Women’s 1920 nurse uniforms, maid dresses, and waitress or servant uniforms reflected some of the fashionable trends of the day. The post-WWI years led to a rise in the hemline, first to the ankle, then calf, and up to the knee by the end of the decade. Dresses buttoned all the way down the front to make putting them on and taking them off easier for the working woman. Pockets were always included, first at the breast and later by the hips. Sleeves were long and cuffed at the wrist.
1920s Nurse Uniforms
The general shape of the 1920s nurse uniform was long and slender. Collars started out as wide and fold out over the shoulders but moved to wide and long to aid the lean ’20s silhouette. 1920s Nurse Uniforms were usually white and made of cotton chambray or linen. Ladies wore white stockings with their uniforms and black heels such as a basic single strap Mary Jane.
Of course, each hospital and each country had its own take on a nurse’s uniform. The following are generic nurses uniforms sold via catalogs such as Montgomery Ward and Sears.
Patterns were also available for the home sewer.
Country variations included separates of skirt and blouse, different styles of caps, white instead of black shoes, black stockings, and shorter sleeves for warmer climates:
1920s House Maids and Waitress Uniforms
Housemaids and waitresses well as other working women in the service industry (cooks, nannies, laundress, shop keepers) were required to wear a certain uniform provided by the employer, or purchase a general uniform sold in department stores and mail-order catalogs. Uniforms were either white or black with white collar, cuffs, and aprons — however, striped blue or pink cotton was still being used in the early 1920s. By the mid to late ’20s, uniforms were often in more colors such as rose pink, light or medium blue, lavender, and violet.
Some hotels, cruise ships, and larger households (think Downton Abbey) distinguished staff by the color of their uniform. Fancy restaurants kept waitresses in black and white uniforms to match that of the tuxedo-clad waiters. Bars and nightclubs also patronized the black uniform, although any dress in black was acceptable. Casual daytime establishments were less restrictive about color.
Creating a 1920s Nurse or Maid Uniform
- Modern uniforms with a classic vintage look:
- Red Knap Women’s Short Sleeve Work Dress
- Adar Universal Fitted Midriff Scrub Dress – Double-breasted coat type
- Dress A Med Designer Missy Fit Nurse Dress
- Nurse Costumes:
- Red Cross Hat– 1920s style
- Vintage Nurse- Pre 1920s style
- Long Aprons- They run small. For teens and small women only
- Reproduction 1920s Dresses
- LaVieDelight offers a number of white day dresses. Many of these can be adapted into a nurse uniform. They can also make a custom dress as well as plus sizes.
- Eshakti– If you can envision a uniform you can probably get in made at eShakti. They have classic shirt dresses in white that can be made to your extra measurements. If you choose custom size, select the “HIGH POINT SHOULDER TO WAIST” and enter a longer measurement for a drop waist style. You can also use the “fabric customization” link at the top or choose a dress in another fabric and have it made in white. I plan to do this for a 1920s tennis dress I need this summer.
- Sewing Patterns
- Plus Size day dress- could be a good start to a nurse uniform
- 1930s Nurse uniform– Could be used for a late 20s style with a shorter hemline and lower waist
- Late 1920s nurses uniform for a 36 bust
- S8914- Could be a late 20s nurses dress with a collar added
- S8908- Could be an early 20s nurses dress with a belt added
Need help with your 1920s uniform? Just ask.