Blue scrubs hanging on white door on hanger against a light blue wall.

Ultimate Guide to Different Styles of Nursing Scrubs

January 26, 2022

If you've recently visited a hospital or medical facility, you may find yourself confused about the medical personnel's different uniforms. These garments are also referred to as medical scrubs and were initially designed to protect the wearer while in the operating room, and anyone in the OR was required to wear a surgical/scrub gown.  

However, these days, you’ll find scrubs being worn in all areas of the hospital. When we look back at historical pictures, we see that all medical personnel wore white scrubs. It was discovered that the all-white environment strained the surgeon's eyes, so other medical personnel began wearing soft green to balance things out. These days though, you can find nurse scrubs and other scrubs in various colors, patterns, designs, etc.  

Advantis Medical would love to hear your opinion on this topic. After reading, feel free to tell us what you think! Also, check with AdvantisConnect for discounts and offers for the various needs and wants you may have as a nurse.  

Below, we’ll take a closer look at the history of nursing scrubs, why nurses wear scrubs, and the various types of nursing scrubs on the market today.  

History of Nursing Scrubs

Early on, nurses wore white dresses, capes, and hats. The hat indicated the nursing school that she attended, and the capes were used to keep them warm on the battlefields.  

Eventually, the long dresses were shortened, which made it easier for nurses to move around on the battlefield, leading to the need for white stockings to be worn underneath.  

The move away from this classic nursing attire in the 1980s was primarily about necessity and functionality. Most nurses today are in medical facilities, not on the battlefield.  

Today’s scrubs have a variety of benefits, including protecting the healthcare worker against exposure to bodily fluids. Additionally, they’re comfortable and easy to launder- plus, they have plenty of cargo space- that is, pockets!

Icons showing the history of styles different nursing scrubs.

Why Do Nurses Wear Scrubs?

As mentioned, at first, scrubs were only worn by surgeons and other medical staff who were in the operating room. Before scrubs, surgeons would wear a favorite jacket or other non-hospital attire and wipe the instruments between surgeries to "clean" them, which led to infections among patients.

Eventually, it was discovered that rubber gloves decreased infection rates among patients. This evolved into scrub gowns and caps becoming the accepted attire in the operating room to reduce infections- because the clothing was clean and easy to wash.  

However, we still have the question: why do nurses wear scrubs?  

Patients Pay Attention to Appearances

Nurses are not the only ones that pay attention to the dress code. Several studies indicate that patients pay attention to the appearance of their nurse, which impacts their overall impression of the nurse. According to the Journal of Nursing Administration, a nurse needs to be clean and well-groomed, with a modest appearance.  

Standardized uniforms increase professional appearance/perception among patients, instilling confidence and alleviating fears that the patient may be experiencing. This study also indicated that nursing uniforms help reassure patients that they chose a suitable medical facility.  

Plus, scrubs make identifying which individuals are working in a busy healthcare facility. However, this does not mean that every nurse in a facility has to wear the same thing. There are plenty of options for cute nursing scrubs on the market, including pediatric nurse scrubs, nurse scrub caps, and so many more!  

Scrubs Create Professional Identity  

One article in Nursing Times revealed that students believe personal identity is essential and modernizing the historical dress code for nurses is very important.  

Scrubs unite nurses as a profession and make nurses look and feel the part while working with patients. They have become part of a nurse’s identity- much like a superhero costume- without the cape, of course.  

Now, we'll take a closer look at the various types of nurse scrubs on the market today.

Types of Nurse Scrubs Explained

The simple fact that we can explore various types and styles of nursing scrubs is mind-blowing. As mentioned, it wasn't until sometime in the 1970s & '80s that scrubs were popularized and worn by many healthcare professionals, including nurses.  

By the 1990s, it was common to see nurses wearing scrubs. After all, they're simple, easy to clean/disinfect, sturdy/comfortable, and give a professional appearance.  

