Yes, I’m milking this for as many posts as I can!
My father was an academic and had several occasions each year where an academic gown was required. He died almost 30 years ago and his gown would have been at least 15 years old when he died. My mother kept it, ‘just in case’, and stored it for all these years. She sent it to me for my graduation.
Contemporary gowns are polyester blends and can be many different colours, black or navy are the most common. This gown is black and made of heavyweight linen. It was made by Ede & Ravenscroft in London. They started business in the late 1600’s, are still trading and are still in Chancery Lane.
On this gown the sleeves are very long with a hole at elbow height for your arms to stick through.
The gown sits over a shirt or suit jacket and the weight of the gown keeps it from shifting.
Finally the hood goes over the top. It is either safety pinned onto the gown or attached to the button of your shirt. Usually the outside is the University’s colour and the inside is the faculty colour. Mine is dark blue, lined with cherry red. I bought this!
This gown is at least 45 years old, possibly more. It shows signs of wear and has thinned in areas where it was folded and stored. When I got it, it was almost grey in places. I took it to the dry cleaners with some trepidation. Happily it came back looking very black and good.
I did some darning and mending on the more obvious holes and decided not to worry about any others. This gown is elderly, no longer perfect, has clearly been used and has a family history.
The actual day was special on many levels. It was lovely to graduate again, I am very proud of having done a thesis. My family were there throughout the thesis and were there to share the graduation joy. The gown connection with my Dad was also special.