Thursday, July 17, 2014

What I Wore To My Graduation!

Let's talk about how this didn't actually
happen at my graduation :'(
SO my original plan was to do a short OOTD post on what I wore to my graduation ceremony this past week. However, putting my outfit together was a month-long, thoroughly thought-out experience, and I bought most of the pieces I wore for the occasion. Therefore, it’s perhaps unsurprising that this turned into a somewhat longer detailing of my graduation look, what inspired it, where I got everything and how the outfit worked out for me on the day!

I hope you enjoy this post and grab some inspiration and tips for yourself, whether you are graduating or attending any other suit-worthy occasion :) Personally, when I was preparing to graduate I had NO idea what to expect out of the whole gown-wearing experience, what was best to wear under the gown, or how I’d feel throughout the whole day in my outfit, so hopefully this will give you a bit of an insight into how my day went, if you’re feeling as at sea as I was!!
Suit: Next
Shirt: asos
Tie: The Tie Bar
Tie Pin: amazon
Pocket square: amazon
Belt: Primark
Shoes: Florsheim by Duckie Brown

 The theme…
I think to get a killer menswear outfit, the trick is choosing one or two theme colours, and I went with brown and blue! I’ve been loving brown recently, because it has a really cool 70s vibe, a fashion era I’ve been loving lately… What can I say, I’ve been watching too much old James Bond and American Horror Story Asylum as of late!! ;) Brown and blue together are a gorgeous combo, and blue is the colour of my university (Queen Mary, University of London!) so choosing my theme colours was pretty simple!

My suit…
I bought my suit for the occasion but I also wanted it to be something I could wear again (potentially to job interviews because I am now, if you didn’t now, OFFICIALLY A GRADUATE! :D). Brown suits have a bit of a stigma and are traditionally associated with the countryside. And I was a London uni student, after all! Blue is the MOST diverse suit colour you can get. It is appropriate for business, but it is also not too severe and has a fresh, youthful vibe. Blue is my favourite colour, and the suit I wore is a beautiful shade: a perfect balance of cobalt and navy, meaning it feels a little quirky but is also very traditional!

I was originally inspired by a navy suit with brown piping that I saw on the Zara website (and which I can no longer find to share, sadly!). However, I really wasn’t very flush when I was purchasing my graduation outfit… I actually took extra work at the catering company where I work to finance it! The Zara suit was just much too expensive at nearly £200 (my Next suit was half the price!) and I could not find it in a Zara store (no-one should ever buy a suit without trying it on, especially not if the suit is made for a body which is the sex that you are not!).

However, I’m so glad I looked elsewhere because I absolutely fell in LOVE with my suit on sight! It is from Next, who actually make beautiful suits, in a great many different colours and designs. Their suits fit me very well, and other FAAB friends have told me they feel the same way! I love how my suit has a skinny fit, which is on trend, but it also feels timeless. I was also thrilled that it has black piping on the pockets, which resembles the suit I originally liked, and I’m a total sucker for details.

On the day…
I have no complaints at all about my suit. I absolutely adored wearing it, and though I didn’t buy my suit with this in mind, I definitely recommend going for a darker colour so you are not in too stark contrast with your robes.

Now onto the accessories…
My tie!
My tie is from The Tie Bar! It is from a collection they have in collaboration with basketball player Dwayne Wade, which are gorgeous: detailed but non-negotiably gentlemanly and classy. The Tie Bar is my latest obsession. They just sell hundreds and hundreds of ties! And they are all very intricate and very classy.

I also LOVE the cute packaging from The Tie Bar!

