Nurse uniforms. It’s about form and fashion!

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COVID hasn’t been a good year for most things, but nurse fashion has taken a step up. It’s the wild wild west out there, and nurses started caring less about the norms and more about what works for them, what keeps them safe, and what’s easy.

After all, with short staffing, super sick patients, and tons of PPE, what nurse wants to fish in the bottom of a pocket for anything?
You may recall the great tucked or untucked debate (you can read more on that here), but nurse style goes way beyond shirts.

A step up from your usual scrubs

Let’s be honest, scrubs didn’t use to be the most fashionable outfit you’d wear. Boxy shirts, industrial fabrics, and one-size-fits… no one has transitioned into high-tech materials meant to keep you clean, cool, and comfortable.

Companies like Figs, Grey’s Anatomy, and Jaanuu have become welcome competitors for scrubs with contemporary fits and nurse needs in mind. Even the old Cherokee and Dickie’s brands have stepped up a notch and started paying attention to what nurses want. You can find moisture-wicking, stain-resistant fabrics that wash well and don’t need an iron.

Over the last couple of years, we started seeing the jogger trend followed closely by the tucked shirt phenomenon. Likewise, the standard boot-cut scrub has generally replaced the flair leg. Many healthcare heroes opt for athletic-style shoes meant for nurses (think supportive and *ahem* fluid-proof).

Fit or Flop

The key in any of these styles is fit. You don’t want scrubs to be too tight or see-through; that’s never appropriate for the medical field. On the other hand, baggy, boxy, or wrinkled scrubs can look just as unprofessional as poorly sized scrubs.

The key is to find a fit that flatters you. If you have a little extra around the middle, you may want to opt for a longer untucked shirt. If you hold your weight in your hips or thighs, the jogger look can bring attention to those curves, so a boot-cut look might be more appealing (and more comfortable!). If you need to create some curves, try a tucked-in shirt with joggers; just make sure they are the correct size. If you are drowning in them, it’s not a good look.

T-shirt vs. scrub top

Many nurses are starting to embrace the T-shirt look on top. This is a great way to keep costs down if your company doesn’t mind, but it can look a little sloppy. T-shirts look more professional tucked in, especially with joggers, and should be shaped for your gender. That said, you won’t get the benefit of pockets.

T-shirts can be notoriously see-through, and some can’t take the heat. Make sure you choose cotton-based fabrics in darker colors to keep them professional. If you get a little sweaty during your day, you are better off with a set of scrubs. A wet t-shirt can be pretty unforgiving when you are under pressure.

In addition to the tuck/untuck debate, compression socks are making a comeback. With many fun and colorful options, many nurses choose to wear these socks over instead of under their pants. So if you need a little “flair” in your company uniform, this may be the trend for you. Just make sure to keep the socks in good repair and make them cute, not offensive. Remember, your patients will see them, and they may not have the same dark sense of humor you do.

Speaking of cute and colorful, it’s fun to experiment with colors if you don’t have a uniform. Try the monochromatic look with multiple shades of the same basic color for a cool and professional vibe. Even if you are stuck in one color, this trend is a great way to express yourself while sticking to the guidelines.

Overall, there is no wrong way to wear your scrubs, but there are a ton of options for looking fabulous while you save lives. Try a few trends out and see what works best for you. Maybe pair your new scrubs with a new set of ears. You deserve it.

 

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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