Fashion trends have certainly changed over the last several decades, but one item that remains the same is the convocation regalia won by students when they accept that hard earned diploma or degree. While each academic institution may differ on faculty colour choices and the convocation regalia may differ for those earning a Bachelor’s Degree as opposed to Master’s Degree, convocation attire has largely remained the same since it first made its appearance hundreds of years ago.
When graduating classes wearing hats and robes file into an auditorium, it undoubtedly ads formality and a ceremonious feel to any convocation. The uniformed look provides equality among all students, regardless of financial aid or personal background. Definitively, the convocation uniform is still considered a privilege to wear.
But why is academic regalia part of convocation ceremonies and when did it all begin?
You can find information that dates the tradition of convocation regalia all the way back to 12th century in Europe, when the first universities were founded. The original reasons for wearing gowns and hoods related to providing warmth in unheated buildings and to set students apart from other citizens. Further standardization for robes and hoods occurred in 1894* when it was decided that all robes should be black and the details of the hood (lining and border colour) would be what differentiated faculties and academic institutions.
Over the years, convocation regalia has experienced some change with added distinctions made by various councils. For example, in some cases, dark blue gowns are used to denote doctorate level academic achievements. Modern-day academic regalia can now involve robes of different lengths depending on the type of degree, while colors continue to signify various disciplines.
While some specifics of convocation regalia may have changed, robes and graduation hats continue to remain an integral part of graduation ceremonies across Canada. After all, most students actually look forward to wearing their convocation attire as a way of being recognized as a distinguished graduate. And the quintessential photo of parents and family members standing next to the graduate in a cap and gown is popular tradition that marks a very proud and important day.
There are three main types of academic regalia that you may see at convocation ceremonies. Traditionally, you should wear the academic regalia that represents the highest degree earned during convocation ceremonies.
When you are graduating or going to be part of a convocation ceremony, you can rely on convocation regalia experts like Harcourts to help you find the right academic attire. Harcourts is the oldest robemaker in North America and only uses materials of the highest quality to produce robes that are long lasting and elegant.
You can visit our Toronto showroom at 360 Adelaide Street West to see our convocation regalia first hand and see the difference our attention to detail and workmanship makes. We are proud to have been a part of so many important and memorable convocations, and look forward to continuing to mark tradition for many decades to come.