What do you wear to work each day? Khakis and a polo shirt, scrubs, or a crisply pressed dress shirt and slacks? For the women in our audience, do you favor dresses, fashionable blouses and dress pants or scrubs?

chiropractor in business clothesThe clothes you wear to work have a psychological impact and can effect your mood and attitude. They can help you face the day with enthusiasm, or leave you feeling like you’re ready to crawl back into bed.

Usually your clothes are one of the first things people notice about you. Your attire is a classic form of non-verbal communication. And like it or not, your clothing will be factored into any opinion your patients form about you.

Your choice of clothing will shape people’s opinion about your:

  • intelligence
  • credibility
  • professionalism

Most of us acknowledge that work clothing is different from what we’d wear to an evening party or a baseball game.

ECG, a New Jersey company that specializes in helping people communicate more effectively, offers the following advice, “When you’re in front of a group giving a presentation, making a speech or just plain talking, you need to choose your attire to match the event. For example, you will typically want to dress one notch of formality above your audience.”

As a chiropractor, every day you face a captive audience. Each patient is looking to you for help and advice. If your overall demeanor and appearance communicates authority, your patient will be more likely to follow your guidance with confidence. Your clothing can help influence your patients’ opinions.

So what if your preferred working attire is scrubs? What image are you conveying?

Historically, scrubs have been used by surgeons while performing surgery. They are casual clothes that can be easily washed. Once out of the surgical arena, most doctors change back into more formal attire.

Ask yourself why you are wearing scrubs? Do you feel it conveys a professional image? Or are you reaching for scrubs simply because, your business wardrobe is limited and scrubs offer an easy low cost alternative? Or maybe because scrubs simplify your morning routine…

There are no hard a fast rules when it come to what you should wear to the office.If your patient base is extremely casual, then scrubs may be the perfect choice. But if not, you may want to step it up a notch.

Here are a few general tips:

  • Your clothes should not distract. Avoid wearing loud patterns or overly trendy clothes
  • To appeal to a broad audience lean toward more conservative dress.
  • Clothing should be wrinkle free (This includes scrubs!)
  • Keep your hair and nail well-groomed

Don’t forget your shoes

Take a look down at your feet. Do your shoes convey an image of professionalism or do they make it seem like your bank account has seen better days? Good, un-scuffed leather shoes enhance the appearance of success. So if your shoes are showing signs of wear, dig out a jar of shoe polish or grab a professional shoeshine.

Clothing is an extremely individual choice. When choosing your work attire you should consider the balance between your physical and psychological comfort. If you’re someone who chafes at the idea of wearing a tie, conservative dress may not be right for you. But be aware that too much self-expression could be distracting to your patients.

To sum up, think about the impressions you’re making with your clothing choices and think about whether they match your practice goals. If not, maybe a trip to the local mall is in order.

About the Author

2 Responses to A Chiropractor’s Guide to Dressing for Success
  1. I have to say that, in almost 17 years of practice, my favorite outfit in the office was scrubs. Easy to get in and out of for those days when I made multiple runs back and forth to the practice, easy to wash too, they have always been my fave and I have several matched sets and several pairs of sneakers too which are super comfy when you’re seeing 60 to 70 patients a day.

  2. it’s a matter of non-verbal communication in the realm of persuasion. If you have no message to send, then non-verbals wouldn’t apply, but in any business you cannot neglect your persuassive power in non-verbal messaging. The primary areas of persuassion are: attractiveness, likeability, authority, and fear. There is one more, but I can’t think it off the top of my head… There are many many other non-verbal commincation pathways, wradrobe is simply just one. YOur ehight, voice, and gender will be sending messages. (not being sexist, but authority follows masculinity and likeability follows femininity.) If someone has a very deep, or very loud voice, we interpret a non-verbal opinion. The above commenter mentioned wearing scrubs while still seeing 60-70 patients a day. This is obviously a situation wear scrubs is sending a complimentary message for ultimate powers of persuassion addressing confidence and trust in this Dr’s skill. Other non-verbals are the design flow of the actualu building, the decor, the number of assistance, location, etc… This Dr., for example, could be very tall, male and homely (I don’t know you, so you could also be a beautiful female, or a studly male model type 😉 my point is that likeability would be lacking in his particular physical frame; scrubs would certainly address and life his likeability, thus actually enhancing his powers of persuassion in his skill and competence! My observation is that shorter, more bubbly men seek out a chiropractic profession. Not sure why, maybe it’s the sales involvement (?) At any rate, if a persona is very social, authority almost always is helpful built up through a professional wardrobe.

    PR graduate, Chiropractic patient of more than 30 years regularity (more than 8 Drs. due to many moves). Interpersonal Communication Specialist (career jumping to D.C. program)

    Excellent article. Just sharing some additional points to ponder

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