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Why white shoes?

Nurses   (9,185 Views 47 Comments)

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Unlike women's shoes, there aren't many mens shoes that come in all-white, so for nursing schools I got the shoes I need for my back in mostly white, and a can of white spray paint that works on leather and plastic.

As other posters as indicated it's a combination of factors:

#1) They can.

#2) It's tradition

As for the post I quoted. I feel your pain, I basically bought the cheapest white shoes possible that weren't a total piece of crap when I was in school.

Now, I wear my steel toe leather work boots just like I did before I was a nurse and at a job that involved 8-10 hours of continuous walking and standing. They are heavy suckers, but I've also never had my toes run over by a cot.

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meanmaryjean has 40 years experience and works as a Nursing Faculty.

3 Followers; 63,984 Visitors; 7,499 Posts

Uniform.

Uni = one

Form = appearance

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DoGoodThenGo works as a Entrepreneur - Business Owner.

40,159 Visitors; 4,112 Posts

White shoes are the last remaining vestige of when professional nurses wore starched whites (with or without a cap) and all students wore special uniforms (ditto). Now that everyone and their mother mostly wears some variation of scrubs (including students), some places for reasons known onto themselves still require one or both to wear white shoes. Long story short, as others have said is because they can.

Back in the day dress codes often referred to "nurse's regulation" shoes. These were white or black, depending upon your uniform. White for hospital and other clinical settings when wearing starched whites, black for visiting nurses/home care when wearing a non-white uniform. Generally this meant a lace up oxford type shoe made from hard leather with a low heel, it can and often did a number on your heels and area under ankles from chafing.

The most popular shoe then and still now for many were The Clinic Shoe. For generations legions of nurses from students to seasoned pros wore nothing else either by habit or because dress code stated.

The Clinic shoe came in various styles to suit fashions of the period, and were actually marketed/worn by many women in various professions. They were designed to give comfort and support (some may not agree with the former) to those females whose employment meant being on their feet for long periods. Nurses, waitresses, shop girls, beauticians, etc...

In the UK and much of Europe the once standard nurse's uniform evolved from that of domestic service (maids); dresses made from shades of grey or blue made from serviceable material, and often included a white pinafore/apron. Stockings remained however the same dark color and shoes matched.

In the USA as the culture of a "trained nurse" took hold so did the image of purity which meant white from head to toe. Some places allowed sheer or nude stockings with white shoes, others enforced a matching footwear to hosiery scheme. On both sides of the ocean the question of footwear and hosiery grew important as hemlines rose .

By the 1970's or so most places just stated "white shoes" for students or nurses. This could be anything from Nurse Mates to Earth Shoes to even Keds. One thing that didn't fly at the time usually were clogs or any other open back slip on shoe.

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1 Follower; 24,283 Visitors; 2,243 Posts

White shoes are the last remaining vestige of when professional nurses wore starched whites (with or without a cap) and all students wore special uniforms (ditto). Now that everyone and their mother mostly wears some variation of scrubs (including students), some places for reasons known onto themselves still require one or both to wear white shoes. Long story short, as others have said is because they can.

Back in the day...

I feel like I just read the transcript on a documentary all about nurses shoes. Great answer!

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1,824 Visitors; 115 Posts

White shoes are the last remaining vestige of when professional nurses wore starched whites (with or without a cap) and all students wore special uniforms (ditto). Now that everyone and their mother mostly wears some variation of scrubs (including students), some places for reasons known onto themselves still require one or both to wear white shoes. Long story short, as others have said is because they can.

There is a school I applied to near me (public, small state college) that requires nursing students to wear all white - top to bottom, including socks and shoes. For the pinning ceremony, they even have the women wear the ancient style white nurses hats.

The pictures of the pinning ceremonies look like they were taken in 1955.

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DoGoodThenGo works as a Entrepreneur - Business Owner.

40,159 Visitors; 4,112 Posts

Unlike women's shoes, there aren't many mens shoes that come in all-white, so for nursing schools I got the shoes I need for my back in mostly white, and a can of white spray paint that works on leather and plastic.

Back when male medical and nursing staff (some nurses, but mostly orderlies) wore whites (think Dr. Kildare tunic, white trousers and shoes), the shoe of choice were often white oxfords commonly worn as part of US Navy dress uniform. Bates today still makes and sells such shoes as do a few others, but yes, you are correct the market is pretty slim.

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The movement to scrubs from starched whites for even male nurses killed a good part of the demand. Even before that movement the change in psychiatric care from uniforms (whites) to street clothes meant scores of orderlies and male nurses were released from wearing whites.

