Medical Interpreter Dress Code: What Not to Wear

what not to wear

Welcome back!  We are discussing the importance of a dress code and how your organization can develop one.  Whether you are a group of free-lance interpreters or part of a healthcare system, a dress code has the power to change the perceptions of your role as a professional.  Last time we looked at ID badges.  Today we're going to take a look at colors and how you can use them to your benefit.


Never underestimate the impact of color.  There are color experts that specialize in everything from walls to drapes, makeup to clothes.  But don’t let colors scare you.  You don’t have to be a color guru or a fashion expert to establish a successful dress code.  All you have to do is consider what not to wear.

You’re a great medical interpreter so you work a lot.  Because you work a lot, you will be wearing these clothes often.  You don’t want to spend a fortune but you want to look nice and professional. 

The colors you choose should be easily found at any big box store.  Avocado green and tangerine orange are great colors but it’s unlikely you’ll find them year round, if at all.  

Let’s talk about yellow.  This is a tough one because it can be really difficult to match well.  Yellow creates all sorts of problems, especially if pairing it with light colored bottoms. 

Have you ever seen someone on the street and you ask yourself:  Did they look in the mirror today?  That top does NOT match those pants.  To sum it up, keep away from yellow.

Take caution if you’re considering bright colors. Remember, you want to be recognizable, yet maintain neutrality, even in your presentation.

Bright is great if you’re coloring or if you want to be noticed in a large crowd.  But in a small setting, like an exam room, you’ll look like a beacon someone will want to turn off.  

I like to mix and match and have a little flair. 

But here is my last tip on what not to wear:  NEVER wear patterns.  EVER. 

Remember, we don’t want people to confuse you with someone off the street.  Stick to these color guidelines.  You’re first impression will thank you for it!

Keep It Simple Silly!

Stick with BLUE, BLACK, GRAY and KHAKI.  You can find any number of hues in these colors. They’ll all look great.  They’re easy to find and your avocado and tangerine accessories will look great, no matter the combination you choose!

When deciding your dress code it’s best to keep things neutral.  Keep in mind that sign language interpreters need a dark background so their hands are easily seen by the patients.   At least one color should be a good contrast to skin tone.  

Let me know what colors you have in your dress code and how they make you feel. 

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Posted on April 11, 2014 and filed under Interpreter, Manager.