What People Wear at an Oath Ceremony

What to wear at an oath ceremony is a big question. However, when you are invited or are the soon-to-be citizen you want to know the dress code for the naturalization ceremony. I made the experience from both sides – as a new citizen, and as a guest. Read about the formal dress for oath taking ceremony that people wore, and what to expect what to expect in an oath taking ceremony.



Naturalization Ceremony in Fairbanks

A couple of years ago, my husband had a court appointment for naturalization. The candidates were allowed to bring friends and family and so he invited me to accompany him on the big day.

The ceremony was scheduled in one of the court rooms at the State Office Building. We went thru security and then upstairs in a waiting room as we were told. The room was pretty crowded. As time progressed, it became full to capacity. There were people of all genders and ages. The noise in the room would have been the perfect background sound for a scene in a movie about the building of the tower at Babylon. Interestingly, I heard a well-know dialect to me – Kölsch. This dialect has its own grammar, and is spoken in Cologne, the city of my first Alma Mater. It’s my husband’s native dialect. A dialect, of which I only understand about 50% or so.


What to Wear at an Oath Ceremony

With exception to recognizing a language, it was hard to tell who is who, if at all. This crowd was a mix of citizen and immigrants. Even the way of dressing barely provided some clues. The crowd wore everything from casual jeans and a shirt to Sunday’s Best. The outfits seemed to be more age-related than related to heritage. And yes, the globalization of the fashion market also contributes to similar clothing. Furthermore, immigrants are typically on a green card for at least five years before they can even apply for citizenship. As a result, most likely there isn’t even a piece of clothes left in their closets that stems from their country of origin.


How Do You Dress for an Oath Ceremony as a the Person to Be Sworn-In?

You could guess who are the candidates. There was namely a slight difference in the degree of “dress up.” The soon-to-be citizens mostly wore attire that would also fit a business casual style to an elevated work-dress code.  Since it was summer, women mostly wore dresses like a LBD, little white dress, and even a little red dress.


What to Wear at an Oath Ceremony as a Guest?

The guests had dressed a bit less “formal”, i.e., a bit more casual than the soon new Americans. I wore a fake suit outfit when I got my citizenship.  As a guest, I wore skirt and blouse separates, and court-dress pumps. My husband wore business casual with a tie.

However, in some cases, one could tell the country of origin. There was, for instance, a young Filipino woman, and a Russian couple. They wore ethnic-style outfits from their soon-to-be former homeland.

<h2>What to Expect at the Oath Ceremony as a Soon-to-Be American?

In the moment when the large hand jumped onto the 12, the large heavy wooden door to the court room opened. One of the light tan wood walls displayed the seal of the State of Alaska. In front of it, there were the American and Alaska flags, and heavy dark wooden court desks with leather-covered heavy wooden chairs. Red hemp weave carpet and blue business office carpet covered the aisles and other areas, respectively.

A guy in some sort of uniform with a list came out. He read the names of the soon to be new citizens. He told them to seat in that order on the l.h.s. of the room. After he had finished the list, he advised the guests to take seats on the other side where there was much more seating space. Then he closed the door. The Babylonian sound calmed down. All you could hear was a whispering once in a while, some coughing, and the annoying usual cry of an infant.


How to Dress for an Oath Ceremony – Examples

I looked around to spot my husband. Finally, I detected him between a large guy in combat uniform to the right and the Russian couple to his left. The man wore jeans with suspenders and a lumberjack button-down shirt. The woman wore a long solid color sludge brown maxi full-skirt and blouse with a very small Laura-Ashley-like print. She had braided her long sandy-blond hair in a low ponytail that stuck out of her headscarf. The color of the scarf had a different print than her blouse. The outfit looked like she was colorblind, or did not bother to match the colors of the prints and ground them with one solid color. The headscarf was knotted in the front, and gave view to her oily hair.


What to Expect in an Oath Taking Ceremony

After the judges came in, a person sung the Alaska State song, and National Anthem. The pledge to the flag followed. Then a state prosecutor told the judge that all applicants had been undergone a thorough FBI check, and he recommends them to become US citizens.

The judge then read the first name on the list. He asked them to stand up and to tell about where they came form, and why they are excited to become citizens. Once a person had ended their speech, he called the name of the next, one name after the other.


Becoming an American Citizen Was the Second Best Day in My Hubby’s Life

I took out my camera when the person on the right to my hubby stood up and gave their speech. The guy stated that he is in the US army living at Ft. Wainwright, and he is from Samoa. My husband gave his speech, and said that this is the second most exciting day in his life only topped by the day of our wedding. I nearly cried. As a result, the photos didn’t turn out as I hoped. My hubby handed the microphone to his neighbor while the judge called that guy’s name.


Working Hard for Your Beliefs

The guy took the mike and said “I came over from Russia with my wife to live our religion without fear of appraisal.” He pointed towards the woman next to him, who looked much older than she probably was as compared to her husband. She smiled happily, and you could see that she was missing some teeth. He then turned his face back to the judge, and continued “We came here to XYZ with nothing seven years ago. I worked very hard and now have seven children, and a farm.” Here I use XYZ for the actual community he mentioned. In Alaska communities are very small. Therefore, I do not give away the location for privacy reasons.


Oath Ceremony Outfit Ideas

Below three oath ceremony outfit ideas for various seasons.


3 oath ceremony guest outfit ideas
Left: Marc Aurel shearling jacket, J. Crew snake print skirt, Dior boots, LeatherCoatsEtc beret and gloves, GNW Luxe sweater, Anne Klein scarf, bag c/o Jafferjees. Middle: Tracey Reese skirt, Hipstik tights, Valentino boots, Anne Klein sweater, citrine and Moonstone necklace, watch c/o Nordgreen. Right: Hipstik tights, UGGs fall sandals, Isaac Mizrahi cardigan, DIY gemstone necklace, shoulder bag c/o R. Riveter


More on immigration in misleading digital fingerprints, and another funny real Alaska life story on white powder in a roadhouse.


Photos: G. Kramm

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