Dress codes

The Conferment Ceremony is not just a celebration, but also a play of sorts. It is a ritual which actualises the transition that the promovendi are undergoing as they go from student to master or from graduate student to Ph.D. As in all plays, in the Conferment Ceremony there are roles to play, lines to say, and costumes to don. Dressing according to your role brings out and visualises a sense of unity within your own group and differentiates the different groups that participate in the Conferment Ceremony from each other. The clothes not only “make the man”, but also help create the right atmosphere. There are also many choreographed elements in the Conferment Ceremony, which are designed to create visual patterns with the correct dress codes. Without adherence to the dress codes, this graphical interplay of black and white is not possible. In the Conferment Ceremony, the dress codes are an essential part of creating the environment of a celebration, that each participant can then make their own.

In the Conferment Ceremony the division of the promovendi into masters and doctors is visible in their colours. The colour of the masters is white, and that of the doctors is black. Men wear black evening tail coats and black trousers (white tie), so the colours are shown in the gowns of the female promovendi, wreathweavers and swordwhetters. Black and white are reserved for promovendi and their companions, so other (female) guests must dress in colours, with the exception of the Conferment Act. Before the day of the Conferment Act the promovendi and their companions also use colourful dresses.

On this page you will find information on how to dress for each of the events of the Conferment Ceremony as well as instructions for the use of state and academic decorations and orders of merit, and on the use of uniforms. The dress codes in all events of the Conferment Ceremony are compulsory. Further information on the academic insignia of the promovendi and instructions for acquiring them can be found on a dedicated page.

For the more formal events – namely the wreathweaving and swordwhetting dinners, the Conferment Act, Dinner and Ball – the exact dress codes have been collected into a table below for easy reference. The dress codes are listed separately for promovendi, their companions and other guests.

Please note that while there are separate dress codes for men and women, all participants of the Conferment Ceremony may dress according to their gender identity regardless of their biological sex. However, this choice should be consistent throughout the ceremony. For further details regarding the dress codes, please contact the Conferment Committee.

Original guide by Tiina Metso, 2005. Translation by Anssi Heinonen.

Flower’s Day

Flower’s day is about celebrating the joy and arrival of spring, so lighter but weather-appropriate clothing is in order.

Suitable options for ladies might include a dress, skirt suit or pant suit, while men favour lighter-coloured summer suits. Another option would be a sport coat or blazer with slacks, a dress shirt and tie. Colour choices on clothing are not restricted.

A Finnish student cap should be worn if applicable, including indoors.

Wreathweaving and swordwhetting

The wreathweaving and swordwhetting rituals and the subsequent dinner mark the beginning of the actual Conferment Ceremony, however the dress code does not yet strictly adhere to the black-and-white colour coding. The dress code is white tie (full evening dress). Owing to the day’s schedule the promovendi and their companions will wear the same clothes during the day and at the dinner.

Ladies will wear a full-length evening gown of any colour other than black or white. Parts of the dress may still be black or white, but the primary colour should be something else. There are no restrictions regarding décolletage or sleeve length.

Gentlemen will wear a black evening tailcoat and black trousers with a white waistcoat. For further instructions on the attire please see the last item on this list.

Conferment Act

General instructions for ladies

General instructions for ladies
Strict traditional rules regulate the ladies’ Conferment dresses, and they should be adhered to, since discrepancies easily stand out in a row of similar dresses. This is especially true for white dresses, with black dresses it’s easier to blend in.

The formal academic dress code for ladies could be described with the words ‘spartan’ and ‘prudent’. The Conferment Act is a serious and formal event, which is reflected in the participants’ outfits. The dress in itself can be thought of as merely a canvas for the Masters’ and Doctors’ academic insignia, which is why strict restrictions apply regarding the design and material of the dress.

