I'm constantly asked by Faithful Minions, "Jo, how in hell do you do such a demanding job while remaining a paragon of beauty and style? The rest of us grovel in the dust at your feet, wearing worn-out, ill-fitting Landau scrubs, or stand in a huddled group in the parking garage, waiting for the vision of loveliness and grace that is you to bless us with a look."
It's not easy. Gliding in a lightly-scented cloud of gorgeousness takes *work*. But, because I am just that good, I'm going to share some of my secrets with you, my FMs of the female persuasion (or the male FMs with long hair and a yen for MAC cosmetics).
Fashion and Beauty Tip The First: Get scrubs that fit. Nothing is worse, when you're trying to resuscitate a patient, than having your pants rip (or worse, fall down, happened to a friend of mine, true story, and we still give him hell about it). VPLs are never good and are a sign you should go up a size. If you're new to the scrubs-buying game, go to your local scrub outfitter and try on about six different brands until you find the one that works for you. After that, buy in bulk.
Fashion and Beauty Tip The Second: Keep your hair out of the way. Second only to ripped pants is the sudden sinking feeling when you realize that you've dipped your luxurious locks in a puddle of piddle or poo. My hair is mid-back-length and I wear it (variously) in a bun, a braid, or a loose pony tail that I can be sure won't flop over my shoulder.
Fashion and Beauty Tip The Third: Good shoes, good shoes, good shoes. Cute is an option if you're lucky; if you're not, pop those paws into something supportive and well-fitting. Avoid marketed-to-nurses cheap-ass shoes and go for the Birkenstocks, the MBTs, the Danskos. You're on your feet for twelve hours, and you only get one pair of feet.
Corollary to The Third Tip: Take care of your feet. Pare down callouses with reasonable frequency, keep those nails short, and use plenty of lotion after your shower. Corns and bunions should be dealt with by a reputable professional, not by you with a razor blade.
Fashion and Beauty Tip The Fourth: Take care of your hands. Dry skin and cracked cuticles aren't just crappy-looking; they're avenues for nasty skin infections. You could spot a WWI nurse back in the day because of the scarred, twisted nature of her hands; they got infections in their hands from a combination of cracked skin and nasty bugs. Don't let this happen to you.
Corollary to The Fourth Tip: The posessor of the most beautiful hands I've ever seen is also one of the least self-conscious people I know. If *he* can do it, so can you. No excuses.
Fashion and Beauty Tip The Fifth: If you wear makeup, please do so with skill and aplomb. And not too much. Once upon a time, I worked with a woman who wore crazy hair, tons of paint, and bright-red claws to work. (She did GYN exams, for Frog's sake.) Do not be like her. If you look like Siouxie Sioux, even the brain-damaged folks on the unit won't want you near them. I wear concealer, mascara, light-brown eyeshadow, and draw my eyebrows in before I go off to Sunnydale, and that's plenty.
This tip goes for perfume as well. Normally I am not a fan of perfume on nurses, though I'll make the occasional exception for something that smells clean or citrusy. Let's be sure, though, that somebody else can only smell it on you when they're on top of you (so to speak) and that you're not asphyxiating the people a block away.
Fashion and Beauty Tip The Final, And I Can't Believe I'm Having To Say This:
You should be clean. Your scrubs should be clean. Your fucking shoes should not have fucking grass stains on them or dog shit on the soles or be all beat-up and raggy looking (I'm looking at you, Vinnie). Your hair, for God's sake, should not be greasy. You should not roll into work at six ack emma wearing the remains of last night's makeup. Lab coats (if you wear one) should be relatively white and free of stains, cigarette burns, and the remains of a burger from two weeks ago (I'm looking at you, Doctor Skippy).
If you're one of the unfortunate few who still has to wear whites, invest in a good color-safe bleach, some Borax washing soda, and a good hot-water detergent. Use those regularly. Chlorine bleach will yellow your whites and make the fabric weaker. See ripped pants, above.
And unless you poop rainbows and fart cotton candy, you should be wearing antiperspirant. Don't give me that crap about how sweating is natural and beautiful. Yes, sweating is natural and beautiful, but not at work. There's never an excuse for looming over a patient with pitted-out, stinking, stained scrubs. If you sweat *that much*--and I do--wear a T-shirt under your scrub top and seek out clinical-strength antiperspirants. It took me years to find a roll on (Mitchum unscented, by the way) that would keep me from knocking my patients over with my funk. Yeah, my armpits are probably going to peel off in the next ten years, but it's worth it not to have to put non-rebreather masks on everyone I come into contact with.
Oh, and brush. your. fucking. teeth.
Thank you, and good night. Enjoy being just as bright and shiny a special snowflake diamond as I am, and be sure you carry a little vial of smelling salts for those who are knocked out by your physical attractiveness.