Oh, how I dreaded searching for a graduation dress! I hate looking at myself in mirrors, hate being photographed, my body confidence is pretty much rock-bottom currently. The thought of having to find an outfit which will be forever displayed on grandparents walls was terrifying.
Then there was the constraint of finding something ‘appropriate.’ Graduating in the cathedral meant I didn’t want anything revealing, wanted a decent length. I wanted something that would blend in or complement my hood colour (a soft grey – quite nice as it happened!). Oh, and I desperately wanted something that fitted. Seeing as 90% of my wardrobe doesn’t right now.
Seemed like an impossible task, right?! Turns out I was on a roll back in April – I managed to find my wedding dress (!), summer ball dress and graduation dress all within the space of a few days!
My graduation dress came from Next, one of their featured brands called Little Mistress (also available from House of Fraser and, I think, ASOS). Originally priced at £55, it’s now much cheaper (typical) but personally felt the material and fit to be superior even for the higher price. A silky polyester blend, fitted even to my waist, with a flattering wrap skirt, the length was perfect for my height. The colour blended with my hood, and went perfectly with my favourite makeup look. Definitely a good buy!
I accessorized with a bright pink cardigan (Tesco) and some black court shoes (Peacocks, which crippled me with a horrific blister despite wearing them in). I was also lucky enough not to have to carry a bag, however regretted this halfway through the very long (and unfortunately very boring) ceremony – how I would have loved to have my phone with me!
What did you wear to your graduation? Did you dread finding a dress too?
Just a quick post from me today – it seems that the past six months have finally caught up with me and I’ve now succumbed to the illness that’s been threatening for weeks. Yep, less than 48 hours after graduating my throat felt like I’d been swallowing razor blades, and I decided bed was the best option. Not great when I still had W’s graduation to get through, though I must admit it’s quite nice to be ill whilst at home with someone to look after me!
On Monday I finally and officially ended four long years of hard work. I walked along a stage, shook a hand and collected my degree certificate. Perhaps a bit of an anticlimax, but I loved every minute and *waits for applause* I didn’t fall over! I loved seeing my friends and coursemates all dressed up, throwing our hats in the air, and giggling as the more difficult names were stumbled over during the ceremony. I loved chatting to my lecturers, informing them I finally had a job lined up, thanking them for all the advice they gave over the last few years. I loved making my parents, sister and fiance proud, seeing their faces as I walked by in the cathedral. I loved the Ed’s Diner pancakes I had for breakfast, and the Belgian Waffle I ate at 10pm instead of dinner. And of course, I loved my final Pork & Co roll the day after.
It was such a lovely way to end my time at Kent University, and whilst I can’t quite believe it’s over, I’m now super excited for the next step!
First confession: I’ve been slowly planning my graduation makeup look for a long time, well before I even faced up to the fact that I was actually finishing university. I think this is part of the reason I got into makeup, actually, as I wanted to ensure I’d look my very best on graduation day.
Second confession: I’m also treating this as a mini-trial run for wedding ideas. Obviously it’s WAY too early to actually be planning that, but at the same time it’s at the back of my mind. I’ve always wanted to do my makeup myself, and so slowly building up a collection of ‘perfect’ products seems the best way to go about it.
In the end, I’m really glad the planning paid off. I was super happy with my makeup yesterday, and I think it stayed in place pretty well. I went for a slightly amped-up version of my usual look. Nothing too out there, nothing too different, and I still felt like myself. I’d highly recommend doing this – I reckon it minimises looking back at the photos and regretting. If you usually rock a bold lip, go for it. If you usually wear very little makeup, now is not the time to start piling it on. The most important thing is to be comfortable and be yourself. And with that in mind, my go-to neutral eye and berry tones got another outing.
If I’m honest, I was really stuck at first, debating whether I was going for a bold red lip or not. I’m definitely not averse to wearing it on a casual day, quite often wearing one to lectures (perfect way to make the jeans-and-t-shirt look like a bit more effort has gone into it!). However when I found my graduation dress it went well with the berry colours I love so much – problem solved!
My base was my new favourite – Max Factor Miracle Match (full review) is the only foundation I have regularly worn since I bought it at the beginning of the year. I was debating going a shade up as I still have an ever-so slightly tanned complexion, but decided against it in the end. Mainly because nowhere had that shade in stock. 17 Stay Time Concealer hid the blemish-marks leftover from exam season, and my new love hid (that’s right, completely hid) my under-eye circles. NYX Under-Eye Concealer is the only thing that has ever really worked on my dark circles, and I’ve been addicted since I picked it up a few weeks ago. I doubt the pot will last long, but I love how awake I’m looking! I topped up my base just before my ceremony, buffing on Bodyshop’s Mineral Foundation. At that point my foundation was a good 5+ hours old, but still holding strong.
To add colour I went in with Nars Douceur. No amount of moaning will explain just how gutted I am that this is discontinued, though my Tarte Exposed blush is almost as good. A little Hourglass Powder as a highlight and my face is pretty much good to go!
