You probably already know that nurses' work uniforms have to be high quality, comfortable to wear for shifts and easy to care for, but here are some facts about nurse uniforms you might not have heard before.
Early nurse uniforms
The earliest uniforms were actually based on the habits worn by nuns. This was because up until the 19th century, nuns cared for sick or injured people. When lay people began to train as nurses, they adopted a number of traditions from the nuns, including nurses of a certain rank being known as "sisters".
19th century nurse uniforms
In the 19th century, nurses wore tailored gowns. Originally, these were similar to the uniforms worn by domestic servants but with a few key differences. Nurses' uniforms had deep pockets to enable their wearer to carry the instruments and accessories required to do their job. Nurses also wore starched white aprons and caps.
The World War I effect
World War I saw huge changes in the uniforms worn by nurses. The nursing profession became more widely respected during this period and nurses began to take on more responsibility. As a result, they began to demand more functional designs that would allow them to treat their patients unencumbered by their garments. Uniforms became simpler and less ostentatious, making them easier and more comfortable to wear.
The introduction of medical scrubs
The medical scrubs that you see in hospitals today were introduced in the 1960s. These scrubs signalled a major step away from the traditional nurses uniforms and revolutionised the nursing garment industry. Scrubs were designed to be comfortable and practical to wear and to minimise the spreading of germs. They were also preferred by many hospitals because they were cheap to replace and were easy to clean and care for.