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 consist 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. The academic dress found in most universities in the Commonwealth of Nations and the United States is derived from that of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge , which was a development of academic and clerical dress common throughout the medieval universities of Europe. Formal or sober clothing is typically worn beneath the gown so, for example, men would often wear a dark suit with a white shirt and a tie , or clerical clothing , military or civil uniform , or national dress , and women would wear equivalent attire.