Eyes relied on my Charlotte Tilbury Quad, something which gets a lot of use. I used the two lightest shades during the day (for my lunch and School Awards Ceremony), and then amped it up a little for the graduation ceremony by blending the grey around the outer crease and adding Rimmel’s Kajal Liner in grey. A good healthy dose of mascara (Max Factor False Lash Effect) and filling in my brows completed the look.
And then, of course, lipstick. I knew roughly the shade I wanted, having fallen in love with MAC Mehr on my trip to Switzerland. However I knew that I would sooner have a non-matte formula for the whole day, and so treated myself to Fast Play. A gorgeous shade, slightly plummier than Mehr, hydrating, and giving a natural sheen to the lips. I can see this becoming a favourite!
What makeup do you rely on for a special occasion? Good luck to all those graduating this month!
This post has been sitting in my drafts since February time. It took me until February to start writing as that was just how long it took me to get used to final year, get used to the pace of work, content, lectures, get used to being a student again. Whilst it’s possible it took me that long due to coming back from placement year, I personally found the step up to final year a huge jump.
It’s Harder Than You Expect
Just under a year ago, I was preparing to start final year. I was coming to the end of my placement year and was preparing to move into my last ever student house. I had heard that final year was tough – I just didn’t believe it. I thought I’d be fine. I’d always been clever, I’d always got ‘good’ results despite being disappointed in my second year. I kept telling myself it would all work out. But then it happened. Final year. The work came in, and plans for blogging daily, for days out, for enjoying my last few months of university, they all went down the pan. Scrapped in favour of long days (and nights) of stress. Swapped for hours in the library.
For me, the difficulty of the content was a big jump up from second year. I found the workload, strangely (and I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only ones!) lighter and far easier to cope with, but I did find the actual material more taxing. There was less immediate understanding, more work to be done on going over concepts. There was one module in particular I was dreading, as I’d really, really struggled with the first part during second year – so I spent a whole week at Christmas going over the previous module and working a little ahead. That strategy definitely worked for me, and I’m so glad I put in that extra effort.
A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on
It’s Worth It When The Results Come In
Oh, how it’s worth it. When I found out my degree classification (in the middle of a car park), I cried, I hyperventilated, I had to have help to buckle my seatbelt upon leaving. Knowing that those sleepless nights, the long hours in the library, all the stress, that it had all paid off – it was such an amazing, amazing feeling. Well worth it!
Finding A Job Takes Longer Than You’d Think
Again, this was an area I’d looked at through rose-tinted glasses. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be easy to get a job. But I knew I was well practised at interviews, I’d got a years experience, I’d got good grades. I was clearly good at the applications, attending no less than five final stages. Gaining five rejections. All for different reasons, some rather silly reasons. But it was unexpected, especially as with each interview I felt like this was ‘THE’ job, the one for me.
There were a lot of tears when those rejection phone calls came in, including a night of crying, an hours sleep, and going for a run at 6am as I needed to do something, anything, to get my mind off it.
But it did all work out. I did get a job, a job that actually blows the others out of the water in terms of what I wanted. I actually ended up with two job offers (not an ideal scenario when you’re in the middle of your busiest exam week!). What I would recommend is before final year even starts, take a look at jobs you’d like and application deadlines. I’m super glad I did this, as a lot of my deadlines to apply where November-time, with some even closing after just a few days in September. Be prepared!
Likewise, Finding A Graduation Dress Takes Forever
Ah, the graduation dress shop. In some ways I’m super thankful I started this early, in some ways its a curse as I knew I couldn’t put an ounce of weight on in the weeks preceding graduation.
I know some people who are still looking for a graduation dress, just a few days before the event. I know people who have ordered 10+ dresses online, to try on at home (this was going to be my plan, but I only ever found one potential!). I know people who have spent a fortune, people scouring charity shops, even someone whose mum is making theirs. My advice? Start looking early (it’s great for study breaks!), shop in more unusual places (mine is from Next, a place I wouldn’t usual look in), consider the colour of your gown/mortar board and don’t have too small a budget (I didn’t want to spend over £75, ended up coming in under at £55 though the damn thing is now half price!).
You Use A LOT of Stationary
Seriously – so, so much of the stuff. Far more than in other years and I still haven’t really figured out why! I was a regular in Rymans picking up get another bag full of narrow-ruled paper, I even depleted mutliple BIC biros. I remember just a few days before my final exam, looking in my paper and seeing only half a refill pad. I finished university with two sheets of paper spare – result!
It’s A Time To Push Boundaries
I really feel that, out of all my years at university, it was final year which made me grow up more. I learnt a lot about myself in that year, I pushed myself to do more, to do better, all the time. Be it challenging myself to bake bread, or a new recipe each fortnight, or improving coursework marks with each submission. I even pushed myself to give a talk to over 200 prospective students and their parents – scary stuff.
