed about is those all important pictures which will sit on your grandparents mantelpiece (or haunt you via Facebook ) for the rest of your life. Here’s a few smart tips on how to stay fashion savvy this graduation and make your pictures look good!
Who says guys have it easy? If anything it’s more difficult to make your boring suited self stand out from a crowd of over 80 classmates but the key is to look smart, sophisticated and above all, comfortable – because you are going to do a ton of standing around and a billion handshake introductions.
Choose a good suit
It can be easy to opt for a cheap suit and be done with it but the problem with cheap suits is that they’re itchy, ill-fitting and poorly crafted. In theory, Graduation may seem like only one day but before you know it, you’re sourcing suits for job interviews, weddings, Christenings and formal business parties and you’ll turn to your trusty cheap suit only to find it has degraded into something that looks like it has endured a triathlon through a natural disaster zone. Family will always offer to chip in or help you buy a decent suit for your graduation as they’ll ultimately see it as a worthy investment; not only for you looking smart for the pictures they’ll be showing your grandma, aunts and any work colleagues who’ll listen, but for when you need something sharp and tailored to don at the vital events that are sure to follow in your brand new scary adult life.
Get a haircut
Not to sound like a stereotypical dad from the 1950s but really, get a haircut. Throughout Uni you may have been defiant and refused to pay to get your haircut because you don’t believe in such extortionate luxuries even with the student discount, but the man bun and scraggy beard isn’t likely to age well when you look back on your graduation ball pictures in 20 years time. Spare yourself the nagging words of your parents for once and remember that hair grows back when you take the plunge and trim your sideburns for the event.
Get pictures before the action starts
The earlier in the ceremony that you get your pictures taken, the better you will look. After a few free glasses of Pimms and an hour or two in your gymnasium listening to them call out the name of every ‘Smith’ in your department, your perky, wide-eyed perfectly groomed self will start to falter. Before you know it, you’ve dropped red wine and canapes down your white shirt and you’ve abandoned your tie.
Don’t skimp out on hairspray
It’s not just ladies whose hair will need saving from the flattening qualities of the dreaded mortar board. A spritz of hairspray may make you feel a little more metro-sexual than you’re comfortable with but it will save you from ‘hat hair’, ‘wind hair’ and ‘wine hair’ should the occasional call for it.
Dress to Impress
Most graduations will be taking place at the height of summer; most likely in a sweaty auditorium and with your family and everybody else’s families watching. For this reason, a smart and sophisticated dress or suit should compliment the graduation gown whilst still being something you’re not totally uncomfortable wearing afterwards in front of strangers. The cape will cover your outfit for most of the ceremony so sleeveless might be a good option to stay cool under the unforgiving layers of polyester whilst hemlines no higher than just above the knee will ensure that you don’t look too much like you’re on a night out, tugging mercilessly to keep your pants concealed. A muted palette is versatile and chic whilst brighter colours and prints will also contrast with the drab robes so choose whatever you’re most comfortable with! Some Universities will request you wear a blouse with a black skirt or trousers so perhaps get creative and choose something with a vibrant colour, luxurious material or finer detail such as pussy bow to give your outfit a personal creative touch. Keep trousers or skirts tailored for a refined grown up look that will make people realize you’re more than just the girl who spent all year wearing her PJ’s to Tesco!
Choose your make up wisely
For graduation, you want something glamourous but understated that can easily transition for post-ceremony drinks and dinners. Some useful tips we’ve learned over the years is to line the upper inner lids with white pencil to brighten the eyes, contour effectively and apply all eye-make up before the rest of your face; eventually leaving highlighters and concealers until last. A subtle blush, dewy foundation and nude lip may feel right for the more demure ceremony however don’t be afraid to add a splash of colour with a bright summery lipstick or nail colour; this is an occasion to celebrate of course!
For upkeep of your look, blotting paper will help matify any shine that appears through out the day and a small make up brush concealed in your handbag will be helpful for cleaning up any smudges and freshening up when things start to fade. Finally, a setting spray or powder will ensure your face stays in place!
To SPF or not to SPF
Make up is particularly tricky on camera which is why so many brides take months to negotiate their beauty regime for wedding photographs. Apply a little of this theory to your graduation look and you should fare well. There is much debate as to whether foundations, powders and moisturizers containing SPF cause light to bounce back into the camera giving an unearthly glow so the key is to do a bit of research first. If the majority of your photos will be outdoors, you needn’t worry about SPF; SPF is only tricky with flash photography. If you are getting an official photograph taken, which generally uses a bounced flash, it’s really your call however to err on the side of caution perhaps opt for an SPF moisturizer and a non-SPF foundation if you’re going to be in a mixed lighting situation. You can trust the flash of a photographer, but not the flash photography of your friends!
Smile – but not too much
Ever heard Tyra Banks tell someone on America’s Next Top Model to tone down their smile? A genuine smile and the smile you pull in photos are very different and if you’re going to practice anything in the embarrassing privacy of your own room, it should be your smile. Instead of a huge toothy grin which will cause your eyes to squint and your lips to curl back making you look slightly demented at the wrong angle, try a more toned down smile in the mirror to avoid the above.
Work Your Angles
Photographs taken head-on are rarely flattering so we’d always recommend a side on portrait or a glance over the shoulder to work your best angles. If it’s a full body shot try to turn (subtly, mind you!) from the hips, twisting your torso so that one shoulder is angled towards the camera and the other away. Stick your neck out (but not too far so you look strained) to accentuate your jawline will also give the illusion of a slimmer face whilst a hand on the hip will also make your arms appear more slim and toned.
It is said that the best time for taking photographs is at either dusk or dawn which is known to photographers as ‘The Golden Hours’. The softer golden light is much more flattering as direct sunlight can be extremely harsh and cast shadows which may ruin your photographs. A few evening shots or snaps taken in the early morning should be ideal material for the Graduation photo album should you manage to get some during these times. Cloudy overcast conditions also make for much better photographs so don’t be too disheartened if your Graduation falls on a grey day!
Check your Selfies
If you’re planning to take a pre-Graduation selfie or an Oscars style group shot, remember always to elevate your phone or camera and tilt downwards; this will eliminate any risks giving yourself a photographic double chin which is never a good look. If you have a particularly tall friend, it might be an idea to ask them to take photo as their long noodley arms will make you all look much better for it.
Trade ‘Cheese’ for ‘Money’
For a genuine looking smile in photographs, try saying ‘money’ instead of ‘cheese’. Saying cheese can occasionally cause that unnatural looking smile which we warned you about a few paragraphs back. Saying ‘money’ instead will lift the corners of your mouth and crinkle the eyes a lot less… until of course you realise that being a graduate means having to pay back quite a lot of the stuff.
Re-think your footwear
One rule no one ever pays attention to is the ‘Smart flat shoes’ rule that’s put in place to ensure no one trips over and falls on stage when accepting their diploma. Whilst choosing something both stylish and appropriate is all fine for men, some shorter girls may feel a little disheartened by a pair of pumps – even if they are by Charlotte Olympia. Instead, smaller ladies should opt for a sturdy medium height heel to give them a boost of height as well as confidence for all those group shots for the class of 2015. If you need to change into something more comfortable (or more daring) afterwards, have your relatives bring a spare pair for you to throw on.
Take your sunglasses
Sunglasses will be your saviour should the British weather actually be on your side for a glorious sunny day. Not only will your sunglasses be great to throw on post-Ceremony as you mingle outside; they will act as a great barrier of those annoying candid shots where you’re not quite camera ready. Hiding half of your face seems like the obvious solution to look good on camera, but with a super cool pair of shades you can make avoiding eye contact a real fashion statement.