The Conferment dress have long sleeves and no décolletage (cleavage)
The sleeves should reach the wrists, and the front and back of the dress should reach all the way up to the neck. For an appropriate cleavage size, refer to a class Chanel jacket or a basic (unisex) T-shirt. A more “open” dress can easily be converted to a Conferment dress by adding a separate upper garment or a jacket.

The Conferment dress is full-length. The dress must cover the entire body all the way down to the ankles, however it need not (and should not) touch the ground as it risks the wearer tripping and falling over. A tight or narrow skirt is more practical than a wide one, and the dress should be such that it allows ascending and descending stairs in a graceful manner. High-slit skirts are too revealing and should be avoided.

The material of the dress should not be overly transparent or ornate. Underwear or for example a tattoo or a plaster in the arm should not be visible from underneath the fabric. Nor should the fabric have any coloured or metallic decorations, however ornaments in the fabric’s colour are OK. The fabric should not have any loose decorations, such as sequins. Fur should not be used to decorate the dress.

Shoes should be comfortable and low-heeled. The best shoes do not rub the feet and make walking in stairs easy. The shoes should cover the feet from tip to heel, sandal-type shoes are not appropriate.

Gloves should be worn with the dress. The gloves should cover the wrists so that no bare skin is visible, otherwise their length does not matter. The most appropriate gloves are simple and non-decorative; no lace gloves. The gloves should cover the hands entirely, including all fingers and the back of the hand.

No jewellery. As the dress is meant to be a simplistic and elegant canvas for the academic insignia, jewellery should for the most part be left out. Small, discreet necklaces and earrings are not explicitly prohibited, but especially the Master promovendi should consider discarding all jewellery so that their new and shiny Master’s ring gets the attention it deserves. Naturally these restrictions do not apply to wedding rings.

No purse. The dignity of the Conferment dress implies that no purse of any kind should be carried. Necessary small items, such as tissues/handkerchiefs, should be placed for example in a secret pocket sewn into the dress. Larger items can be placed for example to a male companion’s pocket, where they are easily accessed.

Master promovendi, wreathweaveresses
The colour of the dress is white. Not ivory or cream, but pure white. An easy test to verify the correct shade is to compare it to that of copy/printer paper. If the dress does not look white compared to the slip of paper, it is not white enough.

Emphasising the shade of white might seem pointless, but differing shades of white can stand out amongst dozens of white dresses worn in the Act. The white dress is a part of the tradition, and when properly attended to the wearer can concentrate on the celebration itself.

White gloves should be worn with the dress. Again, care should be taken so that the shade matches that of the dress. The gloves should cover the wrists so that no bare skin is visible. The most appropriate gloves are simple and non-decorative; no lace gloves.

Doctor promovendi, swordwhetteresses, Jubilee Masters, Jubilee Doctors
The colour of the dress is black. Defining the level of blackness of the fabric is easier than with white, however there are different shades of black that should be compared when selecting the dress.

Black gloves should be worn with the dress. The gloves should cover the wrists so that no bare skin is visible. The most appropriate gloves are simple and non-decorative; no lace gloves.

Male promovendi and companions

The dress code for gentlemen is white tie for promovendi, wreathweavers, swordwhetters or Jubilee Masters/Doctors.

As the Act is a daytime event, a black waistcoat is required, and the promovendi should wear white gloves. No pocket square/handkerchief. Further instructions on the white tie dress code for gentlemen can be found under the last item on this list.

Other guests (e.g. family, relatives)

Ladies
The female guests’ dress code is based on the same guidelines as that of the female provendi: Full-length, long-sleeved and no décolletage. Black is the recommended colour, however other dark hues are also acceptable. Cleavage or short sleeves and skirts, overly light and bright colours or colourful materials are not appropriate.

Guests taking part in the procession leading to the Church Service should leave their purses in the cloakroom, and large purses or bags should generally be avoided in church.
Gentlemen
Men should dress either in white tie, black suit or a uniform, if applicable.

Further instructions on the white tie dress code can be found under the last item on this list. The most important thing to remember is that the waistcoat should be black, since this is a daytime event. The bowtie is white, as always. Guests do not wear gloves.