Today’s nurses not only get to wear scrubs instead of the boring uniform- but there are also lots of cute nursing scrubs options on the market. You can even find nurse skirt scrubs if you’d rather dress up a bit from time to time.

Styles of Scrubs Tops

Most of the scrub tops on the market are variations of the one-piece short-sleeve tunic with small variations. The cut is typically what sets them apart.  

Classic Cut  

This style of scrub top is the traditional one. It is a bit looser, with longer short sleeves, and falls just a few inches below your waist.  

Modern Cut  

Most of the scrub brands today are more focused on the modern cut. This cut offers a more "fitted" look, as it's snug from the underarm to the waist. Typically, they are a little shorter than the classic length and have shorter sleeves.  

This cut works great for those who are smaller or thinner. However, some may find this cut to be tight/restrictive.  

Men’s/Unisex Cut  

Scrub tops for men typically have more room across the chest/back, and they generally are a bit longer and have longer sleeves and larger armholes. The fit is straight instead of tapered like the modern cut.  

Some nurses prefer to wear men’s scrub tops because they have more room.

Mock Wrap  

A mock wrap gives you the look of a wrap but the functionality of a top. Some of these scrub tops may just be cut like a mock wrap, while others have a tie at the waist. In most cases, this cut is used for maternity scrubs, and they typically can let out some space around your belly for a better fit.  

V-Neck/Round Neck  

Almost all scrubs have a V-neck or some variation. However, some nurses prefer a round neck because it provides more coverage and less exposure.  


While it's true that not all scrubs will have pockets, most of them do. Many of them have up to 3 pockets, plus pen pockets and equipment loops.  

Snap/Button Closures  

Some scrub tops feature snap/button closures. This design is excellent for wearing clothing underneath.  

There are only three different cuts when it comes to scrub tops- the other stuff is just extra details. However, when you start looking at scrub pants, that's when the significant differences come out.

Styles of Scrub Pants

The real options for scrubs come when you start looking at scrub pants. You can choose cargo pants with extra pockets, a comfortable yoga style, and several others. You can even choose nurse skirt scrubs if you wish.  

Classic Cut  

The classic cut scrub pants typically have an elastic band or drawstring closure. They sit at your natural waistline and have a relaxed fit in the hips, thighs, and seat- and hang straight over your knees. They fit a lot like PJ bottoms and are just as comfy.  

Modern Cut  

The modern cut scrub pants have a slimmer fit in the hip/seat area and have a tapered, fitted look over the thighs. They sit a bit below the waistline and will either have a tapered leg or even a slight flare.  

Yoga Style  

The world of athleisure wear has finally met the world of nurse scrubs. Now, you can find scrub pants with the feel of yoga pants: the wide elastic waistband and drawstring tie, as well as the stretchy fit. These are commonly boot cut and ideal for comfort and nurses who need flexibility, and they work quite well for pediatric nurse scrubs.  

Cargo Style  

If you’re a nurse that has an obsession with pockets, perhaps the cargo-style nurse scrubs are best for you. These scrubs have lots of pockets- some have up to 5 extra pockets and include equipment loops. Another feature of the cargo-style scrub pants is that they look/feel like regular pants- but are still comfy and stretchy.  

Jogger Style  

The jogger nursing scrubs will allow you to go from work to the gym without changing clothes. This style also came from the world of athleisure wear. Typically, the jogger-style scrubs have a wide elastic waistband and may include a drawstring. The cut is usually tapered on the legs, has a snug fit, and may even have an elastic band on the ankles.

Where to Find Scrubs?

There are many places where you can find nurse scrubs, both in stores and online. You can shop at Walmart for nursing scrubs, Amazon, and even specialty stores.  

Plus, with AdvantisConnect, you don’t have to pay top dollar for your scrubs! We have partnerships and discounts with various companies so that you can get cute nursing scrubs without breaking the bank. Also, remember Advantis Medical cares what you think! We would love to hear from you with your opinion on nurse scrubs.

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