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6 dos & don’ts for putting together great scrubs outfits

scrubs-outfitIf you don’t have to wear a plain uniform, you’re faced with a sea of color choices and style options when you go scrubs shopping. Do you ever get confused about what goes with what?

We’re here to help you not only match your scrubs outfits, but we’re taking it a step further.

Consider this: The colors you wear can affect your mood and that of those around you.

Put the science of “color therapy” into practical use for your next scrubs shopping trip:

1. Sunny yellow.

DO wear white with a bright yellow top if you’re looking for a really fresh look. Yellow is considered a very energizing color that summons sunlight and optimism—maybe just what you’re looking for when you’ve got a long shift ahead of you!

DON’T mix too many bright colors. If you wear yellow, especially if it’s a brighter shade, you might want to make sure the other part of your scrubs outfit is a bit more muted in color, such as a dark green. And be sure not to confuse ‘sunny’ yellow with ‘caution’ yellow!

2. True blue.

DO treat blue scrub bottoms like a pair of jeans when choosing a top—there are so many fun colors that will look fantastic! Lighter shades of green and violet look terrific with darker blue scrub pants, and if you’re really into orange, wear a top of that color with blue scrub pants. Blue is identified with calmness—perhaps a perfect color to wear on a busy day.

DON’T go for just any orange colored top to match with your blue pants. While deep orange adds excitement, bright orange can look cheap.

3. Basic black.

DO wear black scrub pants or tops. You can never go wrong with any other color you choose to go with them. One of the trends in fashion this season is pairing black with colors such as purple, gray, bright green or bright blue.

DON’T, however, earn yourself the monicker ‘goth nurse.’ Wearing too much black day in and day out can look empty and depressing to the nurses and patients around you.

4. Green with envy.

DO add green to your wardrobe. Green is associated with growth, vitality and openness and can positively affect those around you. Good options to wear with bright green include brown, dark blue and more muted shades of red.

DON’T choose too many earthy tones as they can be associated with melancholy. Warm shades of brown encourage closeness.

5. Red hot.

DO try a rosy red, soft pink, or violet for a scrubs top as these colors have a calming effect and are easy to match. With stronger reds, you may want to try lighter colors with it, such as light blue, light green or light yellow.

DON’T go for a highly saturated blue-red since it can be disturbing in large amounts and possibly increase anger.

6. Which white is right?

DO embrace a white uniform as it often signals crisp, clean professionalism to your patients. White also imparts purity and brightness of spirit.

DON’T buy a uniform that is blue-white as it can look sterile instead of inviting.

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Anita Bruzzese

Anita Bruzzese is an award-winning journalist. Her book, 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy...And How to Avoid Them, was named one of the top 10 most notable business books by the New York Post in 2007. For more information, visit her Website at 45things.com.
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37 Responses to 6 dos & don’ts for putting together great scrubs outfits

  1. Felicia

    One of the advantages and beauties of being a nurse at a hospital is the flexibility you have in what you wear. I love scrub shopping and this article gives a lot of great recommendations to color combinations that some people may not think about. Especially in the pediatric setting, the brighter and cheerier the colors are, the better. I also enjoy wearing various combinations that match sports teams that I am a fan of, or wearing colors for the seasons and holidays that we are around. Although some people can complain that we can’t wear nice office clothes to work, I think we have the advantage.

  2. DeeDee H.

    Would love to see you pick out a bunch of your favorite scrubs outfit ideas and show them to us.

  3. Pingback: Scrubs Fashionista « The Pulse

  4. Gitte Agerlund

    So much to read. I work as a theatre nurse in Denmark, and we have no choise as to what we can wear. The hospital supplies the srcubs and thats it. Would be nice with more colour.

  5. Lisa

    @Gitte: that will always be true of OR nurses, you must wear the hospital supplied scrubs to ensure limited patient exposure to outside contaminants.
    Can you float to other areas where personal scrubs are allowed?

  6. Betsy Agnew,R.N.

    From a “Lifer”, last time I bought scrubs-I spent 218.00- and have enough “work clothes” for a month without doing laundry!!!! My trick is 5 basic white pants,2 navy blue pants,one black pants and one purple pair of pants,I weed out what is too worn or old looking(color is getting dull) not spending over $15.00 a pair. then I have fun with the colors for my tops nothing over $12.00.

  7. Marie

    Why would the writer end on “do embrace a white uniform”….I’ve had to work, full time, in white uniforms in my early days….they don’t stay clean, don’t hide dirt, blood, etc that we’re all exposed to daily and are totally outmoded and ridiculous in this time. The scrub brands, and this magazine, should get going before the “back to all white” movement, started by the Professor types who never see a patient, win this one and we’re back in time.

