What to Wear: White Coat Ceremony Edition

You guys may remember the phenomenal guest post from my friend Z, an incoming medical student at the University of Michigan. She runs a great blog where she (1) describes her experience to get into medical school, (2) provides advice for medical students, and (3) intends to detail the highs-and-lows of medical school. I am happy to announce that today, one of my guest posts is live on Z’s blog. Check it out — and let me know what you think!

Edit: in light of Z’s moving on from her blog, the original post will be posted below.

Hi Everyone!

I’m really excited to feature a guest post on my blog by Ajibike Lapite who blogs at Stilettos + Sthethoscopes. Ajibike keeps a very vibrant blog that details her transition into life in New Orleans as an MD/MPH candidate at Tulane. I highly recommend you stop by her blog once you read her guest post. As someone who wants to detail parts of her medical school experience, I thoroughly enjoy reading Ajibike’s detailed posts about her life.

Now, without any further delay, here is a great fashion post related to the White Coat Ceremony for those of us who struggle with fashion!

The countdown begins: two weeks until the white coat ceremony — the initiation of my medical education. Although I’m anxious about the impending coursework (and the dire need to up my memorization skills), I find another question more pressing: what should I wear to the white coat ceremony? My online research has left me with no answers, but I have hassled many a M2 and M3 about proper attire for the white coat ceremony and have compiled this information into this guide. Sorry boys, this is for the ladies.

What to Wear: The White Coat Ceremony Edition

Although the white coat ceremony is not universal in nature, at most medical schools, the ceremony is reverent and formal. And so, the general consensus is that attire should be professional. Ugh. Professional. If you’re like me, the word harkens images of black slacks, black blazers, and cream/white tops. Plain. Vanilla. Devoid of Personality. This doesn’t have to be the case: professional attire does not have to be boring! I hope to share with you a couple of tips so that you can put together a beautiful, professional, and photo-friendly outfit.

The Basics

A common question that I’ve heard about the white coat ceremony attire is: should I wear slacks, a skirt, or a dress? Dresses are far more common at white coat ceremonies, and I recommend dresses because they tend to be quite flattering (and easier to accessorize), but slacks and skirts are definitely acceptable. Due to the popularity of dresses at white coat ceremonies, I’ll mostly focus on how to find an appropriate dress. However, you should opt for whatever makes you the most comfortable. If you do go for the slacks or a skirt, ditch the blazer — it’s completely unnecessary. Avoid tops with decorative features around the neck (such as ruffles). Although those tops are undeniably cute, they will look quite strange underneath the white coat. This advice extends to dresses as well; busy necklines on dresses are not recommended.


Avoid white at all costs; you really don’t want to layer a white coat on top of a white blouse or a white dress. Although a trusty LBD is wonderful for most occasions, the white coat ceremony is really not the place. Although the event calls for professional attire, you do not have to wear black. If you want to wear a demure color, opt for grey or navy instead.

Don’t want to wear navy? No problem! Be sure that the shade of your clothing is not too bright/neon. When paired with the white coat, your bright dress / top will look more fluorescent than you intended. You really don’t want it to look as though you confused your white coat ceremony for a rave—that’d be awkward. In the same vein, avoid clothing made of shiny material.

A two-toned dress / color-blocked dress could be extremely interesting (and cute) if done well. The appropriateness depends, highly, on the style of the dress.

To Belt or Not to Belt

Trust me: avoid the dresses with belts. The short coat, depending on your height/frame, paired with a belted dress could make your proportions look off — no ideal for photos. If you want to give the illusion of a smaller waist, opt for a fit-and-flare dress.

Prints & Asymmetry

Asymmetry is a definite no. Prints…now this is more complicated. Floral dresses tend to be extremely casual, and so I would say that floral prints are completely out of the question. Some printed dresses are acceptable, but it really does depend on the style/cut of the dress. Prints are generally out of the question for tops paired with slacks or skirts—some stripped shirts could be appropriate.

Best Dress Styles

(1) Fit-and-flare

(2) Shift dress

(3) Sheath dress

Forbidden Dress Styles

(1) Maxi dresses

(2) Sundresses

(3) Peplum dresses

The Obvious Rules

1. Avoid cut-outs.

2. Avoid dresses shorter than the white coat.

3. Keep the neckline…up.


Keep it simple: black heels or black flats.

If you’re like me, you like to shop on a budget. One of my favorite places to shop for high-quality clothing, for a greatly reduced price, is Ideeli: a flash sales site that has a ton of Jessica Simpson, and Tahari dresses on a regular basis.

Okay, so that was a lot of information (and opinions) but make sure to take this advice with a grain of salt. Like I said, not all white coat ceremonies are the same, and so the rules are not hard-and-fast. If your white coat ceremony is coming up fast, let me know in the comment box below what you plan to wear (photos are always appreciated!). If you have questions about the ‘rules’ above or even an addendum, I’d love to hear those too.

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