SECURELY FASHIONED: How to avoid an awkward family photo this graduation season

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First Posted: 4/28/2014

No one really sets out trying to make the “perfect” awkward family photo, but usually crazy outfits, bad hair, and bright colors are involved. If we can get our wardrobe in check this season, we may be able to avoid some cringe-worthy family pics.

The graduate should be mindful of hemlines (they are an unflattering length on most people). A dress and sandals will make you look like an apostle – that happened to me. All you saw were chicken legs sticking out of a robe with flat sandals anchoring everything. But wear too high of a heel and you may eat it in front of peers, family, and friends on the day that you are boasting your intelligence. Do not wear shoes that haven’t been tested. Most stages are slick!

For the guys, a nice watch goes a long way. The shell necklace you got on spring break will haunt you in years to come. And graphic tees shouting “YOLO” or “I WOKE UP LIKE THIS” may not be so cute in, like, two years. I used to wear a tee that said “NOT.” This was the early ‘90s. I do wish I still had it, but I’m thankful it’s not in any family photos; I looked like a 9-year-old tool.

Parents of the grad: this day is a graduation for you, too. You officially raised a graduate – and you can legally kick them out of your basement. Just kidding. No, I’m not. It’s for the best. Style-wise, now is not the time to try something drastic like a new haircut or color or a very on-trend piece of clothing, like summer neon or fringe. Blend into the background and bask in the glory of your new grad and their bright future, not your bright outfit and hair color.

Siblings should follow the golden rule that is almost impossible for younger siblings to follow: don’t be embarrassing.

Grandparents, well, you can wear and say whatever you want, and no doubt you will. You earned it.

Dress accordingly to the graduation party if it’s a family function. If it’s a sit-down dinner with the family, keep it classy. You are trying show off your maturity. If it’s a backyard type of thing, definitely go casual – cute, but trade in those unflattering flip-flops for some soft pastel or feminine fabric tennis shoes. H&M has a great selection for $17.95; order online at Is it a bonfire with all of your friends in a field somewhere? Then just wear whatever you want. Preferably something easy to clean.

Remember, this is the season for running into great aunts, old friends, ex-husbands, and ex-wives. You want to look polished, put together, and timeless, not unrecognizable to your family and friends.

Whatever you do…

• Pick up some simple and beautiful pieces for the graduate or parents at White House Black Market at the Shoppes at Montage. For the female grad or siblings, swing by Forever 21 at The Crossings Premium Outlets, and the guys can score big at the Gap and Calvin Klein outlets.

• Save the drastic hairstyle change or seasonal trend for another time, not graduation day. Before you leave the house, ask yourself, “Will this ensemble still look good in 10 years?”

• Graduates, congratulations! Keep it simple and enjoy every moment.