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Attire and Flowers

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Graduation is a rite of passage at every university. But at the College of Charleston, Spring Commencement is truly a one-of-a-kind event – a quintessentially Southern tradition that bonds generations of CofC alumni and creates indelible memories in an iconic setting. Clad in white dinner jackets and dresses, graduating seniors each May process to the bucolic Cistern Yard for one of the most visually stunning commencement ceremonies in the country. Our winter commencement ceremonies are held indoors at TD Arena, and the dress code is black attire. Details about attire and flowers including a list of FAQs are provided below. 

At our spring commencement ceremonies in May, men wear a white dinner jacket, black pants, a bow tie, and cummerbund, and women wear white dresses. 

At our winter commencement ceremonies in December, the dress code is black dresses for women and black tuxedos for men (black jacket, black pants, a bow tie, and cummerbund). 

At May and December ceremonies, men traditionally wear a red rose boutonniere, and women traditionally carry six long-stemmed red roses. The tradition of carrying roses at graduation goes back to at least the 1930s! Flowers can be ordered from the College Bookstore. Women traditionally carry bouquets of six red roses tied with a red bow ($23.50); the boutonniere for men is a single red rose ($6.25). Roses ordered from the College Bookstore may be picked up immediately prior to lining up for commencement; flowers must be preordered and will not be sold on commencement day.

Our masters' candidates wear regalia with their graduate school discipline's corresponding hood and do not carry flowers. Visit the Graduate School Commencement Checklist for details about how to order regalia, rental options, hood colors, etc. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I have to be born male to wear a tuxedo? 
A:  No, you do not have to have been born male to wear a tux.  

Q: I’m female/male; can I wear slacks? A skirt? 
A:  For May's ceremonies, you may wear a white skirt or white pants if you prefer. For Decemeber's ceremonies, you may wear a black skirt or black pants if you prefer. 

Q: Can I wear military attire?
A:  Yes, you may wear your dress military uniform.

Q: Can I wear clothes that reflect my cultural/ethnic tradition?
A:  Yes, you may wear clothing that reflects your cultural or ethnic tradition (i.e. a Kimono, a Burka, a Sari, a Kilt, etc.).   NOTE:  Anyone wearing a kilt must wear underwear please.

Q: Does my tie have to be black? Can I wear another color or print (tie/cummerbund)?
A:  Ties and cummerbunds can be other colors or prints.

Q: What kind of shoes do most ladies/men wear?  What can I wear?  What’s best to wear?
A:  You need to wear shoes that are appropriate and comfortable.  Please remember, you will be walking up and down several sets of stairs (Maybank Hall, Randolph Hall and the stage all have stairs), so make sure you can comfortably and safely walk up and down stairs.  You should practice walking in your shoes before the day of the ceremony and make sure the soles of your shoes are not slick.

Q: Where can I buy or rent a tuxedo or dress for the ceremony?
A:  Attire for undergraduates may be purchased, rented, or crafted from a store or person of your choice. There may be a representative from a tuxedo rental business at Senior Class meetings. (Master's candidates order regalia through the College Bookstore). 

Q: Can I bring my own flowers?  Does it have to be red roses?  Do I have to purchase them at the bookstore? Can I wear flowers in my hair?
A:  Yes, you can bring your own flowers; flowers do not have to be red roses.  You do not have to purchase flowers from the bookstore.  The bookstore only offers red roses for the women and red rose boutonnieres for the men.  If you want to wear flowers in your hair, you may do so. If you do not want flowers, you do not have to wear or carry them.

Q: What do Graduate School students (masters' program candidates) wear to graduation?
A:  Unlike the undergraduate students' attire, masters' candidates wear regalia (i.e., cap, gown, hood) and do not carry flowers. Please visit the Graduate School Commencement Checklist for details.