An Oxford hood is a special hood worn over the shoulders of a college graduate. Although such hoods were originally practical in nature and designed to protect the head, today the hood is purely ornamental, with the graduate wearing a cap, tam, bonnet, or other form of head covering. The Oxford hood is also sometimes known as a “plain hood”, referring to the fact that it lacks a cape or the ornamental draping known as a tippet.

Hoods have been a part of academic dress for centuries. Originally, academic dress was derived from the robes worn by members of religious orders, as most students were historically members of religious orders until universities were opened to the lay public. The hood was added as a practical measure, and many historic hoods were lined with fur for additional insulation and warmth. There are a variety of different styles of hoods in use today; At the same time, people could tell which school a student attended based on her hood style, although this is no longer the case.

Because the hood is ornamental, its size and shape can be licensed. The Oxford hood is typically long, spreading well down the back and ending with an ornamental tail called a liripipe. By tradition, the body of the hood, known as the hood, is black, lined with a band that reflects the discipline of the student. The inside of the cover may be lined in the school colors, and the cover may also be lined with decorative piping. A small strap runs across the throat to hold the hood over the body.

Wearing an Oxford hood is challenging, and many graduates cheat and use pins to pin the hood in place. Without pins, the hood could slip off center, bunch around the shoulders, or be pulled against the throat, tightening the strap that is supposed to hold the hood in place. It helps to have someone view a hood from the back, straightening as needed, to make sure it looks neat and tidy.

The length of an Oxford hood varies, depending on what grade the student is in. Such hoods are usually seen only on master’s and doctoral students, although undergraduates are technically allowed to wear hoods at many universities. In addition to an Oxford hood, it is also possible to see Cambridge or full hoods, which include the tippet or a cape.