Nurse WWII Capes, HELP!


Hi, everyone!

So, this is a random topic, but I have fallen in love with the vintage WWII capes that nurses used to wear. I know they were probably very annoying to wear and not super practical, but they are GORGEOUS to me and I was thinking about purchasing one eventually. I like vintage things and they are so pretty!

Can anyone tell me if all nurses used to have to wear capes during that time? Or were the capes specifically for military nurses? The reason I ask is because I would like to know if it would be disrespectful to wear one occasionally. If they were only for military nurses, I may purchase one but not ever wear it as I would not deserve to, plus it's not like I inherited it from a family member. I know some of you may be thinking I'm a weirdo for wanting to wear one, but to each their own. :p

Thanks for any information! There actually doesn't seem to be a whole lot online about capes specifically. Caps, yes plenty :)


14,633 Posts

The capes were not specific to the military.

Specializes in ICU.

You want to wear one at work? I understand wanting to own one, but wear it? With scrubs?

Color me confused...........

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 46 years experience.

First of all- it is very considerate and thoughtful of you to ask about the military use of capes. I also love vintage nursing clothing. In fact, I've wanted to develop a one-woman show about nursing back-in-the-day. Patterns are out there.

A hospital system I used to work in had a nursing honor guard. When older nurses pass away, these ladies dress in all-whites and make a small ceremony at the viewing or funeral honoring the nursing career of the departed. I think it's so wonderful. I would want that when it's my time.

klone, MSN, RN

14,484 Posts

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 17 years experience.

Where and when would you wear a cape?

Specializes in Vascular Access, Infusion Therapy.

Capes are still popular outside of the United States for nurses to wear. South East Asia and China especially.

I think it is admirable and a fantastic idea.


14,633 Posts

Where and when would you wear a cape?

As far as I've ever heard, they were outerwear with your uniform, like wearing a coat; going to and from the hospital, making home visits, etc., in cold weather. You didn't wear them indoors, working. My hospital diploma school had a few of their old capes, with the school's initials on the left side of the stand-up collar, and the official graduation photos were taken with us in whites (with our caps) and wearing the school cape (with one side flipped back to show the snazzy red satin lining). They were heavy wool, and v. warm, same as a winter coat.

Specializes in Adult Nurse Practitioner. Has 40 years experience.

My mother-in-law received her cape upon graduation from nursing school. They wore them as a cloak when outside. As elkpark was wool and HEAVY!!!! She had it for over 40 years before a flood destroyed it, but we still have pictures of her wearing it proudly in her younger days...btw...this was back in the late 40s and early 50s.

canoehead, BSN, RN

6,837 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience.

My aunt graduated in the 40's and used a cape, nonmilitary though. They would have a couple hours off in the afternoon for class, and is they were off the unit, but still had their uniform on, they would use the cape as a cover.


1 Article; 2,077 Posts

Specializes in Hospital medicine; NP precepting; staff education. Has 22 years experience.

Now that this is the second thread I've found on this I within a week I'm wondering if you and the other poster are in the same class.

I participated in the first one because I admire the cape and have one/wear it (once a year).

Please peruse the other thread for info.


8,343 Posts

Has 18 years experience.

EBay has some. Different hospitals, even some from overseas


746 Posts

Specializes in oncology, MS/tele/stepdown. Has 6 years experience.
Where and when would you wear a cape?

For Halloween our NM let's us wear a different top with our scrub pants (the one thing she disobeys her supervisor about haha). I got one of those Wonder Woman t-shirts with the cape last year. I'm sure I looked 100% ridiculous running for bed alarms!