Class Rings in 2022: How to Wear Your Graduation Regalia in Style

graduation regalia

The tradition of wearing regalia for graduation goes back 900 years! This time-honored tradition holds a lot of respect and importance.

On your graduation day, you want the perfect class ring and graduation regalia to represent this special occasion. The last thing you want to see in pictures is messy regalia!

Make sure you wear your graduation regalia the right way or you may stand out like a sore thumb! Keep reading to find out the right way to wear your graduation regalia with graduation rings.

Wear Formal Clothing Underneath

Even though you wear a large robe as your regalia over your clothing, you’re still expected to wear formal clothing and (if you choose) jewelry underneath. Since graduation is a formal event, plan to wear dress pants and a collared shirt with a tie or formal dress depending on your preference.

It’s important to dress your best under your graduation regalia since you’ll be taking a lot of photos on stage and after the ceremony. You should also wear something that is lightweight and breathable since it can get hot wearing a graduation gown.

Show Off Your Graduation Gown

Graduation gowns may date back to the middle ages but they’re still a requirement of graduation ceremonies today.

Whether you’ve earned your high school, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, your school will have specific academic regalia that is necessary for graduation day. Be sure you purchase the appropriate regalia for your specific degree.

Once you receive your regalia for graduation, don’t wait until the last minute to unpackage it. Your regalia can have a lot of creases and wrinkles in it from shipping.

As soon as you receive it, hang it somewhere safe that it won’t get damaged or lost.

High School Graduation

For high school students, a graduation gown should fall midway between your knee and ankle. Wear your gown like a robe and zip it up in the front.

High school gowns come in a variety of colors depending on your school’s colors.

Associate’s & Bachelor’s Degrees

When it comes to the graduation gown, there are slight differences depending on your degree. The gown is worn like a robe or coat. 

The gown for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is the same. This gown has open pointed sleeves and the front is worn closed.

The hem of your gown falls no lower than your mid-calf. Bachelor’s gowns are black and associates gowns can also be black or a lighter color than black.

To wear your gown you simply put your arms through the sleeve openings and zip up the front. Voilà you’re wearing your gown! 

Master’s Degrees

A master’s degree gown has oblong sleeves that open at your wrists. The sleeves are square cut in the back. The front section has an arc cut and they are also black.

For Master’s Degrees graduates, you are allowed to wear your gown open or closed based on academic protocol. However, you should see what your specific school prefers for graduation day. You don’t want to be the only person wearing your gown open.

Doctoral Degrees

The gowns for doctoral degrees are slightly different from the others. These gowns have three velvet bars on each sleeve. There is one vertical panel on each side of your gown’s opening. 

These panels are usually black in color but they could be the color that represents your specific degree. This is why it is important to check with your particular school about what graduation regalia to wear.

Doctoral gowns also have bell-shaped sleeves. Wear these open or closed. Just like the other gowns, you simply put them on like a robe or coat.

Check With Your School

Although the above description represents the standard for each degree, many schools make changes to their gowns. That means your college or university may have gowns with small differences from the average style regalia.

Don’t assume a gown online is going to match the one your school requires. Otherwise, you could be regretting it on graduation day!

Tips for Wearing Your Gown

Putting on your graduation gown is simple but you might get tripped up with a few things. When you slide your arms through the sleeves make sure your arm goes through the entire sleeve and not the slits. This allows your gown to hang off your shoulders.

The master’s and doctoral degree gowns sometimes have a slit on either side instead of a full sleeve. In that case, you would put your arms through the slits only.

To make sure you look extra neat, pull your gown back so that it sits on your shoulders. You want the back of the robes to sit close to the nape of your neck.

If you don’t adjust it first thing, you might find that it starts to slip during the ceremony. You don’t want your photos to show a lopsided gown!

Before you walk out on stage double check and adjust your gown so that it is sitting straight on your shoulders.

What Are Honor Cords & Stoles?

If you are graduating with academic honors you have the option of purchasing honor cords or stoles. 

Wear your Honor cords on your graduation day. Place them over your head to rest on your gown. The middle knot of the cord is behind your neck. The cords are brought to the front with the two tassels hanging evenly on each side.

Honor stoles similarly represent academic honors but are made of fabric that is the color associated with your degree. Place the seam of the stole at the back of your neck so that it evenly drapes in front.

What Is an Academic Hood?

The academic hood is a part of graduation regalia for higher education. It represents your degree level and discipline. They can be fairly complex! So we’ve broken down the basics of what you need to know.

To start, the academic hood has four different components. They include the shell fabric, velvet edge, satin lining, and chevron. A chevron is used when there is more than one color on the inside lining.

Shell Color

When we talk about the shell fabric we are referring to the outside of the hood. This is typically black in color to match the gown.

There are rare cases where the shell color of your hood should not be black. Check with your school before purchasing your hood just in case!

