Privilege Blog

A PrescriptIon For A New Student Wardrobe

As I’ve mentioned before, my daughter will soon start medical school in Southern California. She graduated from college in 2009, and has been working for a medical equipment company ever since. At a desk, I should add, not in a lab or production facility. As a result, she’s got a good set of work clothes, and the usual Wore Them In College And Are Falling Apart pairs of jeans and t-shirts. Nothing quite right for the casual, sleepless, life of a medical school student.

And it’s her birthday, on Saturday.

You can imagine the packages on their way right about now.


Untitled #173

Almost every single piece above is from Uniqlo. My approach was to find t-shirts, jeans, and a jean jacket all at one low-cost, good-quality source. I chose a pair of colored skinnies, and a pair of boyfriend jeans to vary the style and allow for both tight and loose pants days. I relied on Uniqlo’s broad range of colors to come up with some outfits that would be completely simple but still fun on a blue-eyed redhead.

Don’t worry, the clothes I actually chose are slightly different than what you see here, so a little bitty surprise remains even if she’s reading.

Nor should you worry about her shoes, as I know some of you just might. She’s already got hand-me-ups of three pairs of shoes I bought for myself, blue Cole Haan oxfords, suede Anniel oxfords, and black Camper Nina sandals. It’s nice to have feet half a size larger than your mom, especially when that mom has a horror of tight shoes and therefore sizes up way too often.

Oh, and the outlier shirt? The One Of These Is Not Like The Other piece? A Comme des Garçons Play tee like the one I wear, only green. If children are your heart worn outside your body, best make that heart as fierce as you can.

Happy birthday, punkin! Hey, wait! When do I start calling you Dr. Punkin?


39 Responses

  1. Most of the first two years will be classroom based, but there is usually some sort of weekly experience in a clinical setting. At least in my part of the world (New England) denim is not acceptable for those sessions. Her “work” clothes will be fine, but it takes a bit of practice to get the outfits to work with the white coat. Any interesting 3rd piece- jacket, cardigan, etc. gets lost. Neutral column dressing with the interest in the jacket becomes a solid black, navy or whatever, with a white coat. An interesting top/shirt works well with the white coat. White shirts/tops do not. Wish her good luck for me.

    1. I so appreciate that everyone’s chimed in here with actual working knowledge. I think a post on how to dress as a doctor would be wonderful. Anyone want to volunteer? At least to be reviewers of a Polyvore I would put together based on the principles articulated here?

  2. These all look like ideal choices for her, classic and comfortable while still being stylish. We both have a fondness for Comme des Garçons!
    Sending you and your whiz of a daughter a smile,

  3. Also, in terms of accessories, scarves and statement necklaces tend to get caught in stethoscopes. Rings and bracelets need to be fairly low profile without prominent prongs. Dangling earrings are a hazard when examining very young children during pediatric experiences. Hope some of this is practical and/or helpful to her!

  4. Happy Birthday Dr. Punkin!

    I’m looking at that white coat and thinking how much it reads like a signature AllSaints look. Heck, pop that collar, push up those sleeves some, belt it, slide into some sandals and [as my mother would say] “You can go to the White House.” Don’t we all need something this versatile.

    And Happy GaveBirthDay to the mother of this radiant gifted child!

  5. Happy Birthday to your daughter! Congrats on med school- love your presents for her!

  6. Happy Birthday and best of luck to your daughter, Lisa.

    DocP has nailed it in the clothes department.

    Comfortable shoes are a must. I remain in awe of the girls who sailed through the clinical years and beyond in heels.

    SSG xxxx

    1. I managed to get through med school, residency and the early practice years in heels. Unfortunately, I didn’t stop buying heels for at least 10 years after I could comfortably wear heels at work. Now I live in comfortable flats or kitten heels.

  7. I love the clothes.

    Laughing at both Doc P and SSGs comments re heels.

    I think save heels for the days when you think you may need a little extra ferocity…and make sure you can run in them!

  8. Happy Birthday to Dr. Daughter!
    What a thoughtful mom you are to select such lovely ensembles for her that I know she will love and look great in!

  9. Buying clothes for daughters never gets old, does it? And launching them into their grown-up lives well-dressed feels like a natural extension of sending them off to the first day of school or their senior prom. Wouldn’t want fashion choices to trip them up. Just this past weekend I was out buying lady lawyer shoes with my law student daughter helping her transition from flip flops into patent leather slingbacks for her upcoming interview season. Best of luck to your grown-up girl and Happy Birthday to you, too!

