Have you ever wondered why nurses wear white uniforms? Who invented and practiced wearing white uniforms? This article presents an overview and history of nursing uniforms.


There is a dramatic transition and alteration of nurses’ uniforms since its inception during the 19th century. From starched uniform, it evolved to comfortable unisex scrubs, but their styles are based according to the country where they worked, functionality and time period.

Before the 1800s, the uniform was based on the casual uniform worn by nuns and monks who took care of patients in military hospitals and churches. During those times, nursing was not considered a respectable profession until the evolution of Military Nursing during Crimean war. It was Florence Nightingale’s contribution that paved the way for the creation of the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at Saint Thomas Hospital in London, England in 1860. It was also in this period that the first formal and recognized nursing uniform evolved.

The first uniform is a full-length gray dress with white aprons and it covered the entire body with only the hands and the face left uncovered. This type of clothing allowed them to treat patients effectively and maintain respectable appearance as well.

Their uniforms evolved through the years due to practicality, functionality, security and safety of patients. From 1800s, it evolved from white and gray dresses with white panty hoses to tunics and scrubs. However, there are employers who prefer the traditional white uniforms than scrubs because they want their nurses to look professional and respectable, while others prefer scrubs because they want them to be comfortable and trendy. Some scrubs exist in plain colors while others come in prints of various designs.

Apart from their uniform, footwear is another vital component in their attire. Similar to medical scrubs, specific shoes are warranted for them to perform their duties comfortably. It is a must that their shoes should be fit, comfortable and in good condition, otherwise it can lead to leg fatigue and injury. Previously, their shoes are in white, but at present, their shoes are in sling back or clog style.

Another important part of their uniform is their compression socks. These socks are more comfortable to wear compared to ordinary hosiery because it prevents the entry of moisture in skin and it supports the legs during long hours of shift. Majority of them prefer to wear compression socks because they feel less fatigue and they are comfortable wearing them. Since they work on their feet all day and sometimes all night, additional leg support is needed.

If they wear scrubs, it is vital that their pants should have proper fitting, neither too tight nor too loose, for comfort and convenience in moving. Female   nurses ‘ hairs are also kept and tied at the back, if their hair is long, while male  nurses ‘ hair must be in the right length.

Regardless of how tight and how busy their schedules are, they deserve to look their best even at work. Remember that whatever type of shoes, uniform and hair style  nurses  wear, quality, comfort and convenience should be the primary elements to consider when purchasing them.