This tie was an investment, I’m not going to lie, especially considering I ordered it from America on a time crunch, meaning I paid for express shipping. In total I paid about £30 for it (thanks, exchange rate!) but I have to admit I don’t regret it! It is also silk and very well made, and well, really, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself on a special day! Most of the time I buy my ties for £2 from Primark, so this one feels a bit like a flower in a field of weeds in my collection ;)

Something to say is even though it was marked as a “skinny tie” on the website, I guess skinny ties are thicker in America…! This is about double the thickness of my other ties! However, I wear my ties very skinny, so I think this still looked fine!!
Thickness comparison with one of
my ties bought in Britain!
On the day…
I ended up wearing my tie over the top of my gown, which was how the gown-hire people (what is the technical name for that job??) recommended I wear it. Before my graduation I had vowed I would not wear my tie this way (not sure this says much for my ability to not be swayed by peer pressure!) However, I honestly kind of think it depends on the tie. Because mine matched my gown well, I think it worked. However, if you had a louder tie, I’d say opt for having it in.

This lady had opinions on how it was proper to wear my tie
with my gown!!

Tie pin
I pretty much can’t wear a tie without a tie pin. A) I like my outfit to stay in place and definitely hate when ties flap about when you bend down, or blow in the wind! B) they look gorgeous, and who can pass up the excuse for an accessory? I wore a brown tie pin which I actually got in a set for £17.99 from amazon, which had eight very well-made tie pins in different colours! I thought this was pretty good value, considering I’ve paid the same amount for just two tie pins in the past!

This set was a great investment, actually!!

It was a skinny tie pin (meaning it didn’t cover the whole width of my tie) which I was a little apprehensive about as it’s not a look I’d had before, but on googling I found pics of both Channing Tatum and Jake Gyllenhaal wearing them so I decided it couldn’t be all bad! And I really liked the look, personally :)

On the day…
I was REALLY glad I wore a tie pin when I decided to wear my tie over my gown. If I hadn’t had a tie pin, my tie would have stuck out at an awkward angle, and I think that I was wearing a tie pin was what meant I actually didn’t mind this look on me.

Pocket Square
I decided to wear a brown pocket square to get a similar effect to the brown piping I had seen on the original Zara suit I liked! It was actually the first time I’ve worn a pocket square and I loved it – the pop of colour totally transforms your suit! My pocket square is just a small square of brown material, bought from amazon. It was only £1.99, and the seller sells them in pretty much any colour you could want!

I folded it in a pointed fold, which I learnt from this very helpful video by the Art of Manliness:


On the day…
I thought it was a great addition to my suit, but word to the wise, I wouldn’t go all out on a flashy pocket square or other suit accessory because once you’re in your gown, it really isn’t visible (I toyed with the idea of getting this flower lapel for the occasion… I’m glad I didn’t!). If there’s something small which will just add a nice touch to your outfit, go for it, but don’t lose any sleep over suit accessories.

I wore a white short-sleeved formal shirt from asos. I know, a short-sleeve shirt is unconventional! Obviously traditionally you wear long sleeves with a suit BUT I love to experiment with menswear, and it was my day, so my rules and I like short-sleeved shirts, so there! ;)

I wore short sleeves for a couple of reasons too. Number one, it’s July! As if wearing a suit in hot weather (plus a graduation gown!) isn’t enough layers, without a long-sleeved shirt! I’m not ashamed to admit my second reason was because I have a tattoo on my upper arm, which frankly I wanted to be visible if I didn’t have my jacket on. I got my tattoo because I think it looks nice, so I think there’s nothing wrong with basing my outfit around showing off a feature I like on my body, just as you might dress to flatter your eyes or want to show off your good legs!

Besides, you can’t even tell the shirt is short-sleeved with the jacket on, so it’s actually an easy way to look conventional or more hip as it pleases you! The only big downside of a short-sleeve shirt is you miss out on a “details” opportunity because you can’t wear cufflinks, but as you can see, I made up for it by accessorising elsewhere!

On the day…
I didn’t take my jacket off ONCE, so no-one saw I was wearing short-sleeves! With this in mind, if you don’t like the look of short-sleeves, I’d still recommend them if it will be hot weather for your graduation… One less layer really does NOT hurt!