  8. My hospital just changed the uniform policy: All RNs must wear royal blue. Although I do love royal blue and can understand the logic, I’m having a problem with it. I absolutely LOVE buying and wearing scrubs of every color and design so this was a huge blow. I even started liking it more than buying regular clothes!! The worse part of it is the money now wasted on scrubs I barely even wore and now can’t wear at all! Enjoy the freedom while you can. I hear a lot of hospitals are starting to do this. So sad :(

  9. FoxyRN

    The organization I work for has decided to put all RNs in Navy Blue…..beats white, but why kill individuality? Plus, it’s a security risk…people just look at the uniform color, and won’t be looking for a badge so quickly! Whatever academic types that decided nurses should be color-coded robots need to find something better to do.

  10. Myrna Stovel

    Too bad about the color coded uniform policies. I think the hospitals that are doing this are making a big mistake. It’s a good thing when nurses can make some individual choices, like choosing theri own uniform.

  11. cindi

    I love the bright colored uniforms but also I love the swarovski embellished scrub tops at scrubcouture.com they pair peaches smart style and comfort with swarovski elements talk about feeling good when you wear your uniform! we know when you feel great when you start your shift the shift is better!the patients love them they are sparkly and cheery!

  12. VinceRN

    We get to wear pajamas to work, why must it be turned into a fashion competition?

  13. Mary

    I think most scrubs make women look frumpy, and if a nurse has a nice the frumpy scrubs mostly hide it. Most of the scrubs that are shaped for women do not enhance our professionalism. This especailly goes for most of the printed scrubs, unless one works in pedicatrics. Why can’t scrubs be utiltarian, professiaonally fitted and colored simultaneously? Maybe we need to wait another 10-20 years for those, or make our own in the meantime.

  14. Mary

    Nice body, that is. :)

  15. cindy

    I want a choco brown set 2X. what brand should I buy

  16. Halie (Scrubs Editor)

    @Cindy We love Cherokee scrubs for their comfort and style. Here are some of our favorite chocolate brown options, all available in 2XL.

    To see our suggestions go to: http://www.cherokeeuniforms.com

    Tops: Ruffle Wrap Tunic- Style 3801 in Color CHCB (Chocolate)
    Empire Top- Style 2799 in Color CHPR (Chocolate)
    V Neck Tunic- Style 2874 in Color CHOB (CHOCOLATE )

    Pants: Flare Leg Pant- Style 2040 in Color CHCW (Chocolate)
    Flare Leg Pant- Style 3020 in Color CHOC (Chocolate)
    Cargo Pocket Pant- Style 1031 in Color CHOB (CHOCOLATE )

    Hope this helps! Happy shopping :)

  17. Beautifuldayze

    I wish I could wear my own scrubs, period! But so it goes when you work surgery…

  18. Mandi

    i just saw some awesome scrubs at a show hosted by Scrub Coture, they were peaches scrubs with Swarovski crystals on them! Check out their site http://www.scrubcouture.com

  19. TDK

    I know a nurse who works in a very busy ED. She actually still wears her nursing cap (and she is not old) and white uniform every day. Patients love it. They can recognize her as the RN and they give her respect. She never has a conflict with a patient and those who are intoxicated never give her a problem. It would be like talking back to your mother. She gains a lot of respect from patients, visitors and doctors because of her white uniform and cap. People listen to her and take her opinions and instructions to heart. It is an amazing thing to watch her work.

  20. Rose, our hospital did the same, At one time I had all my scrubs made for me. Pants, tops and jackets looked great and made me feel good. Now, like you, we can only wear these bright royal blue pants and not much goes with them. I still kept my other scrubs hoping that someday it will change back again.

  21. amanda

    i wish i was a nurse in the days of starched white dresses… today you cant tell the RNs from the LPNs from the CNAs from the laundry and housekeeping staff. weve lost some dignity. we arent even being capped anymore. so sad.

    • sopomom CNA

      excuse me ? did I read that comment right ? you are losing your’ dignity ‘ over cna;s wearing scrubs ? WHAT!!!! cna’s are a vital part of the nursing staff and work very hard for little pay . what do you want us to wear , blue jeans and tee shirts ? that say ‘ hey I didn’t go to nursing school ‘ I am glad I don’t work with you if us cna’s are looked down on .so next time you need a cna I hope your ” dignity doesnt get in the way of your pt’s care

  22. B. Reed

    I’ve been an RN for 34 years. I wear scrubs to work, but I don’t wear cartoon characters or loud flowery things. I don’t know why scrub manufacturers think nurses lack good taste. I do miss the days of wearing my cap and white uniforms. I agree with amanda, who said that you can’t tell the RNs from the LPNs, the CNAs, or the laundry and housekeeping staff. Back when I first graduated, the different hospital departments were assigned uniform colors to designate their position. If a patient was talking to someone in pink they knew it was a housekeeper, not a nurse. I wear a short jacket over my scrubs…mostly for the pockets to carry all my “stuff”…scissors, bandaids, alcohol preps, etc. and patients equate that jacket with being more professional. My cap is tucked away somewhere. It has even cracked along the fold area. It was a OLD style cap that came as a flat piece of fabric, cut and hemmed into our school’s individual cap shape. We had to starch it with straight liquid starch, plaster it on the refrigerator door until dry, peel it off the door, then fold into our cap! It winged out on the sides and was worn far back on the crown of the head…never on the top. We all said the ones who wore them too high looked like Dairy Queen girls.

