Personal Style Stories: Emily Nghiem and Megan MacKenzie

We find real stylish people and ask them how they dress and why. In this installment, style and the medical field intersect.

Name: Emily Nghiem

Instagram: styled_by_emm

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What medical school year are you, why do you want to pursue medicine?

I’m currently in the middle of my second year. I’ve always had medicine in my life – my mom is a radiologist and when I was younger, I spent a lot of days at work with her if no one could watch me. At first, I strayed away from the idea of becoming a doctor because it almost felt too obvious, but over the years I realized that I love interacting with people and get so much gratification out of helping others. I also somewhat oddly love the hospital environment (probably from growing up around it) and can’t wait to work there.

How important do you think fashion is in medicine?

More important than people think! You want to present yourself in a polished manner so that people trust you take things seriously. That said, it’s important to still be able to express yourself in the way you dress. Doctors are people too and everyone has their own style and life outside of this career. There’s a lot of formality surrounding the doctor-patient relationship, but I think you build trust with patients if they can relate to you and see you as another person, just like themselves.

Did you ever encounter any fashion/self-expression barriers in medicine?

I really thought I would. I held off on dyeing my hair purple until after my Wayne interview since I didn’t want to risk anything, but now that I’m here I haven’t encountered any issues in school or in clinic. Same thing with tattoos. I got a pretty large back piece done last winter in Saint Petersburg and kept it under the “t-shirt line”. I also have a ribcage tattoo and a small wrist one that I cover with a watch. However, things are changing, and people are becoming a lot more accepting about things that were previously taboo. There are definitely some fashion stereotypes in medicine, but it seems like this upcoming generation of doctors will break them.

Describe your style:

This is a tough one for me since I don’t think I’ve settled down into any one style. I appreciate having the freedom to bounce from floaty dresses to chunky aviator jackets to athleisure looks. The one thing that is always a constant, though, is my love of layering. It’s fun building up an outfit and layering is a great way to add depth and get a lot of versatility out of your wardrobe.

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Biggest style inspirations:

I follow lots of bloggers/Youtubers, especially British ones, but my favorite is probably Victoria Magrath aka In the Frow. The funny thing is I don’t think I dress much like her at all – she does a lot of workwear and high fashion looks that I wouldn’t wear in my day to day life (and totally can’t afford), but I love looking at her outfits for inspiration and tend to put my own spin on them.

Favorite brands/labels:

Anything from Aritzia – I’m actually wearing shorts from them in this shoot. Everything they put out looks so effortless and the brands they stock like Babaton and Wilfred Free do the best outerwear. For denim, 7 for all mankind is my go-to brand. I’m also a fiend for designer handbags (Goyard, Balenciaga), but I like mixing them with more affordable clothes and shoes. My wallet likes that too.

Style pet peeves/what you aren’t fucking with:

I don’t love how leopard print is such a thing now. I’ve seen some people style it pretty well, but I just can’t see myself wearing it and am more than ready for it to be done now. This next one is a hospital trend – for some reason all doctors seem to own clogs..? I get that they’re comfy, but I refuse. If you ever see me in the hospital one day wearing clogs with my scrubs please stage an intervention because clearly, I’ve given up.

How does style interact with your future ambitions?

I’m excited to finally have a reason to own more workwear! Lately I’ve been seeing so many cool prints and different blazer cuts, but never pulled the trigger since I figured I wouldn’t get enough use out of them. Even though most days will probably be spent in scrubs, I can’t wait to invest in some sleek tailoring pieces for days when I need formal looks. As for the rest of the days, I’m sure I’ll still be the same style chameleon experimenting with all the latest trends.

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Name: Megan MacKenzie

Instagram: @meganmackenzi3

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What medical school year are you, why do you want to pursue medicine?

I’m currently a M2 at Wayne Med. My reasoning for going into medical school is multi-tiered - I want to help people stay healthy & happy, and can’t think of anything more rewarding than working together with patients and my community. I will forever be grateful for the doctors that helped my family battle through a chronic illness and completely change our lives around.

How important do you think fashion is in medicine?

Expressing yourself in a sterile environment such as the hospital can be difficult using only words. The majority of my day revolves around understanding diseases, treatments, and how to care for people holistically. I have always found fashion to be an important outlet for my personality and a daily reminder to care for what I and others stand for. Some of those sterile barriers can be broken down with funky glasses, vintage family jewelry, or silky scarves that can make people feel something.

Did you ever encounter any fashion/self-expression barriers in medicine?

On my first day of a clinical exam during M1, I wore chunky sneakers and bright lipstick along with my white coat. I was in a sea of white and neutral tones and mildly felt like an outlier. Although I got a few comments, none were aimed at questioning my professionalism. Luckily, I never toned down my style - it is always possible to balance a personal style flair into any professional outfit. I believe that personal style can make you stand out & allow you to achieve more personal connections.

Describe your style:

If you see me around Detroit, I’m usually rocking all black: well-worn leather jacket, Ksubi jeans, snakeskin booties, and lots of goldwear (glasses, necklaces). Oversized & repurposed men’s T-Shirts are also my go-to.

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Biggest style inspirations:

I love British streetwear & Italian leather - basically any European fashion trends, whether modern or vintage.

Favorite brands/labels:

I’m really into A.P.C., Gosha Rubchinskiy (soft spot for any Russian labels), and Reformation. If I could wear black/white hemp tees, leather booties, and as much gold jewelry as possible, that would be my ultimate look.

Style pet peeves/what you aren’t fucking with:

Everyone falling into a white sneaker trend that doesn’t click with their personal style. I also find large logos to be overwhelming.

How does style interact with your future ambitions?

As a female medical doctor, I will continue to advocate for women’s health equity & lead a platform for discussions regarding medical biases towards women. Having a balance with your professional & trendy attire is key to opening more humanistic discussions. Style is definitely a way to represent my feminism to the world. As a side/future passion project, I’m interested in making hemp-based scrubwear that is softer & more environmentally-friendly.

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