Bringing Personal Style to Private Practice
how fashion fits in at a doctor’s office
You may not have heard the term “white-coat hypertension,” but you’ve likely experienced it. It’s that anxiety that hits when you visit a doctor, causing your blood pressure to rise as physicians in intimidating uniforms buzz around you. Ontario doctor Chad Stewart is aware of how unsettling lab coats can be for patients, so when he opened his own practice last year, he embraced the emerging movement of throwing out the white coat altogether.
“The old school way of dressing at work is lab coats,” he says over beet salad and charcuterie at Lavelle, Toronto’s swanky King West eatery. “They’re not hygienic and they make people nervous.”
Fashion and medicine may seem like an unlikely pairing, but there’s logic behind adopting an affable work style. At his Belleville, Ont. family practice, Chad carefully considers how he dresses: too formal and he seems unrelatable; too casual and he looks unprofessional. The 27-year-old strikes a happy medium by weaving hints of his personality into his wardrobe, through details like patterned socks and colourful pocket squares. For Chad, who has the fresh-face of a budding entrepreneur and the vibrancy to match, looking put together means getting taken seriously—especially by older patients. Plus, being known as a dapper dresser is never bad for business.
“King x Portland allows you to show off your sock, but still be conservative,” he says. “The designs blend well into my lifestyle.”
Growing up in Lindsay, Ont., Chad left his small town in 2010 to study medicine in the Caribbean. While training to be a general practitioner, Chad was inspired by the vast cultural influences around him. Study placements in bustling U.S. cities like Miami, L.A. and New York opened his eyes to how professional aesthetics varied in different environments.
“In L.A. I noticed doctors wearing skinny ties, and they were making more of a fashion statement,” Chad remembers. “They had ‘bowtie days’ and more personality.”
While conveying casual sophistication helps ease patients’ anxiety, running a successful medical practice isn’t as simple as dressing the part. Working between 60-80 hours a week, Chad has to deal with financial advisors, lawyers and accountants on a regular basis. It’s a lot of moving parts, but with his dad running his own company, and his brother having his own practice, too, being a businessman is in Chad’s blood. When the doctor does have spare time, he leaves his house in Prince Edward County and jet-sets to new cities, soaking up exotic cultures and finding style inspiration. But when he needs a close-to-home getaway, Chad finds comfort in Toronto.
“Between catching a Toronto Maple Leafs game or finding a new brunch spot and exploring Kensington Market, the city has what I’m looking for,” he says. “The culture is always evolving and never ceases to spark my sense of adventure.”
Whether he’s treating patients in Belleville or boarding a flight to Europe, Chad’s sense of style goes where he does. And, even on the busiest of days, Chad makes sure his fashion choices are deliberate — starting with his feet.