Dress code

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 cite, and costumes in which to dress.

We expect that each promovendi, companions and guests will dress according to the dress code. The dress code is not flexible. If a promovendus arrives to an event without proper attire, we cannot guarantee entrance. Visuality, rotation between black and white, has central role in the Conferment Festivities. If only a one person differs in dress code, it will break the harmony of the event and ruin the experience of other promovendi, companions and guests. This applies especially to the Conferment Act and the Ball.

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 setting for 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 tailcoats and black trousers (white tie), and these colours are shown in the gowns of the female promovendi, wreath-weavers and sword-whetters. Black and white are reserved for promovendi and their companions, so other (female) guests must dress in coloured dresses, with the exception of the Conferment Act. Before the day of the Conferment Act also the promovendi and their companions use colourful dresses.

For the more formal events – the wreath-weaving and sword-whetting dinners, the Conferment Act, Dinner and Ball – the exact dress codes have been collected into this dress code table. The dress codes are listed separately for promovendi, their companions and other guests that have been invited to the Conferment Ceremony.

While the dress codes have been given to women and men separately, everyone involved in the Conferment Ceremony has the right to follow the dress code of the gender they identify with. In some of the Conferment Ceremony’s events, the chosen dress code affects the alignments and dances. The Conferment Committee fil-promootio@helsinki.fi is happy to help you with any questions that  you might have.

It is highly recommended to purchase the doctoral hat (“tohtorinhattu”) as soon as possible. Please take a look at the offers from our partners (for the time being only in Finnish and Swedish).

The rest of this page has information on the dress codes for Flower’s day and the excursion, as well as instructions for the use of academic insignia, state and academic awards, decorations and orders of merit, and on the use of dress uniforms. There are also some general instructions on the dress code. The dress codes in all events of the Conferment Ceremony are compulsory. More information about the academic insignia of the promovendi and instructions for acquiring them can be found on the page academic insignia.


Flower’s Day

Flower’s day is about celebrating the 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.


Males’ Formal dress (white tie)

Formal dress consists of an evening tailcoat, black trousers, a white plain stiff-fronted cotton shirt with a wing collar, a waistcoat, a white bow tie and white gloves. During the Conferment Ceremony and the Church service the waistcoat is black, otherwise white. No wristwatches should be used. Fob chains should not be too visible. Shoes should be black (polished leather or patent leather). Socks should be black as well. The overcoat should be a dark dress coat or a cloak. The scar, if needed, is white.


Wreath-weawing, Sword-whetting day, act rehearsal and the rector’s reception

The dress code is same as in the evening on dinners, that is for men evening tail coat with white waistcoat, and for women colorful full-length evening gown. There won’t be any extra time for changing clothes before the sword-whetting- and wreath-weaving dinners. Those attending only in the Act can follow smart casual dress code.


The evening gown should be full-length and of another colour than black or white. A décolleté gown is permitted.


The Conferment Act

Male masters and doctors wear evening tail coat, black waistcoat and white gloves.


Young female masters and the wreath-bindresses to young masters wear a white, full-length gown that is not décolleté. In the context of Conferment Ceremonies ‘white’ is a shade of white that resembles white copying paper. The uniformity of the shade of white is of major significance.

Suitable materials are e.g. muslin, Dupion silk or satin. White embroidery is permitted. Too see-through materials or embroidery with colour or metal thread should be avoided. Trimmings, such as sequins or paillettes are not allowed. A gown is considered full-length if the hemline covers the malleoli. The sleeves should be full-length as well, the neckline as high as possible. Please bear in mind that promovendi have to go up and down a large number of steps. Thus any kind of trains are inconvenient. The gown should not be too broad and slits not too long.

Gloves should be white and of such length that no bare skin is visible between the gloves and the sleeves. Lace gloves should not be used. Shoes should be white and closed from the tip and heels. Sandals are not permitted. A discreet necklace and / or earrings can be worn. Only engagement or wedding rings are permitted to be worn alongside the master’s ring. No handbags or clutch bags are permitted. A secret pocket inside the gown can therefore be convenient.

Here you can see pictures of the dresses.


The female doctors and jubilee masters and the female companions of all doctors and jubilee masters wear a black, full-length gown that is not décolleté. Sleeves should be long. Shoes and gloves should be black. All instructions in item 3 are applicable (bearing in mind that everything white is black).


Conferment dinner and the ball

For the Conferment Dinner the same gown that was used during the day is a popular choice. Also a gown with shorter sleeves is permitted. A too conspicuous décolleté or a bear back should be avoided.
During the Ball the same dress that has been used during the Ceremony or the Dinner can be used.

