Florence Nightingale: The Founder of Modern Nursing

Florence Nightingale Founder of Modern Nursing

MayBoo Clothing is a brand that is dedicated to helping girls develop their sense of purpose and find their missions in life. We do this not only with the unique, meaningful clothing we design and manufacture, but also through sharing examples of courageous and purposeful women. Florence Nightingale is one of those women. This is her story…

Florence Nightingale was a kind girl who loved to help the sick from a very young age. She served as the first nurse in the Crimean War and inspired girls and women around the world. She permanently changed the course of education for women and brought out the importance of women in our society.

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy on May 12, 1820. She was named after the city she was born in. Florence was born into a wealthy family who lived in England. She and her family had two houses; one in Lea Hurst, Derbyshire, and the other at Embly, Hampshire. They had several servants and maids due to their high status and wealth. 

Even though Florence was already a smart and intelligent girl, girls and women weren’t educated in the 1800s and she wouldn’t be able to get a formal education. Luckily, her father, who believed women should be educated and saw her potential, homeschooled her. He taught her all the basics such as math, literature, and science. She was also fluent in French, German, Italian, and English. Even as a small child, she loved helping people and caring for the sick and needy.

As she grew, her love for helping others only increased. She would help sick animals and people such as neighbors, servants, and even her sister. She took the opportunity whenever a chance would present itself. Being of such high status because of her family’s wealth, she was expected to marry someone “suitable” at an early age, but Florence turned down several proposals. In 1837, at only 17 years old, she was inspired by God that her life’s mission was to follow her passion for nursing. She said, “God spoke to me and called me to His service.” Her parents objected to her resolve to nurse because they considered nursing hard labor not fit for a wealthy woman, but Florence was determined to become the first female nurse of her time. She visited hospitals all around Europe until her father lost hope that she would marry and finally let her take nurse training in Germany in 1850. After years of hard work, in 1853, she became superintendent at a hospital in England.

When the Crimean War against Russia started in 1854, the wounded, sick, hungry, and cold soldiers were too much to handle for their medical staff. They needed help badly! Florence and 38 other volunteers traveled to the army’s hospital in Scutari, Turkey. This was the first time women officially worked in the army.

Although they had been warned of the horrid condition of the hospital and the soldiers occupying it, they couldn’t have imagined or in any way have been prepared for what they saw. This army hospital looked like no place on earth should. It was dirty, overcrowded, and without any fresh food or water. Of the mortalities that affected the English army, only one-sixth of them were from battle wounds directly. The other five-sixth who lost their lives died from infection and disease in the hospital. The male doctors at the hospital were cold and unfair to the nurses because they didn’t want to work with women. They even tried to limit what the nurses were able to do, but eventually they were forced to let the nurses help because of the increasing number of sick and wounded men. Florence and her nurses set to work cleaning the hospital, feeding dying soldiers, writing letters to families on behalf of the soldiers, and distributing the little supplies they had to the men who needed it most. She even used her own money to buy provisions. She always made the sacrifice of staying up late and getting up early to tend to her patients by the dim light of her lamp. This is where her famous title ‘the lady of the lamp’ comes from. As she took the death rate from 40% down to 2% through her diligent work, her popularity increased. She even earned the respect and admiration of Queen Victoria. Despite all this, she kept a low profile and worked endless hours staying true to her mission.

Florence received a brooch called the ‘Nightingale Jewel’ and a reward of $250,000 from the British government as a thank you for all the service she had rendered. In September 1856, she met with Queen Victoria to come up with ways to better the military medical system, including educating nurses and doctors, making the environment cleaner, and providing patients with necessary supplies. Florence used the money from the British government to further her cause even more. She founded the Nightingale Training School for Nurses and provided funds for St. Thomas’ Hospital.

Across the world, male doctors and nurses cared for the sick. It had been unheard of for a woman to nurse, but Florence inspired women across the world and showed them that a woman can be a nurse too. Her example immediately encouraged American women to be nurses during the Civil War, saving many more thousands of American lives. Nursing was no longer looked down on but was considered an honorable position.

At the age of 38, she fell ill with the Crimean Fever and never fully recovered. Because of it, she was occasionally bedridden for the rest of her life, but even still, she used her wealth to benefit others by providing health care for anyone she could, making water more sanitary in India, and funding schools and hospitals. Florence Nightingale died on August 13, 1910, at 90 years old.

In conclusion, Florence was a powerful influence not only to her nursing peers and country, but to the world because of her dedication to serving, love and compassion for the people she nursed. She felt that her call essentially came from God. Florence and her team of 38 Crimean War volunteers bore through to the end and completely change the conditions of the hospital, saving thousands of lives.

Chinese Symbolic Qipao Dress History And Meaning

Traditional Chinese Qipao Dress History Culture

The History

I have always been intrigued by the Chinese culture and especially the symbolic qipao. It has so many different features and an interesting past. The changes in it have been immense and drastic. Here’s what I have found about the qipao and its story!

