Why Do Nurses Wear White Shoes? The Evolution Of Nursing Shoes Over The Years

Why do nurses wear white shoes? As a symbol of hygiene and purity, white shoes measure the cleanliness of the nurses and let others know how clean they are.

Besides, white nursing footwear has some historical value as well. Traditionally, nurses tend to wear white to maintain a professional and uniform appearance.

Also, some hospitals and healthcare facilities like to keep their nursing footwear low-key so as not to be attention-grabbing.

However, the history of nursing footwear dates back to the 19th century and it has evolved a lot over the years. 

Let’s dig deeper into the evolution of nursing shoes and find out the reasons for their all-white attire.

Why Do Nurses Wear White Shoes? A Brief History 

Do you know who introduced uniforms for nurses? Well, it’s none other than Florence Nightingale, The Lady with the Lamp.

Why Do Nurses Wear White Shoes A Brief History 

While she was serving as a nurse during the Crimean War in 1854, she made all her nurses wear gray tweed dresses with white caps.

Later, nurses’ uniforms along with shoes became white after the second world war in 1920.

At that time, white was synonymous with hygiene, and thus nurses were bound to wear white from top to toe.

Fortunately, the new industrial tanning methods were producing shiny white leathers at that period.

So, a large number of nursing shoes were being made and healthcare workers tend to wear them as a sign of dedication and professionalism.

Although they were permitted to wear black leather shoes while working in the field only. Inside any healthcare facility, they had to wear white leather shoes. 

However, things changed slowly when nurses’ uniforms were replaced with white scrubs in the ’80s. 

Previously, only females were assigned as nurses and they used to wear white skirts and blouses.

But after the gender-neutral dress for nurses was introduced, shoes also followed the same path and nowadays non-white footwear is also allowed for nurses. 

That’s only applicable once you pass the course successfully. Nurses are still bound to wear white shoes while attending nursing schools.

The same goes for some working nurses as well if the workplace demands the same.

Significance of White Shoes for Nurses

But why do nurses have to wear white shoes? And why do nurses wear white uniforms? 

Well, there are certain reasons that make white nurses color. When we think of these noble healthcare workers, we cannot but imagine them in white whether it’s shoes or uniform.

Significance of White Shoes for Nurses

The significances of white for nursing shoes are as follows-


As already mentioned, Florence Nightingale selected the same dress for all her nurses to make them look uniform. They took pride in their profession and decided to represent them in the same color. 

Naturally, they were easily identified by others as nurses. Whether it’s the patients, doctors, or other staff, nurses were recognized by anybody without any hassle.

For instance, we see all police officers wearing the same outfit today. The same goes for firefighters too. 

Thus the tradition of all-white nursing attire started to represent professionalism. That surely is a great deal on a busy healthcare setup.


Stains don’t lie, you know! So, if a pair of white shoes has dirt and stains, you haven’t perhaps cleaned them properly. 

Nursing is a profession that requires cleanliness from head to toe. If you are in a hospital or healthcare institution, chances are you will encounter blood, chemical, or bodily fluids

A white pair of shoes easily shows stain marks on the surface. So, you have to clean them after every session.

Otherwise, patients will not be comfortable when you take care of them.

On the other hand, a clean white pair will testify to how clean you are!

That’s why nurses wear white shoes as a testament to their neatness. 


Honestly speaking, white shoes have been traditional footwear for nurses since the beginning. 

That’s why they still wear white shoes paired with all-white outfits during their schooling days in order to pay homage to the tradition.

To put it differently, it is to pay respect to previous nurses who welcomed the challenges of this profession to make a path for the juniors.

In the beginning, nurses’ clothes were chosen to be white as a symbol of purity and innocence. 

Moreover, white was thought to be a calming color that put the patients at ease.

All things considered, some medical institutions approve nothing but white for nursing outerwear (shoes and clothes) to date.

Here, tradition wins over practicality. 


Last but not least, white shoes spot stain marks faster. Nursing is surely a hectic progression and you can’t wash your shoes with the same integrity every day.

Having white shoes is a blessing in this regard. You could identify where any unsanitary elements have left marks and clean them accordingly. 

You need not waste time identifying the stains and spills.

Plus, if the white shoes look clean, it develops a sense of trust between patients and nursing staff.

Do Nursing Shoes Have to Be White?

Not really. Things have changed with time and healthcare settings are way more practical than before. They are more flexible in terms of dresses and shoes both for doctors and nurses.

Do Nursing Shoes Have to Be White

Although white has been the specific color for nursing shoes since the birth of modern nursing, many hospitals/clinics now allow wearing shoes in different colors. 

Moreover, you can pick a style that expresses your personality better.

If the pair of footwear maintains hygiene, safety, and comfort, you can wear them. 

But make sure to check on the healthcare institution’s dress code policy. If it doesn’t allow anything other than white, you have to maintain the rule strictly.

You are a professional worker after all!

And yes, as a nursing student, you have to wear white. No exceptions are allowed. 

What Is the Purpose of Requiring White Shoes?

The purpose of requiring white shoes for nurses is pretty simple. To keep track of the traditional nursing outfit.

What Is the Purpose of Requiring White Shoes

Basically, it’s an old-school policy of making nurses easily recognizable to patients.

Furthermore, it was supposed to make them more professional. As a soft eye-soothing color, white was meant to express their personality more gracefully. 

However, white shows every inch of dirt, dust, and stain opposite to black. 

That’s another reason to require white nursing shoes so as to make you clean them regularly. This definitely improves your hygiene along with the patients’ as well.


Why do nurses wear white?

To prove their cleanliness to the patients and to display a professional and sanitary appearance on the hole. Nurses are supposed to stay clean so as not to affect the patients with harmful viruses. 

Wearing white uniforms along with shoes lets them spot stains and chemicals easily and clean them immediately. 

What kind of shoes do nurses have to wear?

Usually, nurses are instructed to wear closed-toe shoes with covered heels. Besides, they should be slip-resistant with sufficient traction. So, nurses can wear a wide variety of shoes including clogs, crocs, sneakers, etc. that meet these requirements.

What is special about nurse shoes?

They are incredibly solid with strong and sturdy ergonomics. Besides, this footwear is specifically designed with thicker insoles and slip-resistant outsoles to perform well on slippery surfaces. Also, nursing footwear provides excellent arch aid to relieve foot, ankle, knee, and back pain.

Why did the nurse stop wearing white?

As time passed, healthcare workers realized that choosing white as their outfit was an impractical decision. They were hard to wash and tough to clean. Besides, they distanced themselves from white outerwear as a feminist call to dispel gender bias.

What are nurse shoes called? 

They are typically called nursing clogs. Having super supportive thick insoles with slip-resistant outsoles, clogs provide excellent traction and arch aid for nurses to stand all day long.

Final Words

Why do nurses wear white shoes? To symbolize purity, innocence, cleanliness, and honesty. 

Nursing is a noble profession and we love to connect all these noble virtues with this field. That’s why there was an urge to create an unparalleled image of nurses during the starting years. 

Moreover, they were bound to maintain those white shoes properly which improved their hygiene as well. 

All things considered, white will always be associated with nursing as a pure form of neatness and chastity. Though the future nurses will get way more flexibility in choosing footwear in terms of colors and patterns.

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