Just How Tragic Were Your First Scrubs?

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

When I think about the history of my scrubs, I say to myself, “Oh Lord Oh Lord Oh Lordy Lordy Lord.” Then I go and take a quick snort of good scotch. Because my past scrub tragedies were unusually tragic.

One year, my sister had a number of scrub tops made for me. All but one of them were amazing. There was a top with sushi on a white background. There was a top with 1940s pinup girls in fishing costumes. There was even a top with pizza on it.

Huge pizza slices. With pepperoni. And cheese. Melting. And that’s the one that was amazing in a bad way.

It made me a little queasy to look at, and I wasn’t even sick.

Thankfully, I did not wear that one to work. I can’t imagine how much Zofran I would’ve been pushing had I done so.

But I did wear the first-generation hipster-cut scrub pants with the flared legs and drawstring waist. And they did—as they were prone to do—fall down. In front of a herd of interns being shepherded through our state-of-the-art medical facility, in the care of the chairman of the surgery department.

I also wore what I thought was a becoming outfit of a khaki scrub top, carefully tailored so as not to make me look like an aircraft carrier, and black scrub pants (with flared leg and drawstring waist). It wasn’t until I’d worn it the fifth or sixth time to work that somebody pointed out that I can’t wear khaki because I am khaki. I looked in need of a new liver, stat.

And I also wore whites. On purpose, by choice…although I never wore them like my friend John did, on Valentine’s Day, with black boxer shorts with red hearts on them underneath.

Going back 30 years—Lordy Lordy, am I that old? Yes, I am—to my college roommate, who was a nursing student: Her clinical uniform was a white dress with a below-the-knee full skirt and button front, a light blue bib apron and a plain white cap.

Granted, our college was old-fashioned and in a conservative part of the country. I can remember, though, commiserating with her while she polished her shoes on Sunday night in preparation for clinicals.

Little did I know that I would be wearing a snap-front, sweetheart-neckline, puffed-sleeve scrub top myself, later on. But only once.

Snap-fronts and little demented old men do not mix.

What tragic scrubs have you worn? Share in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


  1. What about the scrub pants that had the thick tight elastic around the ankles,the seemed to always be short Top that off with clunky tennis shoes. We were styling in the 1990’s!

  2. Am one of the real old timers who also shined our black shoes and was always attempting to avoid the black cotton pantyhose/stockings to wear the nylon light colored black! Never lsted long! On graduation the whites seemed wonderful and other than when wearing the “drawstring” lg/Xlg pants and tops in surgery, the whites -mostly dress type were worn for the next 15 years(mid-late 70’s at least). White pant suits were a godsend when they became available! Caps were also mandatory. At least everyone could identify a nurse. Good ole days!

  3. I have to wear generic scrubs at work (L&D); they are an abomination. Designed for men, the tops have no hip flare or even slits in the bottom to allow for hip flare. They are drawstring so barely stay up. And the breast pocket gapes so that my pens, scissors and keys frequently fall out into the patient’s bed or the floor when I lean over to do a vag exam or empty a foley bag. I purloined a few sets and brought them home and have tailored them to fit me better. I’ve sewn tape inside the pockets to hold my pens in place and I launder them at home and keep them for my own exclusive use.

  4. Never in my life have I, nor will I EVER wear SCRUBS!! They are the sloppiest garments ever. Since the early eighties I’ve worked alcohol and drug treatment and wear my own clothes. Once certified for Health Education (AAS degree) I continued in my own clothing. There’s got to be a neater way to dress for work and still look professional. I’d opt for pant-suits or uniforms of my own making.

  5. I work ED and wore the cutest snap front scrub top my first day in the trench.. While wrestling with a guy who came in on PCP, that scrub top got ripped open. In front of everyone, doctor, nurses, patient, EMS crew, I’m standing there fully exposed. I never wore that top again. Burnt it actually. And my nickname is now Rainbow. That was the first stripper name that came to my lovely Co workers mind, after they thanked me for the show lol

  6. When I had my first nursing job we could only wear white uniforms; unless you worked specialized areas(L&D; OR; etc. I went into work in my white uniform;and, got floated to the Newborn Nursery. I am 5 ‘ 2″ tall; weighed about 110 lbs. at that time. ALL the scrubs were medium tops & large pants. Needless to say I was swimming and hitching my britches all day. (Pants came up to my breasts & wouldn’t stay up.)
    I ordered a scrub suit the next day; and kept it in my locker.

  7. I wore light blue drawstring scrub pants and top. They were what we had to wear for work in the Nursery. The babies gave us presents on our shoulders when we burped them.
    I wore one with black panties and one with red accidentally. Never heard the last of it from the
    Doc s. White dresses that are knee length ( in school) are fun when you’re pulling a patient onto a
    Gurney. Who hoo!


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