Scientists actually wore white lab coats before medical doctors. In the mid-1800s scientists had shown that many of the medicines doctors used were no good. Scientists were more respected and trusted at the time. Therefore doctors, in order to achieve more respect and trust, took on the white lab coat. The length of the lab coat used to be a symbol of seniority. The longer the lab coat, the more prestigious the doctor.

Today, the white lab coat is a universal symbol of the medical professional. Most are made from a 65/35 polyester cotton blend and come in many different styles. When choosing a lab coat keep in mind the particular policies of the institution you work at. Some require long or short lab coats, depending on your responsibilities in that facility.

When it comes to lab coats, it is easy to assume that one lab coat is just about the same as the next one, right? Well, actually, that’s not really true at all. There are hundreds of different types of lab coats available out there for those who need them – whether medical professionals or even electronics technicians. And believe it or not, there are even recommended style guidelines when it comes to which buttons should be buttoned, and so on – just like the etiquette standards that go along with wearing a suit or other dressy outfit.

Why Are Lab Coats So Important?

First and foremost, lab coats are worn to help keep the attire worn underneath clean. They’re also great at preventing uneven wear and tear on the under clothing. Typically, you’ll see lab coats worn in a variety of professions where the likelihood of spills and other messy situations frequently occur. For this reason, lab coats are highly recommended, and often even mandatory, in these jobs.

And it is important not to overlook the fact that a nicely-pressed, well-fitting lab coat can really enhance a person’s professional image as they relate with clients, patients, and even co-workers. All the while, they’re inexpensively working to protect the much more expensive attire that they cover. Lab coats are indeed important for so many professions.

Who Typically Wears A Lab Coat?

In some professions, the practice of wearing lab coats is gradually diminishing as other attire and uniforms are becoming more popular. However, in other practices and professions, lab coats are still very common – and in some cases, even mandated. Here are just a few of the professionals that typically wear a lab coat:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Scientists
  • Lab technicians
  • Chemists
  • Electronics technicians
  • Veterinarians
  • Various other health care professionals

Styles And Lab Coat Materials: What To Look For?

Remember, not every lab coat is created equally. A few important aspects to consider that vary from one coat to the next are:

  • Stain resistance
  • Wrinkle resistance
  • Plenty of pocket space
  • Openings to allow pants pocket accessibility

Even though lab coats are often just mandated by certain professions and workplaces, it is still possible to have some style. And yes, although it isn’t immediately evident to the unsuspecting eye, there are actually all kinds of different lab coat styles. They include:

  • Long Length / Short Length – In some cases, seniority even plays a factor in who gets to wear the longer coats.
  • Lab Jackets – Many lab coats are actually styled and fitted to wear just like a blazer or sports coat.
  • Slipover Lab Gowns – No buttons required here.
  • Lab Vests – Sleeveless lab vests are becoming more and more popular.
  • Fitted Lab Coats – While some lab coats are cut to flow and drape nicely, others are made with a sportier, tighter fit.
  • Mens / Womens – Even though some lab coats are one-size-fits all, it’s more common for lab coats to be sized and cut in individual men’s and women’s fits.

When it comes to materials, there are plenty of options here as well. 100% cotton lab coats are often preferred by those who don’t expect to get them very dirty. All natural cotton has the benefit of being breathable, while also flowing nicely. It’s usually found with higher-end, more expensive lab coats – plus, it can be starched for a really sharp, professional look.

Besides 100% cotton, lab coats are often made from all polyester or polyester/cotton blends. Among other reasons, these blends of materials are used to make the coats easier to care for and more stain resistant.

Is There Really A Such Thing As Lab Coat Etiquette?

Okay, this is debatable, but there is some degree of precedent when it comes to lab coat etiquette. For example, it’s common for certain colors to be reserved for certain professions – doctors typically wear white, nurses typically wear light blue, and so on. It’s also common to button all buttons to the top when wearing professional attire underneath the lab coat. On the other hand, when wearing the lab coat over scrubs or similar uniform attire, it’s okay to leave the lab coat unbuttoned.

In conclusion, there are no set in stone rules when it comes to lab coats. Most of the time, the specific profession and unique workplace standards will dictate what type of lab coats are necessary.