Scrubs Gaining Favor Outside Hospitals

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Innovation has been kind to yesterday’s boxy medical scrubs. Real kind.

Gone are the stiff, ill-fitting garments that roamed hospital hallways, their approach announced by the swoosh sound of baggy pant legs rubbing against themselves.

Today’s athletic-inspired offerings are soft. They have stretch and are made of a technically superior fabric. They’re also less noisy; more graceful.

A favorite of doctors’ offices, the medical industry’s new interpretation of scrub wear hasn’t gone unnoticed by hoteliers. In fact, some are discovering these “high-fashion” scrubs can competently double as housekeeping and laundry-department uniforms.

The fresh designs are available in a rainbow of distinctive, whimsically named colors. Orangeade, carmine pink, citrus and sunny day come to mind. The real innovation, though, comes in the form of stretch poplin fabrics, super stretchy rib knits and sleeker cuts. Also worth mentioning is the antimicrobial fabric. It’s designed to provide long-lasting freshness and protection from bacteria, qualities not common to traditional housekeeping uniforms.

Interest in today’s innovative medical scrubs shows no signs of waning in the U.S. In fact, the business, estimated to be worth $10 billion, shows signs of expanding beyond hospitals, veterinarians and hotels. Recently an eco-themed park placed an order to outfit nearly its entire workforce.

Versatile by design, today’s scrubs are difficult to label. So too are those who wear them. Jogger? Medical worker? Yoga enthusiast? Housekeeper? This is especially true when the scrubs are seen outside of an occupational context.

Lest there be any confusion, though, a sharply embroidered logo will easily distinguish the nurse from the vet from the chambermaid. Also, the wide breadth of available colors – one line offers 29 -- allows an employer to create a distinctive look unlikely to be replicated by a competitor. No longer are hotels obligated to select from the traditional hues of blue, green, tan and gray.

Notwithstanding the allure of today’s scrubs, traditional housekeeping uniforms are unlikely to fall out of favor. They imbued a timeless sense of formality and elegance.

But fashion-forward scrubs offer an alternative to those seeking a little flare.

-Alex Arencibia