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Published Sep. 30, 2021

If there’s anyone who deserves to be comfortable, it’s nurses, doctors, and everyone else who devotes their time and energy to keeping us healthy and safe. But scrubs, which got popular in the U.S. in the 1970s, are about more than comfort: They were designed to protect patients from infection. (Doctors and nurses would wear them in a “scrubbed” or sanitized environment, like an operating room. Now, of course, they wear them beyond the OR. Nearly any medical professional you see likely wears scrubs.) Scrubs also make medical personnel easy to identify. (Example: You’re in the ER with a bee sting, trying to find a nurse. Do you think it’s the guy in the scrubs, the gal in jeans and a tee, or the person wearing a tux?) 

Scrubs are also made to be practical. They have pockets, which are important for medical professionals, and when they’re as thick and durable as they should be, they keep everyone safe by keeping errant fluids away from doctors’ and nurses’ skin. They’re also washable, which is crucial.

Of course, it’s not just doctors and nurses who wear scrubs: Chefs love them too, as do aestheticians, and so do regular Joes and Joannes, because they’re comfy, affordable and easy to clean. Whether you’re buying your first pair or your fifth, we’ve picked five styles that won’t scrub you the wrong way. 

How We Picked the Best Scrubs

Methodology 

To pick the best scrubs, we looked at multiple brands, styles, fits, and price points. Even though lots of scrubs look like regular joggers or yoga pants these days, we only included products that call themselves scrubs and were specifically designed for medical professionals. To make my selections, I examined a wide variety of criteria.

  • Style: I evaluated both traditional scrubs as well as options with jogger bottoms and in stretchy fabrics. Old-school scrubs aren’t very forgiving or inclusive, and there are plenty of other options these days, so I focused on those.
  • Fit: Fit goes hand in hand with style when it comes to scrubs, so I had an eye on inclusivity when choosing which scrubs to include, with a partiality given to brands that feature a wide range of sizes.
  • Pockets: Scrubs without pockets may be stylish but they’re not practical, and the No. 1 thing nurses and doctors need are practical garments that allow them to care for their patients efficiently. Pockets were a must. 
  • Value: This one was easy: Scrubs shouldn’t be expensive. Anyone who needs or wants to wear scrubs likely works in a profession where stains are likely, whether they’re of the medical, culinary or aesthetic variety. Either way, no one is precious about their scrubs, which means it’d be silly to spend a lot of money on them. 

The Best Scrubs: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: FIGS Zamora Jogger Style Scrub Pants for Women

Comfy Jogger Style

This super-soft moisture-wicking pair resists odor and has four-way stretch for extra comfort. FIGS

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Why It Made The Cut: Unlike classic scrubs, which can run slim on the thighs and tush, this soft jogger style is more forgiving where it counts but also has fitted ankles and a drawstring waist, so they’re also snug in the right places (and won’t ride up or down). 

Specs: 

  • Proprietary FIONx fabric
  • Five pockets
  • Ribbed ankle cuffs

Pros:

  • Stay cool in hot situations
  • Petite, tall, and regular size options
  • Lightweight
  • Wrinkle-resistant

Cons:

  • On the pricier side

The FIGS Zamora Jogger Style Scrub Pants for Women win for best overall because they provide the protection and storage of regular scrubs but in a much softer, less rigid material. Range of motion is crucial for health workers (and chefs and loads of other people who wear scrubs as their uniform), and this pair is all about that, from the comfy but snug waistband and cuffs, to the four-way stretch. There’s nothing constricting feeling about the Zamoras, which is really important if you’re on your feet most of the day. A starchy, hard fabric can distract you to the point of insanity, especially if you’re overtired, and this pair takes that factor out of the equation.  

Figs were designed to be fitted (in the right places), unlike conventional scrubs. The company was founded in California less than a decade ago specifically to provide athleisure-inspired clothes to medical professionals. (The company’s tagline is actually “Why wear scrubs when you can wear Figs?”) Since its 2013 launch, the female-founded brand has served more than 1.5 million customers and gone public as a company.

