DOs and DON’Ts for Mixing Street Clothes With Scrubs

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

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"Help! My hospital cranks the air conditioning way too high!” writes one nurse from Florida, while another Minnesota-based nurse emails, “There are corridors in my office where I swear there is no heat at all. I freeze from October until May!”

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Whatever the climate outside, sometimes scrubs alone just won’t cut it – we need ways to stay warmer at work. This usually means adding a layer on top of or underneath scrubs. This may seem simple, but layering incorrectly could mean:

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  • Running afoul of your employer’s dress code
  • Looking like a fashion disaster
  • Turning a practical outfit into one that makes work more difficult.
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Here are some wardrobe dos and don’ts to guide you through the winter months.
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DON’T Confuse Patients About Your Profession.

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Wearing a regular sweater over your scrubs top can be a problem for a couple of reasons. First, it completely covers up your uniform top. This makes it impossible for patients to tell that you’re a nurse if you’re seated behind a desk or standing behind a nurse’s station. They may assume you’re part of the administrative office staff since you appear to be wearing business apparel.

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Second, sweaters typically aren’t something you want to launder every day—especially in hot water. Many sweater textiles require special handling so they don’t shrink or become misshapen. Others can be machine washed and dried, but they will quickly develop pills. If you don’t want your sweaters to meet an untimely end, don’t wear them over scrubs!

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What about the sweater’s comfy cousin—the sweatshirt? Unfortunately, sweatshirts are never appropriate work attire unless you’re a fitness trainer running an outdoor boot camp on a chilly day. These tops also don’t provide the many pockets you’ll need to hold all your accessories during a normal shift. You don’t want to put everything in your scrubs pockets under the sweatshirt and keep hiking up the hem to get at what you need. That just looks weird.

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DO Add Warmth with Nursing Outerwear.

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Choose a scrubs warm-up jacket that matches or complements your scrubs. The zipper or button front can be fastened or left open, depending on how cozy you need to feel. These nursing jackets typically have plenty of pocket room. Best of all, they look like part of your uniform rather than office wear or exercise clothing.

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DON’T Let Long Sleeves Slow You Down.

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Wearing a turtleneck or long-sleeve T-shirt underneath your scrubs is a hit-or-miss proposition. Try wearing a white one for a day, then check your cuffs at the end of the shift. Are they dirty or stained? Did you find yourself constantly adjusting your sleeves up and down your forearms because they were uncomfortable or in the way?

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DO Choose the Top to Get the Job Done.

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Layering a short-sleeve T-shirt under a scrubs top that has three-quarter-length sleeves might be a better solution to add a little warmth if long sleeves are a problem. If you do wear a long-sleeve shirt under your scrubs, try to find one that matches the color of your scrubs top. This makes it look more like part of the uniform and is less likely to get you in trouble if you work at a hospital that requires color-coded scrubs.

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DON’T Make a Misstep with Leg Wear.

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Tights and leggings can add a little insulation if your legs tend to get chilly—but they can create a big problem if you don’t watch out. Colored tights or dark leggings under white or pastel scrubs pants are going to give the overlying fabric an odd tinge. The stretchy material used in tights and leggings also makes them tend to catch and cling when layered under pants. This can make it difficult to squat or sit since the fabric over your thighs and knees may start binding. Leggings can also add substantial bulk—making scrubs pants that usually fit fine look much tighter than usual.

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DO Make Room for Leg Layers.

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If you need an extra layer for your legs, try these tips:
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  • Choose a scrubs pant in a dark color.
  • Make sure your pants are a size larger than you usually wear.
  • Pick a blended fabric rather than 100 percent cotton to reduce binding.
  • Try on your outfit at home and check it in the mirror for fashion, fit and function issues before you debut it at work.
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How did we do? Share your own dos and don'ts for winter wear in the comments section below.

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This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.
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Carolyn RN

One thing I have noticed over the years is nurses wearing a jacket with a hood. To me this is just unprofessional. It makes you look like you just came from the gym. If you tend to stay cold at work, try out the cozy comfort long underwear. It doesn’t bind, comes in neutral colors and is very comfortable. Just plain long johns work too, if you work in a freezer.

Sandra

The article is good and I am a major advocate of the use of cuddleduds.

I have read that wearing scrubs shopping before or after work may facilitate the transmission and growth of the new infections in the community (including our homes and families) as well as exposing our patients and work environments to possibly worse and stronger infections. But this unfortunately is extremely common! The inappropriateness of scrubs in other than the work environment must be re-enforced.

Amanda

I recently discovered Climate Control Cuddle Duds. They are a slim fitting underwear style clothing, and they fit perfectly under my scrubs! They come in an assortment of plain colors, and there are also patterns. They also come in a few different fabrics and are marked “mild” to “frigid”.

Teresa

I am a Dental Assistant the office is cold year around but the waiting room is cozy what I do is layer with tights and long sleeve shirts and a lab jacket with cuffs aournd the sleeves I make sure my long sleeve shirts are the true size to keep the sleeves for getting in the way and let’s not forget the feet they must stay warm I wear a pair of thin socks over my tights for coziness my feet gets colds and that my uniform for the day and I am fine

Anniepie10

I am a Home Health and Hospice nurse…. Out in the weather every day. I wear a lightweight longsleeved burn out t-shirt under my scrun top when it is cold, Sometimes I wear two and a cami… Under my scrubpants I wear either poly yoga legging or soft blend cotton poly leggings. A good winter coat is a must as is scarf,hat and gloves. And good boots The last two winters here have been brutal…well below zero many days…but I manage to keep warm and toasty!! There are many options!!!!