Velvet Trim

The velvet edge of your hood is usually a color that represents your specific degree or major. For example, your velvet trim might be orange if you studied civil engineering or midnight blue if your major was criminal justice.

Your school might choose different colors to represent their disciplines. So always defer to your own university’s academic regalia hood color list. 

The length of your hood’s velvet trim is also different depending on your degree. There are two inches of velvet edge trim for bachelor’s degrees, three inches for master’s degrees, and five inches for doctoral degrees.

You are only allowed to wear one color of trim. So if you are earning multiple degrees your hood is the color of your highest ranking degree. The degrees go in order of highest to lowest from doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s, and lastly associate’s.

Interior Hood Lining

The inside satin lining of your hood could represent a few things. This depends on your college or university. On average, the hood’s lining has the official colors of your school.

How To Wear Your Hood

The hood is a long loop of fabric that is different in size and cut depending on your degree. This part of your academic regalia can be tricky to figure out. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Associate’s Degrees

For students earning their associate’s degree, you wear a cowl or shield type of a hood. The cowl has your school’s colors on it and lays flat on your back.

You want to place the large part of the cowl draped flat behind you. Associate’s degree hoods are lined without a velvet edge.

Bachelor’s Degrees

The hood for bachelor’s degree graduates is usually about three feet in length. These hoods are lined with satin fabric in the color that represents your discipline or school. 

Master’s Degrees

For the master’s hood, there is a black fabric shell. The satin lining is similar to the bachelor’s hood but it also includes the velvet trim mentioned earlier. This particular hood is three and a half feet long. 

It is worn draped flat against your back. This helps to keep it in place.

Doctoral Degrees

The doctoral hood is the longest at four feet long. It also has a black fabric shell and the satin lining shows the school’s colors.

It also has a velvet trim that is the color to represent your particular discipline.

Tips to Wear Your Hood Correctly

To make sure you wear your hood correctly you want to start by opening the hood. The long point of the hood should point toward the ground. When opening it correctly, the black fabric is on the outside.

If you don’t have a hood, it is most likely because you receive it on stage at your graduation ceremony. For some master’s and doctoral graduates, your college or university may choose to hood students as part of the ceremony.

When you put the hood on, place it over your head and shoulders with the hood portion on your back. Do not place your arms through the “V” in the front. 

The inner lining should be on top and the black fabric shell is against your back. Once it is in position, turn the satin lining outward at the neck. You know it is correct when you can see a thin line of color visible around your neck.

You might need help from someone to adjust it into place.

On your back, turn the inside of the hood outward as well. The colored satin line must be visible at the back too.

Sometimes the hood can start to flip inward again. You can fix this by using safety pins to keep it in place. Now that you have your robe on, it’s time to put on your cap!

What Is Your Graduation Cap?

Did you know that your graduation cap can be different depending on your academic level too? Yes, even your cap differentiates if you are graduating with your high school, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.

There are two basic types of graduation caps.

High School, Associate’s, Bachelor’s & Masters Degrees

High school, Associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s graduates wear a trencher or mortarboard cap for graduation. This cap is made of solid black fabric and has a square top with a tassel. 

The square top attaches to an oval cap that comes to a small point in the front and a large one in the back.

Doctoral Degrees

The other type of graduation cap is worn by doctoral graduates. It is a bonnet-style hat. This bonnet is typically made of black velvet. 

It also has a tassel and cord attached that corresponds with your discipline or school.

Tips to Wear Your Graduation Cap

Wearing a graduation cap can be tricky!

It doesn’t look or fit like a typical hat. You might want to practice styling your hair with the cap before the big day. This saves you time when you’re getting ready on the day of your graduation!

To wear the cap, put the small point on your forehead. The cap portion is called the trencher and should be at the front of your head with the large point on the back.

You may need to secure the cap to your head using bobby pins. Hairspray and gel can also help to keep everything in place. 

Don’t forget to position the tassel of your cap on the right side of your face. No matter what your academic level the tassel should always be on the right side.

Wearing the bonnet style is a bit easier to keep on. Simply put the bonnet on your head so it is even and snug.

How to Wear Your Class Ring

Now that you have your graduation regalia figured out, you can add the final touch: your class ring! Class rings are a beautiful way to commemorate your time at high school or college.

The graduation ring should be worn on the ring finger of your right hand. The insignia of your ring is worn facing inwards toward the wearer. This is while you are still enrolled in school. 

After you graduate, you can wear your ring with the insignia facing outwards. Class rings make great heirlooms that are passed down for generations to come!

Make Memories with Your Class Ring & Graduation Regalia

Now that you know how to properly wear your graduation regalia and class ring you’re ready to make a great impression on graduation day! 

Graduation is a time to reminisce about past memories and get excited about what the future holds. A class ring is a perfect way to commemorate your accomplishments.

If you’re ready to add the final piece to complete your regalia then find out how to pick the best class ring for you here!

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