From the 1800s, the female uniforms were very formal, long dresses, and starched aprons.
As time went by into the 1930s, they introduced the collars and hats. Moving up into the 1960s the uniforms became short-sleeved with the addition of cuffs, caps and aprons. The male nurses wore shirts and ties with white coats.
The introduction of coloured dresses for female nurses and coloured epaulettes for male nurses was a way of distinguishing rank in approximately the late 1960s.
Female Nursing Assistants wore a beige checked dress/the male Nursing Assistants had white coats with beige epaulettes.
Female State Enrolled Nurses wore a green dress/male State Enrolled nurses had white coats with green epaulettes.
Female Registered Mental Nurses wore a pale blue dress/male Registered Mental Nurses had white coats with pale blue epaulettes.
Sisters wore a navy blue dress/Male Charge Nurses wore white coats with navy blue epaulettes.
The discarding of the aprons and cuffs soon after led to a more 'comfortable' uniform.
The preference in the majority of today's Psychiatric Wards and Units is 'mufti', "street clothing" or "non-uniforms". Which is an item for debate!! There are some members of the profession, patients and relatives who prefer the relaxed dress code of non-uniforms to integrate and give an informal atmosphere to the ward/unit, whereas, others prefer the staff to wear uniform for identification purposes and professionalism. The debate continues!! Each ward/unit/Hospital has their own preferences which may vary from others.