Good morning everyone,
My name is James, a medical student and creator of the blog TheStylePrescription, a lifestyle blog about my career as a medical student and my hobbies outside of the classroom. In addition to writing about food and cooking, I also know a thing or two about fashion ;) Jamie graciously asked me to share some dos and don’ts for dressing nicely for outpatient rotations or student clinic while also being mindful of your med student budget. While my advice will focus on menswear do to the dearth of style guides for gentlemen, many of the same tips apply to ladies who like menswear as well!
Do have a set of staple pieces in your wardrobe
Sometimes, the best advice is to keep it simple. For those who are making the transition from college to medical school, it’s hard to break the habit of wearing a closet consisting only of hoodies, jeans, and yoga pants (although you will most likely be able to get away with that through most of your preclinical curriculum). If you’re having a hard time making the transition to the professional world, start off with basic pieces and basic colors. Plain white and blue collared shirts will be your workhorses. One of my favorites is the oxford cloth button down from Uniqlo. OCBD’s are great for young professionals, as they can serve both as workwear and other occasions. Although it’s important to have dress shirts for more serious occasions, I find that OCBD’s work well in the hospital and clinic setting because they are easily washable, most importantly. Which brings me to my next point…
Don’t make the mistake of having only one nice shirt
You may want to buy a few to have on rotation, as the inevitable pen or mystery fluid stain will find its way onto your clothes. You will become very close to your dry cleaner for this very reason. Find a brand that has a cut that fits your body type and your price range. If you can help it, buy 2-3 plain white and plain blue dress shirts. For dress pants, go with something like navy blue and charcoal gray. It’s a mature upgrade from khakis/chinos. Other interesting colors are wine/merlot and olive! These colors will pretty much be safe bets for almost all occasions, so it’s good to have them on hand. If your budget allows, try adding a shirt with small stripes or a microprint pattern. These are subtle ways to add variety to what would otherwise be very boring. Next point!
Do show some personality with your accessories
Wearing the same kind of clothes every day can get a kind of boring, so I think it’s important to find ways of wearing something creative to show off your style. One hobby of mine is going to thrift/vintage stores and flea markets to get accessories like pins and brooches for my white coat, and ties and tie bars/clips. Everyone knows that ties can be downright filthy, so after you take them to your dry cleaner, add a tie bar to your look to keep it from dangling everywhere! My favorite tie bar is shaped like a saber – such a unique flea market find! Some other med students and attendings have pins that adorn their white coat lapels or their lanyards. The pins can either represent a cause you care about, or can be there just to look fashionable. Either way, they’re a conversation starter. Another easy way to punch up your outfit is to have lively socks. You may not think about them much, but socks are such an underrated accessory. Whether you wear microprint patterns, stripes, or some crazy color, if you decide to do none of the other aforementioned tips, socks are where it’s at.
Don’t have your pant legs dragging around everywhere
It may be my personal opinion and this might be nitpicky, but I really believe that the pant leg is an overlooked aspect of one’s outfit. Gentlemen, please buy pants that are the appropriate length for your legs, if anything just so they don’t drag behind your heel along the floor of the hospital. Ideally, have your pants “break” just so they don’t pool around your ankle. If you currently have pants that are too long, it’s an easy and cheap fix that many dry cleaners/tailors can do for you. And again, do it for the socks!
The internet is a marvelous thing! While I don’t advocate being on reddit during classtime, I do advocate for being on reddit to save some money. I use r/frugalfashion to scout out deals and online coupon codes. You can also use sites like Gilt and Spring to snag more discounts on clothes and accessories.
Shop during off-season. You’re likely to get great end-of-season deals on pants and shirts that you can save for the next year.
Have fun with it. Fashion doesn’t mean squat if you’re not true to yourself and comfortable with what you’re wearing!
Best of luck looking sharp on the wards!