The traditional garb worn for both high school and college graduations is a wardrobe style created several centuries ago. Therefore, the style of the graduation gown and accessories may not be something students are accustomed to wearing today.

Most students can expect to wear four main components come graduation day. These will include the graduation gown, a cap and a tassel.

Graduation gowns are generally similar in style. A gown will come down to the knee or below. It may be worn open as sort of a draped piece, or there may be fasteners or a zipper so that the gown is closed in the front. The sleeves may be bell-shaped or pointed, depending on the school and the degree being earned.

Oftentimes, the gown coordinates with the school colors, and students should expect to wear the primary color associated with the school when they graduate. This way they can plan their underclothes accordingly. Because graduation gowns tend to be bright in color, often vivid blues, reds and greens, it is adviseable to wear neutral-colored dresses, skirts, slacks and shirts underneath. Both male and female students may want to consider a collared shirt under the gown for a crisp and professional look.

The cap, also known as a mortar board, is a hat with a flat, square top. The color of the cap may tie into the color of the gown, or it could be a complementary school color. Sometimes it is a neutral black.

The cap should be worn so that the board is parallel to the shoulders. It should not be tipped or worn on the back of the head. Hairstyles may have to be adjusted so that the cap is placed correctly. Schools will take measurements of students’ head circumferences so that the cap fits snugly. It should also be placed so that one of the points is directly in front. If looked at from above, the cap would form a diamond shape.

A button should be at the top of the cap where the tassel is attached. The tassel is looped around the button and, in most instances, worn to one side of the face. Most schools require the tassel be on the right side of the face. Once students receive their diplomas and have been declared graduates, it is customary to move the tassel over to the left side of the face. Here it will remain until the cap is removed after the ceremony.

Although graduation clothing may seem out of place in this day and age, the formality and custom of donning a cap and gown is something that further emphasizes the importance and tradition of the ceremony.


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