Dark or dull clothing. Also as an adjective, anything dark or dull.

For example, "Jasper's subfusc suit and white tie proclaimed him still in the thick of it." (Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, chapter 2).

Subfusc is the traditional gown-and-bands attire for students in Oxford University. It consists of a black suit (skirt for women), white bow-tie (ribbon for women), mortar board, and gown. Bizarrely, though the mortar board is compulsory, it is illegal for undergraduates to actually wear it - it must be carried at all times. (There are actual university police to enforce this. Penalties can result in a meeting with the dreaded proctors.) Those who have won scholarships get a special robe (which usually costs about half the value of their scholarship!).

In Japanese it is apparently signifies "Quickly, quickly! I urgently need my photo taken". Those foolish enough to venture out in public during Trinity Term can testify to this unfortunate cross-cultural mix-up.

It's generally only worn on ceremonial occasions, such as matriculation, graduation, formal hall, and unfortunately, exams - though in some colleges with regular, compulsory formal hall this may mean twice weekly.

Subfusc is the name given to the formal dress worn at Oxford University. For men, it consists of a dark suit, white shirt, white bow tie, and black shoes. For women, dark trousers or skirt, white blouse, black shoes, and black neck ribbon.

In addition, both sexes are required to wear a black gown as part of the subfusc. For undergraduates, gowns are simple, almost like waistcoats with a long streamer-like piece of material coming from either shoulder. Graduate students, students with scholarships, and students who have earned distinctions, must wear more elaborate gowns. They are longer, and more "flowing".

Another part of subfusc is a mortarboard hat. Strangely, if an undergraduate wears one before graduation, they are liable to be fined by the University! Students are required to carry them instead (they are commonly used as a makeshift pencil case at examinations).

Subfusc is not worn often, but the frequency it is worn can vary from college to college. Some colleges require that the gown be worn when attending all meals, some only at special formal meals. Full subfusc must be worn when sitting all examinations. At examinations it is traditon to also wear a white carnation for one's first exam, a pink carnation for the second, and a red carnation for the third and final exam.

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