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Embroidery Service
(*from just £2.50)

Free UK Delivery
(*on orders over £75)

UK Manufactures
since 1950

Speedy Delivery
on all Stocked Items

How you should dress for work as a nurse

Although today’s nurses uniforms are a far cry from Florence Nightingale’s full-length nurse dress and apron inception, its primary function for protection and infection control still stands strong to this day.

But what are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to dressing for work and how far can you go when it comes to personalising your uniform?

We take a look at the choices you can make while maintaining a professional appearance and unpick the guidance and policies around nursing uniforms.

Typical Nurse Clothing

The modern-day nursing uniform has been evolving for over 150 years and there’s never been more choice.

From the more traditional nurse dress to the evolution of nurse scrubs uniforms which are now a staple in hospital wards and operating theatres up and down the land.

What you wear is very much dependent on roles, specialisms and healthcare settings.

The NHS sets a national guidance for healthcare uniforms and workwear while the individual organisations within tend to operate more localised uniform codes which consider comfort, cultural and religious aspects.

There are three overall guiding principles when it comes to NHS uniforms and workwear.

Patient safety, public confidence and comfort.

Patient safety is essential, ensuring hygiene and infection control is paramount in all healthcare settings to minimise the risk to patients.

Uniforms are a key element to professionalism and consumer confidence across all sectors but never more so than in the healthcare environment.

According to the NHS how staff dress is critical to how patients perceive the standards of care they experience so it’s essential uniforms are clean and visually meet professional expectations.

Nursing is a physically demanding role with long hours and overnight shifts, so being comfortable in what you wear is important, especially when it comes to footwear.


What Are Nurses Clothes Called?

For many nurses when it comes to comfortable clothing, scrubs are the uniform of choice.

This simple unisex two-piece comprising of a short-sleeved V-neck and elasticated waistband scrub trousers offers protection, while being functional and durable.

They can be washed at high temperatures for infection control and sterilisation purposes and they’re available in a wide range of colours.

Subject to your departmental dress code and role of course, they offer style flexibility for those who want to bring a little personalisation to their workwear.

As long-standing and reputable NHS supplier, Harveys offers lightweight and heavier weight medical scrub suits made from the highest quality fabrics. Tops and trousers are available in a wide range of colours and shades.

Tunic tops with stud or zip fastenings are a more tailored option to the scrub top and often paired with darker coloured trousers.

This type of uniform is ideal if you’re after a smarter aesthetic or your department or healthcare setting requires a more professional appearance for direct patient care activity.

The nurses’ dress is another good choice when it comes to smart and tailored workwear and it’s both comfortable and practical.

The Harveys nurses’ dress is available in a range of blues, white and pastel shades and comes as a standard length of 116cm.

What Colour Scrubs Do Nurses Wear?

Scrubs have been popular among American medical teams for many years.

They rose to huge prominence here in the UK during the pandemic.

According to the Nursing Standard magazine, scrubs accounted for 70% of overall uniform spend March to May 2019/20 compared to just 11% the year before.

It’s now the uniform of choice for many healthcare professionals and in a 2022/23 consultation among NHS staff to implement a standardised uniform, a smart scrub tunic top gets the thumbs up from almost half of those taking part.

NHS surgical teams tend to wear blue or green scrubs.

There’s a wide range of scrub top and trouser colour options to choose from at Harveys, from black to purple.

Scrubs can be smart too!

We supply a scrub tunic top with contrast trim – one that’s made to last using a hard-wearing polyester and cotton blend – it’s available in traditional navy, pine, eau de nil green and a variety of other shades.

What Footwear Do Nurses Wear?

Comfort and support are the top considerations when choosing footwear.

NHS good practice guidelines recommend soft-soled shoes ‘closed over the foot and toes’.

This helps to protect the feet from spills as well as injury and reduces the risk of contamination.

And did you know? The reason soft soles are recommended – aside from being more comfortable – they’re also quieter when walking around in the wards and therefore cause less disturbance to patients!

Other Things To Consider As A Nurse

As well as choosing what style of uniform to wear and the aesthetic of how it’s presented, here are a few common sense ‘good to knows’ around the NHS’s good practice workwear guidelines.

False nails are a ‘no-no’ as they harbour germs.

And don’t be tempted to paint your nails. The NHS asks for nails to be kept short, clean and unvarnished.

Ensure you have enough nurse uniforms to allow for a clean change each day and get changed at work.

If you do wear your uniform to travel to and from work, you’re advised to keep it covered.

Even though the NHS state there’s no evidence of an infection risk while travelling in your uniform, it’s how it’s perceived by others who may think it’s unhygienic.

Can You Wear Jewellery As A Nurse?

For safety reasons for both staff and patients, nurses are asked not to wear jewellery other than a plain metal ring such as a wedding ring and stud earrings.

Items such as necklaces shouldn’t be worn and watches aren’t recommended either so a fob watch is a good idea if you need to conduct precise timings or keep an eye on your schedule.

The reason behind the no jewellery and watch policy is to reduce contamination and infection and it can hamper keeping the hands hygienically clean.

There are separate policy guides for wearing jewellery for religious reasons.

Can You Wear Make-up As A Nurse?

There are no specific guidelines on wearing make-up but it’s a good idea to bear in mind the emphasis on professionalism and dressing to ‘inspire patient and public confidence’.

A modest amount is probably the best recommendation – if you have the time or inclination!

How Should You Wear Your Hair As A Nurse?

The general rule is if you have long hair tie it up off the collar of your uniform.

That could be a pony tail or a bun for example using a plain hair tie – either way as long as it looks smart and it’s out of harm’s way!

Healthcare uniforms – as well as industry insight and expertise – are woven into the heritage of Harveys Workwear and we became a contracted main NHS supplier shortly after we were established in 1950.

We are a long-standing and trusted provider of uniforms and workwear to a whole range of healthcare professions.

We offer a huge range of easy-to-order and affordable workwear solutions which don’t compromise on quality.

Designed to offer comfort and durability we also specialise in offering plenty of choice when it comes to colour, style and size.

You can personalise your uniforms and workwear through our bespoke embroidery service.

If you need any assistance throughout the ordering process or you have a query prior to ordering, get in touch with our friendly customer service team – they’re knowledgeable and on hand to lighten your load!


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