Many of us think of K-12 students when we think of back-to-school shopping, but if anyone needs back-to-school shopping, it’s hard-working nursing students! Between managing classwork, required clinicals, and everything else you have going on in your life, a streamlined approach to back-to-school shopping is necessary.
At least a month before you go back to school, in addition to making that list of must-haves like textbooks and required scrubs, check out your closet. Every nursing student deserves a capsule wardrobe to get them through their long days and weeks in comfort and style. With your clothes ready to go, your mornings (and nights) will flow more smoothly, and you will have one less item to add to that to-do list.
You'll want to consider all your regular activities, but at least three pairs of neutral-colored pants are essential to your nursing student capsule wardrobe. Black pants are great because they can usually be worn two days in a row, will go with any color or neutral top, and can even hide stains in a pinch. Depending on how casual are your school, work, and home environments, either straight-leg black pants or women’s yoga pants are good choices.
And you might go out occasionally! Make sure to have a cute pair of jeans that flatter your figure, one pair of dress pants, and one skirt in your capsule. Black pencil skirts are a nice choice because you can pair them with almost any sweater or blouse and look pulled together in minutes. That way, if date night or a special occasion strike at the end of a long week, you won’t be staring into your closet wondering what to wear and if you have the energy to even go out. Instead, you’ll be pulling out that cute outfit and feeling fabulous.
Your capsule wardrobe needs a variety of tops. Four T-shirts, three additional casual tops with three-quarter or long sleeves, two blouses, at least one great women’s cardigan, and one hoodie should do it. By sticking to solid colors that you know will look good on you (and will go with those great black pants and jeans), you can’t go wrong. You can layer the tops underneath the cardigan. If the weather is unpredictable, or you could find yourself in a lecture hall that's freezing despite the weather outside, you will be glad to have your favorite hoodie with you. Stash it in your laptop backpack or in a canvas tote bag just in case.
Every nursing student’s capsule wardrobe needs at least four pairs of shoes. This may not sound like much, but these will be your go-to shoes, so make sure to have all four. For starters, if you're ever in clinical settings (or will be before the school year is out), make sure to have a solid pair of supportive shoes that match. Ask other nurses or nursing students for advice. You will want to have shoes that not only meet whatever dress code requirements there are regarding safety or color of shoes, but you will need shoes that are designed to be comfortable for at least 12 hours at a time.
Now on to the fun shoes! Every woman deserves a great pair of flats that are both cute and great for walking. You can wear them with pants or skirts. You’ll probably want to stay with neutral colors here. Black shoes always make a nice frame for a pair of black pants or a skirt. You’ll also want at least one great pair of heels. After all, you’re not all work and no play! Think about what will work for your lifestyle and how you might want to hem your dress slacks to match your heels. And, of course, everyone needs a go-to pair of sneakers for running errands, actual running, or just throwing on when you need to go somewhere casual.
You may start planning your nursing student capsule wardrobe during the summer, but unless you live in year-round warmth, outerwear will be important, too. Have at least one cozy jacket and one women’s winter coat at the ready. A fold-up umbrella that you can stash in your bag and warm gloves are musts, too. A lunch box and water bottle along with masks will be key “accessories,” too. With a bit of meal planning, you can stay healthy and feel nurtured instead of grabbing junk food on the go while you're learning about healthcare.
With a bit of preparation, your back-to-nursing school experience will be the best yet!