The qipao (or more commonly known as the cheongsam) started way back in the 17th century during the Manchu period where the old styles of various expensive and exquisite dresses were overthrown and style (especially clothes) changed dramatically. Before, the style was for open sleeves and long, flowy skirts leading to a high and tiny waist (think Mulan style). The more ornate and glorious the dress, the higher your rank.

17th-century chinese qipao.

Since 1644 AD, the wide variety of dresses and ornaments were all narrowed down to the qipao. The qipao was part of the new and it was an everyday thing to wear especially among the rich as it was a symbol of wealth and literacy. It too was a measure of rank and authority.

In 1929, it officially became the national dress. At times, the qipao would go out of style, but then would come back in (repeating the cycle for hundreds of years), but when is officially became the national dress, the cheongsam finally stayed in style.

When it was first invented it was nothing like the qipao we know today. It was baggier and covered almost everything. The dress was adopted and worn in surrounding countries such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. It changed over time every ten years or so through the 1920s to the 1950s and is now the tight-fitting, high-collared, slitted-skit dress we know today.

Related image
Cheongsam styles from 1644-21st century (now).

The cheongsam has become less common and nowadays it is (except if it’s the uniform for a job or schools) only worn for special occasions. Instead of wearing the cheongsam in all it’s glory, small pieces of the dress are adopted into everyday styles throughout the western world weather it be the color, fabric, or design. Great elements that are added into western clothing include collars (tall or short), slits, unique necklines, and pencil skirts. As an example, Pierre Cardin, a French clothing designer, remarked that the cheongsam significantly influenced the design of his formal gowns (evening dresses).

The Meaning

The literal meaning of Qipao is ‘banner gown’. As mentioned before, it used to be a sign of wealth and literacy in the 1600s, but is now a formal dress symbolizing beauty and elegance and is seldom worn except for special occasions such as weddings and formal parties. 

How The Qipao Has Changed

When the qipao started, it covered all skin except for head, hands, and toes. It was a rather baggy and loose-fitting dress with robe-like sleeves and full-length. Trousers were worn underneath the gown too.

Little changes were often made, but around the 1920s, the styles of the western world mixed more than ever with the Chinese qipao. The loose dress shrunk into a more and more form-fitting dress as it also got shorter and shorter. The trousers were long gone, replaced by stockings.

In the 1930s, the sleeve changed too. Bell-sleeves, cap-sleeves, even sleeveless. This is when the collar arrived. These tall collars that were and are still today so unique and iconic.

In the 1950s, the qipao lost popularity and was seldom ever worn, but two decades (20 years) later, came back to life and is now recognized worldwide as a Chinese symbol. 

Patterns, Styles, Fabrics, and Colors

Patterns can range from embroidered florals, dragons, or any other colorful addition. There are lots of variations and options among patterns, colors, sleeve lengths, hem lengths, collar height, and neckline.

As only the wealthy had qipaos in the 17th century, all qipaos were made of precious and expensive silks. At the time the western styles rolled around, everyone wore the cheongsam daily and cheaper fabrics like satin, brocade, and cotton prints were also qipao Materials along with silk (which was and still is common).

The cheongsam’s most popular colors are red (signifying fertility, luck, joy, and happiness) yellow (signifying power, authority, and prosperity), and white (signifying purity and innocence) as can be expected since those are the most common throughout the country.

The Qipao Collar

The iconic collar of the cheongsam comes in a variety of heights and designs. At one time (in the 1910s), collars were so incredibly high that they reached the bottom of the ear. In contrast, the 1940s led to collars comparatively short (only a few centimeters to an inch tall). typically nowadays, a collar will range from 1.5″-3″ tall.

Mostly every collar meets in the middle with fancy buttons or other fasteners while some don’t even meet at the very ends. But there is one defining thing that makes the qipao collar so very unique; the open corners are rounded.

Image result for chinese qipao with high collar

The Qipao Large Front

The large front is that strip of standout fabric or other material that runs from the bottom of the collar and to the armpit (usually the right side). This too can vary in color and style. For instance, curved or double-curved? Straight or angular? A standout color or one that blends in?

Image result for women with chinese qipao

The Qipao Sleeves

The original qipao sleeves, as mentioned before, cuffed at the wrist and were loose and baggie.

In the 1920s, sleeves (being influenced by the west) became more and more open until the sleeves were long bell sleeves, open at the bottom.

Over the next two decades (1930-50s) sleeves shrunk. 3/4, mid-length, short, caped, and then no sleeves (sleeveless). Especially during hot summers, everyone wore capped sleeves or sleeveless.

However, no matter how much western styles affected the sleeves of the cheongsam, they retained some uniqueness. Western styles carry a joining seam on their shoulders, but the qipao (being one piece of fabric instead of two) doesn’t have that. The cheongsam’s sleeves are more rounded more and shaped a bit differently.

The Qipao Skirt and Slit

Never had slits been put into the qipao or anything close to it for that matter. So it was surprising and new indeed when, in the 1930s, slits appeared creeping up the leg even up to the thigh. The dresses at that time were still floor-length at the time.

