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What to Wear Under Scrubs

What to Wear Under Scrubs

Scrubs come in a variety of styles and designs and are designed to be comfortable for all day wear. Medical professionals do a lot in a day and need something to keep them as relaxed as possible. Scrubs also serve the purpose of fostering a sanitary workplace, creating convenience and giving a uniform look among professionals.

Hospitals and doctor offices are notorious for being cold. Typically when in a cold environment you can layer up with a jacket, sweater or cardigan but when it comes to doctors and nurses they are often not afforded the same luxury due to working in a sterile environment. Body Intelligence discusses the various options to fight off the chill of doctor offices and hospitals while still complying with medical office or hospital regulations. 

What to Wear Under Your Scrubs? 

Whether you are trying to achieve additional coverage or warmth you can choose to layer your scrubs with the following items: 

  1. Under Scrubs Shirts - tops specifically designed to be worn under scrubs that are breathable yet provide added warmth when needed. 
  2. Long Sleeve Shirt - choose a performance material long sleeve shirt that will fit you comfortably but doesn’t compress making it uncomfortable for all day wear. 
  3. Layering Tank Top - if you're looking for a way to conceal your bra or just want a layer without adding heat choose to wear a tank top under your scrub. 
  4. Bicycle Shorts or Spandex Shorts - when you need to conceal a panty line or add a layer for comfort, spandex shorts are great to layer with as they provide a smooth layer of protection. 
  5. Thermal Underwear - When permitted it can be beneficial to wear warm thermal underwear under your scrubs to keep you warm in cold medical office environments during the winter. 

Types of Shirts to Wear Under Scrubs

When considering what types of shirts to wear under your scrubs, there are a few things you should consider: 

The Fit — Scrubs allow for nurses, doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals to move about freely. They’re not restrictive and do not prohibit your movement. Under scrub clothing should fit in the same way, fitted but not restrictive. While they should be snug against your body, they should also be extremely flexible.

The Color — The color of your undershirt should depend on the color of your scrubs. You don’t want to wear a black undershirt with light pink scrubs. Your undershirt should be virtually unseen through the fabric of your scrubs. If the scrubs are light, the under scrub shirt should also be light. If you have darker scrubs, you can get away with a darker undershirt, but you should be careful that it’s not too harsh a contrast to the color of the scrubs.

The Type — There are a lot of options when it comes to the type of shirt you can wear. If you’re trying to keep warm, you’d obviously want a long-sleeved shirt. If you’re hoping for more coverage, a tank top or short sleeve shirt might work just fine. If you choose a long sleeve shirt to wear under your scrubs you should find one with sleeves that are easy to push up if you get warm or need to try and keep them clean when administering care. 

What to Wear Under Scrub Pants

Just as the issue with undershirts, you should be sure your employer allows you to wear additional pants underneath your scrubs. The pants you choose should be a light color that won’t show through your scrubs. 

If you’re wearing additional pants to keep yourself warm, you may be able to wear thermals or spandex shorts. Although you want them to hold in the warmth, you also want them to be breathable and flexible. Anything that restricts your movement is only going to make you feel miserable throughout the day.

You might also be able to wear leggings. These will help to keep you warm, but they serve another purpose as well. When you walk out of the medical office, you might want to change out of your scrubs as quickly as possible. They harbor all kinds of germs, but if you can strip them off in the parking lot on your way to the car, having leggings underneath, you can shove the scrubs in a bag, zip it shut, and safely get it to your washing machine without spreading the germs to your car and home.

How to Avoid Panty Lines in Scrub Pants

To avoid distracting or embarrassing panty lines choose scrub pants that do not fit too tightly across your backside. While you don’t want your pants baggy you also don’t want them overly tight to where they are distracting or restrictive. Choosing a silky pair of underwear also helps to prevent the pants from grabbing or catching on the underwear material. Layering with bicycle or spandex shorts can also help to conceal the appearance of panty lines. 

