How much do you remember about your first lab coat? It’s safe to say you probably remember how it felt to start wearing it. It marked the passage from the dreams you had to what you later accomplished—and even to who you are now. All that hard work paid off, and today you’re a professional ready to offer your expertise to more people every day.
Whether you’re a healthcare professional or a lab professional, the lab coat is an essential tool in your workplace and your daily routine. The white uniform distinguishes you from other staff members, provides your patients or collaborators with trust and confidence (they know that they are in the right hands when they see you wearing it), and, of course, it puts a barrier between you and harmful chemicals and contaminants.
And, if you choose it right, your lab coat also offers other practical features with pockets for the 21st-century doctor, pharmacist or scientist. The best lab coats will also make you look like a stud.
With so many memories, you think of those first lab-coat-wearing days with nostalgia. This is natural, and adds to the confidence you take with you to work every day. However, there is a time when you need to replace that first white lab coat, and then the next, and the next. And with so many options out there (both in terms of design and functionality), it can be surprisingly overwhelming to choose your new designer lab coat.
…Especially when you see some of those price tags.
If you are due for a new white coat, you’re starting in the right place. This article will focus on tips to find the best lab coat for you. We will talk about fit and style, give specific tips for women and how they feel and look inside a lab coat, and we will discuss certain kinds of lab coats for certain occasions.
If you are a graduate student (congratulations, by the way) and are ready to buy your first lab coat, this article is also for you. Let’s dig in!
When it comes to fit, the most important factor choosing the right coat is size. It’s essential that your new lab coat have the appropriate size so that it will protect you properly. Too small, and the lab coat will be uncomfortable and won’t cover all the essential areas. Too big, and you could have a sleeve getting in the way and even ending up contaminated with something (or lighting on fire).
The size of a lab coat is usually based on standard sizes for men (usually sold in unisex) and women (where this option is available). In addition, the length of the coat and its sleeves is very important in providing you with the right protective barrier.
Now, about sleeves…their length shouldn’t expose any part of your skin between the end of the sleeve and your gloves. The sleeve also shouldn’t be too long. If the sleeve reaches past your wrist when your hands are hanging, it’s too long, and may interfere with your work.
In order to find a lab coat with the perfect sleeve length for you, you can measure your ideal sleeve length by hanging your arms at your sides and having someone measure from the middle of your neck down to the end of your arm. Full product descriptions when shopping lab coats for purchase online will include this measurement.
Your lab coat itself shouldn’t be too long or too short, either. This usually comes down to preference or dress code standards where you work, because lab coats generally come down just past the hip or to the middle of your thigh. If you’re on the petite side, thigh-length coats might be too long if you don’t measure up and look for that number in the lab coat descriptions while you shop.
2: Pockets (the 21st-century professional’s number-one need)
In terms of functionality, the number-one factor to consider are lab coat pockets. You need a lab coat with enough pockets in clever places that you can carry and use your tools with ease.
You might need to carry pens, a stethoscope, your phone or tablet (or both), and various other accessories. Having a lab coat with the appropriate pockets will help you navigate your workplace much easier and add simplicity to your work routine.
3: Special fit considerations for women
Let’s start with the obvious. Feeling comfortable and confident at the same time can increase your satisfaction with the work you do. And satisfaction goes hand-in-hand with work productivity.
According to a recent study by economists at the University of Warwick, happiness or “work satisfaction” made employees about 12% more productive. Unhappy employees were 10% less productive. As a result, feeling confident in your coat not only makes you look sharp, but it also helps you become better at your job.
A lab coat fit made in unisex design often ends up being challenging for women entering medicine. Let’s see what factors to take into account to select the best lab coat that is both functional and made to fit you right.
To find the size that will feel right, it's important to consider what you tend to wear under your lab coat. If your clinic or lab is perpetually cold and you like to layer with sweaters, take this into account when looking at sizes. If you wear pants more often than dresses or skirts, this will give you greater flexibility with what length of lab coat to choose from.
We’re coming back to pockets, because in women’s lab coats the right pockets are essential. Women’s fashion has a perpetual lack of good pockets on slacks (and forget about skirts), and so the pockets on your lab coat should accommodate everything you carry on a daily basis.
A woman should always feel confident at work regardless of her body shape. When it comes to lab coats, the right designers will consider cut to accommodate a figure—and then it’s just a matter of proper selection. Unisex coats might be doable for some women, but if you have baggy fabric around your waist, you’ll probably feel better in a professionally designed lab coat for women.
4: Lab coats for special occasions
As a doctor or a scientist, you might have to wear your lab coat at social occasions. Most of the time you’ll wear your lab coat at work. But for speeches and ceremonies, should you wear the same lab coat you do in the daily grind?
In your work setting, the most important aspect of your lab coat is protection. Your lab coat should protect you and the clothes under it from harmful chemicals and contaminators.
At speaking or networking events
At occasions like ceremonies or speeches, protection isn’t necessary. Instead, your appearance should foster professionalism, confidence and comfort. For these occasions, you can focus more on appearance and go for a designer lab coat. If you are interested in learning more about lab coats for special occasions, feel free to take a look at this article.
Whether you’re looking to buy your first lab coat or simply needing a new one, you should focus your energy on finding the lab coat that is nothing short of the perfect one for you. The length of the lab coat and its sleeves, as well as its fit and functionality, are the most important factors for the best pick—but you should never compromise in terms of your comfort and confidence.