The History and Evolution of the Nursing Uniform


Uniforms and Apparel

From the nun’s habit of the 1900s to the colorful scrubs of today, nursing uniforms have made a dramatic transformation.  Their materials and designs have evolved over the last century to adapt to the needs of healthcare workers and their changing environment.  The full-length uniform in the early twentieth century was replaced with the more comfortable shorter skirt length after World War II.  In the 1960s, women’s pant suits became more popular and gradually replaced the skirted uniform style altogether.  This trend led to the adoption of the surgical scrub uniform for both men and women in the 1990s.

The fabrics used in nursing uniforms have also evolved over time, from heavy protective cloth, to starched material for a crisp, military appearance, to the flexible cotton materials of today’s scrubs.  The traditional white uniforms of the past have given way to a more colorful palette designed to put both nurses and patients at ease.  Even the shoes worn by nurses have evolved from traditional oxford shoes to more practical athletic shoes.  Please see the following infographic for more information about nursing uniforms throughout history.

The History and Evolution of the Nursing Uniform

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