Scrubs are often seen as the ultimate comfort outfit.

However, if you are not wearing the right clothes beneath them, you may find yourself chilly and itchy all year long.

Here are a few tips for creating the perfect on-the-job outfit.

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What Should You Wear Under Your Scrubs?

In most areas of health care, you are allowed to wear additional layers beneath your scrubs.

Besides comfortable underwear, you may also want to pair your look with a neutral-colored t-shirt and even light-colored leggings for warmth and comfort. As you make your choice, you will need to pay attention to your organization’s policies.

What Can You Wear to Keep Your Scrubs Cute, Comfortable and Safe?

Most health care organizations allow their employees to wear certain items of clothing beneath their scrub tops and bottoms.

The policies and procedures manual for the organization will clearly list any limitations or expectations in regard to this policy.

However, the one place where you will not be able to wear anything other than underwear beneath your scrubs is the operating room. The OR must be completely sterile to keep patients safe.

However, you may find that you have to wear multiple layers of hospital-provided scrub jackets to stay warm in this notoriously cold area.

In most other areas, however, you will be allowed to wear soft and comfortable t-shirts and even leggings. You may decide on short-sleeve or long-sleeve t-shirts depending on the season and your own personal comfort level. You may also find that primarily cotton leggings keep your legs warm while still allowing your skin to breathe.

The fit of these items of apparel is very important to consider. You do not want to wear baggy clothing that gets caught on equipment or drags on your patients.

Instead, choose well-fitted items that keep you warm in the generally cool hospital environment and that do not pose a safety challenge.

Even if your facility has strict standards when it comes to scrub colors you may be able to still accessorize with your watch, your shoes, or your badge reel.

Here’s where you can get some great options on nurse shoes, your nurse watch, and your badge reel.

This is without even mentioning coloring your hair or getting a tattoo, which is something I’ve seen plenty of nurses do.

The History of the Dress Code in Nursing

Nurses once wore all white attire, and female nurses would wear dresses, aprons and caps. White hose and plain white shoes finished the outfits.

Over the years, this type of uniform gave way to a more casual and comfortable look.

Despite this, the majority of patients believe that nurses who wear identical uniforms display the highest level of professionalism, and navy blue has consistently won out as the most professional color.

Can You Wear Street Clothes Under Scrubs?

In most departments of the hospital or clinic, you will be able to wear street clothes beneath your scrubs. You will want to launder these after every shift and avoid wearing them anywhere else before your shift to keep the number of germs on them to a minimum.

Numerous studies have looked at these concerns and have shown that clothing worn in hospitals could harbor germs and be problematic to the general population.

What Colors Can You Wear Under Scrubs?

The colors you can wear are usually delineated in your organization’s policies and procedures manual. Generally, they lean towards neutral colors that match well and that do not attract undue attention to themselves. Usually, black, white, gray and navy blue are the most popular options.

I worked in a facility once that had different scrub color requirements for different disciplines or different hospital departments. For instance, nurses wore blue, while techs wore green colored scrubs.

I thought it was annoying then, but I didn’t appreciate it until after leaving that facility and going to one that allowed staff to wear any color they wanted.

Looking back, it was nice for patients (and staff) to be able to tell your discipline just by your scrub color.

What Do You Wear Under White Scrubs?

nurses wearing white scrubs

Another important concern you will need to address is how dark your clothing is.

Your t-shirts and leggings worn beneath your scrubs should be lighter in color than your scrubs are so they do not show through and look sloppy.

This is especially important for white scrubs, which are nearly always see-through. Wear white leggings, undershirts, and t-shirts beneath these scrubs. As for your underwear, you will want to opt for white or even a neutral skin-tone color that will blend in better.

What Are Options for Staying Warm in Scrubs During the Winter?

One of the biggest concerns that hospital workers have is how they will stay warm enough in their thin scrubs during the winter months.

This is especially true in operating rooms, laboratories, and radiology departments, but it can also be a problem in inpatient care units where temperatures are kept low to reduce the risk of infection.

Piling on the layers is important during the coldest months of the year, and you may even find that a scrub jacket (like this one) added to the top of your outfit will help. (Here are some good scrub jacket options).

You may also discover that your health care organization sells approved fleece jackets with their emblem on them that will keep you even warmer than a scrub jacket does.

Cherokee Women's Infinity Jacket
  • Zip front
  • Front and back shoulder yokes
  • Princess seaming

Related: Why are Operating Rooms so Cold?

What Are Options for Staying Cool in Scrubs During the Summer?

While many hospitals and clinics stay so cool that it feels like winter all year long, you may find that you become a little warmer during the summer as you are hurrying from patient to patient.

Opt for layers that are easy to remove, such as a scrub jacket with a short sleeve scrub top. You could also switch from a long-sleeve t-shirt to a short-sleeve t-shirt or tank top to reduce irritation on your skin while still staying cool.

How Can You Look Cute in Your Scrubs?

Scrubs are a very casual look, but you can still look professional and cute by making the right decisions as you shop for your at-work attire.

Choose well-fitting clothes, and be sure that you do not cover up your scrub top entirely with a personal jacket or sweater.

Research has shown that patients tend to trust health care workers who are dressed professionally more than they do those who are dressed casually.

Of course, while you want to display your individuality, your health care job is probably not the place to do this.

The best way to amp up the cuteness factor is to choose scrubs that fit your organization’s dress code while still showing off your best assets. Opt for fitted tops and for bottoms with skinnier legs that create a more modern look. Stay away from prints that often look more like pajamas than work attire.

Creating the Perfect Outfit in Your Scrubs

It is important that you choose cute, comfortable, and properly fitting items to wear underneath your scrubs.

Comment below with any tips you have for staying warm and comfortable while following your organization’s written policies and procedures.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some faqs related to what you should wear under scrubs.

  1. What do you wear under scrub pants?

    You should consider breathable or thermal underwear. You should avoid colors that are see-through.

  2. Do you wear normal clothes under scrubs?

    You can wear normal clothes under your scrubs as long as it’s not against your department policy. Make sure to keep them laundered to prevent the spread of hospital germs to the community.

  3. How do you wear scrubs properly?

    Consider buying good quality scrubs that are form fitting and not overly baggy or loose. The scrubs should feel comfortable and give you adequate range of motion.

  4. How do you look cute in scrubs?

    Depending on your facility policy you can accessorize with scrub color. Besides that make sure you’re buying good quality and form fitting scrubs. You can also accessorize your scrubs with your choices in shoes, watch and name badge.

  5. What do you wear under summer scrubs?

    Choose layers that are easy to remove, such as a scrub jacket with a short sleeve scrub top.

One Comment

  1. The tip about keeping spare scrubs in the car is a game-changer. You never know when you might need them, and it’s a simple yet effective way to be prepared.

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