Also, my partner Taylor (who sadly could not attend my graduation – waaah :( ) gave me a beautiful bracelet as a graduation present, which I wore on the day, which worked much better with a short-sleeved shirt, so if arm candy is your thang, short sleeves are your friend!
Thank you, baby!!
However, when I was having my photos taken, the photographer did check for where my shirt sleeve was when he was posing me with the prop scroll!!! Bit awkward!

My shoes were the only thing I did not buy for the occasion. I have had the shoes I wore for about two years, so unfortunately I couldn’t find a link to them, but they are Florsheim by Duckie Brown, which are a gorgeous make of men’s shoes (which come beautifully packaged and feel great quality!) so I definitely recommend checking them out.

The shoes I wore are brown suede with spats-style trim in bright blue leather. I considered buying some brown loafers for the occasion, but then I already owned these, and I really think that they are a stunning pair of shoes, and they went perfectly with my colour choices. I’m so glad I wore these rather than getting something new for the sake of it, and I think they went much better with the overall formal vibe of my outfit than loafers would have, which give a more hipster, summery vibe.

On the day…
I do slightly regret wearing brown shoes, if only because the gown is black, meaning wearing brown shoes ultimately results in a really stark contrast. I did not anticipate that once you are in the gown, your shoes are THE MOST OBVIOUS PART OF YOUR OUTFIT. Definitely do NOT wear some scruffy shoes.

I think in hindsight, although I love the shoes I wore and definitely don’t regret wearing them, I’d recommend to someone else that they wear navy or black shoes. Get something beautiful and that you love, but don’t go too crazy with a statement pair (unless you’re very comfortable with this being what everyone’s eyes is glued to any time they look at you throughout the day!)

Some other notes…
Gown experience!
My gown was actually very lightweight – I think potentially at some other universities they are heavier and more billowy. Mine was basically like what they put on you when you go to a barbers or hair salon, but worn the other way round! It was very easy to wear, and I didn’t have any struggles.

The fun part of wearing a suit to graduation is the gown is really tailored to fit someone wearing a suit!! Mine had a loop on the collar to go over your shirt button to keep it in place, which I just thought was really cute, and made me feel very traditional and classic in my suit.

My hair…
When I go to the barbers I get a number one and I normally go about every two months, when it gets long enough to start annoying me. I planned my hair for my graduation really badly. I had my friend Joe and his fiancee staying at mine at the end of May. Joe wanted to go get his hair cut for a wedding he was going to, so we went to my barbers together, which was a lot of fun!

There is a dramatic difference between my hair when
it's just been cut and when it hasn't been cut in a while!!

However, it meant by graduation, my hair was still short enough that I didn’t want to spend money getting it cut!! I could only wait so long because I didn’t want to have it cut less than two weeks before graduation, because though I like my hair really short, I wanted it a bit longer for my graduation. I debated for weeks if I should get it cut or not and eventually did not, so my hair ended up being at the longer end of the lengths I wear it.

On the day…
I actually should NOT have lost so much sleep over it, because under my mortarboard you really could not see my hair AT ALL. Like, at all. You could literally just see the bits above my ears! So if I was going to give any advice, it would be make sure those are the way you like ‘em!

I'm still not convinced this was a great look for me!!

The only thing I ever really switch up in my make-up routine on a day-to-day basis is my blush, and after much deliberation I ended up wearing CoverGirl’s Cheekers blush in Rock ‘N’ Rose, which is a gorgeous long-lasting matte red that I have written a review on here.

On the day…
I pondered wearing a pink blush for ages but I’m really glad I went with this in the end. It is just so classic, really pigmented and long-lasting and has become one of my all-time favourites. Blush which looks more like Lord Farquaad than natural skin is my guiltiest pleasure, but I’m glad I went with this because it looks very natural in the photos, while still having an obvious amount of colour (which I love!).


Aaaand I think that’s about it! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments, or feel free to share any advice you’d have for any lovely butches wandering what to wear to their graduation! And if you ARE graduating – CONGRATULATIONS!!! :)

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