Tall or petite? A guideline for buying scrubs


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Are you buying the latest scrubs fashions and wondering why they don’t look better on you? Chances are you either have a tall or a petite body type. Looking at the Internet or your fashion magazines, you’re most likely seeing models with perfect proportions.

Knowing how to be savvy and interpret the latest fashions for your body type can make all the difference. It’s so easy to look on the surface and get swept away by marketing and advertising without even knowing that you’ve been hooked!

In my career as a costume designer, I have dressed many actors. Most of them don’t have perfect bodies, yet the viewer would never know. The secret is finding the right clothes and fitting them so that the proportions are perfect. If I’ve done my job well, you can’t tell if an actor is tall or petite. If you stick with the correct proportions for your body type, you too can look your very best—like Tom Cruise or Salma Hayek.

The key to shopping for your size is using your noggin and knowing your body type.

Scrubs Fashion Tips for Tall Nurses

Do you have long arms and legs? Are you 5’8″ or taller? Most likely you fit into the tall category. There is nothing like an outfit that has sleeves that are too short—or worse, pants that are too short—to throw off your look. Warning: Rolling up your sleeves or pulling down your pants to get the proper length is not the solution. So what is? Accepting your unique size and buying clothes that are made for your body type are imperative for looking your best.

Retail companies acknowledge the different body types of their customers and now supply tall versions of their latest fashions. However, if the clothes don’t come in tall, check the clothes to see if they can be tailored to fit. If you love a scrubs top that fits well, but the sleeves are too short, inspect the hems of the sleeves. Is there enough extra fabric to bring down the sleeve length? If so, you can have the top tailored to the correct sleeve length. Just a small alteration can make any piece of clothing fit like it was cut just for you.

tall scrubs

Tall Scrubs

Scrubs Fashion Tips for Petite Nurses

Are you 5’3″ or shorter? Follow the golden rule and buy petite clothes. Proportion is even more important for petite nurses than it is for tall ones. If you buy a regular-size top with petite pants, you might as well have purchased both pieces in the wrong size. Being a petite size can be frustrating, but more than other shapes and sizes, proportion is absolutely a must to avoid looking “tiny.” Buying a size small is not the same as buying something that is petite. When companies size their clothes, they reduce each size from the original pattern they cut. So a size 4 is the same cut as a 14, but several sizes smaller. A petite is sized differently. The proportions are cut specifically for a petite person. Experiment and try on a small and then a petite top. You’ll see the difference in fit.

petite scrubs

Petite Scrubs

Tailoring for the Perfect Fit

Unfortunately, if a garment is not available in your size, adjustments have to be made for your body type using what is available. There are many types of petite body shapes—short torsos with long legs, long torsos with short legs, etc. No matter what type of petite you are, good alterations will ensure your look is tailor-made. Check to be sure your scrubs top is the right length in the torso. If it’s too long, it’ll tend to look sloppy. Keep the hem length in proportion to your body type. If the sleeves are too long, that’s an easy fix, too. Just have your tailor hem up the sleeves for you. Make sure that the arms aren’t too wide. They can be nipped in along a seam and make all the difference.

Likewise for you tall gals, if the scrubs top doesn’t come in tall, making just a few alterations can mean all the difference in the fit. Make sure the top is long enough in the torso and definitely make sure your sleeves are long enough in the arms. If the sleeves are too short, then let out the sleeve length. Are the sleeves too wide? If so, have your tailor take them in a bit. Once the tailor has pinned your top for alterations, you’ll begin to see how an XL can become a Tall XL or an S can transform into a Small Petite.

Katie Sparks
Katie Sparks has been a renowned television show costume designer for more than 20 years. She received a nomination from the Costume Designers Guild for excellent costume design for Arrested Development. When she's not dressing movie stars, she loves to write, and says, "Writing for Scrubs gives me the opportunity to write and give fashion tips! A perfect combo."

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