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Don't dress like Kim Kardashian - Queen's University of Belfast tells graduation students

Style tips for students' big day 'are offensive and condescending'

By Cate McCurry

Students at Queen's have hit out after the university issued a graduation ceremony style guide banning short skirts and cleavage - telling women not to dress like Kim Kardashian.

It said women should "think Grace Kelly" rather than the reality TV personality and socialite when choosing outfits. It led to claims that QUB was promoting "degrading and condescending" regulations ahead of its graduation week.

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The so-called style guidance has been criticised by students, who said they found it "deplorable" that an academic institution would tell women how to dress.

Graduates were greeted with the advice, entitled 'Style tips for graduation week: Wear it well' as they registered online for the formal event.

It stated that former architecture student Thom Dickerson, who runs his own self-titled private tailoring company based in Belfast, had shared his top tips for students.

Under a 'Build your outfit around your hood and gown' heading, graduates were informed how not to clash the hood and gown with their colour palette.

It also recommended that men, whether they wore Oxfords or brogues, should "stick to leather and dark shades".

Mr Dickerson went on to say: "Possibly the biggest mistake I see at graduation is girls treating the event like a night out.

"Graduation is a formal event and the dress code should match this. Short skirts and cleavage on show are totally out of the question. Think Grace Kelly, not Kim Kardashian, at least until the day is done: you can always change before heading out."

It further favoured "discreet safety pins" for ladies to wear to avoid any "last minute wardrobe disasters".

It stated that anyone who had represented the university at sport should wear the club tie, either in Trinity, Windsor or a four-in-one hand knot.

Laura Shepherd from Cookstown, Katie Mooney from Ballyclare and Morgan Semple from Omagh.
Laura Shepherd from Cookstown, Katie Mooney from Ballyclare and Morgan Semple from Omagh.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Janice, Ailbhe, Therese and Miriam McKeith from Ballymena.
Northern Irelands first Regius Professorship has been bestowed upon Queens Universitys Professor John McCanny FRS FREng today (Thursday 8 December). The prestigious award was conferred by the Chancellor, Thomas Moran. Professor McCanny is Director of the Universitys Institute for Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), which is working to achieve a step change in Electronics and Computer Engineering research in order to address some of the key technological and ethical challenges facing society today; these include cybersecurity. The esteemed award has been granted by the Sovereign to recognise exceptionally high quality research.
After graduating with a Geography degree from Queen’s last year, Katherine Newell is celebrating again as she receives her Masters in Public Health today (Friday 9 December). The Gloucestershire student Katherine, the first in her family to go to university, is currently working on her DPhil (PhD) in Medical Science having secured a funded place on the Medical Research Council's doctoral training programme.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Annoushkee Bayat and her parents Zeenat and Glen
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Laura Johnston from Donaghadee and her Mum Iris
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Laura Sheary from County Tipperary
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Thomas J. Moran Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Briege O'Neill and her daughter Shannon.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Esesua Pigoson, Sater Iayuse, Stzphanle Gbeddy and Collins Amoah-Antwi from Kenya
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Timothy McGlinchey from Belfast and his fiancee Rachael McErlane.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Stephen Hunter from Finaghy and his wife Siobhan.
Chloe Lamont celebrates graduating in English and Film from Queen’s University today. Due to a ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬ bone condition, Chloe has broken her back three times during her degree, along with two sets of ribs and several other bones.
Chloe Lamont celebrates graduating in English and Film from Queen’s University today. Due to a bone condition, Chloe has broken her back three times during her degree, along with two sets of ribs and several other bones.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Michael Rea from Jordanstown and his Grandfather Noel Rea.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Stephen Hunter from Finaghy and his wife Siobhan.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Tina Ho from Newtownabbey,Michael Kavanagh from Belfast and Lauren St Ledger from Belfast
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Mary Kate Kilbane from Mullingar with her sister Grace and Mum Jacqui.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Kyra Archibald from Coleraine, Dermot Marke from Newry and Louise Lavery from Portadown
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Amy Mckeown and her friends.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Patricia McCann from Belfast and Samanatha Lin from Sydney Australia.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Patricia McCann from Belfast
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Graduations in Nursing
Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Courtney Somerville and her family from Enniskillen
Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Danielle McGurk and her mother Marie from Craigavon
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Danielle McGurk and her parents Aidan and Marie from Craigavon
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Claire McKnight from Carryduff with her parents Patricia and Michael.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Lisa O'Neill and her sons Christopher and Dillon.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Alison Stewart and her family from Belfast
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Bronagh Agnew, Melessia Donnelly and Anna Cleland
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Lucy Crossan from Belfast and Ashling McCann from Glenavey
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Lisa Jane Heaney from Belfast
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Sarah Harpur from Tyrone with her parents Thomas and Christina
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Naeve McAllister from Killreagh, Lorenzo Fusco from Itlay and Linda Mawhinney from Magherfelt
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Laura Smith from Ballymoney tahke a selfie with her fellow Mid-Wives
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Jordan Shaw from Glengormley and Kevin Hung from Limavady
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Rosemary Harper from Belfast graduated in Nursing.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Thursday 8th December 2016 Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Amy Dickson from Lurgan, Lucy Crossan Belfast, Rachel Douglas Limavady and Emma Donnelly Desertmartin.
Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Lauren Allen from Ballymena, Sinead Brannigan from Ballymartin, Laurie Armstrong from Bangor and Caoimhe Beggan from Fermanagh
Gemma Thompson from Belfast, Alicia Quinn from Toome and Jacqueline Fitzpatrick from Armagh.
Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Eileen Jameson from Trillick and her daughter Kimberly who graduated in Childhood Studies
Graduations take place at Queens University in Belfast. Sarah-Louise Gilbert from Larne who graduated iin Nursing pictired whith her parents Mark and Sharon Gilbert.
Sarah-Louise Gilbert graduating in nursing with her mum and dad Mark and Sharon Gilbert.
Deborah Jameson from Trillick who graduated in Nursing
Aine Jordan and Tiarna Robinson from Lurgan
International Commissioner of Scouting Ireland Claire McAroe is celebrating as she graduates from Queen’s University with a PhD in Biological Sciences.
Queen’s student Freda McCormick, from Dundonald, graduates with a Doctorate of Education from Queen’s. Committed to caring for older relatives, including her 92-year-old mother-in-law Mary, Freda decided to put her personal experience into practice and in her 40s embarked on the part-time doctoral programme in Education at Queen’s.
Joanne Sansome from Belfast graduates with a Masters in Social Research from Queen’s. She first visited the University a decade ago when she spoke to social work students about her experience of living with Cerebral Palsy since birth. She is joined by her father Dermot.

