I have my graduation ceremony coming soon. The graduation dress usually consists of the gown, the hood and the mortar board. however the hand sleeves of the gown are a bit short and hence a full shirt is to be worn inside the gown (gown is black in color). In most pictures I see a white shirt within. Is it necessary to have white shirt or I can go for a blue or black one too?

  • I do not think it is necessary, and my memory suggests that many people wear other colors. I would probably wear a white shirt, but I doubt you would stand out very severely if you did not. Light blue would work pretty well I reckon.
    – Behacad
    Jul 15, 2014 at 4:37
  • 6
    I generally wear jeans and a Threadless T-shirt (aka my Teaching Uniform) under my robe, at least during summer graduations. A couple of friends of mine at college wore, um, considerably less; everyone (including the parents) pretended not to notice.
    – JeffE
    Jul 15, 2014 at 5:38
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    Most people have only one masters graduation ceremony unless they study a second masters. In my humble opinion, this is a good question although it sounds a minor issue.
    – Nobody
    Jul 15, 2014 at 6:51
  • 8
    This depends on the rules of your particular university and will vary from place to place. Consult your university's rules. Jul 15, 2014 at 7:16

1 Answer 1


Faculty do not ask and students do not tell what they wearing under the robes.

Actually, I find that since graduations are in May, the robes are often swelteringly hot (especially PhD robes) in many parts of North America, so the lighter the clothes and the more sweat-resistant and breathable the better. Women can get away with wearing summer dresses. From what I can ascertain (remembering the Don't Ask/Don't Tell rule above), male students tend to wear khakis and comfortable dress shirts underneath. No need to wear long-sleeves if it's going to be hot.

Many students often change into other clothes for the receptions after graduation -- men into longer pants and a sport jacket, women don a light jacket or change into more formal attire. They often keep a change of clothes in their parent's car or in their advisor's office if the dorms are shut.

tl;dr: It's your graduation. No need to be uncomfortable.

  • 3
    But do remember that you'll be photographed, probably during hooding and again when you are handed your diploma. Whatever you wear for a shirt, think about dark trousers and leather shoes. I have a pair of black tropical wool trousers that are even cooler than khakis. (I attend six commencements a year, too, though. Gripe, grumble.)
    – Bob Brown
    Jan 15, 2016 at 0:59
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    I know of at least one person who graduated wearing nothing under their robes.
    – JeffE
    Jan 15, 2016 at 2:44
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    Those cheap polyester rental robes don't breathe well and can get sticky. I don't recommend wearing nothing...
    – RoboKaren
    Jan 15, 2016 at 2:55

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