If you are about to graduate and are planning to wear a cap and gown, you may be wondering how the custom originated. Academic gowns have their origins in 12th and 13th century Europe, when many of the continent’s great colleges and universities were being established. The purpose of the gown was to distinguish scholars from the ordinary, and often uneducated people, and they also served to identify a specific college. In fact, the gowns were often worn all the time for warmth, as many of the college buildings weren’t heated. Over the centuries, the different colours of the gowns also identified the subject being studied; a student wearing a green gown was studying medicine, while the sciences were generally denoted by the colour gold. Today, gowns are proudly worn by graduates from schools and colleges around the world, often along with a cap.