What Do People Wear for Graduation


What Do People Wear for Graduation?

Graduation is an important milestone in one’s life, marking the completion of a degree or educational program. It is a time of celebration, achievement, and anticipation for the future. One of the key elements of this momentous occasion is what people wear for graduation. In this article, we will explore the traditional attire for graduation ceremonies and answer some frequently asked questions about this topic.

Traditional Attire for Graduation:

1. Graduation Gown: The graduation gown is the quintessential symbol of academic achievement. Typically made of black fabric, it is a long, flowing robe that covers the entire body. The style and design of the gown may vary based on the level of education and the institution’s tradition. Bachelor’s gowns are often simpler, while master’s and doctoral gowns may feature additional embellishments such as a hood.

2. Hood: The hood is an important accessory worn over the graduation gown. It signifies the graduate’s specific field of study or academic discipline. The color of the hood usually corresponds to the field of study, with different colors representing various disciplines such as blue for philosophy, orange for engineering, and green for medicine.

3. Cap: Known as a mortarboard, the graduation cap is a flat, square-shaped hat with a tassel hanging from the top. The cap is usually black, but the tassel’s color may vary depending on the institution or the graduate’s degree. Traditionally, the tassel is worn on the right side of the cap until the degree is conferred, after which it is moved to the left side.

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4. Academic Stoles and Cords: Besides the gown, hood, and cap, graduates may also wear academic stoles and cords to represent various honors, achievements, or affiliations. Stoles are long, narrow sashes that drape over the shoulders, often in different colors or patterns, indicating membership in a specific organization or recognition for academic achievements. Cords, on the other hand, are twisted ropes worn around the neck, usually in different colors, and symbolize accomplishments in specific areas of study.

5. Shoes and Accessories: Underneath the graduation gown, graduates typically wear formal attire, such as dresses, suits, or dress shirts and pants. As the gown covers most of the clothing, the emphasis is usually on comfortable and appropriate footwear. Closed-toe dress shoes are the most common choice for both men and women. Accessories like jewelry should be kept minimal and tasteful to maintain a professional appearance.


1. Can I customize my graduation attire?
While the basic elements of graduation attire are standardized, some institutions may allow graduates to personalize their gowns or caps by adding decorative elements such as pins, patches, or embroidery. However, it is essential to check with your institution’s guidelines to ensure compliance with any rules or regulations regarding customization.

2. Do I need to buy or rent graduation attire?
Graduation attire can be obtained through various means, including purchasing, renting, or borrowing. Many institutions have designated vendors or online stores from which graduates can purchase or rent their attire. It is advisable to plan ahead and make the necessary arrangements to ensure you have the appropriate attire for the ceremony.

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3. What should I wear underneath my graduation gown?
Underneath the graduation gown, graduates should wear appropriate formal attire, such as dresses, suits, or dress shirts and pants. It is important to choose clothing that is comfortable, fits well, and complements the formal nature of the event. Avoid wearing casual or revealing clothing that may detract from the significance of the ceremony.

4. How should I wear my graduation cap?
The graduation cap should be worn flat on the head, with the front pointed directly forward. It is essential to secure the cap with bobby pins or clips to prevent it from slipping or falling off during the ceremony. The tassel should start on the right side and be moved to the left after the degree is conferred, as per tradition.

5. Can I keep my graduation attire as a memento?
Keeping your graduation attire as a memento is a cherished tradition for many graduates. It serves as a reminder of your accomplishments and the significant milestone in your life. However, it is important to remember that the attire may be required for future events or graduation ceremonies, so proper care and storage are necessary to maintain its condition.

In conclusion, what people wear for graduation consists of a graduation gown, hood, cap, academic stoles, cords, and appropriate formal attire underneath the gown. The attire represents academic achievements, fields of study, and honors. Graduation is a time of celebration and pride, and wearing the appropriate attire adds to the significance of the occasion.