How to Wear Graduation Cords?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


After four long years, you’re finally done with school. Classes are over (‘Cs make degrees,’ as they say), friends are ready for vacation—you have only one thing left: walk down that aisle as you graduate.

But every graduating student has to dress for the occasion: a gown, a cap with a tassel, a sash or stole to wear around your shoulders, and finally, your graduation cords. What’s that, you say? What are graduation cords, and how do you wear them? Well, isn’t that just what this article is for?

By the end of this article, you will learn exactly how to wear your graduation cords and be the life of the graduation aisle!

What are Graduation Cords?What are Graduation Cords?

Graduation cords are those fancy pieces of string that go around your neck while wearing your graduation robes. You may not have noticed a graduation robe when you think of them, but they are a vital part of the graduation ensemble. Understanding these is a good start if you want to look good for your last day in high school or college graduations.

Graduation cords, also known as honor cords, are traditionally a token made up of twisted cords with tassels. These accessories are given to members of honor societies and other school-related activities and achievements, like joining a fraternity or sorority. Today, generally, they are part of the classic graduation ensemble, hanging over your shoulders like playful little strings. They come in various colors, but usually gold, but it can also depend on the honor society or group you joined for graduation.

There are three distinct graduating levels “with honors for honor cords.” These graduation levels come with unique graduation cords meant to signify their achievement and success.

  • Cum Laude (Latin for “With Honors”) is graduating with the academic distinction or honors program of your high school or college,
  • Magna Cum Laude (“with great honor”) is reserved for students who achieved high in their class or graduation year,
  • and Summa Cum Laude (“with the highest distinction”) is only for the student who has achieved the most outstanding level of honors, with a perfect 4.0 GPA and the highest grade in their class.

Graduation stoles are the sashes that go with your cords. Usually, these are decorated with your school or your fraternity symbol. However, some schools allow you to wear any stole you want. Others, however, are more critical of your choice in stoles. Since stoles can have practically any image bared onto them, the school may also ban any apparel that depicts something offensive, like violence or inappropriate language.

Your graduation cords are an explicit part of your graduation fit, so make sure they fit right. Only a certain kind of student is entrusted with these cords, and you are lucky enough to be one of them. But why, exactly, is that the case?

Who Wears Honor Cords at Graduation?

Who Wears Honor Cords at Graduation?

As stated before, honor cords are named after it is given to honor students and other students of reputable academic achievement. If you wonder how to wear these stylish cords, you are likely someone who has earned the right to walk out of the graduation ceremony with them. If you are not, then you have little to worry about.

The expectation is placed on these honor students to display pride in their achievement. So, of course, you should understand how to wear these literal threads to honestly look like the honors student you spend your college years becoming.

Even if you don’t pull the look off, you’re still an honor student, ain’tcha? So, there isn’t too much pressure here!

How to Wear Graduation Cords and Stoles?

How to Wear Graduation Cords and Stoles?

Just physically wearing your graduation cords is pretty simple. First, start wearing your graduation gown, as the cords will go directly over the existing gown. It is draped over your shoulders, so you don’t have to think too hard about how to put it on there, so long as it’s equally balanced.

Here are just a few steps and styles to wearing your graduation cords effectively and making yourself look like a real graduating student:

Straighten It Out

Make sure that the cords and stoles are straight as they can be before you wear them. You can quickly steam and flatten the stoles, though the cords have a different issue, especially with their rougher texture. They can also be cleaned to look spic and span come graduation day. It is better off to leave it in its plastic wrap until the day you have to wear it, but we recommend these above options if you ever feel like you want to try it yourself.

Lay It Thick

Both the cords and the soles should be worn over your shoulders, hanging off your neck—and not around your neck like a noose. If you wear it correctly, there should be no obstructions. Physically wearing the cords is perhaps the easiest part of this thing, as it is relatively intuitive. However, if you don’t pay attention, the cords can be too short and unbalanced and may fall off if you move it or yourself too much.

You can get creative with how you wear the cords, such as wearing them like a scarf. However, those are pretty out there suggestions, and sometimes straightforward is where the honest fashion lies.

Wrap It Up

The cords and stoles are only a part of the whole graduation gown ensemble: wearing your gown is just as important as the cords. If your gown is frumpy and full of lumps and your hat is off-center, then no amount of fashionable graduation cords make you look good. Make sure that every part of your ensemble fits and helps you pop.

Once you get into it, fitting yourself out is actually quite simple. Still, there is always something a little more you can do to improve your outfit–such as, perhaps, wearing more than one graduation cord.

How to Wear Multiple Graduation Cords?

How to Wear Multiple Graduation Cords?

You can wear multiple graduation cords if you want to stand out among the crowd. You need to put thought into your getup: if you do not, and you think it’s enough just to throw a bunch of cords over your shoulder, this would look ridiculous, like you’re overcompensating for something.

Thankfully, learning to wear multiple graduation cords is simpler than learning how to wear a single one. They are designed to be worn around the shoulders, and they are light and thin enough to wrap over each other without getting uncomfortable or noticeable if you have too many. Layer the cords over each other well to pull this look off. Of course, it also means you’ll have to start buying more cords, but there is always a price for having just a little bit more style.

Warning: wearing multiple graduation cords isn’t a guaranteed way to make you look better. But they make for a neat way to help you stand out.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Wear Graduation Cords?

By the time graduation day is over, you will rarely have to think of any of this. But that day will come, and when it does, you should put it in your memory as the day you pulled off the graduation cords.

So as we’ve stated before, by the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what graduation cords are and, more importantly, how to wear them to take your look from “I just want to get out of here as soon as possible” to “look at me now, dad!” Even if it’s only suitable for one moment in time, you will want that moment to be remembered fondly into the future!

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

A Guide to Effective Study Group Strategies

A Guide to Effective Study Group Strategies

Perhaps you have exams coming up and you’re considering studying with your friends but aren’t sure how to kick things off. Crafting the ultimate study group involves making sure that the time you spend together...

Read More