  10. As a current med student I would be interested in a continuation of this series. Buying professional clothing that works with a white coat is certainly a challenge. I always feel a bit drab in comparison to my friends in other careers and I don’t feel patients will take me seriously if I dress trendy.

  11. We don’t wear white coats in the UK. They have been banned by the infection control police, which is so extraordinarily dumb it doesn’t merit further discussion.

    However, my tuppenceworth on the smart-but-washable, professional-but-not-boardroom-or-boring question for clinical attachments is:
    1). Washable dark clothing. You shouldn’t get blood or excreta on your clothes, but occasionally it happens. And biros (of which there will be plenty), leak.
    2). Anything but a fine necklace you can tuck into your sweater is a potential hazard. People can be dangerous, especially when they’re sick, and it’s best not to given them any opportunity. A colleague of mine, wearing a small handbag (see the No White Coats policy above. You need somewhere to keep your handbook) was strangled by a psychotic patient in the ED with her own bag. She is fine now, but if he hadn’t been small old and weak, she might not have been.
    3). Big rings can tear your gloves, and make thorough hand washing (the 7 Steps!) difficult.
    4). Alcohol gel (do you use this in the US?) bleaches clothes and shoes. So if you care desperately about some fine leather shoes or a fabulous dark wool pair of trousers, don’t wear them to work.
    5). If you can stand in them all day and run to an arrest call should you need to, wear heels! They help with the whole smart-and-assertive thing when you can’t let the rest of your clothes do the talking.
    6). Makeup, ditto. Not too much, but enough to show that you care.
    7). Your stethoscope is your best friend. And you wear it every day, so choose it with care! Mine is a Litman III Cardiology in black, a fine stethoscope and one which suits me. I wear a lot of black anyway, and I like not standing out, but lots of my brunette friends chose maroon, which looks great. A red-headed friend has a green one, and looks very handsome with it. (He also wears green shoes. He looks fabulous).
    8). You need to be comfortable enough in your clothes to forget about them. Because there are way more important things to think about when you’re at work.

    Good luck and happy birthday to your daughter! And make sure she has some clothes to have fun in, too! Because nothing is more important.


  12. Dansko closed back clogs are excellent for people on their feet that still need to look professional. They come in a variety of textures that allow *wet stuff * to slide off and the soles are non-skid. The arch support is good. Your toes have room to wiggle too. The comfort of her feet should be one less thing to worry about.

  13. This is the sweetest birthday care package. I especially love that you kept it simple except for the splurge, which is still simple, but with a design pedigree and most importantly a meaning.

    How cute is “Dr. Punkin!” My poor mother has been lamenting her habit of calling me what, in translation, is essentially “babykins” or “kid-kid.” She claims it makes her forget that I’m an adult, and I agree. :) If only there was a handy professional prefix for lawyers with which to update it.

  14. I love your posts to/about your children! Your love for them really shines through.

    Happy birthday Dr. Punkin! (Does that make you Mama Dr. Punkin? ;) )

  15. How wonderful to have a daughter starting medical school. We need wonderful doctors and, if she is like her mom, she will be compassionate, caring–and very very smart! Happy Birthday to Punkin!

    Susan D., Dallas

  16. Lovely post! And quite a challenge to work with so little. What also comes to mind is ear studs, not big ones, but enhancing eye colour or relating to features or style preferences will, together with a neat hairstyle have a nice effect. I read somewhere that a waterproof cheapie watch is also recommendable, I guess one could have fun with that …
    It’s just great what your daughter is undertaking.

  17. This is such a timely post! I’m starting grad school (at Princeton, in fact) in the fall and have gotten some very similar pieces. Do you have any advice for interesting and appropriate shoes for this kind of situation? I won’t be on my feet as much as a doctor-in-training might, but heels still seem to formal and converse too casual.

  18. I love your med school picks. Having to spend so much time with med students and residents myself, I often find myself lamenting their dreary choices and lack of colour, even when they get to choose their clothes….,meanwhile the rest of us toil in shapeless scrubs and lab coats. In grad school, I used to refer to them as “the bereaved” on their interview day, because of all the dreary dark suits. My hat goes off to you for inspiring the next generation to be more lighthearted and colorful in their choices.

    1. Maybe you will help me with a medical style post???? I still owe you on on over-40. It’s coming. I promise.

    2. Sometimes we have to break awful, terrible, life-shattering news, and we do spend time with the real bereaved. Personally I wouldn’t feel quite appropriate or respectful doing that in purple tights.

  19. Wow! I’m starting medical school at a Southern California university tomorrow as well! I’ve been up worrying (probably needlessly, but it’s also the excitement, I think) about what business casual means for medical school, exactly. Good luck to your daughter!

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