The concept of the graduation gown dates back to the medieval period and the formation of universities. The tradition of wearing a cap and gown at graduation ceremonies in the United States is observed at high schools as well as higher educational institutions. Etiquette requires graduates to wear their cap and gown in a certain way.

Be Smart

Starting with the basics: what you wear under your gown is also important. Men should wear dark or khaki trousers, a light-colored dress shirt with a dark tie (no quirky flying pigs, please), dark shoes and socks. Women should wear a dark dress, skirt or slacks with a light-colored blouse. Dark flats or pumps are recommended rather than high heels. Overall, your clothes should be reasonably formal and muted in color. Shorts, T-shirts and sneakers are not acceptable graduation wear.

You Wear It Well

The graduation gown should reach midway between the knee and ankle for both men and women. The cap or mortarboard sits flat on the head: save the jaunty angle for fashion headgear. The cap tassel falls to the right side before graduation: after graduation, the student moves the tassel to the left side. During the playing of the national anthem or school song, men take their caps off but women leave them on. Candidates for advanced degrees should wear the appropriate gown for the degree, and if hooding is part of the ceremony, either wear the appropriate hood or carry it draped over the left arm in the procession according to the school's protocol.