Scrubs are not particularly glamorous. They’re not especially fashionable, either. But they’re practical. Like many workplace uniforms, they’re designed to fulfill a specific purpose. Originally created as sterile garb for use in aseptic conditions, such as the operating theater, scrubs have spilled out of the OR and into virtually every segment of the healthcare delivery space.
They’re standard in Emergency Departments, for instance, where they’re most likely to fulfill their original intended purpose—which is to say, to protect the wearer from the inadvertent transmission of potentially dangerous bodily fluids.
The real point of scrubs is that they’re inarguably utilitarian. Anyone, of any gender, can throw on a pair according to his or her general size. The fit may not be fantastic, but they’ll likely get the job done. More importantly, anyone can toss a soiled pair into the hospital laundry, with the understanding that they will be laundered unto the point of sterility and recycled for the next person who comes along. Of course, many nurses purchase their own scrubs and take responsibility for laundering them, too. If that’s the case for you, your options are virtually unlimited these days.
In the old days, scrubs essentially came in two colors—surgical blue or green—and no patterns at all. They were generally reserved for operating room personnel. But at some point, it became fashionable, or practical, for virtually any medical professional to wear them. Even laboratory technologists have been known to sport a pair, especially in response to an inadvertent spill or other accident in the workplace.
At some point, manufacturers responded to growing demand and began issuing scrubs in more patient-friendly styles, including different colors, to appeal to female wearers, and playful patterns, to appeal to pediatric patients while putting their minds at ease. These days, pediatric nurses are likely to be decked out in fun animal prints, or polka dots, or what have you.
So how does the well-dressed nurse manage to work with what she’s got and look her best in scrubs?
• Choose the right type for your body shape.
• Choose the right fit.
• Choose color strategically. If you happen to be larger than you’d like, consider wearing darker colors for their more flattering, forgiving silhouette. Consider your skin tone, too. Some people look better in certain colors, depending on their complexion.
• Wear matching tops and pants. While mix and match may be convenient on certain days, if you want to look put together, stick with one color/pattern per outfit.
• Accessorize. But do it sparingly.
• If you happen to be generously endowed, consider wearing a blouse under your scrub top. The deep V-neck that’s standard on most scrubs could otherwise reveal a bit too much about you to your patients and co-workers.