The saying goes, you can wear many hats. In my personal experience of wearing many hats, there comes many shoes, blouses, culottes, blazers, leggings, yoga pants, scrubs, and labcoats. Standing in my closet it is quite easy to believe that there could be 2 different people living here.
In my late 20’s I used my wardrobe as a way to define myself. What did I think a strong, empowered woman running a Chiropractic practice looked like? She wore a blazer and stilettos every single day. I like to think of it as my pantsuit nation period, and we all know Hillary Clinton rocked that. Truthfully, I felt a lot of pressure to dress to the nines everyday. Did patients really trust me more in a blazer, blouse, red bottoms, and pearls?
While treating patients in my office, there were a few repeated wardrobe incidents that made me start to think about appearance. For those that have been to a Chiropractor, you are aware of the hands on technique. For those that haven’t, it takes work. A low back adjustment can feel like being twisted into a pretzel while laying on your side. As a practitioner the technique is using your body as a lever to get the correct force. I have to reposition patients, move legs, arms, necks, and then use my body to apply a quick, gentle force to get that pop! Ahhh spinal alignment.
It is far from a sedentary job. True story: I have ripped the armpit seam of many blazers while treating patients. I have also popped buttons off my favorite button up blouses. Thankfully wearing a labcoat covered up these wardrobe malfunctions, but getting home to discover that I needed to fix another article of clothing was getting frustrating. It took dozens of these incidents for me to start thinking about scrubs. I didn’t want to accept it because I felt like a pair of scrubs made me look like a potato sack. The mere thought of shopping for scrubs made me uncomfortable. Was I going to go from stilettos to scrubs? All I could think about was how could I let go of my power outfit: the blazer. It took some time for me to realize that I was creating my own barrier, blocking my power from within.
In a recent Quartz article General Motors CEO Mary Barra replaced GM’s previously 10-page dress code with two words: “Dress appropriately”. At that time in my life when I was resisting the switch to scrubs, I was resisting the idea that they were appropriate. There is a lot of pressure to dress a certain way. Self judgement was creating a negative space for me. A shift in my mindset didn’t happen until I experienced wearing scrubs consistently for 2 weeks.
True story: It is much easier to treat patients in scrubs and sneakers, and much easier to see more patients in a day. I was worried about missing that feeling I get with a blazer, however; putting on scrubs felt equally important in a different and liberating way.
I am still doing the same job with the same rewards. Patients trusted me because of my ability to listen to them and provide a high level of patient care. Your uniform should support your daily tasks. Choose what assists you to be your BEST, most effective self. Be presentable, be you.