142 Professional Clothes and a Smile!

Based on research by Lill, M., & Wilkinson, T. (2005), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.

First impressions are important, so how can you dress for success?

New Zealand researchers assessed patients’ preferences regarding their doctor’s style of dress and introductions.  Their study consisted of 450 patients in a hospital setting. Participants viewed photographs of doctors wearing different dress styles and rated their level of comfort with particular items of appearance.

Results revealed patients preferred doctors who wore semi-business attire (tie, no suit coat, dress shoes) and who had a smiling face. The next preference was semi business attire without a smiling face followed by those who wore a white coat, formal suit, casual dress, and jeans. Older patients preferred white coats. Patients favored doctors who wore conservative clothing such as long sleeves, closed-toed shoes, and dress pants or skirts. These items were preferred, again especially by the elderly, over less conservative items such as short tops, facial piercings, brightly dyed hair, several rings, and earrings worn by men. In addition, most patients selected to be called by their first name, but preferred doctors to introduce themselves by their full name and title.

Professional appearance does matter for everyone. If you want to make a good first impression, dress professionally and especially don’t forget to smile!


Lill, M. M., & Wilkinson, T. J. (2005). Judging a book by its cover: descriptive survey of patients’            preferences for doctors’ appearance and mode of address. BMJ, 331(7531), 1524-1527.

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