Keeping it real: the graduation outfits

Nikki ParkinsonEveryday Style, Fashion 35 Comments

Thanks to your years of hard work to raise us into this fine bunch that we are. We are now ready to take our first steps into the world outside of school.

This was just one line from a speech that my daughter delivered at her school graduation dinner last week. She was on stage with another of the Year 12 leaders and it was not the first time I would have cause to reach for the Kleenex.

And it wouldn’t be the last.

For starters, I didn’t know she could sing (here’s a 15 second sample from the same night) and for secondersgetting a kid through school in one piece is a pretty bloody big deal.

A big deal that comes with even more emotions than you’ll find on those emoji keyboards those same kids love using.

As a wise woman at the beginning of her parenting journey messaged me last Friday, “you must be feeling all the feels today”.

Got it in one.

Year 12 students run into Mooloolaba Beach on graduation day

Two of my children are now school leavers.

One’s just finished his first year of uni and has embraced college life like nobody’s business.

Now my only daughter is on track to follow suit. She’s currently one of the 28,000 at Schoolies on the Gold Coast. One part of her life done and dusted, the rest is all an unknown and exciting vision ahead.

I’ll always be their parents but you have to trust that all that you’ve done to this point sets them up to be solid community citizens, who will hopefully carve out a path that they love in this world.

Truth is, that path will not involve a single, straight line. I’m told this generation will have eight career changes during their working life.

And from what I’ve seen I can’t wait to see what they bring to make this world a better place.

What we wore

I know you’re here for the graduation outfits – not my self-induglent-I’m-missing-my-daughter writings – so let’s get on with it, shall we?

There were two occasions for which I needed to think about an outfit – the graduation dinner and the final assembly.

For Miss SY it was all about the dinner outfit as it was a uniform affair for the assembly.

Now, the dinner was not her school formal – that was back in May.

The dinner had a dress code of smart casual. As is tradition in Australia, that gets translated quite differently depending on whether you are a guy or a girl.

The men will dress in jeans and the women will frock up. I informed Miss SY that this is an important life lesson and just to roll with it. Frock up for your sisters and enjoy the occasion. Let the men do their thing.

So, the girls mostly wore cocktail frocks.

I picked up Miss SY’s – a black lace Blesse’d Are The Meek dress – on sale at a local boutique a couple of months ago. She wasn’t with me at the time but I was confident that even if she didn’t want it for grad, she would have it in her wardrobe for events at uni next year. A forever purchase.

Turns out she did love it and a quick shop online one night last month at The Iconic yielded the aqua shoes and necklace to give the outfit a pop.

Miss SY Blesse'd Are The Meek dress Peter Lang necklace Witchery Clutch Guess watch Therapy shoes

  Blesse’d Are The Meek dress | PL by Peter Lang necklace @ The Iconic | Witchery clutch (bought for Miss SY’s formal) | Guess watch (a graduation present!) | Therapy shoes @ The Iconic

Hair by Suite Three Hair

 A soft, loose side braid by Suite Three Hair

Samantha Wills ring Witchery clutch Guess watch

 Samantha Wills ring (borrowed from me!)

I was all prepped and ready to wear black too but then remembered that back in August I’d bought this Hi There by Karen Walker dress from Myer to wear to a wedding but at the time had opted for this dress instead.

Bang. Sorted.

Hi There by Karen Walker dress Uberkate bracelet and rings Wayne by Wayne Cooper heels Michael Kors watch

Hi There by Karen Walker dress | Dinosaur Designs necklace | Uberkate bracelet and rings | Wayne by Wayne Cooper heels | Michael Kors watch

On Friday, it was hot and steamy. A typical November’s day in Queensland.

Sitting in a non-airconditioned open pavilion for the assembly, followed by a trip to the beach to watch the Year 12s jump in the water at Mooloolaba and then lunch with a bunch of mums I’ve known since our kids were babies and toddlers, I needed an outfit that was cool and comfortable.

It was a chance to trot out for the first time my Biasa outfit bought when in Bali last month.

Biasa dress Zoe Kratzmann wedges Uberfine necklace Uberkate rings and bracelet Michael Kors watch

Biasa dress | Zoe Kratzmann wedges* | Uberkate/Il Tutto necklace (part of a coin purse and necklace gift set)* | Uberkate rings and bracelet | Michael Kors watch

To all my fellow SY readers who have shared the same emotions as me last week – or will be doing so in the coming couple of weeks – I say: Job. Well. Done.

Do you remember your final week – or day – at school? How did you celebrate? Any traditions?

