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History of Medical Uniforms

While it is difficult to envision healthcare professionals without their signature scrubs, it was not until the 1970s that the medical uniforms we know now were worn by all medical staff. Up until that time, medical professionals used to wear business attire to work.

The history of medical uniforms goes back to the times of World War One when they were needed to cater to the rapidly increasing number of deaths. In a chaotic environment such as this, where saving time almost equated to saving a life, medical professionals soon understood that they needed their clothing to be designed for the urgency of the situation. Quick assistance and recognition of medical professionals became a high priority which is where medical uniforms came into play.

At this time, the medical world was starting to realize that the clothing they wore during procedures could carry bacteria and infections. Healthcare professionals could get exposed to hazardous chemicals which could get potentially absorbed into clothing. Furthermore, the uniforms needed constant washing, disinfecting and ironing. The fabric wore out quicker than expected due to the exposure to blood and other bodily fluids. They also soon came to the realization that the clothing also needed to be designed for comfort and performance. It is through such experiences and challenges that medical professionals faced which led to the rapidly evolving industry of medical uniforms.

Figure 2: Transformation of Scrubs

The scrubs we know today started appearing in operating rooms in the 1950s and 60s.  At its inception, scrubs were designed in stark white, symbolizing a clean and sterile environment. It was soon realized that this was too intense and caused eye fatigue for surgeons which led to the change of color to blue and green. These colors are known to represent calmness and tranquility which is reassuring to patients.

The scrubs with the pants and tops attire became common in the 1970s and 80s. They are designed to be comfortable and easy to move in, making it easier for medical staff to manage patients.

Textiles has always been a part of healthcare; therefore, it did not come as a surprise when the apparel companies began to diversify into the medical uniform world. Medical scrubs are now being revamped in terms of form, functionality and style. They have almost become a fashion item with many brands, designs, technologies and styles to choose from. Medical professionals are no longer limited to basic colors and styles in the medical apparel they choose. Medical professionals now have the ability to choose the type of medical clothing which works best for their job in-terms of functionality and even body type.

Figure 3: Scrubs Today

The medical clothing market now have well styled fashionable scrubs that have high-performance qualities built into the scrubs that are essential for supporting work in an intense fast-paced, and often messy environment.

Scrubs are offered with high technology and consumer driven trends such as specialized coatings for extra protection in surgeries and functions that increase durability and aspects of easy care. Scrubs are created with performance in mind with soft comfortable fabric, improved durability and functionality with features such as thermoregulation, as well as ergonomics to support long shifts at the hospital.

Figure 4: Functionality in Scrubs

As the needs of the frontline workers evolve, new health cresses and new technologies come about, the medical uniforms will need to be reinvented, redesigned and continuously innovated to cater to the new world order. 

The medical uniform space is about to see a huge change as few organizations have started making a mark in this industry of healthcare fashion. With 30+ years of next-to-skin expertise in apparel manufacturing, MAS+ is rising to this challenge to provide medical professionals with consumer centric, the best in the market, fashionable and protective medical apparel. Get in touch with us as to find out more!