Wayde Edwards


Masters in Major Programme Management




Life Sciences


2017 - 19

By Wayde Edwards

What the [Sub] Fusc are you wearing?

I looked around. There was nothing heavy within reaching distance. I decided to take the plunge. For probably the fifth time in as many days I asked my wife the most pressing question for the upcoming trip to Oxford, “So, you definitely think this grey suit is dark enough for Sub Fusc?”.

The advanced risk assessment was warranted. Though the impact was unexpected. A swift call was put in to Oxford HQ, a.k.a. the parents-in-law’s home, experienced Sub Fusc’ers as they are, who confirmed – dark grey is ok!

“So, you definitely think this grey suit is dark enough for Sub Fusc?”

I knew it was ok, since the guidelines said so… but the question was really, is it the best way to go? Since the guidelines also said a black tie is ok and the last person to wear one is probably buried in a shallow grave under a college oak tree. Plus 99% of the men wearing Sub Fusc in photos online stuck to the black suit / white bow-tie setup.

Sub Fusc or academic dress is worn at the University of Oxford for Matriculation ceremonies, exams, graduation ceremonies and probably some other events such as formal dinners. Those of us on the Masters in Major Programme Management don’t have exams, “just” 3000 word essays to accompany every module and our dissertation at the end. That narrows Sub Fusc down to a two-event outfit comprising effectively a dark suit and a white bow-tie. The gowns and caps are kindly provided by the business school. With two known events in the next two years the purchase of a new black suit was deemed an extravagance too far – the [dark] grey suit would do!

I even saved myself further expense by borrowing a white bow-tie from my father-in-law. Although as it turns out there was another option. The business school, probably wondering about the growth spurts of college oak trees, had decided to dish out [pre-tied] white bow-ties to the cohort. There is of course what you can wear and then what you should wear!

Harry Potter was here

We had our matriculation ceremony (a few solemn words in Latin and English with some formal doffing of academic caps) on a warm October evening and a lovely post matriculation dinner at the 15th century Divinity Halls in the centre of Oxford. Matriculation is a sort of welcome ceremony through which you become part of the university for life. Another instance of the bonds between us in the Saïd Business School and the broader university being created and strengthened.

In the end, my grey suit was absolutely fine and the dress code was complied with by all as far as I could see. Although one or two people did rush off for what must have been a pretty speedy shopping trip. I suspect the line, “Everything I am wearing I have acquired in the last two hours” may have been a first for the ornate 600-year-old Divinity Hall. Though possibly not for the city of Oxford, with Bicester Village and its 130 designer discount shops just moments away.

Home sweet home

The University of Oxford does love a dress up so always read the event listing and dress codes. On the theme of dress codes, I was pleased to see that one of the men in our cohort wasn’t discouraged from wearing a “ladies” ribbon when he contemplated it (since he had a mandarin collar shirt). And a few of the ladies pondered bow-ties, with at least one taking up the opportunity. I’m proud of our cohort being open minded about these things and making our small contribution to ending gender specific dress codes. Our class fly in from all over the world. I’m sure in many of the countries represented gender related topics such as dress codes aren’t subject to much debate or discussion. A reminder that we will learn as much from each other as from the faculty and readings.

In other news, the week up in Oxford for Module One was fantastic – the welcome and arrival smooth as silk, lectures entertaining and informative, the class sharp as a pack of newly pressed tacks and the facilities top notch. The all-important lunch? Lovely of course – just heed Dr Molloy’s advice and avoid the cheese board if you don’t want to get your snooze on during the afternoon session.

Time to get cracking on that essay! Sub Fusc optional.

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