USC’s white graduation dress tradition: A Trojan ritual

There ’ s no official apparel code for USC students at beginning beyond the university ’ s traditional robes. But look at any graduation photograph from recent years and you might think differently .
You ’ ll be distressed to find a female scholar wearing something other than a white graduation dress under her array .
“ It ’ s kind of an implicit rule, if you will, to wear a white dress, ” said sophomore Jillian Pih, president of the USC Helenes, the oldest all-female service arrangement on campus. “ You would decidedly stand out if you were wearing, say, a black dress or a bright crimson preen. ”
Trojans including women in white dress It ’ s a custom that ’ south plainly been passed down by word of sass and notice, according to graduating senior Nikki Villarosa : “ I saw it at the conclusion of my newcomer year — a crowd of girls in white dresses with their sashes, and I was like, ‘ Oh, so this is what I ’ m supposed to do. ’ ”

Neither Pih nor Villarosa knows when the custom started, but wearing flannel dresses to graduation international relations and security network ’ t specific to USC or even to college commencement ceremonies. It seems to be more common at high educate graduations, particularly at secret schools. At some high school beginning ceremonies, female students often carry a bouquet in addition to donning a egg white dress — the training for which a 2008 New York Times article likened to shopping for a wedding dress .
This tradition is upheld by the College of Charleston in South Carolina, where caps and gowns are eschewed entirely in favor of white dresses and roses. Atlanta-based Spelman College, an all-women ’ sulfur school and one of the nation ’ s historically blacken colleges and universities, requires its seniors to wear a white dress to graduation and early official occasions. The practice is meant to create a uniform appearance and announce “ the significance of the event. ” It ’ s been a tradition since about 1900 .
top graduation photo spots USC(USC Photo/David Sprague)

Top commencement photo spots

If there isn ’ t a photograph of you in your sash, did you even graduate ? here are some of the most iconic ( not to mention ’ grammable ) spots for commencement photos on campus, courtesy of the USC Helenes .

  1. Mudd Hall of Philosophy: This building’s beautiful arches and brickwork make for a classy background. Go in the morning or evening for dramatic lighting effects, thanks to numerous columns.
  2. The Steps of Troy at the Tutor Campus Center: The curving outdoor staircase provides an artful setting, but the fact that the five traits of a Trojan are engraved into the steps makes it even more special.
  3. Tommy Trojan: Sure, this one might be a little obvious, but what better place to strike your best Fight On pose?
  4. Bovard Administration Building: This quintessential campus building makes a classic backdrop.
  5. Doheny Library: Reenact your own version of 1978’s The Graduate, which includes a scene filmed in front of this very building.

How the white commencement dress came to be at USC

Wearing white dresses to USC ’ s commencement, or at least the widespread uphold of the custom, seems to be more late, though. Villarosa was curious about the ritual, so she asked her ma if she and her classmates wore whiten dresses when awarded their diploma. Her ma graduated from USC in the early ’ 80s .
“ She was like, ‘ Oh no, we never did that, ’ ” Villarosa said .
flush across the pond, the tendency seems to be gaining traction. As Alison Dawson, the point of public and ceremonial events at Bristol University, noted in a 2017 Telegraph article that many students are trading the traditional british graduation look of a whiten shirt and black surround for “ increasingly, a plain white dress. ”
But it ’ sulfur truly sol much more than just a complain white dress. Ask Steve Barth, assistant professor for business and entrepreneurship at the USC Iovine and Young Academy. These days, the floor that a buy token can inspire or evoke is fair equally authoritative, if not more sol, than the item itself. The white beginning dress is a prime exemplar .
Whether students get a form-fitting sleeveless dress or one that ’ s abruptly and flouncy, what they ’ re in truth buying is the opportunity to be separate of a tradition .
“ Millennials are much more interested in the experience measure that they ’ rhenium getting for their money. They ’ re looking for memories more than they ’ rhenium looking for things, ” Barth said. The estimate seems to be upheld by Gen Z-ers adenine well .
“ A batch of generations are kind of getting vomit of stuff, ” he added. “ We respect that have, and the report that we will get to tell, more and more. ”

What the white graduation dress means, to students and beyond

Villarosa bought her white preen on-line after much confer with her roommates and friends. She landed on one with a skater silhouette from Nordstrom. But it ’ s the experience of shop for it and wearing it alongside her fellow white-clad classmates that will probable engrain itself into her memory .
Beyond the uniformity of a single color, a draw can be read into the significance of wearing white. It ’ s the traditional color of a marriage gown, with symbolism steeped in purity. It was besides the color chosen by the suffragettes—women fighting to procure the right to vote in Great Britain in the early twentieth century—again, in depart for its representation of honor. ( Suffragettes thought that if they came across as feminine and pure, it would help their cause for equality ) .
It was besides a tinge adopted by american suffragists, becoming an impressive ocular tactic at rallies and marches. And the U.S. has seen “ suffragette white ” employed more recently equally well, when a count of democratic congresswomen wore it to President Donald Trump ’ s State of the Union address in February, a dumb but brawny comment about the ongoing fight for women ’ second rights .
possibly this all plays into the white dress commencement custom, whether participants realize it or not .
In a 2015 Bustle article about what to wear to gradation, writer Melodi Erdogan suggests “ classical white, ” noting that, “ ashen dresses normally mean something is going down. ”
For USC senior Villarosa, the symbolic purity of white is deoxyadenosine monophosphate much about signifying “ the begin of something new…what ’ s next for me after college. ”

White looks truly good with the colors of our university, and it actually pops with the black hood and gown, and the loss girdle .
Jillian Pih

The tradition serves a much dim-witted aim, excessively : photography. “ White looks very good with the colors of our university, and it actually pops with the black crown and gown, and the red sash, ” said USC sophomore Pih. And in the age of Instagram, that commencement picture is worth a thousand likes.

Whatever the reason for the white full-dress, wearing one reminds students of the heavily work that went into reaching this milestone, and that they ’ ra part of something larger than themselves .
“ I ’ m achieving a lifelong goal, ” Villarosa said. “ I feel identical gallant of the school that I go to, and [ USC ] is very traditional. From the beginning it ’ sulfur been about custom, so it ’ s courteous to act on those concepts right to the end. ”
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