A brief background
The graduation gown and hat can be dated as far back as the Middle Ages. Initially they were not worn as special attire for graduation ceremonies but were used to differentiate between the Scholars of the University and the people of the town in which they were studying. Of course, the robes have changed since then in both design and purpose, but there are similarities. The robe and hood had a functional purpose – worn over the top of formal clothing, it was designed to keep scholars warm whilst studying as they wouldn’t have had the luxury of central heating like we do now! These days, the gown, hood and hat (or cap) are worn in varying combinations depending on the occasion. They are still worn over the top of formal clothing, but the colours and shape of the hood is dictated by the degree you are receiving.
The first universities to officially use the graduation gown, hood and cap were Oxford and Cambridge, as they wanted everyone to wear the same gowns during ceremonies to create unity and order. This is thought to date as far back as the 1300s!
The graduation attire
Knowing where to start when figuring out what to wear for your graduation can be challenging. At Walters, we have been supplying students from the University of Oxford with the right gown, hood and cap for over 150 years! The combined knowledge of our team is a real asset to our business, and we feel this will manifest when you come to us to purchase or hire your gown for your special day.
The following guide should help to clarify what you will need to wear for your graduation ceremony. If you are still unsure after reading this, your individual colleges should be able to provide further information, and if not please do not hesitate to contact us directly at Walters and a member of our team will be only too willing to help. Our aim is to alleviate all the stress of getting the correct gown sorted for the momentous day!
There are predominantly three main styles of gowns that we supply at Walters, one of which will be relevant to you:
- The Doctors gown for Oxford University
- The Masters gown for Oxford University
- The Bachelors gown for Oxford University
What are the requirements for the Oxford Doctors, Masters and Bachelors Graduation?
This iconic garment represents your academic achievement whilst at the University and you are now finally able to wear it at your graduation ceremony. Each Doctors, Masters and Bachelors robe is different and unique, depending on the degree being collected. The full-dress robe is to be worn for graduations. It is worn over the top of the rest of your normal sub fusc in place of your commoners, graduates or other gown if you already hold an Oxford Degree.
Listed below are the links to the robes (for hire or purchase) that are relevant to you for your graduation degree on the Walters website. We also can make ‘undress’ gowns which are worn for less formal occasions.
There are two robes for Oxford Masters:
- The MA gown – a 2black robe with a full gather and large sleeves.
- All other Masters gowns are a black robe, trimmed in Oxford Lace.
- BA / BTH / BFA / B.ED – this gown is a black robe with a full gather and long sleeves.
- BD – this gown is a black robe with a full gather and a closed sleeve, with an opening at the elbow.
- BCL / BM BCH / BPHIL – this gown is a black robe trimmed in Oxford Lace.
Sub fusc – to be worn underneath your robe
At Walters, pride ourselves in being able to supply almost everything you need in one place, and our staff with their wealth of experience are always on hand to help.
Sub fusc is the clothing required to be worn underneath your academic gown. There are various options according to your needs and preferences. The list below gives you an idea of what is required.
You may choose between either;
- A dark suit with dark socks
- A dark skirt with dark tights or stockings
- A dark trousers with dark socks / hoisery
All of which can be worn with either a white shirt or blouse, with a classic collar and sleeves. You will also need the appropriate black or white bow tie or black long tie. If you require a jacket, you may wear a dark navy, charcoal or black jacket under your gown.
The University also stipulates that no pinstripes or patterns may be worn and that no part of your legs, ankles or feet are uncovered.
As we have so many years of experience working with The University of Oxford, we stock the clothing required in line with their requirements, so you can rest assured that when shopping with us that you will be purchasing the correct attire!
The hood is also a significant part of the graduation attire, often referred to as your ‘graduation colours’ and is worn over your shoulders. You have earned your right to wear this! It is a visual representation to all those who attend the graduation ceremony of the level of your academic achievement and also the degree you are collecting. Here at Walters we take great pleasure in being able to supply you with the correct hood in the appropriate colour and style for your graduation. Please see below for the links to the correct hood for purchase or hire.
Mortarboard or Soft Cap
The ‘mortarboard’, or the ‘square cap’, is thought to have also originated back in the 1800s although there is some debate that it could also have been part of the regalia worn in the 1300s. There is a conflict of opinions as to why it is called the ‘mortarboard’. Some historians believe it is in the shape of a book signifying the achievements of the scholar donning the cap. Others believe that it is simply called a mortarboard as it is shaped like the receptacle used for brick masons to hold their mortar.
At Walters we are proud suppliers of this iconic part of your graduation attire and are pleased to join you in celebrating your achievements that have facilitated you wearing it! Most degrees being collected necessitate you wearing the mortarboard, but there are some exceptions to this, such as, if you are collecting a DMus, DM, or DCL. In these cases, you will need a black velvet bonnet in place of the mortarboard or soft cap.
In summary, our main ambition at Walters is to assist you with your academic attire for your momentous day of graduation, and to make that process as stress free as possible. Our experienced and enthusiastic team will always be on hand to assist you either in person, via email at email@example.com , or please do not hesitate to contact us in store on +44 (0) 1865 241848.
From all of us here at Walters, we wish you a very happy graduation day and look forward to helping you to be ‘graduation ready’!