Dress For Success: Elevating Your Professional Look As A Nurse

Debra Riley


You run from room to room, your shoes squeaking on the linoleum. Sweat patches threaten your uniform, and you just caught a whiff of something unidentifiable that clings to your scrubs.

It’s tough as a nurse – long shifts, chaotic environments, and the constant pressure to maintain a professional image can easily push your appearance to the back burner. Your primary focus is always on patient care.

But the right style choices can build your confidence, command respect, and enhance your performance.

This article will help you achieve an elevated, professional look that’s still comfortable and practical.

nursing scrubs

The Power Of Fit

First things first – the fit of your scrubs makes a major difference. Overly baggy scrubs convey a sloppy, unprofessional appearance, while overly tight styles restrict your movement and comfort. A well-fitting pair of scrubs highlights your professionalism and enhances your confidence when dealing with patients and colleagues.

A tailored look doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort. Look for scrubs designed with some stretch. They should allow for a full range of motion without being overly constricting.

Many scrub brands offer styles catering to different body types. If you’re petite, look for brands with shorter inseams and a closer fit around the shoulders.

If you’re tall, choose a scrub brand with longer pant options and tops with extra length.

Finding the right fit may require some experimenting. Consider consulting with a scrub specialty store where experts can help determine the best brands and styles for your body type.

Color And Comfort: The Winning Combination

Color plays a surprisingly powerful role in how people perceive you. In a healthcare setting, calming blues and soft greens promote feelings of trust and serenity. Shades of gray convey professionalism and reliability.

Opting for these colors can subtly enhance your interactions with patients and colleagues. Scrub Lab Premium Scrubs come in numerous shades, including rogue red, candy pink, Caribbean blue, powder pink, maroon, lavender haze, hunter green, aubergine, black, navy, ceil, royal blue, teal, steel gray, and pure white.

While color matters, comfort is king. Look for scrubs made from breathable, wrinkle-resistant fabrics. This will help you feel fresh even after a long shift.

Many brands offer scrubs with moisture-wicking technology to keep you comfortable in a fast-paced environment.

Don’t be afraid to express your personality through your scrubs! Choose undershirts or accessories in colors that complement your scrubs and reflect your personal style. Even small pops of color can add a touch of individuality to your look.

nurse uniforms folded

Practical Yet Polished: Footwear And Accessories

Your shoes are the foundation of both your comfort and your professional look. Invest in supportive, comfortable shoes designed for healthcare environments. Look for slip-resistant soles to prevent falls on wet floors.

You’ll also want a style that’s easy to clean, given the inevitable spills and stains of hospital life.

When it comes to accessories, less is more. Minimalist jewelry and a functional watch are ideal choices that won’t interfere with patient care. Avoid large, dangling earrings or necklaces, and ensure rings and bracelets can be easily cleaned and sanitized.

Maintain neatly styled hair. If you have long hair, opt for a simple ponytail, bun, or braids to keep it away from your face. Choose a natural makeup look that enhances your features without appearing overdone.

Focus on a flawless complexion and well-groomed eyebrows for a clean and professional appearance.

Beyond The Scrubs: Business Casual For Nurses

There’ll be times when you need to swap your scrubs for something more business-appropriate.  Administrative meetings, conferences, and educational events often call for business casual attire.

Don’t worry – you can still look professional and stylish outside of your uniform.

A few versatile pieces will go a long way. Invest in a well-tailored blazer, dress pants or a skirt, and a few blouses or button-down shirts. Choose neutral colors like black, navy, or gray as your foundation, then add pops of color with scarves, jewelry, or shoes.

Even in business settings, your personal style can still shine through. Choose pieces that reflect your personality while maintaining a professional appearance.

A well-defined personal style boosts confidence, which translates into your interactions with colleagues and clients.

nurses and doctors wearing scrubs

Hygiene And First Impressions

Impeccable hygiene is crucial in a healthcare setting. Patients are often anxious and vulnerable, and your clean, well-groomed appearance can enhance their sense of trust and well-being.

Take care of the basics. Shower before your shift and keep deodorant handy for touch-ups throughout the day. If you choose to wear perfume or cologne, opt for a subtle, neutral scent.

Pay attention to the details. Nails should be clean and trimmed and avoid chipped nail polish.  Long hair should be neatly pulled back to avoid contact with patients. For men, facial hair should be well-groomed.

Your first impression matters. A tidy appearance, combined with a friendly smile and professional demeanor, creates a positive impact that goes a long way in establishing trust with patients and colleagues.


As a nurse, your appearance reflects not only on yourself but also on the entire healthcare profession. Thoughtful attention to your dress code and personal style sends a message of competence, professionalism, and compassion. By embracing the tips in this article, you’ll enhance your confidence and elevate your professional image within the healthcare setting.

Investing in a few well-fitting, high-quality scrubs in flattering colors will take you a long way. Choosing comfortable, breathable fabrics in colors that suit you will allow you to focus on your patients rather than your attire.

It’s also a smart idea to keep a change of clothes or a “uniform refresh kit” at work. Life happens, and being prepared for spills, stains, or other unexpected mishaps allows you to maintain your professional appearance – no matter what your shift throws at you!