When people think of “highschool graduation,” they usually imagine a big podium, with diplomas, flowers, and seniors in black robes. Kingswood Oxford checks off pretty much every aspect on this list, except for one thing. Instead of the traditional graduation caps and gowns, KO seniors are split down the middle in terms of wardrobe. Girls wear white dresses or jumpsuits, and boys wear khakis, ties, and blue blazers, and it’s all rather archaic, really.
In America, most other highschools wear graduation gowns, which are black robes with some kind of accent color and a tall cap with a flat, square top. It’s iconic, and with it comes many other American practices, such as painting the top of your cap, or throwing your cap up in the air after the ceremony is done as a celebration of your high school years. Meanwhile, the white dresses and blue blazers worn by KO seniors during graduation have no real significance attached to them. At most, they remind people of weddings, which isn’t exactly the idea you would want to project at a highschool graduation.
Part of the importance of graduation is the acknowledgement of the time and effort you’ve put into high school—that all the long nights studying and memories you’ve made have culminated into a moment where you can say that you’ve finally done it, and that you’re going to begin a new chapter of your life while saying a sweet goodbye to the old one. Because it’s such a significant turning point, you want graduation to be memorable, special, and recognizable.
Meanwhile, graduation pictures from KO look almost like the seniors are attending some kind of garden party, or even just a regular dress-up day. Instead of representing one of the most important hallmarks of one’s life, they instead evoke a feeling of casualness to anyone who isn’t already familiar with the quirks of KO.
Some may argue that it’s important to keep the tradition of white dresses and blue blazers alive. After all, the practice has been around for a while. However, even Kingswood Oxford hasn’t kept with tradition; the original practice required girls to wear long white dresses and for boys to wear tuxedos. In recent years, students have modified the graduation dress—girls now often opt for shorter dresses and boys replace the tuxedo with a navy or black suit jacket and tan slacks.
The black-and-white dress code is also restrictive for students who exist outside the gender binary. In attempting to keep with “tradition,” the dress code excludes people who don’t identify as a girl or boy and forces them to either conform or find a different way to dress that doesn’t make them stand out too much from their peers.
In short, the black-and-white dress code for Kingswood Oxford seniors during graduation is an archaic principle, categorized by its casual, everyday appearance, its restrictiveness, and its general lack of importance.