Best Range of Sizes: WonderWink Women’s Wonderwork Pull-On Cargo Scrub Pant

Plus-Size-Inclusive

There’s pretty much no worse feeling than a pair of pants that pinches your thighs, belly, or butt; this elastic-waist pair runs up to a 5X. WonderWink

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Why It Made The Cut: Just a little bit of stretch gives even more versatility to this inclusive pair without sacrificing bells or whistles, like multiple pockets and a high back, so you can move and bend without putting on a show.

Specs: 

  • In a 5X, fits up to a 54-inch waist, 66-inch hips, and 33-inch inseam.
  • 65 percent polyester, 35 percent cotton
  • 5 pockets: two slash, one cargo, one pen, and one cell 

Pros:

  • Petite and tall options available
  • Has a hint of stretch
  • Loads of pockets

Cons: 

  • Petite and tall options available only up to size 3X

Classic scrubs are relatively unforgiving. (Raise your hand if you’ve had to put on a pair for a medical procedure and been disappointed to not only find them snug but that you had to tie the waist under your belly, leaving a gaping hole.) This pair by Wonderwink has the look of classic scrubs (meaning, they’re not jogger or yoga style) but with a stretchy poly-cotton mix and a generous fit. 

On the fat spectrum (a.k.a. “fategories” in fat-positive parlance), these are technically still not 100 percent inclusive. The world of scrubs has as much work to do as the world of fashion when it comes to representation and inclusion, but with a 5X option, these are at least a step in the right direction. 

Softest Scrubs: HeartSoul Break On Through Women Scrubs Pant Low Rise Jogger HS030

Classic Style

This lightweight pair has it all: rib-knit cuffs and waistband, a drawstring, and moisture wicking to keep you dry all wrapped up in a super-cozy package. HeartSoul

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Why It Made The Cut: If your comfiest sweatpants and scrubs had a baby, it would be this flattering pair, which has multiple pockets, including one with a zipper.

Specs: 

  • 95 percent polyester, 5 percent spandex
  • Four-way stretch dobby fabric
  • Moisture-wicking

Pros:

  • Comes in petite and tall styles
  • Lots of colors
  • Flattering back pockets

Cons:

  • Only runs up to XXL

Regular scrubs can be too rigid and scratchy, but pure joggers can feel too casual. The Break on Throughs are the perfect medium between medical gear and activewear. Heartsoul is part of the Careismatic group (formerly Strategic Partners), which also owns other uniform manufacturers (including Cherokee and Dickies) along with other care-related brands, like Anywear clogs and SmartShield antimicrobial ointment. (So basically, the company knows its medical stuff.) 

With the Heartsoul Break on Through style specifically, you get a flattering tapered fit with stretch where you need it–so you don’t have to sacrifice a body-hugging style or size up—extras like a special pen pocket on the front, double-needle stitching throughout for extra durability (especially important for long shifts) and an easy-to-clean and machine-washable fabric. And all at a wallet-friendly price! 

Best Stretchy Scrubs: Cherokee Women’s Workwear Core Stretch Drawstring Cargo Scrubs Pant

Lots of Colors

The perfect pair if you’re a Goldilocks when it comes to where you wear your pants: You don’t want anything too low-rise or too high-rise; these are just right. Cherokee

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Why It Made The Cut: It’s a classic scrubs style in sizes XXS to 5X, and lots of different shades just in case you’re sick of sky blue. 

