History of Fashion in the Operating Room
When you think of fashion within the medical field, one thing always comes to our minds – scrubs. They have become an icon as such which identifies to us a worker within the field of medicine. Scrubs have become further indented into our minds due to the number of medical dramas which have recently graced our television screens.
The history of OR fashion has evolved constantly, but only recently has it evolved into the way we as society recognize it. Originally, doctors and nurses did not have any kind of specialized clothing. Instead, surgeons would don their normal street clothes before adopting aprons. These protected their clothing from the bodily fluids they were exposed to on a daily basis.
However, during this time there was a great lack of awareness of the protection of the health of the patient and the doctor, with surgeons performing procedures without masks, gloves or even sterile equipment. These practices allowed for infections to frequently occur. As this awareness of safety within the OR was finally realized, surgeons began wearing cotton masks, not as a way in which to protect their patients from infections, but rather to eliminate the chances of the surgeon becoming exposed to any diseases.
During this time, OR attire had evolved into doctors and nurses both donning white attire. It presented someone as being clean and neat. However, as many of us are aware, white is a magnet for dirt which left these newly discovered scrubs looking messy and unpleasant when introduced to blood and other fluids.
As we reached the 1950s, many hospitals began to abandon this original white attire for a more appropriate and attractive green shade. This helped to not only keep those who worked within the medical field looking more professional and clean, but also helped to disguise any tell-tale remnants of blood or bodily fluids. As the 1970s approached, OR attire had slowly evolved into the type of style we now recognize within the medical field. Short sleeved v-necked tops and drawstring trousers were now being worn by all staff which not only were more practical, but also offered a level of comfort which is required when in the OR for a considerable amount of time. Although originally referred to as “surgical greens”, they soon become referred to as “scrubs” due to the surroundings in which they were worn – a scrubbed clean environment.
Today, fashion within the OR has evolved to such a degree, that now more colors and patterns are being introduced. This enables wearers to express their own identity within their separate departments, as well as giving them more attractive attire. Due to the sheer amount of staff which can be found within a hospital, color coded scrubs were soon introduced with many hospitals sticking to the color green as a way in which to identify surgeons. However, in some other hospitals, surgeons may also don blue or red color scrubs as their signature color.
Just as medicine has evolved, so has the way in which those who work within medicine are perceived. Scrubs are now only used as a means to protect clothing from stains and mess and allow for a cleaner environment, but also help to give those who work within the OR and the rest of the hospital an identity.