If wearing a black suit, the tie should be dark and rather discreet in colour, however not all black as that is the colour reserved for funerals.

Those wearing uniforms should adhere to the instructions given regarding their use.

Doctoral hats
Doctors participating in the Conferment Ceremony as guests may bring their doctoral hats to the Conferment Act. The hat is carried into the Great Hall in the left hand with the insignia pointing up, and is put on when the Conferrer puts on their hat. Foreign doctoral hats are permitted as well. However, promovendi’s companions do not wear doctoral hats at all during the Conferment Ceremony in order to highlight the promovendi’s newly awarded academic insignia.

Dinners

Ladies

Banquet dinners on the evening of the Conferment Act and on the following day are still rather formal in their atmosphere, consisting of speeches, singing and poems.

Newly conferred Masters and Doctors, promovendi’s companions (wreathweaveresses, swordwhetteresses) and Jubilee Masters and Doctors
As in the Conferment Act, the Master and Doctor promovendi will wear white and black, respectively. On the day of the Act, it is common for ladies to participate in the dinner wearing the same dress they wore earlier during the day. Regardless, the dress should be full-length and with little to no décolletage. Sleeves need not necessarily be full-length.

Other guests
Female guests will dress according to the ball’s and wreathweaving/swordwhetting ceremonies’ dress codes. Again, the dress should be full-length and with little to no décolletage. Sleeves need not necessarily be full-length. The primary colour of the dress should be anything other than black or white, however black and white accents are permitted, as in other events of the ceremony. Ideally though, guests would refrain from wearing black or white entirely.

Gentlemen

Gentlemen will need to remember that the waistcoast needs to be changed from black to white for evening occasions. Further instructions on the white tie dress code for gentlemen can be found under the last item on this list.

Masters’ wreaths

Newly conferred Masters and Jubilee Masters wear their laurel wreaths during dinners.

Doctoral hats and swords

During dinners all participating Doctors wear their doctoral hats. However, previously conferred Doctors may leave their hats to the cloakroom. Many choose to make use of this option since the hat can be rather warm and even unpleasant to wear at a dinner. Promovendi’s companions (the swordwhetter(esse)s) should not, however, wear their hats in any of the Conferment Ceremony’s events, even though their academic status would merit it.

Newly conferred Doctors hold on to their swords also during dinners, whereas other Doctors do not carry their swords at all during the entire ceremony.

Picnic

This is the least formal of all the events of the Conferment Ceremony, which is reflected in the dress code. The choice of attire is relatively free, however it should go well together with the student cap that should be worn at the picnic. The dress code is therefore along the lines of smart casual.

Formal dresses and pant/skirt suits might be even too formal for the ladies, who might favour a casual dress or skirt with a blazer, blouse or knitwear. Jeans should be avoided.

A suitable option for gentlemen would be smart trousers or chinos with a shirt and a blazer/suit jacket, jumper or cardigan. Full suits are too formal. Again, no jeans.

Ball

Ladies

Newly conferred Masters and Doctors, promovendi’s companions (wreathweaveresses and swordwhetteresses), Jubilee Masters and Doctors
In the ball, female promovendi and promovendi’s companions stick to the black-and-white colour scheme. Masters and wreathweaveresses dress in white, Doctors and swordwhetteresses dress in black.

The ball offers the ladies a chance to shine with their dresses, as there are no restrictions regarding décolletage or sleeve length. It is perfectly fine however to wear the dress worn in the Conferment Act.

Wedding dresses may be (re)used with caution, as wedding dresses often differ from evening dresses in their style.

Gloves are a part of the dress and ladies can carry a purse as well, however it should be left out when dancing for practical reasons.
Other guests
In the ball, black and white are again reserved for the newly conferred promovendi and their companions. Other guests may wear dresses with black and white accents, however the primary colour of the dress should be something else. The dress should be a full-length evening gown with no restrictions regarding its décolletage. Gloves are not required but can be worn as well. Additionally, the dress can be complemented with jewellery.

