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Brrrr! Cold Weather Fashion Options for Nurses

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It’s that wonderful time of year where it’s freezing outside, sometimes inside, and sometimes your patient room feels like a sauna.

How do you keep your cool without feeling cold in the wintertime?

We’ve got the scoop for what to wear over and under those scrubs to stay comfortable, functional, and fashionable.

Let’s start with under options.

The advantages:

  • Under layers tend to keep you more comfortable all day. They are usually thinner and not bulky, so it’s easy to move. If you get a little warm, you will want to push up the sleeves, so be wary of anything too tight, or that will stretch out if you push the sleeves up your arms.  
  • Transparency isn’t usually an issue unless you plan to use the long sleeve shirt as your whole uniform.

The disadvantages:

  • You’re committed. Unless you want to make a bathroom run, that shirt isn’t going anywhere quickly. If you get hot, you stay hot, so that unexpected round of CPR may make your undershirt unbearable. 
  • There are no pockets to be found in your standard long-sleeve T, which means packrats are going to need a belt to keep all your stuff in your pants pockets. 

Our picks:

Undershirts like these are easy to find and surprisingly cheap. You don’t have to buy them from the uniform store unless you are looking for better durability.

Some of our favorites include these Silvon shirts from amazon. They come in a pack of three, and reviewers say they are soft and stretchy, with sleeves that are long enough but stay put. With a wide variety of colors, you can probably find one to match your uniform.

If you prefer something a little more sporty, with moisture-wicking and a bit of compression (read: tight fit), try the Neleus brand. These are also sold in a pack of three, and nurse reviewers noted that the shirts kept them warm, washed well, and stayed dry throughout the shift. 

If you want known durability and scrub-worthy design, WonderWink and Cherokee both have some excellent undershirt options. The cost per item is a little higher, but it’s safe to say that real nurses and doctors have tested them out in the hospital environment. Scrubs and Beyond is a great place to see a wide variety of brands. 

Over the top options

Advantages:

  • Jackets can layer over scrubs and are easily removed after that quick run to another unit for supplies (Why is central so far away?). They can vary in weight, fabric, and design to function as a light layer all the way up to full coat mode.

Disadvantages:

  • Jackets sometimes have a habit of hanging in the way. The thicker variety can’t be pushed up to your elbows to avoid code browns or other less than desirable messiness.
  • Jackets also have a habit of going missing, especially your favorite ones. Maybe you left it on your chair, or perhaps that float nurse stole it…. either way, it can be harder to keep track of your stuff if you are constantly adding or removing layers.

Our picks:

You have a lot of choices in jackets, so let’s start with the standard scrub jacket. These are usually pretty lightweight but benefit from (so) many pockets. In addition, they are made with the same fabrics used in your scrubs, so they tend to wash well, dry well, and often have stain-blocking materials. This Urbane Unlimited option is a fashionable statement with all the right touches, including pockets and fabric cuffs that allow you to push up the sleeves.  

Your options don’t end at actual scrub styles, though. Many running or yoga jackets feature a couple of pockets and have moisture-wicking options. Just remember that those thumb holes are your infection prevention team’s worst nightmare, so don’t use them. This lightly fleeced one on Amazon comes in many standard scrub colors and has a lot of stretch while still feeling fitted. 

If you are looking for something warmer, fleece is your best friend. It washes well, rarely stains, and will definitely keep the temperature up. However, remember that your hospital may not approve of hoods, so choose wisely.

No matter your pick, label the inside with your name and your unit, so you have a chance at getting that lost jacket back.

What do you like to chase away the winter blues? Let us know in the comments!

Amanda Ernst, DNP, RN, CEN

Amanda Ernst, DNP, RN, CEN

Author

Amanda is an ER nurse with 10 years of healthcare experience. She currently works as a nurse educator and as an adjunct professor for several schools. She also works as a freelance healthcare writer in her spare time. Amanda thinks the greatest thing about nursing is the endless possibilities and opportunities to learn. What have you learned today?

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