Say Goodbye to Nights Out. Say Hi to Nights In
Admittedly, I’ve never been a person for going out-out. I love nothing more than a couple of glasses of wine, a couple of bottles of good cider, perhaps a few nibbles, in a pub. What I don’t like is music too loud to hear the person next to you, sticky floors and feeling anything more than tipsy. However some of my absolute favourite nights throughout university have been during final year, and involved good healthy snacks (try my Banana Nutella Microwave Mug Cake) and a whole lot of giggles.
The best night? Probably the night of the Great British Bake Off final. Myself and a housemate ate so much baked goods we had to go for a lie-down by 9pm…
Moving Back Home Is Daunting
This was the thing I worried about throughout my final year. With going on placement, visiting W, living in London last summer, it all transpired that I hadn’t been at home for longer than 6 days in 2 years. I was worried I wouldn’t have a job, and that I’d be stuck at home for the foreseeable future. It goes without saying that I love my family, I had an extremely good relationship with them and I do love being at home (hello dippy eggs, decent Sunday roasts and dad’s baking!) – but I didn’t want to lose my independence. After a slight paddy over my mum putting my clothes away for me, I’m just about used to it again. Though I can’t say I’m not looking forward to moving to London at the end of summer…
What tips do you have for getting through the final year of university? How did you find your final year?
My degree and it’s aim are very straight-cut. It’s a very specific degree aiming at a very specific job. I’m perfectly happy with that, as it’s the career I’m aiming for in the sector I want to be in. But I know a lot of people are put off by universities pushing employment opportunities at them, at failing to recognise the importance of working for yourself.
In a time where more and more people are looking at self-employment options, it’s important for graduates to be able to make informed decisions. As someone who has definitely been feeling the pressure of obtaining a graduate job I found this study and infographic by PolicyBee really interesting.
I was shocked that such a high number of universities never mention freelancing at all. I fully admit I’d not heard it mentioned in my course, but assumed that as it is aimed at a specific profession it was an exception to the rule – but apparently not!
*Sponsored post, all opinions are my own as always!
What was your experience at university? Were you pushed towards traditional employment?
I’m lucky in that I’ve been able to experience the working world in the knowledge that I have one more year left of student-hood, one more year before I join the real world. Let me tell you this, I’ll definitely be making the most of it! I found the jump into working life really tough, so going back to studying is something I’m really looking forward to. Leanne from The Dress Diaries has written a post all about things she misses now she’s graduated – I’m going to keep a note of these to make sure I appreciate them over the next academic year!
Hi there, I’m Leanne from over at The Dress Diaries and Chloe has kindly let me guest post for her about my university experience. Some of you may have recently finished University and gone on to graduate. Firstly, congratulations, go you!
Secondly, this is where your student life ends and ‘adult’ life begins and although I’ll be the first to tell you it’s a great thing, it also means you’re leaving a few perks behind.
I’ve compiled a list of the main things I miss about being a student and if you’re lucky enough to still have some sweet student years left, don’t take these for granted!
Long, Long Holidays
A month off for Christmas, another month for Easter and over two months off when it comes to Summer. Who WOULDN’T love not having to work for a third of the entire year? Now, we’re limited to 28 days holiday a year if we’re lucky and wishing we’d spent more time making the most of so much free time instead of spending it in bed.
What owning an NUS card meant to me: up to 20% discounts at ASOS and Topshop, free entry into bars on a student night and super cheap drinks. Student discounts have to be the biggest perks of being at university. When I graduated, I genuinely contemplated going on to do another course just so I’d have a few more years of free cheeseburgers at McDonalds.
Tears still well up every time the girl at the Topshop counter asks if I have a student card and I have to admit to her, and myself, the truth…
The Casual Timetable
The thing I miss most about student life is getting entire days off mid-week that you could spend watching films, having sex and drinking. It was full of late nights and late mornings because we had no other responsibilities and a 9-5 working day was unheard of . Nowadays, all of this has to be compressed into a weekend with constant reminders of the working week looming towards you at a pace similar to Usain Bolt.
Fancy Dress is Always Appropriate
University is a time when it is absolutely acceptable to wear themed fancy dress every week. Sports team pub crawls, birthdays, results days and sometimes just because we felt like donning a leotard and some leg-warmers. Don’t even get me started on the extent to which we celebrated Halloween.
Living With Best Friends
For most people, University means leaving the comfort and safety of your parent’s home for the first time and getting used to a house full of strangers. It’s likely these strangers actually become a crowd you’re actually pretty fond of. There are people who cook for you on occasion, those who clean the kitchen after house parties and there’s always someone to get drunk with chat to. After graduation it’s likely your group will disperse and you each have your own dreams to fulfil. You can keep in touch and stalk their adventures on Facebook but it’s not the same. On the plus side, you won’t wake up to someone blasting Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ to the entire house at the end of every week – true story.
Out of all of these things, I definitely think is going to be the ‘Living with Best Friends’ bit that I will miss most. I’m living with two lovely girls during my final year, I lived with them in second year and have missed them like crazy over the past couple of months. It will be great to go back to having a girly household, Sunday dinners every week, and plenty of nail polishes to borrow! I’m already dreading leaving them next summer…
What’s your favourite bit about university, or what do you miss the most?