What to Wear Under White Scrubs

Wearing white is always tricky and is often avoided. However, sometimes white is the mandatory color for a department. When wearing white scrubs it is very important you pay special attention to your undergarments. Always choose nude or white underwear. Also it can be helpful to wear white or nude (or any neutral color) bicycle shorts or spandex as an added layer of coverage. When selecting the under layer be careful not to get them too restrictive as you will have to be wearing them all day.

Seasonality and Scrubs 

During different times of the year your scrub bases layers will differ, just as your street clothes do. 

What do You Wear Under Winter Scrubs? 

During winter cold air seems to be constantly hitting us and it often seems impossible to get warm once chilled. For those cold winter months choose to layer your scrubs with the following:

  • Fitted Long Sleeve Shirts - Choose a performance material that is smooth and won’t cling to your scrub shirt. 
  • Leggings - that can be repurposed into street clothes following your shift, if needed. 
  • Thermal Underwear - for those really cold areas of the hospital, such as ER front desks, choose thermals to layer with! 

What do You Wear Under Summer Scrubs?

During the summer time you often need an added layer of coverage but don’t want the added warmth! During those warm summer months choose to layer your scrubs with the following: 

  • Fitted Tank Tops - try to avoid cotton tops if possible so your scrubs do not cling to the material.
  • Fitted Short Sleeve Shirts - choose a performance material that will wick away moisture. 
  • Spandex Shorts or Bicycle Shorts - for additional coverage under your scrub pants choose moisture wicking performance material spandex or bicycle shorts. 

Are There Products Specifically for Wearing Under Scrubs?

Yes! The good news about wearing underlayers with your scrubs is there are specific underscrubs made just for this purpose. You could purchase a plain white t-shirt, but that comes with some risks. The fabric may not be breathable or flexible, and after just a couple of hours at work, you might be hot and uncomfortable.

The fabric used for specific men’s underscrubs and women’s underscrubs is the same type of fabric you’ll find in certain types of athletic wear. It wicks away the moisture, so after a long day of work, you won’t be covered in sweat or other fluids. It’s easier to transition from a cool work environment to a warm day outdoors with underscrubs made specifically for the medical professional. In addition to this versatility, they can be worn for other purposes outside of a medical office, such as running errands or working out.

Is There Anything To Avoid with Underscrubs?

Again, yes! You don’t want to just wear anything under your scrubs, or you could find yourself in an uncomfortable situation mid-workday. You should avoid anything that draws attention to your wardrobe rather than your expertise. If a patient notices a loose-hanging shirt coming out of the bottom of your scrub shirt, it’s going to look unprofessional. Loose-fitting undershirts and pants are going to give that sloppy look you never want.

You should also avoid fabrics that are restrictive or uncomfortable. For example, wool will keep you warm, but it’s not for a medical setting. Wool is often thick, itchy and not very flexible. It doesn’t wick moisture very well and will make you sweat once you get moving. Other fabrics to avoid could include rayon, polyester, nylon, leather, flannel, fleece and denim. Be careful because some underlayers might be made of blended fabric, such as polyester and cotton, so you should always read the labels.

Which Environments Allow Under Scrubs or Layers?

Not every medical environment will allow you to wear something under your scrubs. You should always speak to your employer to understand what is allowed and what isn’t. For example, in an operating room, you may have to stick to just your scrubs. Any additional layers may not be allowed for the possibility of contamination.

If you work in a physician’s office, you may be able to layer up when the temperatures are a little colder. You have to remain sanitary, but it’s not as pressing an issue as it is in an operating room. With the right types of layers, you might be fine by adding a shirt or shorts to your outfit for the day. Again, speak with your employer or the doctor on duty to learn what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

As you can see, scrub underlayers can be beneficial, but you’ve got to do it right. Whether for additional coverage, comfort or added warmth, what do you wear under scrubs? Comment below with your favorite layers to wear under your scrubs!