Image result for everyday women with chinese qipao

Traditional German Clothing

Women’s/Girl’s German Dirndl Dress:


The traditional German women’s outfit is a called a ‘dirndl’. It is comprised of a long apron on top of a long decorated pinafore dress with a vest-like top and embroidery, lace, ribbon, and other ornaments on it. It has a full decorated skirt. Underneath this vest-like top is a white blouse with puffed sleeves. Traditionally a dirndl falls to or below the knees to encourage modesty. In fact, the most popular length is “one jug above the ground” but is now worn above the knee among the youth. The blouse or shirt of the dirndl has white puffy sleeves that are shoulder length or elbow length. The cotton material was lightweight and was worn by servant girls in the 18th century but is now worn in German celebrations, Bavaria, and other countries like Austria, and Switzerland. Little and teenage girls often wear the same thing as the women.

Women's traditional Dirndl with apron and white shirt.

Summer and other warmer occasion, dirndls are made of lightweight cotton, reveal more skin (including short sleeves), and colors are usually lighter.

In winter the skirts are thicker and warmer. Aprons are made out of wool, linen, thick cotton, or velvet. Colors are typically darker and sleeves are longer to protect from the cold as well.


Women’s shoes are nowadays usually flats or low-heels because a dance could break out at any time. Tall rain boots (wellies) are typically what they wear for bad weather. Traditionally thick-soled shoes used to be the most common though.

Men’s/Boy’s Lederhosen Outfit:


Lederhosen actually means “leather trousers” so that gives us a pretty good guess about these traditional outfits. They’re short to-the-knee trousers that go over a plaid shirt (which usually are red or green). Originally the lederhosen was meant for hard physical work such as farming. A more expensive pair would be handmade of deerskin which is strong and tearproof and could last a lifetime. Less expensive Lederhosen would be made of velour leather which is heavier and not as durable. Boys would wear the same outfit, but typically it was less decorated and more basic and plain.

Leather Lenderhosen with red plaid shirt and thick-soled shoes.


Haferlschuhe are the best traditional shoes! They are sometimes  made out of a goat’s hoof and give great stability to the wearer. They have a unique look that’s special to the lederhosen outfit.

Traditions and History of Mexican Clothing

Mexican attire has always been so full of intriguing color and fascinating designs, right? Actually, after some research, I found that hundreds of years ago they were plain and boring. Here’s what I found:

Men’s Clothing:

Traditional Mexican men’s clothing were all originally made in neutral colors like greys, blacks and most commonly, brown. Shirts and pants most often were a single color and relatively plain to modern-day clothing. The hat Mexico is known for is called a ‘sombrero’. ‘Sombrero’ comes from the Spanish word sobra, which means ‘shade’, and translates literally into the word ‘hat’ in English.

Mexican Mariachi Player with Sombrero

Sombreros are broad-brimmed straw hats that more often than not had a chin strap to accommodate for riding on horses at a full gallop. Men would sometimes also wear capes that went to or below the knee. Like the sombrero, ponchos were popular in Mexico remain a symbol of that country today. The most popular material at first was cotton and then later silk.

A Mexican cowboy’s uniform always included black pants and the typical sombrero. The button-up shirts usually had silver buttons and other elaborate designs.

Traditional Mexican Women’s Clothing

The women wore long skirts that typically reached their ankles. Sometimes a shorter skirt would reach the knee, but they were normally no shorter than that.

The women’s shirts were mostly made out of wool or sometimes silk. They were always white and lightweight to help them not be too hot. Sometimes instead of the typical quarter or half-length sleeves, they wore sleeveless shirts called ‘huilips’ when it got even warmer.

Mothers would often use a shawl-like piece of fabric called a ‘rebozo’ made to carry infants easily.

Modern-day Colors Used in Mexican Clothing

So what changed this clothing into the Mexican clothing we know today?

Modern Traditional Mexican Women's Dresses and Skirts

The modern-day Mexican clothing is heavily influenced by the Hindu and Indian sari! The story begins with an Indian named Mirra (also known as Catarina de San Juan) who was a slave to a Chinese family in Kochi, India. She was captured by pirates and eventually made her way to Mexico where she was sold as a slave to a Pueblo merchant. She refused to wear anything except for her traditional Indian dress (the sari). She always stood out and was very lovely in her beautiful, draping dress. Other women were attracted to it and started putting elements of the sari into their own clothing.

Due in large part to the the influence of Mirra and her sari, Mexican clothing (especially for women) has changed dramatically from what it was hundreds of years ago. Women’s clothing is now a lot more colorful. Even though they still wear brown, they wear brighter colors like red, yellow, green, pink, blue, purple and orange. In fact, the more vibrant the colors, the better. Mexican clothing is now known to include an array of vibrant colors in the skirts as well as embroidery and patchwork on blouses made for Mexican women. Patchwork patterns used in Mexican blouses allow the use of more colors and an all-around more decorated top.

For religious services, crosses are frequently are stitched on their blouses. Symbolic, meaningful, and ornate embroidery adorns their shirts and skirts too.

Traditional Mexican Woman's Blouse with Embroidered Cross

Mexico’s traditional clothing as we know it today has been and continues to be a favorite style throughout the world, being known for their bright and energetic colors, embroidery, frills, and ornaments.