I agree that you are smart to strive for a comfortable "middle ground" when planning your wardrobe and general appearance. Going to either extreme (too casual or too formal) is usually not the best choice.
One thing a lot of nurses forget to consider is how they look on workdays during which they are not in uniform (or scrubs
). For example, you will be going into work for educational days, staff meetings, etc. I've known staff nurses who were quite good at their jobs and well-respected who look just fine when they wear their scrubs. But when they come in for a educational program, they look totally inappropriate and unprofessional. That doesn't help their professional image and doesn't help them appear to be ready for greater responsibilities, a promotion, etc.
Some hospitals have dress codes that prohibit jeans on educational days, so, I wouldn't wear jeans into the hospital unless you see members of the nursing team doing so. Choose nice trousers, skirt, or dress. Tight fitting t-shirts are also usually a big no-no -- as is anything extremely baggy. Aim for the middle ground. A dressy jersey, a sweater, or a blouse is better. Depending on the style (and your body), you might include a jacket, cardigan, shirt-jacket, or vest to make a skirt or trouser outfit look more "polished."
Avoid anything overtly sexy and/or anything that draws excessive attention to your body. You want the focus to be on your abilities, not on your body. Remember that you are seeking respect, not a sex partner. Some younger nurses dress in the same type of clothes they would wear to a nightclub or on a date. Except for a sensible neckline, you shouldn't be showing any skin above your knees. Shirts and low-rise pants that expose you waist are not appropriate for work. (You would be surprised how many young nurses we have who need to be told this.)
Also consider sensible shoes when you are wearing "street clothes" to work. Older, experienced nurses in leadership positions are fully aware that high, spikey heels might be fashionable; but we have learned that they are not practical in the workplace. Young nurses who wear them on educational days, etc. may think they look "hot" and that sensible shoes look "frumpy," -- but wearing the impractical shoes simply makes the wearer look foolish to those with experience. If you are going on a date and want to look hot, wear the sexy shoes. But if you want to be respected in the workplace, wear the sensible ones.
While you might get that first job based mostly on your interview and resume, your reputation is a bigger factor in any subsequent jobs and promotions you might get within the same institution. ---- And your reputation is earned on a daily basis.
Good luck! Happy shopping!