|WHY GRADUATES WEAR CAPS AND GOWNS|
Academic dress is a traditional form of clothing for academic settings, primarily tertiary (and sometimes secondary) education, worn mainly by those who have been admitted to a university degree (or similar), or hold a status that entitles them to assume them (e.g., undergraduate students at certain old universities). It is also known as academicals and, in the United States, as academic regalia.
Beyond that, the clothing was simply practical. When the universities were originally formed, they had no official buildings of their own to hold lectures in, so classes typically gathered in nearby churches. Their simple robes and outer covering served the purpose of keeping them warm in the drafty medieval church buildings, and the hoods kept the weather off when they ventured out of doors.
Contemporarily, it is commonly seen only at graduation ceremonies, but formerly academic dress was, and to a lesser degree in many ancient universities still is, worn daily. Today the ensembles are distinctive in some way to each institution, and generally consists of a gown (also known as a robe) with a separate hood, and usually a cap (generally either a square academic cap, a tam, or a bonnet). Academic dress is also worn by members of certain learned societies and institutions as official dress.