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Rules for wearing a lab coat

Roy Biggins

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Are there any rules? Can I wear a pocket square with a lab coat? Should I button all three buttons?
 

Tuerney1

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From the labs I've visited (which I used to do as part of my job), there seems to be some flexibility. The lab coat was designed to protect your clothes from harm, whether that be from materials around the lab, machinery, bodily fluids or whatnot. So whether people button all three buttons seems to depend on whether they actually feel their clothes need the protection. In labs where people also wear goggles, I generally see them buttoned up.

The pocket square question would probably also be influenced by the purpose behind the lab coat. If one weren't concerned about damaging a piece of clothing such as a pocket square, the lab coat might not be necessary in the first place. And I've never seen one being worn in the coat pocket.

That said, my experience has been mostly with scientific laboratories and not so much with medical facilities or even pharmacies (where I believe pharmacists often wear lab coats). So my two cents may not be worth even that.
 

LabelKing

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A pocket handkerchief would add interest to a lab coat since I've never seen anyone do that.

However, couturiers of the middle 20th century used to wear white lab coats, which I've always thougt looked stylish compared to the mish-mash of clothing designers tend to don today.
 

ragdoll

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There is a some info on Ask Andy about appropriate dress in various professional settings. I must admit, I wear a lab coat often but I've never considered a pocket square. The ultimate dandy!
 

chobochobo

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accoutrements for their white coats/lab coats/doctors coats. I remember having examinations with a white coat over a dark suit - you can still have a carnation in your button hole if you wish
 

Holdfast

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Interesting question.

I never wear a white coat these days (not appropriate to my speciality at all) but even when I did internal medicine, I generally avoided them because they were hot and uncomfortable and generally fit badly!

Frankly I would think a pocket square in the lab coat pocket would look laughable! However, if you're wearing suit jacket underneath, you could have one there (I never did, I always took any jacket off before donning the white coat). You can make things interesting with tie clips, cufflinks, etc instead, which is what I used to do. I quite like the idea of a red carnation in a white coat, though I don't think I'd have the testicular fortitude to try it! Maybe if/when you're VERY senior!


The only accoutrement a white coat needs is a stethoscope hanging nonchalantly round the neck. Gold-plating a la Romano from ER entirely optional!


Though one of the cardiothoracic surgeons at an old workplace of mine DID have one such stethoscope! I must admit, I loved the bling!

(of course you'd only be able to wear the gold-plated scope when your watch and belt buckle are also gold... otherwise you have to stick to the regular steel...
)
 

dusty

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Would you put a pocket square in mechanics' overalls?
 

Garfieldthecat

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From what I see and follow, lab coats need to be 100% cotton (none of that 50/50 mix, it's too thin), starched and pressed, and have your name/speciality embroidered.

If wearing scrubs, the coat stays unbuttoned, or only button the top button.

If wearing shirt/tie, then the coat should be buttoned as well.
 

GQgeek

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You have got to be joking... When I'm in the lab I make sure not to wear anything too nice underneath. I find the fabric to be a bit abrassive. It really sticks to sweaters so i'll usually take them off before putting on the coat. And I've never seen a 100% cotton lab coat. It would kinda defeat the purpose of wearing it, but then I guess that depends on the environment you work in. I'm assuming doctors aren't really worried about strong chemicals being spilled all over them whereas with chemists it's a different story. Still, pocket squares with a lab coat is perhaps the dumbest idea i've ever heard...
 

lawyerdad

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I doubt there are "rules", as such, but I'd always thought the whole point of a lab coat was: (1) you're being exposed to stuff you don't want your nice clothes exposed to; and/or (2) there are institutional reasons for a degree of bland uniformity among the people who wear them. A pocket square would run counter to both.
 

rnoldh

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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the number one rule of wearing lab coats. And that is, wear Brown shoes! Absolutely no Black shoes. Goodyear welt construction greatly preferred!
 

GQgeek

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Originally Posted by rnoldh
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the number one rule of wearing lab coats. And that is, wear Brown shoes! Absolutely no Black shoes. Goodyear welt construction greatly preferred!

Yes... The resulting patina after concentrated solutions of chemicals have been spilled all over them is Berlutiesque!
 

norcaltransplant

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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the number one rule of wearing lab coats. And that is, wear Brown shoes! Absolutely no Black shoes. Goodyear welt construction greatly preferred!
I disagree. You really dont want to be wearing nice, English tan shoes while you disimpact someone. Brown shoes will take on a whole different meaning... actually they will transform from brown shoes to brown shoos a la da shooman. Might I take a refreshing drink from the foley to wash it all down?
 

LabelKing

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Originally Posted by dusty
Would you put a pocket square in mechanics' overalls?
There was an episode of "Are You Being Served" where Captain Peacock wore work overalls with a white shirt, collar popped, a silk cravat, and a display handkerchief in the pocket. He also had on a tam o' shanter.
 

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