International Nurses Week - Florence Nightingale Costumes

Nurses care for patients and provide support for families; now it's time to turn the tables and show nurses just how appreciated they are during International Nurses Week beginning on or around May 12th of each year. Nurses make significant contributions to the quality and delivery of healthcare for all types of people, all over the world. From newborn babies to the elderly in their last breaths of life, nurses provide comfort, care and enhance well-being in hospitals, doctor's offices, schools and even making house calls to the patient's home.

International Nursing Week is celebrated each year around the week of Florence Nightingales' birth, May 12th, 1820.Florence Nightingale's experiences providing care to casualties the mid-19th century Crimean War helped to more formally define the profession of nursing and her concepts were implemented in nursing schools in the following decades. Also known as "Lady with the Lamp" for her practice of making rounds to check on the wounded solders at night, the inspiring and compassionate spirit of Florence Nightingale lives on as role model for today's nurses.

Dressing up in a women's costume of this famous historical figure is a great way to pay tribute to her legacy during International Nurses Week. There are other days on the calendar when you can wear a Florence Nightingale nurse costume such as when speaking at educational events, in acting in school theater productions, role-playing at historical reenactments and even as a do-good choice in Halloween costumes.

Because the role of a nurse was not clearly defined during Nightingale's early days of nursing, basic m id-1800s women's clothing would be appropriate attire. While Nightingale objected to photographs and portraits of herself; however there are a few rare images of this nurse wearing a long, full black skirt and fitted, long sleeved bodice that buttoned up the front. A crochet lace color and coordinating hair accessory adorned her simple look and a white apron and simple medical tools were probably carried about.

Later in the Victorian era, female nurses were shown wearing more defined nurse costumes that were styled in fashions of the turn-off-the-century. Now, white was the standard color for nursing costumes and ladies donned long white skirts and with leg-of-mutton sleeves and either a pinafore or apron worn over the ensemble. On the arm, apron or pinafore a red cross was often appliqu├ęd to signify the wearer's role as a medical care provider. Atop pulled back hair a little white hat or sometimes even a mob cap was secured into place.


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