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Monday, June 17, 2013

Daily Wear: The Doctor’s Dress Shirt


It’s unusual for a man’s shirt to be a primary concern in his ensemble; avoiding egregious color or pattern clashes is sufficient for most needs. A doctor, however, is primarily an expanse of white cloth — a blank canvas. The shirt and tie stand out as the color and pattern that define your fashion when you wear a lab coat, so choosing them becomes a significant decision. Where most men invest in bespoke suits and other custom tailoring, your wardrobe budget will want to focus on quality suits and ties. The fit of your shirt will largely be hidden by the coat (although a shirt that is too loose will “balloon” around the trouser waist), but its pattern, buttons, and collar are clearly visible — those are the places to focus your efforts.
There are several different styles of men’s dress shirt collars to choose from, and you will want whatever frames your face best. Very generally speaking, narrow-faced men will want a wider collar spread, while thicker-faced doctors do best with a steeply-pointed collar. Button-down collars, while slightly less formal in the business world, are still perfectly appropriate and may be the most practical option for a hospital, since they are less likely to be flipped up or set askew by movement or the use of a stethoscope.
Very bright or bold-patterned shirts can seem informal, and clash with the plain white of a hospital coat, so your best fabric choices are usually textured solids: plain colors in a patterned weave.

A subtle texture makes this more than just another blue dress shirt.
Modest patterns like pinstripes are acceptable, but try to avoid bold windowpanes or checks — these will make you look like a computer programmer stuffed into a doctor’s coat, rather than the medical expert you want your patients to see. Anything with a white base is worth avoiding, since it matches your coat too closely. An often-neglected detail, the front of your shirt should be of good quality; mother-of-pearl buttons will be thinner and more appealing than plastic, while on the left side of the shirt you should look for a French placket, which simply means that the panel where the buttonholes are is formed by creasing the shirt over rather than sewing a new strip of cloth down the front.
It should go without saying, but between the long hours and high stress, doctors benefit even more from undershirts than most men. Don’t skimp here — buy absorbent, high-quality V-neck undershirts. They will surely be put to the test, so avoid “value packs” of shrink-wrapped undershirts made from synthetic blends.

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