Gentlemen

White tie with a white waistcoat. Gentlemen should change into patent leather shoes, if matt leather shoes have been worn during daytime events. White gloves are also an essential and useful part of the outfit. Further instructions on the white tie dress code for men can be found under the last item on this list.

Doctoral hat and sword

Newly conferred Doctors wear their hats and and carry their swords during the ball, whereas previously conferred Doctors may wear their hats if they so wish. The sword is not a part of their outfit.

Master’s wreath and ring

Masters and jubilee masters that will have their ranks conferred on them in the Act wear the symbol of their rank, the laurel wreath, at the Conferment Act as well as at Conferment Dinner later that day, and at the Conferment Ball the next day. The wreath is not worn at the wreathweaving or swordwhetting dinners or on the picnic. It is recommended to spray the wreath with water and store it in a refrigerator, wrapped in a moist towel, to keep it fresh.

The golden master’s ring is worn on the index finger of the left hand. During the Conferment Act it is worn on top of a pair of white gloves, and after the Conferment Act, under the gloves. The ring is not worn before the Conferment Act. Other rings (except engagement or wedding rings) should not be worn, so the master’s ring gets the attention it deserves

The doctoral hat and sword

Doctor promovendi use the hat and sword in the Conferment Act and after that at the Conferment Dinner and Conferment Ball. They are not before the Act, or on the picnic. The hat should be taken off during the church/secular service, but at the Conferment Dinner and Conferment Ball it is not taken off even while eating.

The sword is attached at the left hip. Men should attach it to their trousers’ waistband. When selecting or commissioning their dress(es) for the Conferment Ceremony, women should take into account the weight of the sword. Most dresses can’t support the weight, so instead either a modest-width black silk ribbon or belt can be worn over the right shoulder, or a belt for attaching the sword can be hidden under the dress. In the latter option, the side seam of the dress should have a small gap that the sword can be attached through. The sword can be attached to either a decorative golden holder or a more discreet black one.

Doctors who have been conferred in previous Conferment Ceremonies and are now attending as guests may bring their doctoral hats to the Conferment Act, Dinner and Ball, but the sword is not a part of their dress. In the Conferment Act, the hat is carried into the Great Hall on the left forearm and put on when the Conferrer puts their hat on. Foreign doctoral hats may also be worn. However, swordwhetters who are also (previously conferred) doctors, do not wear the doctoral hat during the Conferment Act, and wreathweavers who are (previously conferred) doctors do not wear it at all during the Conferment Ceremony.

Decorations and orders of merit

In the Conferment Act and dinners, state decorations orders of merit (civil or military) are worn in accordance with the regulations regarding their use. Academic decorations of all kind, including ribbons of student nations and associations, should not be worn.

In the Conferment Ball, state-awarded decorations and orders of merit are worn. Newly conferred masters and doctors should not wear academic decorations of any kind, whereas all other guests may wear them.

On the day of wreathweaving and swordwhetting and on the picnic no decorations of any kind are worn.

State and academic decorations should not be worn simultaneously, one or the other should be chosen.

The promovendi’s companions (wreathweavers and swordwhetters) are warmly recommended not to wear any academic decorations, since the purpose is to celebrate the newly conferred promovendi and let them shine.

Uniforms

Persons entitled to use of a (dress) uniform may use it in all events at the Conferment Ceremony. The persons in question must of course obey the usual instructions and rules regarding the use of such uniforms. For promovendi, the only uniform allowed is that of a priest. For other guests, dress uniforms of e.g. the police, defense forces or rescue departments are allowed. However, the general colour that one’s “group” dresses in should be taken into account: for example, female promovendi and wreathweavers, who otherwise all dress in white, should not wear the black priestly uniform, especially in the Conferment Act.