  23. Nancy

    We are allowed to wear any color, etc. uniforms we like. Most like being coordinated too – same color earrings, glasses, shoes, etc. The problem we talk about if RNs, Techs, Radiologists, etc. start wearing the same color – it won’t mean that the patients/personnel will recognize who is who unless a big “color charts” are posted everywhere LOL! We have a big RED RN on our namebadges that stands out real clear!

  24. Another quick tip: be careful when buy white, if you buy a cheaper product sometimes the whites can be see-through. You always get what you pay for!

  25. Donna N

    I do miss wearing my nurse cap at times , been nursing for 32 years , have seen jumpsuits , white uniforms, departments wearing different colors (which showed no personality) I have enough scrubs to have a winter,spring,summer,and fall wardrobe. I do not wear cartoon scrubs, but wear seasonal prints,which my patients seen to like.

  26. Anna

    Are there any really nice scrubs in XXXX L sizes or larger? Surely I’m not the only really heavy RN who wears scrubs? . . . and when I can find higher sizes (4-5X top/3-4X bottoms) they are often in bland, boring choice of color/design. Help me out here ! and Happy Holidays to y’all!

  27. Dalina

    I work on an adult floor in a hospital. I get feedback all the time about how they love the printed tops. I will never go back to solid colors.

  28. @Anna. Our clients have been very pleased with the sizes and styles offered by Cherokee. The Body line is gorgeous, generous and incredibly comfortable, and the Flexibles come in a wide variety of beautiful prints in higher sizes.

    You can find them at http://www.cherokeeuniforms.com/ and use the Store Locator to find a retailer near you.
    Happy Holidays!

  29. E

    Anna, Dickies W brand has some really nice scrubs in sizes 4x and 5x!! I had so much trouble finding the larger sizes too. Even if the company said they were a certain size I found that not to be true. On a whim I went to my local scrub store and found the Dickies. I was so excited to find the larger sizes. The only problem is that Dickies was recently bought out. I am not 100% sure but I think it was by Cherokee. I have never found a Cherokee uniform that I am comfortbale in so I hope they don’t change the Dickies sizing!

  30. As a male in the medical field there needs to be more selection for scrubs than there is…any suggestions other than the ones already given?

  31. J

    I’m petite and have a curvy body. My favorite scrubs are the Cherokee Flexibles, they make my shape look perfect.

    Just a tip :)

  32. Leesa B.

    I’ve been a nurse for 33 years. Thank God we don’t have to wear hats any more! I hated the way it took several bobby pins to anchor it and the way it would teeter on my head, on the verge of falling into the mess when leaning over a bed to clean up a patient!!! Nursing is a very active job, and our clothes need to allow for that! It’s true that a white lab coat or dress does make a difference in some elderly patients attitudes. But i once had a nursing home resident who had bad experiences as a child and would scream in Spanish, ” No pica!” when she saw white clothing. she had no problem with the colors. It depends on who your clientele are. I work part time now due to a drunk driver induced back injury, and have a great little scrubs store with lots of variety and sizes for men and women. Men really appreciate having choices, and plus size ladies don’t leave my place discouraged!

  33. psychRN2012

    I don’t know about anyone else, but getting my RN nearly killed me :) I always wear something white, whether it’s my pants or a lab coat or a vest!! I want to make sure everyone knows from the other side of the unit that I am an RN!!

    • JulyGirlSherry LPN

      I always wear solid color scrubs. Cartoon characters are great for nurses who work with pediatric clients. As far as white goes, I ony have a white jacket that I wear in cooler weather. I agree that many hospitals are making their RNs wear a specific color so to decipher them from the rest of the hospital workers.

  34. Pingback: 6 dos & don'ts for putting together great scrubs outfits | Scrubs – The … | Very Cheap Scrubs Online

  35. Sophy-UA

    Great Article! We see a lot of hospitals moving into color coding their staff, and we have heard a lot of mixed feelings on this topic. For that reason we did create a new “Shop by Color” section on the site. You can put this great color knowledge to good use next time you pick out your cherokee scrubs. http://www.uniformadvantage.com