JAANUU » How Scrubs Should Fit: An Expert’s Guide On How To Choose The Right Size

How Scrubs Should Fit: An Expert’s Guide On How To Choose The Right Size

Doctors wearing light color scrubs
Reading Time: 6 minutes

When picking out new clothes, it’s a given—you want them to fit well. The same applies to scrubs. Though the primary goal of this medical uniform is to protect you and your patients from germs, bacteria and other toxins, the perfect fit is second to none.

That’s not to say other factors don’t account for the scrubs you buy. After all, you need scrubs to fit your body type and be functional for fast-paced work in a healthcare environment. That can include anything from having multiple pockets to an antimicrobial finish or the ability to withstand frequent washes without the fear of them coming apart.

Sure, functionality is key. But there’s no denying that looking good can help you feel good, too, especially during stressful moments on the job. And, if you want to know our honest opinion on how to make scrubs fit better, we believe that a holistic approach to med-athleisure fashion is best. Even when you’re helping others, it never hurts to share some of that love and care with yourself.

That means finding the perfect set of medical scrubs that flatter your figure. You’ll also want to feel comfortable in that scrub fit, so they aren’t a hindrance on the job. 

But how exactly are scrubs supposed to fit, and what critical characteristics should you consider when buying a pair? Read on as we run through the basics.

How are scrubs supposed to fit?

When choosing scrub sizes that work for you, you want scrubs that are form-fitting (not too baggy, but not too tight, either). The cut of these scrubs can vary slightly, from truly form-fitting to a relaxed or even unisex fit. But before you buy, ask yourself:

Are scrubs comfortable?

Although your scrubs should be form-fitting, pay attention to the comfort of the fit itself. Does the form-fitting nature of your uniform leave you with an awkward inseam placement, or is the V-neckline just a bit too low for the length of your torso? Where does the waistline of your scrub pants sit, and is this waistline one that you are comfortable with?

Woman wearing navy color scrub

When it comes to bottoms, do you prefer scrub pants with a natural waistline or mid-rise? What about a relaxed fit? Do you want a higher waist altogether, to give yourself additional support over a long shift? 

What about the weave of the fabric? Is it soft, scratchy or sleek? Is it made of spandex or a spandex blend? Is there enough stretch when you bend down or pick up an item, or when you lean forward to assist someone lying in a bed? These are all important questions to ask yourself before committing to a particular fit. 

Is there enough room for layering?

Sure, scrubs need to be form-fitting, but the right scrubs leave enough room to layer either over or under an underscrub or jacket. Work in any healthcare setting, and you’ll know the temperature can fluctuate wildly, depending on the weather conditions outdoors, the AC indoors and the activity you may be doing at any given time. 

For example, hot, dry weather will most likely lend itself to a scrub top with no undershirt. However, cooler weather might have you seeking out the soft, comforting embrace of a reliable underscrub. Remember, you need enough room under those nursing scrubs to accommodate both scenarios and keep yourself comfortable through all the seasons.

Is there a workplace dress code I have to follow?

Finally, your dress code. Pretty much every healthcare facility has one, even if the only principle is to “wear scrubs.” That said, some facilities implement stricter rules than others.

To continue with the questions: in your facility, are healthcare professionals allowed to wear drawstring joggers, or can you only get away with a straight-leg cut? What about different styles of sleeves or the tightness of your scrub top?

Other things to consider:

  • If you’re buying all-cotton scrubs or another fabric that will shrink, you may need to buy a size up in case they happen to shrink in the wash.
  • Modern-fitted scrubs have also become wildly popular and are super simple to find, especially here at Jaanuu. Expect a slightly relaxed uniform that still gently follows the natural contours of your body, helping you create a stylish, healthcare-safe silhouette. The waistline of your scrub pants tends to sit lower, too, for additional comfort and the perfect fit.

Should scrubs be tight?

Why do nurses wear tight scrubs? Well, at the risk of repeating ourselves, they shouldn’t be tight but rather, form-fitting. 

Man wearing blue scrub top

Wearing form-fitting scrubs is ideal because:

  • Scrubs that are too tight prevent you from layering, plain and simple, and this goes for both men’s scrubs and women’s scrubs. Form-fitting scrubs allow you to move comfortably without getting in the way.
  • If your uniform is too tight, mobility can be challenging and productivity can be disturbed. It can also prevent you from helping your patients quickly and efficiently when they’re in an emergency.
  • Once again, the workplace dress code! If you buy a modern, fitted set of scrubs, you can make a relatively good guess that your employer will be happy with your adherence to the rules. Too tight, however, and you may run into questions about workplace appropriateness, not to mention the risk of showing your undergarment seams when walking around the hospital.

Overall, you’re looking for something in the “goldilocks zone”—something that’s not too baggy and not too tight, either. Rather, something that’s just right.

Helpful tips for choosing your scrub size

Lastly, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of tips to help you find the perfect fit scrubs for you. These tips will work with all body sizes and shapes, as well as dress code requirements.

Woman wearing pink cargo pant scrub

Measure yourself correctly

Knowing your body measurements when buying scrubs online is a given. The reason for this? You can’t go into a brick-and-mortar store to try out the fit, and sometimes, shipping those items back isn’t always a feasible option. At best, it can be frustrating, and, most times, all you have to operate on is a store-specific fit guide.

Complete these measurements to purchase the best fit scrubs:

  • Your bust/chest: While relaxed, measure around the fullest part of your chest but be sure to keep the tape under your arms.
  • Your waist: Keep the tape relaxed and measure around the smallest part of your natural waistline.
  • Your hips: Standing with your feet slightly apart, measure around the fullest part of your body.
  • Your inseam length: If you have a pair of pants that fit you well, measure the inner part of the pant leg from the crotch seam to the bottom of the leg.
  • Your overall height: Measure from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head. This will give you a better idea of the overall size you need, ranging from small to extra large. It’ll also alert you to any special considerations when buying a new set of scrubs.

Some of those special considerations are:

  • Petite sizing: Sometimes, a size “small” isn’t quite small enough because of your height. You’ll need to aim for a shorter pant leg for both women’s scrubs and men’s scrubs.
  • Tall sizes: Conversely, you may be taller than the average height and need a lengthier scrub cut.
  • Curvy or plus size scrubs: If you have a curvy waist-to-hip ratio or a larger bust with an hourglass figure, scrubs suited to a more curvaceous form will work better for you.
  • Unisex scrubs: Unisex scrubs are a great option, but their universality can often change how the fit will sit on you, becoming more relaxed or fitted depending on your exact measurements.

For easier reference, check out our Jaanuu scrub sizing chart to see what scrub top or scrub pant will work best for you. We’ve also put together a handy visual reference for both men and women below. May the perfect fit be ever in your favor!


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