White tie: Instructions for gentlemen

The black garments of white tie consist of a tailcoat, high-waisted trousers and shoes as well as a black waistcoat worn during daytime events.

The white garments are a starched shirt and a bow tie as well as a white waistcoat worn on evening occasions. A white cummerbund may be worn in place of the waistcoat.

Socks are always black, suspenders are usually white for practical reasons.

According to the strictest etiquette, leather shoes should be worn in daytime events where as evening events require patent leather shoes. However, the latter are allowed in daytime events as well.

Gloves are white – black gloves are reserved for funerals. The material is either fabric or leather, preferably kidskin or glacé.

The shirt button studs are generally golden, nacre or combinations thereof. Dark-coloured buttons belong with the dinner jacket. The waistcoat button studs are nacre.

Cufflinks should go well with the outfit, otherwise their choice is not restricted.

Wristwatches do not belong with white tie, pocket watches should be used instead. The pocket watch is place in the trouser pocket, never on a chain across the belly.

Suitable outerwear include a topcoat, peacoat and a cape. The scarf should always be white.


Dress code table

Wreathweaving and Swordwhetting Conferment Act and Church/secular Service Dinners, ball
Master Promovendi, ladies Coloured full-length evening gown Long-sleeved, non-décollété white full-length gown, white gloves and shoes, wreath and ring White full-length evening gown, white gloves and shoes, wreath and ring
Master Promovendi, gentlemen White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, black patent leather shoes White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, black waistcoat, white gloves, black leather shoes, wreath and ring White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, white gloves, black patent leather shoes, wreath and ring
Masters’ companions, ladies (wreathweaveresses) Coloured full-length evening gown Long-sleeved, non-décollété white full-length gown, white gloves and shoes White full-length evening gown, white gloves and shoes
Masters’ companions, gentlemen (wreathweavers) White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, black patent leather shoes White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, black waistcoat, white gloves, black leather shoes White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, white gloves, black patent leather shoes
Jubilee Master Promovendi, ladies Coloured full-length evening gown Long-sleeved, non-décollété black full-length gown, black gloves and shoes, wreath and ring black full-length evening gown, black gloves and shoes, wreath and ring
Jubilee Master Promovendi, gentlemen White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, black patent leather shoes White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, black waistcoat, white gloves, black leather shoes, wreath and ring White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, white gloves, black patent leather shoes, wreath and ring
Jubilee Masters’ companions, ladies (wreathweaveresses) Coloured full-length evening gown Long-sleeved, non-décollété black full-length gown, black gloves and shoes black full-length evening gown, black gloves and shoes
Jubilee Masters’ companions, gentlemen (wreathweavers) White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, black patent leather shoes White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, black waistcoat, white gloves, black leather shoes White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, white gloves, black patent leather shoes
Doctor Promovendi/
Jubilee Doctor Promovendi, ladies
Coloured full-length evening gown Long-sleeved, non-décollété black full-length gown, black gloves and shoes, doctoral sword and hat black full-length evening gown, black gloves and shoes, doctoral sword and hat
Doctor Promovendi/
Jubilee Doctor Promovendi, gentlemen
White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, black patent leather shoes White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, black waistcoat, white gloves, black leather shoes, doctoral sword and hat White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, white gloves, black patent leather shoes, doctoral sword and hat
Doctors’ companions, ladies (swordwhetteresses) Coloured full-length evening gown Long-sleeved, non-décollété black full-length gown, black gloves and shoes black full-length evening gown, black gloves and shoes
Doctors’ companions, gentlemen (swordwhetters) White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, black patent leather shoes White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, black waistcoat, white gloves, black leather shoes White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, white gloves, black patent leather shoes
Guests, ladies Coloured full-length evening gown Long-sleeved, non-décollété black full-length gown, black shoes Coloured full-length evening gown
Guests, gentlemen White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, black waistcoat OR black suit, black leather shoes White tie: Black evening tailcoat, black trousers, white waistcoat, white gloves, black patent leather shoes