The nursing professional’s attire has undergone a huge transformation in different eras. Earlier as the word ‘nurse’ emerged, we would have a typical stereotyped image of a lady dressed in a starched crisp white dress (Frock)with a white apron, white stockings , white cap, white shoes and hair tightly pinned up. This is what we have seen in almost all the movies; no doubt this image is so fixed in our minds. But, gone are those days. Now is the time for stylish scrub attires that adorn the hospitals, clinics and medical centers all over the world. We shall explore the changing perception and look of the pristine looking white frock clad nurse to a more relaxed and flexible line of clothing here. It will be exciting to know a little bit more about the same people who care and treat us with love in the most challenging and troublesome times of our life when even our family leaves us in their hands to be taken good care of!
Starting from the earliest era of the early 19th century, at this time the nursing profession was not so respected and considered to be a street profession. There were no separate uniforms for the nurses and they wore the same ones as the servants. They would sport gowns in black or printed color with a hat and an apron of white color. However things started to change post 1840 where nursing was now being recognized as there was a great need felt for the nurses. The ultimate milestone in the nursing history is accredited to Florence Nightingale; who led the way for nursing to be recognized as a superior and compassionate profession, delivering it the due respect it deserved. Post the nightingale era there were various nurse schooling systems developed and now nurses were treated with great respect and the profession had found its dignity.
In the 20th century the nurse attires were specifically different and distinguishable from the servants’. It came with pocket space to store multiple useful things and had a long bib too that covered the entire waist area and its folds fell downwards forming an apron. It was tailored to fit aptly. All this styling and detailing made the nurses stand out from among the servants. From here on and after World War I the nurses’ attire went through multiple changes and designs. Functionality and flexibility of movement along-with utility and ease were now kept in mind for the nurses. As a result of this metamorphosis we finally got the standard image of the fully white clad (from head to toe) pristine nurse. The stereotyped image that we have seen in all the movies too comes to mind automatically.
Today most of the medical staff wears nursing scrubs which also help to prevent the spread of infections and diseases. Most healthcare centers define the dress-code according to which the nurses shop. Some have to stick to a common color and pattern, while others may have the liberty to be a little bit more flexible. The most frequently worn nursing scrubs these days are loose fitted cargos or drawstring pants coupled with t-shirts.
After exploring the history of nurses’ attire it is also interesting to know that, whether nurses should wear uniforms or scrubs has also been an ongoing debate issue world-wide. Many health centers have strict dress codes and uniforms, while others may allow some liberty and let the nurse choose what ha/she wishes to adorn. Yet there are some facilities that follow a color coordinated scheme for different specialties.
While purchasing their scrubs, the nurses first keep in mind the mandates set by their employers. Some have uniforms, while others allow nursing scrubs in solid colors, or specific patterns/ designs. At nursing facilities where there are no restrictions imposed, the nurses find a plethora of brands and variety to choose from. The new look of the nursing scrubs instills a sense of comfort, ease and relaxed feel to the nurses and also the patients. In a poll conducted earlier the patients felt the casual look and approach was much more appreciative than the typical clinical nurse attire. This type of clothing adds fashion and trend aspects to usually boring attire. When we come across nurses dressed in trendy scrubs we cannot resist saying they are “Nursing with Fashion”.
Rachel is a fashion writer.She recently got a chance to review Uniforms By Cherokee which are quite fashionable and unique too.