{Me? 29 years ago, we had our grad/formal on the Thursday night, stayed up all night at the after party and then walked to a champagne breakfast at my house before heading to school … we so wouldn’t get away with that today … especially with my parents being teachers!}

* Sent to me for editorial consideration 


Comments 35

  1. Last week was such a roller coaster of emotions. It all still feels somewhat surreal to be honest. My girl had her graduation ceremony on the Wednesday, and the formal on the Thursday. And she’s at schoolies as well… I ring her every day. Her reaction to some the antics that her friends have been getting up to has made me proud. Seems she has taken on board more of her mothers “lessons” then I thought she had. 😉

    1. Three more sleeps Vicky … what I find annoying is the media coverage ONLY focusses on the minority getting up to crazy stuff and not the kids who are just having some fun with their friends and behaving. We’ve been texting every day and I’ve had a rule that she’s had to text every night when she gets back to the apartment that she’s stuck to!

  2. Oh congratulations! You both look fantastic. I can’t get over how together and stylish your daughter is, at her age I had NO IDEA! I remember my last days at school and that part of my life really vividly. Halcyon days, right!

  3. Congratulations Miss SY getting through school, and Nikki being beside you! My end of year 12 was very different back in 80s, champagne breakfast one day, concert at school and lunch the next – then down to the Watsons Bay Hotel. Exams then the formals at the end of it all, no parental involvement whatsoever at any of those events. Then off to work as soon as the exams had finished.
    By the way, I cannot believe your little Miss kept that voice of hers a secret – wonder what else she’s been keeping from you!! You both look great in those pics! Oh, yeah and it will be 2026 by the time I’ve seen my littlest through school.

  4. Beautiful outfits all round! We had our formal in the middle of the year so that was over and done with. Nothing too special (ie. no grad nights or special assemblies) just the entire year gathering in the quad to celebrate our last bell for the end of the day. I also remember something about a car procession out of the school but that was about it.

  5. Congratulations Miss SY! This really is such an exciting time. School’s over, you’ve got time to have fun and celebrate with your friends and your whole future is ahead of you. I have absolutely no doubt that whatever you choose to do, you will excel. All the very best.
    (PS: well done Nikki! xx)

  6. Well done, Nikki. As you say getting a child through school in one balanced piece is one of life’s jobs that’s not to be sniffed at these days. You both looked gorgeous and how lucky for miss SY that you are such a talented stylist – love the black lacey dress. Oh what fun the dunk in the sea in their school uniforms!

  7. I did the same thing! My mates and I went to Bobby McGees (a feral club in Canberra that’s now closed) and partied all night in our school uniforms, slept in my car and then went to our grad breakfast the next morning. Blergh. So much fun though.

  8. Our last day of school we just hung around the (brand new) school pool, before one final assembly at lunchtime and then going home. None of the pomp and ceremony of today, that’s for sure!

    It was such a big week last week wasn’t it with our girls graduating! I think I’m feeling a bit of post-formal/graduation letdown this week – back to the real world! 😉

  9. Wow Nikki You didn’t know your daughter could sing,that is great news and another thing she can add to her list of talents and it is ok to be sad I remember I was too,and yes your hard work is done ,but now you will have other roles.I congratulate you and your husband on a job very well done!What is your daughter doing at Uni?
    You both looked lovely and I love that you know your daughters style well enough to pick a dress for her.I love your Karen Walker dress it is beautiful and that Biasa dress, stunning:)I agree with you about dressing up for yourself or your sisters.Gorgeous Post NIkki.I remember we wrote all over our uniforms (a spare one of course) and I still have it and it still fits,and I stayed out all night too,talking and maybe having a few drinks x

  10. What a sensational achievement to both of you. We’ve gone through the whole shebang 3 times now (my 3 step kids) and I feel quite exhausted thinking that I’m going to be doing in all again in 2021 and 2028 with the little ones. (Okay, now that I’ve figured out those dates for the first time I’m starting to hyperventilate!!!)
    Back to you . . . . . Miss SYs singing – woooo! That must have blown you away. Your outfits look absolutely perfect for each occasion Nikki – the Karen Walker makes me realise I probably need a more structured summer dress or two in my wardrobe.
    Now is it too early to reach for the vodka to calm my sudden collywobbles???

  11. Congratulations to your daughter Nikki!!! You both look gorgeous. I’ve just returned from the Gold Coast for the weekend. I didn’t see too many crazy shenanigans, but there were a lot of short shorts!

  12. You both looked stunning. Nikki you are amazing , you have done so much in the last month and have remained seemly calm and looking gorgeous. what is your secret?

    1. Thanks so much Carla. It has been a huge month. Honestly, the only way I’ve got through it is approaching each week separately and not thinking about the next. Thinking about it all at once would have done me in!

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