Here's how to plan a nurse's wardrobe for a practical, fashionable look at work

Here’s how to plan a nurse’s wardrobe for a practical, fashionable look at work

A few decades ago, nurses were easy to identify by their white cap and heavily starched, fitted white dress. While that iconic uniform has been retired in favor of more practical pieces, the profession continues to dress in a way that expresses confidence, cleanliness and professionalism.

Those about to enter the workplace are wise to wonder how to plan a nurses wardrobe. Guidelines are less restrictive at hospitals, clinics and offices than they once were. On one hand, it?s fun to have the freedom to express a bit of your personality. But going too far in the direction of personal style can prevent colleagues and patients from seeing you as a competent professional.

Browsing nursing scrubs and shoes the first time is overwhelming. The range of colors and styles available is enough to warm any fashionista?s heart, but don?t get too excited. The first rule is to stick to the dress code and note that some facilities color code by department.

Welcome to the world of scrubs

Scrubs are a wardrobe staple because they minimize your exposure to contaminants. They?re made from breathable materials in styles designed to move with your body. Pants typically have either a drawstring or elastic waist band while the tops are short sleeved with a V-neck. 

Learning how to plan a nurses wardrobe is simple as long as you begin with scrubs that satisfy the dress code and hit all of the below criteria.



Cleanliness is non-negotiable for doctors and nurses. Scrubs must be washed with soap after every wear. Once they?re faded and worn out, replace them ? they?re very affordable. Since your work schedule gets hectic, plan laundry days to ensure you have a work week?s supply of clean clothes.

The same goes for nails, teeth, skin and hair. Good hygiene goes a long way in any work environment, but it?s essential in medical facilities.


Like other types of clothing, fit will vary by brand. Shop around until you find a brand of scrubs that fits your body right. Look in the mirror and make sure the top isn?t too tight around the shoulders and chest. Check that the bottoms of pants don?t brush the floor and bend over to make sure there won?t be embarrassing splitting at the seams.

Always tie those drawstrings tight. Otherwise you know those pants will slide down at the most inopportune moment. When you find the perfect pair, make life easy and buy multiples in different colors if it?s an option.


Employers prefer not to have to mention your unmentionables but it can?t go without saying that they must be worn. People will notice if you don?t. If the uniform is white or neutral, avoid underwear with bold colors because they?ll show through. Wear thongs and your colleagues and patients will get an eyeful when you bend over ? it?s only a matter of time. 


Forget self expression. Nurses? footwear must be supportive, sturdy and comfortable. You?re on your feet all day! Take care of those feet as they?re the only ones you get. Have at least two pairs in case one is dirty.

What many nurses wear on their feet is simple: white clogs. The light color helps them identify contaminants on their shoes right away. This style relieves pressure on the ankles and feet and reduces your risk of joint, knee and back paint.

For warmth

Pay attention to how your colleagues dress during cold months. Many simply wear a thin, plain long-sleeved shirt under their scrub top. They move around constantly so getting cold is not a big issue.

If you prefer to wear a sweatshirt or sweater over top, make sure it?s clean, fitted and professional. Leave the holey, stained hoodie at home.

Population appropriate

Use good judgment when choosing scrubs with loud patterns. Spongebob is perfect if you work in a children?s unit, not so much for geriatric patients. 

Knowing how to plan a nurses wardrobe is mostly a matter of practicing common sense. Prioritize projecting your capability and be mindful of how you express your individuality.