Wear blue, go for the gold

Wear blue, go for the gold

May 12
Courtney Walker, ACES Communications Graduate Intern

Every girl knows the importance of the classic LBD. The perfect LBD or “little black dress” can make you feel sassy, smart, and beautiful – no matter the occasion.
But for every Illini, there’s an even more important LBD to have in the wardrobe: the little blue dress. Or, more specifically, a little blue gown.

Most academic institutions follow the academic dress standards established in the Intercollegiate Code of 1895, which had its latest revision in 1960. The code outlines the cap, gown, hoods, and tassels worn for graduation ceremonies for higher education.

Traditionally, the graduation gown and caps are black – but at the University of Illinois, graduates wear a special hue of blue on their academic regalia, complete with orange accents. 

Every detail of a graduate’s attire is specifically tailored to represent the wearer’s academic discipline and degree. 

At the U of I, bachelor’s academic dress includes an untrimmed blue gown, a blue stole, a blue mortarboard cap, and a tassel colored to indicate the wearer’s respective field of study. In celebration of the sesquicentennial, this year’s bachelor’s graduates will wear a special orange stole instead of the traditional blue stole.

Master’s academic dress includes an untrimmed blue gown, a blue mortarboard cap with a black tassel, and a three and a half foot hood. The hood features blue lining with orange chevron. The outer edge of the hood’s cowl is trimmed in colored velvet to identify the wearer’s field of study.

Doctoral academic dress includes a blue gown with velvet trim down its front and velvet bars on its sleeves. Like the master’s hood, the doctoral hood features blue lining with orange chevron, but the colored velvet trim on a doctoral hood does not represent the wearer’s field. Instead, the colored velvet trim represents the wearer’s doctoral title. The four foot long doctoral hood also has panels at its side that lie in a cape-like fashion across the back. Doctoral graduates wear a blue mortarboard cap with a black tassel.

The U of I has adopted the Intercollegiate Code’s colors to represent the university’s different disciplines on academic attire’s tassles and trimings.

ACES graduates wear maize, a shade of gold reminiscent of the tasseled fields surrounding Champaign-Urbana summers. 

As ACES grads march across the stage this weekend, I hope those LBD’s work magic. I hope the confidence, joy, and celebration is worthy of someone who used their time at the U of I to go for the gold.

maize tassel
ACES bachelor's graduates wear maize tassels. Master's and doctoral graduates display the color on their hoods.