What To Wear at Your White Coat Ceremony

The white coat ceremony is a considerable milestone in the lives of all medical students. This special and memorable ceremony marks the beginning of the student’s future career in medicine or healthcare. Such an iconic moment requires an outfit that rises to the occasion, but you need to be careful if you want to avoid any fashion faux pas.

In this article, we’ll be giving you some tips and examples of what to wear at your white coat ceremony.

If you follow these hints when choosing your outfit, you’ll feel comfortable, and confident and have no trouble commanding attention for all the right reasons.

What To Wear at Your White Coat Ceremony

You’ll want to dress to impress under your white coat, of course, but you should also remember that medicine is quite a conservative field. Most universities advise their students to go for a “business casual” outfit, an intermediate style between casual and business formal.

Related: Medical Student Attire (The Ultimate Guide On What To Wear In Med School)

If you have no idea what these words mean, there’s nothing to worry about! We’ll be giving you some general tips that you can apply when shopping for your white coat ceremony outfit. We’ll also be providing a few examples of different styles for both women and men. 

General Tips

Here are a few foolproof tips that you should take into consideration before choosing an outfit for the white coat ceremony:

  • Keep it Classy. Business casual can roughly translate to presentable and professional-looking dresses/outfit combinations for the women and dress slacks paired with button-down shirts for the men. Avoid anything that looks and feels sloppy, baggy, skin-tight, and too short.
  • No Short Skirts. Ladies, make sure your skirts/dresses are no shorter than a few inches above the knee. You don’t want it to look like you’re not wearing anything underneath your white coat.
  • Comfort and Confidence. These ceremonies are usually lengthy, and you’ll be taking several pictures with family, friends, and classmates. Make sure you’re dressed comfortably yet still feeling confident in what you’re wearing.
  • Stay Away from White. There’s no rule forbidding you to wear a white outfit to the ceremony however, covering a white outfit with a white coat might be too much. There are many fun colors, prints, and patterns to choose from.
  • Minimal Accessories. If your outfit is simple, you can make it more interesting with the right accessories. Just make sure they’re minimal and tasteful. Women should also opt for closed-toe shoes.

Styles for Women

Women can choose between many different appropriate styles for their white coat ceremony. Depending on their tastes in fashion and what they feel comfortable using, they can wear dresses, pantsuits, or even pair a nice blouse with a skirt or pants.


Women should opt for dress styles that fit well underneath the white coat. Avoid dresses with too much volume and try choosing something that flatters your silhouette. Sheath dresses, wrap dresses, and fit and flare dresses are always good options.

Dark colors always look professional, but you can also experiment with pastels, jewel-toned colors, and even subtle prints and patterns. Remember to keep your dress at a length no higher than a few inches above the knee, and don’t forget to watch out for the neckline.


Some women might feel more comfortable and empowered in a pantsuit, which is also a great style option for the white coat ceremony. Choose an outfit that’s well-fitted to your body. If you choose to wear pants try going for a slim fit and if you’re going for a skirt, a pencil skirt will always look flattering under your white coat.

Blouse with Skirt/Pants

It might also be fun to match individual pieces and pair a nice blouse with a skirt or pants. A good chiffon blouse always pairs up nicely with a pencil skirt or well-fitted pants. If you go for subtle-colored bottoms you can play around with the color and style of the blouse, and vice-versa.

Styles for Men

You might think that a white coat ceremony requires men to wear a full suit, but that’s not necessarily true. Most male students actually skip the suit jacket because it’s not very comfortable wearing it under the white coat. 

You want to be able to endure the entire ceremony and still look great for your pictures. Wearing a full suit under your white coat might leave you sweating and that is never a good look on anyone on these occasions.

Dress Slacks with Button-Down Shirt

This is by far the best outfit choice for men. You can never go wrong when pairing some tailored dress slacks with a dress shirt or a smart button-down shirt. Color-wise you can play with dark colors, like navy blue and black, or even go for lighter colors like greys and tans. With this combo, you’ll always look classic and clean.

What Is a White Coat Ceremony?

The white coat ceremony is quite a recent event that marks the moment in which incoming first-year students take their first steps in their profession, by donning their first white coat. All medicine and healthcare students go through this rite of passage.

This is where they also swear the Hippocratic Oath, in which they promise to take care of their patients while always following ethical codes. Friends and family are usually present to commemorate the occasion and present the student with a token (like a piece of equipment such as a stethoscope).

Check out the video below for more on what goes on at a white coat ceremony…

What Does the White Coat Symbolize?

The white coat that first-year students wear during the ceremony is a symbol of the professionalism and commitment they’re having towards their future careers as surgeons and physicians. It is also something that distinguishes them from other medical professionals who don’t use a white coat, traditionally.

For the white coat ceremony, students wear a shorter version of the white coat, and not the full-length lab coat. This is also a way to represent that these students are only at the beginning of their journeys in the medical field, taking their first steps to become doctors, nurses, veterinaries, pharmacists, or any other type of medical professional.

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