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Before the 1940s minor changes occurred in the uniform. Hospitals were free to determine the style of the nurse uniform, including the nurse's cap which exists in many variants. In the 1970s, white disposable paper caps replaced cotton ones; in the 1980s, plastic aprons displaced the traditional ones and outerwear began to disappear.
From the 1990s, scrubs became popular in Britain, having first appeared in the USA; however, some nurses in Britain continue to wear dresses, although some NHS trusts have removed them in favour of scrubs as in many other countries.
The colours vary with grade, area of work, and hospital; however, the male equivalent of a sister (that is, charge nurse) tend to be shades of blue or dark green: often, this is the only colour to be recognised by the public as signifying a person in authority.
The fob watch frees the nurses' hands for client care and prevents the wrist watch becoming a vector for disease.The traditional white uniform for male nursing staff is now going out of fashion, excepting for student nurses.A tunic of either the dental surgeon style or a V-neck with a collar is very often used.Before the 19th century, nuns took care of sick and injured people so it was obvious that trained lay nurses might copy the nun's habit as they have adopted ranks like "Sister".One of Florence Nightingale's first students (Miss van Rensselaer) designed the original uniform for the students at Miss Nightingale's school of nursing.