Graduation gowns have been a staple item of academic dress for more than 900 years. Yes, you heard us right – 900 years! Back in the 1200s in Great Britain, when universities were first founded is where references to academic gowns can first be identified. Gowns became the dress code at academic ceremonies of graduation in the U.S. in the 100s and by the late 1800s, it was a practice that had been adopted worldwide.
Since then the style of the gown hasn’t changed that much. The first graduation gowns were often worn with hoods, which is a not so common practice anymore but otherwise the overall look has remained constant.
Despite originating over 900 years ago, the practice of wearing graduation gowns only continues to grow worldwide in the modern day. In fact, many prospective graduates often report that the thing they are most excited about on their graduation day is to don the full graduation attire. It seems that the general consensus, no matter what decree you are graduating from, is that a graduation ceremony simply would not feel like a graduation ceremony without wearing the famous gown.
Why do graduation gowns remain popular to this day?
- On-screen features
Every graduation ceremony in every movie or T.V. show will show the graduating class wearing their graduation gowns and hats. It has therefore become engrained as an image in our minds that graduation = wearing the cap and gown.
We grow up watching these scenes on screen, the shots of the parents and loved ones in the crowd watching on with pride as graduates received their parchment and long for that precise moment ourselves. We want to replicate and have that moment for ourselves in our own lives, down to the last detail.
- School and university policy
Most schools and universities will adopt a policy requiring specific graduation attire for their graduation ceremonies – and this includes wearing a graduation gown. How the gown is worn or what it is worn with will typically vary from institution to institution. However the wearing of a gown is consistently a specific recommendation and often an absolute requirement for conferring graduates from schools and universities.
- Ease of purchase
Options have been limited in the past when it came to renting our purchasing a graduation gown. Conferring graduates were often limited to paying high prices to rent or buy a gown directly from their school which could have led to a downturn in the trend of wearing gowns at grad ceremonies.
However, as quality online suppliers have emerged, it has become ever so easy to access and purchase quality graduation gowns online at affordable prices. Graduation gowns in various different sizes, colours and styles can be easily bought online and that easy access and affordability has helped to ensure that people’s desire to don gowns at their grad ceremonies remains as popular as ever.
- Longing for our graduation photograph to join the family gallery
If you grew up in a household where the graduation photographs of their elder family members from over the years have taken pride of place on the wall or mantelpiece, it’s likely this aroused a desire for your photograph to join that “gallery” someday.
Family photographs of conferring graduates all kitted out in their graduation gowns and hats are something we associate with success and pride so naturally we want a piece of the pie and find ourselves longing for the day we too get the opportunity to adorn that same graduation attire.
Graduation gowns are here to stay – that’s for sure! Getting to wear a graduation gown is a symbol of success and something that makes every single graduate feel special. Their status as the staple item of academic attire is assured and who knows, maybe this will even still be the case in another 900 years!