Friend of mine back in the day used to joke that the only difference between his uniform (whites) and the Good Humor ice cream man was he wore white shoes instead of black.

Still for casket sharp appearance you can't beat this guy:

attachment.php?attachmentid=22482&stc=1

WWII hospital ward uniform, totally on point and correct. You probably could get a paper cut from those trouser creases. *LOL*

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Remy Ox has 4 years experience and works as a SIV/VMER Nurse [Portugal], SubAcute Nurse [U.S.].

1,422 Visitors; 52 Posts

White symbolize purity. Medical industry wants doctors and nurses to look pure and clean. White also represents unicorns. Everybody knows that nurses fart glitter and rainbows and we do no wrongs.

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BuckyBadgerRN has 4 years experience and works as a Registered Nurse.

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YUP! I have coworkers who constantly complain about their backs killing them. Look down and they're wearing a pair of tennis shoes. I never complain about back pain and if you look down, you'll see Danskos on my feet. When I point this out to them, they will not believe the correlation. OK, then!

Ruby Vee makes an important point above - the standing for long periods of time is what will dictate your shoe choice in the long run. The floors of hospitals and other care facilities are typically some kind of tile over a concrete subfloor - it's just the way large buildings are constructed, and it can be very hard on the body over time.

White is simply traditional in the US. Some schools require it, some do not. I would bet money that whatever shoes you wear while in nursing school are unlikely to be worn for more than a few months into your nursing career anyway.

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN.

11 Followers; 65 Articles; 169,780 Visitors; 13,890 Posts

White shoes are the last remaining vestige of when professional nurses wore starched whites (with or without a cap) and all students wore special uniforms (ditto). Now that everyone and their mother mostly wears some variation of scrubs (including students), some places for reasons known onto themselves still require one or both to wear white shoes. Long story short, as others have said is because they can.

Back in the day dress codes often referred to "nurse's regulation" shoes. These were white or black, depending upon your uniform. White for hospital and other clinical settings when wearing starched whites, black for visiting nurses/home care when wearing a non-white uniform. Generally this meant a lace up oxford type shoe made from hard leather with a low heel, it can and often did a number on your heels and area under ankles from chafing.

The most popular shoe then and still now for many were The Clinic Shoe. For generations legions of nurses from students to seasoned pros wore nothing else either by habit or because dress code stated.

The Clinic shoe came in various styles to suit fashions of the period, and were actually marketed/worn by many women in various professions. They were designed to give comfort and support (some may not agree with the former) to those females whose employment meant being on their feet for long periods. Nurses, waitresses, shop girls, beauticians, etc...

In the UK and much of Europe the once standard nurse's uniform evolved from that of domestic service (maids); dresses made from shades of grey or blue made from serviceable material, and often included a white pinafore/apron. Stockings remained however the same dark color and shoes matched.

In the USA as the culture of a "trained nurse" took hold so did the image of purity which meant white from head to toe. Some places allowed sheer or nude stockings with white shoes, others enforced a matching footwear to hosiery scheme. On both sides of the ocean the question of footwear and hosiery grew important as hemlines rose .

By the 1970's or so most places just stated "white shoes" for students or nurses. This could be anything from Nurse Mates to Earth Shoes to even Keds. One thing that didn't fly at the time usually were clogs or any other open back slip on shoe.

attachment.php?attachmentid=22480&stc=1

I remember wearing "NurseMates" and Famolares. The wavy soles on my Famolares were so cool!

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN.

11 Followers; 65 Articles; 169,780 Visitors; 13,890 Posts

YUP! I have coworkers who constantly complain about their backs killing them. Look down and they're wearing a pair of tennis shoes. I never complain about back pain and if you look down, you'll see Danskos on my feet. When I point this out to them, they will not believe the correlation. OK, then!

When I injured my back and had to have surgery, the physical therapist told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to wear either Danskos or Birkenstocks to work. I've never been able to wear Birkenstocks, so I wore my Danskos. Then I found that when I was walking my three miles a day for rehab, my back really hurt in my New Balance but not in my Danskos. I loved my Danskos! Unfortunately, I can't wear them anymore because I live on a boat.

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A&Ox6 has 2 years experience and works as a Psychiatric Nurse/Student Advisor/Writer/Speaker.

4 Articles; 18,815 Visitors; 570 Posts

I feel like I just read the transcript on a documentary all about nurses shoes. Great answer!

I would definitely watch that.

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Conqueror+ has 22 years experience and works as a Super Nurse.

20,434 Visitors; 1,434 Posts

I was so proud to have that little blue heart on my shoe. It made me feel so special.

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