"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


a truly important question

We deal with lots of important questions here at Texas in Africa on issues ranging from mass rapes in the Congo to tracking down rebel leaders' goats and wacky presidential campaign slogans. Today I've got a question on what I'm sure you'll consider a Much More Significant Issue, namely, the color of my doctoral robes.

While I don't want to count proverbial my chickens before they pass the defense, it does appear that I just might get to graduate in May. Even if that doesn't happen, I will graduate eventually, and doctoral robes are something a faculty member needs for future graduations and other major university events. They're heavy, involve difficult-to-clean fabrics, and aren't flattering to anyone, so of course I need to get some of my own.

Here at the U, we actually have a choice between ordering traditional black robes (with indicators of the field of study in accent colors on the hood) or of going with the full-on burnt orange. Either one costs a small fortune, so it's not a matter of price, but rather of taste.

Normally, I'm proud to go with burnt orange in wardrobe as in life, but, well, given the location of my future employment, I'm already going to stand out a bit in academic social situations, and I'm not sure that the burnt orange will strike the right look. Then again, if you're going to stand out, why not go all the way?

What say ye, faithful Texas in Africa readers? Shall I go with the burnt orange robes or the black ones? In the end, I'll go with my heart, but I want to know what you think. You can look at the options here and then answer in the poll below and leave any additional comments in the comment section. (Comments referring to the superiority of other colors of robes will be deleted, so no messing around, Aggies et al.) Robes are on sale Wednesday - Friday, so vote early and vote often:

Update: the poll doesn't work and I have no idea why. Thanks for all the feedback!


Blogger austinokie said...

TinA, having participated in 11 graduation ceremonies with doctoral robes from Scotland and South Africa, Harvard,Yale, Berkley, and Chicago,most of them stunning, I am here to say that when I attended my daughtre's graduation from UT and saw the burnt orange robes up close (I believe it was the first year they were used), it took this Okie's breath away.

Doctoral robes are fun, a source of memory and pride, and strong statement about the place of your study. ANYBODY can have a black robe...do not waste your money on looking like everyone else. Believe me, the Morehouse faculty will have very colorful robes. Why be dull in that new setting? The burnt orange robes are beautiful. Get one....

Tuesday, March 03, 2009 11:40:00 PM

Blogger austinokie said...

The manufacturer of this robe is part of the same company that makes the finest clergy robes, so you will be getting your money's worth....

Tuesday, March 03, 2009 11:44:00 PM

Blogger David McCullars said...

My most influential professor as an undergrad was a UT alum. Unfortunately, I can vividly remember never being fond of his burnt orange robe. Although he was my favorite prof, his robe was my least favorite of the entire faculty.

That being said, the pic of the (new?) burnt orange robe doesn't quite look the same. It seems a darker, deeper, richer color that comes off better. Or maybe that's just Photoshop.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 5:05:00 AM

Blogger Michael said...

black (and red) ;)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 7:00:00 AM

Blogger UPennBen said...

Burnt orange all the way. And get the beanie too, not the square cap and tassel.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 7:27:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The poll didn't take my vote, but I say orange. It's a lot more fun, and what else can I say? I'm partial to orange too....though your orange is a lot more distinguished than mine!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:41:00 AM

Blogger mark said...

The poll didn't work for me but...

Yes, anyone can have black, but that's way too much orange, in my opinion. The black has orange trim, so it's got that.

Besides, you don't want to be mistaken for this by wearing orange (beanie and all)...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:10:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the choice was Yale blue or Harvard/Oxford scarlet, I'd say go with it. But burnt orange is a garish color and would look awful in a faculty photo. Go with the black and specialty colors.

They are extemely expensive. My wonderful parents-in-law paid for mine and now that I no longer teach full time, I only get to use them for preaching weddings and ordinations--maybe once a year. Sigh. :-)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:17:00 AM

Blogger Alexis said...

i think the UT robes are nice- i've seen them in other settings and i think it is a good testament to where you received your degree. I vote orange.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 10:44:00 AM

Blogger Elaine Hale said...

I'm all about bright colors, so go with the orange (the survey is not working)!

Also, this frugal Hale would like to mention that some universities will rent you a robe every year for graduation. Of course, my only point of reference on this is a financially healthy private university (that extended this service even to me, a lowly non-tenure track faculty member who was sometimes mistaken for an undergrad) ... so I wouldn't count on such an arrangement without asking first. In any case, you need to own (and I should probably ask for one for Christmas) your own Ph.D. beenie for those occasions when you need to let your inner nerd shine.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 10:52:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Yeah, Elaine, I thought about that, but it's over $200 to rent them from UT every time, and Morehouse doesn't grant graduate degrees, so they won't have them. I think that in the long run, buying them this week at cost is a lot cheaper.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 11:58:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Black. It's less less flattering than burnt-orange.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:31:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please go with tasteful black. PLEASE.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 12:47:00 PM

Blogger Shannon said...

Orange! Do it!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 3:19:00 PM

Blogger The Linz said...

I vote you go with the orange!

And this is coming from a two-time Baylor Bear ... I'm with austinokie - why blend in?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 4:35:00 PM

Blogger the librarian said...

The president of my undergrad had orange robes. We called him The Great Pumpkin.

This is a different shade of orange than that was, but I agree with one of the above peeps who said it is just a little too much orange and that the black is less less flattering.

Do what makes you happy, though, as it is a honking hunk of money. And for sure do the beanie not the mortarboard!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 6:06:00 PM

Blogger Gary Snowden said...

As painful as this is to do, being a UT grad myself and extremely fond of burnt orange, I think that the dignity of occasions and settings where you'll be wearing full academic regalia requires black.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:33:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:38:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I'm going to do the orange one. It really does look tasteful in the photos. I disagree that the dignity of the occasions requires black - the occasions are celebratory, right? Color therefore seems totally appropriate to me.

I think burnt orange can look garish, but I really like the whole look of the new robe. If it were a simple undergrad orange one, then I'd vote black. But the orange doctoral one looks stunning.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 7:33:00 PM


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