Fashion Forward Scrubs

March 21, 2012

Dentists and dental hygienists-particularly women- who wear traditional, unisex scrubs often have similar complaints about them. These oft-heard grumbles include observations that the tops are so big you feel like you’re wearing a tent and the armholes are so large that they gape and droop to nearly a wearer’s waist. Then there are the complaints about V-necks that dip so low they have to be closed with a safety pin to provide coverage and pants that are so long that that are trip hazards unless they are hemmed.

Dentists and dental hygienists-particularly women- who wear traditional, unisex scrubs often have similar complaints about them.

These oft-heard grumbles include observations that the tops are so big you feel like you’re wearing a tent and the armholes are so large that they gape and droop to nearly a wearer’s waist.

Then there are the complaints about V-necks that dip so low they have to be closed with a safety pin to provide coverage and pants that are so long that that are trip hazards unless they are hemmed.

And don’t get started on the traditional surgical hats worn by dentists and dental assistants in the operating room. The issue of how to cover her head, and not look like she was wearing a shower or bathing cap, is what inspired Shelby Marquardt, an anesthesiologist from Austin, Texas to come up Blue Sky Scrubs, a company that specializes in making fashion-forward scrubs for women and men.

Her first design was the Pony Scrub Hat, which she came up with when she was a resident at Hermann Hospital in Houston and got tired of squeezing her hair into a traditional cap. She also didn’t like how it looked.

“I think it just overall was unflattering. It didn’t fit right,” she said.

Marquardt, who was always interested in fashion and learned how to sew from her mother and grandmother, decided to solve the problem by creating the Pony Scrub Hat, which she said is more form-fitting, but also can accommodate women’s long hair in a ribbon-tied pouch in the back.

She started wearing her homemade hat at work and soon was getting requests from co-workers who wanted her to make hats for them.

The demand was so great that Marquardt formed her company in 2008. She also started creating other designs.

“We’re an iconic style,” she said. “But we also take cues from what’s going on in the fashion industry.”

To keep step with the times, she incorporates more contemporary looks into her scrubs including tapered, shorter tops, slightly flared legs, and low rise waists on pants, along with numerous color choices in solids and prints.

The styles appeal to Christina Jones, a dental assistant at Hill Country Pediatric Dentistry in Austin, who said the 40-member staff at the practice has been wearing Blue Sky scrubs for the past year and a half.

“We love that they’re form-fitting. They’re not so boxy,” she said.

Jones, who stands five-feet-two-inches tall, said she also likes that she no longer has to hem her pants.

“I have short legs so the traditional pants are always way too long and the tops are way too long,” she said.

Not looking like they’re drowning in their clothing is a good move for the dental staff which has scrubs in nearly every color offered including Royal Blue, Navy Blue, black and various shades of green. The office manager sets a daily schedule so everyone wears the same color on the same day.

“We seem to pick the brighter colors at the start of the week,” Jones said. “And then we go darker as the week goes on.”

Having everyone wearing the same color builds a sense of unity, Jones said.

“It helps coordinate the (look of) the office and helps them feel like a professional unit,” Marquardt added.

The demand among health professionals for more attractive scrubs is evident in her company’s growth. Marquardt said the company grew 300 percent in the first year and 500 percent in its second year.

Putting on clothing that fits and looks attractive when a person goes to work promotes self-confidence, she said. Not worrying that you’re going to trip over your pant legs or have to pin a V-neck together to provide coverage and look professional, allows people to perform their jobs better.

“When someone says, ‘Hey, you look good today,” all of a sudden you feel like you have pride in what they do,” she said.

Marquardt said the scrubs also are designed for durability. They are made in the USA and are fade and wrinkle resistant. The company has been selling their designs over the Internet only to date, but is expanding and will start selling them at Scrubs and Beyond stores in the next few weeks. Prices for scrubs are $20 for a man’s hat, $24 for a women’s hat and $33 for scrub tops or bottoms.

Marquardt said it’s rewarding to provide health professionals with clothing that they feel good about wearing Surprisingly, Marquardt said creating clothing that pleases customers and being an anesthesiologist tap some of the same skills.

“They both require attention to detail and tenacity,” she said.