Specs: 

  • 55 percent cotton, 42 percent polyester, 3 percent spandex
  • Mid-rise
  • ID loop

Pros:

  • Legacy American brand
  • Size-inclusive

Cons: 

  • Mid-rise (not high-rise), so not ideal for bending

The proof is in the pudding, and nurses consistently rank Cherokee as their favorite brand of scrubs. This specific style of cargo scrubs pants has a wider, more classic hem (i.e. not a jogger ankle) and comes in loads of colors, so you don’t have to choose just blue or green. The ID loop is a small but particularly nice touch that not all competitors have; it’s one less thing to worry about when you’re getting dressed (just remember to detach your ID before you launder these). 
Perhaps the best part is in the fit around the waist: You get elastic and a drawstring, which ensures a perfect fit. Every body is different, and classic scrubs’ rigidity can be a real problem for anyone who deviates from a typical hourglass (some of us are apples, others are pears, others are none of the above and we still deserve pants that fit). With a waist that adjusts in two different ways, you can get the size that fits your bigger parts (could be your thighs, could be your butt), then cinch the waist securely.

Best Value: Just Love Women’s Scrub Sets Six Pocket Medical Scrubs (V-Neck with Cargo Pant)

Scrubs Top Included!

For a great price, you get a matching two-piece set, which is sort of unreal, value-wise. Just Love

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Why It Made The Cut: You get a coordinating top and bottoms, so you can invest in multiple colors with the dough you save. 

Specs: 

  • Drawstring elastic waist
  • 23 different colors

Pros:

  • Super affordable
  • Lots of colors
  • Reinforced seams for extra durability
  • Elastic and drawstring waist

Cons:

  • Narrow size range
  • Lack of stretch

This set from Just Love is what most people picture when they hear the words “medical scrubs.” It’s a total classic in all the ways that are good and all the ways that are less good. If you like the quintessential V-neck top with wide pockets and matching baggy-leg (but not so baggy in the thighs or butt) pants, this affordable pair is perfect for you. If you would like something a bit softer and more modern, these may leave you wanting more. The lack of stretch in the design also means they’re unforgiving, and will fit fewer people than some other styles (and on top of that, the sizes only range from XS to 3X to begin with.

What’s nice about this brand is that in addition to sets, they also sell separates. So if you buy a blue set and, say, get some sort of permanent stain on the top (but the pants are fine), you can replace just the top instead of buying an entire new set. Of course, at this price, you sort of might as well buy the whole set and keep an extra pair of pants. 

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Scrubs

There are various factors to consider before you buy your scrubs. None of the scrubs we’ve featured are particularly pricey, you won’t have a mountain of regret if you’re not sure you landed on the right pair. The first thing to consider is whether perhaps you want to buy a set, so you don’t have to worry about finding a top to match your pants. It’s the perfect one-stop-shopping solution for anyone who doesn’t have much fun buying medical garments. 

Also, think about whether you prefer an old-school stiff fabric or want something a bit softer and more forgiving. (The upside: comfort. The downside: You won’t feel as held in, which isn’t actually a downside if you don’t want to feel constricted.) 

Finally, do you want your scrubs to look like scrubs—straight legs, slight flare at the bottom—or are you open to a jogger or yoga style? And what about colors? Are you content with classic sky blue and lagoon green, or do you want to spice things up a bit with a bright pink or purple? All good questions to ask yourself before you buy!

FAQs

Q: What do different color scrubs mean? 

The answer depends on when you are, but in general, muted colors (light gray, light blue, light green) are the only colors acceptable for surgery. Some hospitals use different colors to distinguish among departments and/or position (e.g. a licensed physician might wear a different color than an orderly). 

Q: What are medical scrubs called? 

 

Scrubs are called what they are because doctors and nurses wear them when they’re “scrubbing in”—i.e. sanitizing themselves—for surgery. Fun fact: In the U.K., they’re called “theatre blues,” as in medical theatre!

Q: Do nurses buy their own scrubs?

Yes, sometimes nurses buy their own scrubs. Keep that in mind next time you need a gift for that very special frontline worker in your life: When you work multiple days a week and can get all sorts of fluids and substances on your clothes, it pays to have multiple pairs, especially if they’re cute and comfy! 

Final Thoughts

Scrubs are not one size fits all, as anyone who spends a lot of time in them well knows. To keep your look professional while staying comfortable on the job, you can’t go wrong with the FIGS Zamora Jogger Style Scrub Pants for Women.

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