Thursday, April 23, 2015

Work Uniform

Do you have a work uniform? Most of us spend the day in scrubs, and so do our staff. Dentists are lucky in that way, since our work uniform has pretty much been laid out for us since the start of our training. And, when there is an option to wear pajamas every day to work, why make an effort to do anything more?

Back in school, we were allowed to wear scrubs or a variation of business casual underneath our lab coats. No jeans, but pretty much everything else. Wearing scrubs everyday was tempting, but I tried to avoid it as much as I could. Pre-clinic was one thing, but once clinic started, I wanted to appear more presentable to patients. Walking the streets of New York City, where there are beautiful women walking around in fabulous clothes and heels at all times, does not exactly make you feel good about yourself when you are in sad-looking scrubs 24/7.

Since I have been in private practice, I have tried to be creative with my work clothes, while also remaining professional. No short dresses or skirts, open-toe shoes, jeans, etc. I always wear a white coat. It is just too easy for women even in this day in age to be assumed as the hygienist or dental assistant when they are, in fact, the doctor—and scrubs do not help the situation. The problem with this, and let me emphasize that I believe this is a problem for both men and women, is that we need to decide just what to wear every single morning. Some people enjoy this. I did. Some people have time for this before work. I used to. But, for most of us, we would like to spend our extra minutes doing other things, like exercising, playing with the kids, eating breakfast, or, let’s be honest, getting some extra sleep.

After I became a mom, my time to get ready in the morning went from one hour to about 10 minutes—15 minutes if I am really lucky. Deciding what shirt goes with what pant is just not an option, and it definitely isn’t happening the night before, when I am doing everything humanly possible to get to bed as early as I can. So what I am saying is that I need a work uniform that does not involve scrubs. I recently came across this essay, “Why I Wear the Exact Same Thing to Work Every Day,” by an art director of an advertising agency. After becoming frustrated with the days of outfit mishaps, she decided to start wearing the same thing to work every day and is now successfully enjoying the diminished level of stress that comes along with her decision. In her article, she references others who do the same—“Why Zuck and Other Successful Men Wear the Same Thing Every Day”—including Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs,  and Karl Lagerfeld, just to name a few. Deciding on clothing, says Zuckerberg, is just not something he wants to waste energy on. We make so many decisions every day, many of them much more important than whether or not our outfits match.

So now I ask you: What do you like to wear to work? Hopefully, I get some good feedback. For the men, is it scrubs, or a shirt and tie, or something different altogether? For women who aren’t already wearing scrubs, which are your go-to work outfits, and would you consider adopting a “uniform” and wear the same thing every day of the week? I recently did a giant wardrobe purge since it has been about two years since I have been able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothing, so I am seriously considering it.

Have a great weekend!

Lilya Horowitz, DDS


Jordan said...

Good points! It's so true that women are usually pegged as the hygienist rather than the doctor - so it's important to dress "the part", but at the same time you want to be comfortable at work. It's a real struggle! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Scrubs it is !! Wear the white coat over the scrubs. simple and O so comfortable.

Anonymous said...

Lilya: I look forward to eading anything you compose; I still have a copy of "The Hunt" which you wrote a few years ago and which should be required reading for all senior dental students. I am 82 years old, work in many different situations these days...I presently work in a State Correctional Facility seeing long term incarcerated individuals; I wore coat and tie for my first 20 years of practice...then gave it up for casual that I have retired and am beginning to look my age, I have decided to and also do wear a tie and dress shirt every day I work as a dentist....I wear a full length clinic coat over my street clothes....but the collar and tie are always visible. I am more concerned now with looking like the "doctor" than I have ever been; dress the role.

Dr. Bob Allen
Hampton VA

Valerie said...

Really enjoyed this post! Especially as women in the medical profession, I feel we have to dress up to be taken more professionally. I've started wearing scrubs on a regular basis to work because I was staining/ruining too many of my "nice clothes", but I always make sure my appearance (hair, makeup, etc.) is presentable. I try to wear "nice-looking" scrubs and not have anything look too frumpy or like I slept in it. Really enjoyed reading your perspective.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the uniform concept but want the variety. So this may sound neurotic, but I have a system where mondays have their own shirt and pants, tuesday a different combination etc. that way, no thought is involved, i just grab the clothes of the specific day and off i go. gives me variety without consuming much energy

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Rebekah said...

I believe that when you look good, you feel good. Nothing says confidence than when you are comfortable and look the part. It is so easy to slip into being a little too comfortable at work as well and it affects your thought pattern I have found. Professional look, professionally attitude.

Anonymous said...

I think in some instances a uniform is defiantly called for. In hospitals, the doctors look like the nurses and they look like the domestic staff. Can't tell who's who. Get back to nurses looking like nurses. As a chambermaid I was always in a uniform. At one hotel we wore long light grey dresses ,white cap and full long aprons very similar to a late Victorian era maid. Although we all wanted this uniform "modernized", we wore it for years. The dining room/restaurant waitresses wore similar but black dresses. Kim.


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