Commencement: Commencement Attire

Founders Day, Class Day, Baccalaureate
and Commencement Attire

Founders Day, Class Day, Baccalaureate, and Commencement are all formal ceremonies that require academic attire. Graduates are required to wear white dresses and academic regalia at each event.

White Dresses: A Spelman College Tradition

Spelman College proudly honors tradition while it establishes new opportunities to forward its institutional mission and vision. The wearing of white dresses on designated official occasions is among the most well-respected and treasured of the College’s traditions. The requirement for each Spelman student to have a “respectable and conservative” white dress was established around 1900. During this period, a white dress was the attire most often used for formal occasions.

This tradition established a uniform appearance among those present and denoted the significance of the occasion. The basic clothing requirements for Spelman students also consisted of having a pair of “sensible black shoes.” This recommendation was made in an effort to avoid overwhelming students and parents with the cost of having to provide more than one pair of shoes. “Flesh-toned” hosiery were also part of this traditional attire.

More Information about the White Dress Tradition

We ask all graduates to follow this Spelman tradition at Founders Day, Class Day, Baccalaureate and Commencement. Please wear a conservative, solid white dress or suit (no slacks), natural-toned (not white or black) hosiery and black closed-toe dress shoes. Your white dress symbolizes a serious purpose and a sense of formality. Choose a traditionally conservative dress that would be suitable for a worship service or professional environment. White dresses should not hang below the edge of the graduation gown and should not be worn higher than two inches above the knee.

Instructions for Academic Regalia

At Founders Day, Class Day, Baccalaureate, and Commencement, graduates should wear their graduation cap, gown and tassel. The graduation cap is to be worn straight on the head so that when you look up you can see the point. It should be worn squarely on top of the head, board parallel to the floor. The cap should not be tilted to the side, forward or back. The tassel is to be worn on the right side. Graduates should wear their collars at Class Day and Baccalaureate.

  • Please make sure that your white dress or skirt does not hang below your robe
  • You will receive a small wristlet and small clutch from Alumnae Affairs in early April
  • Please do not bring purses or backpacks; however, if you need a place for keys, medications or other necessary items, please use the small clutch received from Alumnae Affairs or choose a small purse or wallet that can be held or "clutched" comfortably in your hand
  • Please limit your jewelry to small stud earrings, single strand or pearls, a wristwatch and hand rings only
  • Hoods, honor cords and Spelman College kente stoles are to be worn for Commencement only
  • Sorority stoles are not permitted. Honor cords and stoles should be draped around the neck under the hood, with the tassels hanging as evenly as possible in the front

Where do I pick up my academic regalia?

Academic regalia must be ordered from Jostens during the early part of the spring semester.

Please contact the Registrar's Office for details. The Spelman Bookstore will inform students of the procedure for picking up caps, gowns, collars, tassels and hoods prior to Founders Day. Following the Commencement ceremony, your academic regalia is yours to keep.