Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Science Fashion Tragedies Part I: The Lab Coat

Yikes!Why is lab wear white, baggy, and supremely unflattering?

I suspect it's not the fashion sense of your standard science student at fault in this situation. Instead, I'm placing the blame fair on the shoulders of lab coat manufacturers. What lack of imagination on their part blinds them to the obvious need for an Evil Genius Lab Coat, or simply the Power Lab Coat (discrete shoulder pads and high collar) for those moments when we need to come across as supremely knowledgeable?

And the colour? Why white? It's black that is slimming! Australia is currently topping the charts when it comes to the proportion of obese people in our population, so a lab coat that doesn't scream "giant white whale" would seem like a sensible proposition.

Lab coats are there to protect our skin and clothes from chance exposure to chemicals and biological fluids when we get a bit too excited with the pipette. Theoretically, you need to be able to tear the coat off when sprinting for the emergency shower after you just covered yourself with acid. But this requirement doesn't seem like much of a barrier to lab coat diversity: thanks to the miracle of press-studs (or velcro for those that are after that hypercolor 80s inspired lab coat!) we could all be stylish and safe. Personally, I think I'd opt for a classic trench-coat inspired design, feminine and flattering, that would look good with the covered shoes (to be addressed later) that are also required for lab safety.

Lab-wear manufacturers, if you think that there is not enough demand for stylish lab wear to make this work, you're wrong. If someone can make money from ties with the periodic table on them, just imagine how much you'd make from stylish lab coats... a gift that scientists would actually like to receive!


  1. I totally agree with this article. Most of the lab coats in our lab could fit two of me in them. You'd think manufacturers would learn something from the producers of Bones.

  2. If lab coats become saturated, however, they will lose their effectiveness and must be immediately removed. Lab coats must never be cleaned in home washing machines or general purpose laundromats. Only specialists in hazardous waste cleaning techniques should handle dirty lab coats.