A more décolleté ball gown with a broader hem is permissible. Each group follows its principal colour (i.e. white or black). The length of gloves (which are compulsory) depends on the length of the sleeves. A handbag or clutch bag is permitted albeit not during the actual dancing.


All male participants wear evening tail coat, white waistcoat and white gloves. In addition the master promovendi have their ring and wreath and the doctor promovendi their sword and hat.


The nature of master’s contredanse française and the doctoral polonaise differ from the ordinary dances. The play of colors and patterns is underlined, which is why also the dress code for dancers is so important. In master’s contredanse française one participant is wearing white and the other black. Traditionally this has meant men wearing evening tail coat and women wearing white gown. In the Conferment Ceremony year 2019 the requirement is one dance partner wearing black and the other one wearing white. In the doctoral polonaise all the participants wear black. 


The Excursion

The excursion is the most casual part of the Conferment Ceremony and this is also reflected in the dress of the participants. Clothes should be appropriate for the weather, keeping in mind chilly spring breezes in particular. Finnish student caps are worn both indoors and out. Otherwise, the dress code is fairly casual, but e.g. jeans should be avoided. A comfortable but neat sweater paired with a skirt or trousers for ladies and a sweater with dress shirt and e.g. khaki or corduroy trousers for men are good choices but business or smart casual clothing is also acceptable.


Dress code for the guests

Guests following the Ceremony in the Great Hall should wear evening tail coat and black waistcoat. Gloves are not worn. For guest following the Ceremony at other locations a lounge suit is a good option.


Guests sitting inside the Great Hall should follow the instructions given to female promovendi (doctors). No gloves are worn. If following the Ceremony outside the Great Hall the instructions regarding what to wear are more liberal. Short sleeves are however not desirable and colours should be discreet. No kinds of bags are allowed inside the Great Hall or the Cathedral.


Female guests should wear a gown that has some other colour than black or white as primary colour. The optimum would be not using black or white at all. Jewellery is permitted. Otherwise the instructions in item 5 are applicable.


On Thursday and on the excursion no orders of merit, civil (or military) decorations or other medals of any kind should be worn.

At the Conferment Act and Dinner, state-awarded decorations and orders of merit may be worn in accordance with the instructions given for the award in question. Those who have been awarded decorations etc. by the Finnish state are obligated to wear them, in their original size (not the miniature models). At the Conferment Ball, state-awarded decorations and orders of merit are worn, but in addition to the full-size versions, the miniature models are also allowed.

Academic decorations and orders of merit as well as ribbons/bands of the student nations or other organisations are not permissible in any of the events during the Conferment Ceremony.


Other instructions regarding the dress code

Persons entitled to use 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, armed services or rescue (fire) departments are allowed. However, the general colour that one’s “group” dresses in should be taken into account: for example, female promovendi and wreath-weavers, who otherwise all dress in white, should not wear the black priestly uniform, especially in the Conferment Act.
Those who will not be participating in the wreath-weaving or sword-whetting dinners or in the rector’s reception, but only in the wreath-weaving or the Conferment Act rehearsal, do not have to wear white tie at these events. Instead of evening tail coats and white waistcoats, men may wear a dark suit (dark grey, dark blue or black) with a white dress shirt and a low-key, preferably light grey, tie. Instead of colourful, full-length evening gowns, women may wear conservatively or more “formally” styled skirt or pant suits. The dress code for the rector’s reception is the same as for the wreath-weaving and sword-whetting dinners, i.e. formal dress/white tie: evening tail coats with white waistcoats for men and full-length evening gowns for women. Finnish student caps are traditionally worn at the wreath-weaving workshop.

At pre wreath-weaving workshop the dress code is smart casual. Finnish student caps are traditionally worn at the wreath-weaving workshop.

The Conferment Act involves plenty of walking and standing in place, so comfortable shoes that do not squeeze or chafe one’s feet are recommended. Another thing to remember when picking footwear is that everyone’s shoes will be visible as they step up to parnassus (the raised platform that the promovendi stand on as their rank is conferred on them).

Use of national dress is not allowed during the Conferment Ceremony. All kinds of fur trimmings are also forbidden. As a courtesy to persons with allergies, strongly scented perfumes, colognes etc. are not allowed in the Conferment Act, as the promovendi have to stand very close to each other for several hours.

All participants of the Conferment Ceremony may dress according to their gender identity regardless of their biological sex. This choice should be consistent throughout the Conferment Ceremony. The choice of male or female dress code affects the grouping of participants in some of the events, as well as the dances. More information may be found in our Frequently Asked Questions. The Conferment Committee (fil-promootio@helsinki.fi) is happy to answer any additional questions on the subject.