Nurses’ Uniforms, Hats & Shoes, 1960

When someone says “nurse”, this is still what comes to mind:

Sears Fall Winter 1960 catalog

Sears Fall Winter 1960 catalog

When did they stop using the traditional, identifiable uniform? It was sometime during my adulthood, but I didn’t notice at the time. All of a sudden I realized that I couldn’t tell the doctor from the orderlies, or the R.N.s from housekeeping.

In fact, when I went in for one of the tests before surgery, there was a whole group of people in scrubs in my … well, it’s not really a room; it’s a curtained off part of the pre-surgery room. Anyway, I was talking to a woman who I thought was a nurse, but in fact, she was the radiologist M.D. who was going to do the procedure. We’d never met before and she didn’t introduce herself, and I’m too embarrassed to stare at the name tags. I must have said something about wondering when the doctor was going to get there because all of a sudden everyone was kind of shuffling their feet and Joe said “She’s the doctor.”

Oops.

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12 Comments

Filed under 1960, 1960's, Fashion, Hats

12 responses to “Nurses’ Uniforms, Hats & Shoes, 1960

  1. I totally agree, Carla. I like for people to “dress their part”. And even though I’m not Catholic, I liked nuns who looked like nuns!

    I’m not sure why society has decided it’s better for everyone to dress alike — sloppy!

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  3. In Guatemala where I was born I remember I was a patient in a hospital it was 1987, and as I kid I just saw a bunch a ladies with White dresses and white starched caps, they were the RNs, and the CNAs wore a baby blue dress with a starched baby blue colored cap. They all had their hair pull back and they would put their hair inside the caps. It was nice I did not know they were nurses at that time but just by seeing them it made me have respect for them, I mean their immaculate image demmanded respect from my part. Until this day they still wear the same uniforms, although now must nurses wear pants white for the RNs and Baby Blue for the CNAs and they still wear the caps (LVNs-LPNs do not exists in Latin America.) the CNAs are called in Guatemala; Auxiliar de Enfermeria. Nice to know that in some countries of the world nurses still look like nurses and wear a nice uniform unlike here with their pajamas, although now I have noticed that hospitals put the nurses title in red or blue and the initials of what they are, like RN or CNA or LVN, but that does not come close to the whole uniform.

    • Very interesting – I didn’t know that the nurses in Guatemala are still wearing the traditional uniform. It presents such a dignified appearance to the patient.

      Your comment about the “pajamas” is right on target; I’d never thought of the current garb as that, but it is very accurate.

      Thanks for visiting!

  4. Tracy Shirley

    I started out “old school” and loved wearing my white uniform and cap–it seemed like people respected me. But, after getting my hair half pulled-out by running into tv’s, IV poles, othe people’s heads, etc, it didn’t seem quite so glamorous! Plus, the “stains” were not always easy to get out of a perfectly white uniform. And there are some stains that you encounter that you cannot even imagine where they came from. When I specialized in Pediatrics, we were not allowed to wear white anymore. It was too upseting to the kids—they reacted better to cats, dogs, kites and teddy bears much easier. (and the stains come out easier with the new fabrics.)
    When I was small, my mother had to go into restaurants to see if the waitresses wore white because I was born with Cystic Fibrosis. I was in the hospital ALOT and was afraid of the “white” clothes! I guess it is a matter of perspective and experience. I still don’t like the sloppiness of many of the scrubs they now wear. AND, it is just rude to not introduce themselves to each person in the room. Old school rules should still apply.
    BTW—I am now 50 yrs. old and cont. to be in the hospital alot and cringe at many things!!!! But nurses are still WONDERFUL!!! :D

    • Tracy, thanks so much for the really interesting comment.

      As I said on Pinterest, the nurses nearly always introduced themselves, but there are so many other hospital employees and most of them didn’t.

      My dentist’s office is a bit swanky, but he’s started requiring that even the office ladies wear scrubs, which is crazy. He lost one of his best employees (who dressed beautifully) because she wouldn’t wear scrubs. They fulfil a function for the technicians but it almost seems like a socialist thing that everyone must look alike.

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  6. morganminpin

    For many years back in the ’60s and ’70s when RNs were really unhappy about their roles (and pay!) I maintained that if they wanted respect they needed to get out of the little white uniforms. But it turned out I was wrong, because what I had in mind was street clothes with a white coat or jacket, and whoever above said that what they wear now looks like pajamas is right, and this isn’t a look designed to invoke respect. I’ve had nurses tell me that on National Nurses Day (May 6th) they get out their old white uniforms and shoes and wear them to work, and the patients ask if they can have the “real nurse” assigned to them! Seems like there might be some middle ground of uniforms that would look professional and yet not scare the peds patients…

    • The white uniforms, stockings and caps look so dignified and professional to me. I can see where it might possibly have an intimidating effect on children, but there’s also something about it giving the nurse a trustworthy look.

  7. Hilde

    bacteria survives longer on polyester than on cotton….still most of our scrubs are “blends”…i guess we still have some ways to go!!!

    • Hilde,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, and please forgive me for taking so long to reply.

      I understand the convenience of fabric blends, but I still don’t like them. Your point about bacteria was one I didn’t know and I’m glad you shared it!

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