What to Wear For Your Graduation Ball

Not much time left now until the class of 2012 graduates. But what with exams and dissertation deadlines, not many students have had time to focus on planning their graduation ball outfits in advance. Thankfully, this means fashionable suits and dresses are still in stock. If you buy an outfit now, you're still in for a good deal.

Find out what's big in formal wear for the 2012 graduation season. Learn how you can ensure you receive the right amount of attention and compliments at your ball. Nail your outfit with this nifty guide.

Men's Graduation Outfits

Men's tailoring has seen classic shapes return to the limelight in the jacket and blazer department. Both single and double-breasted styles are considered in this season. You can definitely dare to veer away from the classic black and navy colour range this season, however. Grey tones are considered very trendy this year.

Look for tailored jackets with distinct lapels in contrasting colours or fabrics. This is a simple yet effective outfit element that lets you get away without accessorising (yes, men can and should accessorise too).

Tailored trousers have arrived in new shapes, including the drop-crotch. The slim fit is this year's winning shape. Team your jacket and trousers with a shirt in an adventurous colour rather than the traditional white dinner shirt. Both block colours and tame patterns are suitable for formal occasions. As you're young you can get away with more smart casual than full on formal clothing.

To stand out from the crowd, carefully accessorise your outfit. If you've chosen a jacket or blazer with a breast pocket, wear a scarf or handkerchief in it, with a triangular fold hanging over the side. For an expensive-looking element, add cufflinks to your outfit. To finish off, choose a pair of smart patent shoes. A touch of fun is to wear coloured socks. Make sure these don't contrast with your shirt.

Women's Graduation Outfits

Ladies can take inspiration from the red carpet hits at the recent Cannes Film Festival. Women's formal wear is bold and adventurous this season. Think bright colours, patterns and extravagant fabrics. Many styles are short like cocktail dresses, but the maxi dress craze continues too.

Shapes have been inspired by vintage fashion, particularly 1920s flapper dresses, and 1950s and 1960s dresses. Think cult TV shows Mad Men and Pan Am for historical inspiration.

The season's trends suit all body shapes. Cinched waists look great on fuller figured fashionistas to show off their curves. Straight cuts are great for thin female graduands.

Accessorise liberally. However, if you have chosen a dress embellished with sequins, studs or other elements, be careful not to overdo it. A sparkly dress paired with sparkly shoes could be a sparkle overkill. The best approach is to stick with either a neutral dress and very noticeable shoes, or vice versa.

Womens dresses look great worn with a shawl to keep you warm throughout the evening. Throw it lightly over your shoulders. Alternatively, invest in a feminine cardigan or fitted jacket.

Last but not least, choose a spectacular clutch to finish off the look. Make sure it's big enough form money, make-up and your camera or smart phone.