A scathing email sent to the university from a post-graduate and seen by this newspaper said that the advice was "offensive and condescending".

"I find that it gives legitimacy to the stereotype that university education is for the middle classes," she said. "As a woman, however, the part I find utterly deplorable is the way in which it advises women how to dress. Being told what to wear, being judged for our attire and being told certain attire says certain things about you as a woman is still a daily occurrence.

"I understand that the university wishes graduation to be a formal event. So, why couldn't they simply state 'formal attire'? Looking to the comparisons the university has made here, it's pretty degrading. The reserved, conservative Grace Kelly is the example of 'good' while the 'louder' more 'risqué' Kim Kardashian is 'bad'?

"Isn't that the same old, same old we've been trying to rally against for years now? The article draws a very definitive line between male and female attire. The most offensive part of it all is the way in which it confirms the stereotypical good girl and pits her against the stereotypical bad girl.

"And, furthermore the 'cleavage on show' being 'totally out of the question' feels like a piece of advice that would have been handed down to girls in a convent.

"Are we not a bit more mature than making cleavage out to be 'bad' or even 'sacrosanct'? I feel massively condescended to and genuinely offended to be offered this advice."

Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly

Queen's said the webpage included news, tips and information for graduating students. "This is a dynamic webpage which is constantly updated. It currently includes stories about the achievements of our most recent graduates," it added.

Other universities also issue guidance on graduation attire. On the Ulster University website, it recommends that graduates "dress appropriately".

"While the university does not prescribe what style of clothes should be worn... graduation is a formal ceremonial occasion marking an important achievement and stage in a student's life," it says.

"Jeans, T-shirts, trainers and other casual items of clothing are not considered appropriate... we recommend securely fitting shoes with a suitable heel height... as graduates are required to walk up and down ramps and/or steps to the platform to receive their award."

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