I need a new lab coat. I hate the one I have. In its defence, it has poppers rather than buttons, but then again its polyester-cotton blend. Its also white, and at best a unisex lab coat, at worst a mans lab coat cut.
The ideal lab coat (mainly for demonstrating in undergraduate laboratories) has poppers, and is a colour other than white – I’d like people to be able to see me quickly. I’d like, however, for it not to look like I was wearing a lab coat-esque tattie sack. The lab isn’t a place for high fashion but if I’m going to spend 12+ hours a week wearing the damn thing, I’d at least like to look reasonable, rather than a big polycotton blob. Also women’s lab coats tend to button higher than men’s, and that’s quite useful. If you want to read about the quest for a higher spec lab coat, read ChemBark’s post.
I decided that I was willing to invest in a new lab coat, ideally one made of cotton or flame retardant fabric (but just not fabric of the melting kind), and I wanted poppers not buttons. I decided to look for women’s lab coats. After 30 minutes of trawling through websites where mens lab coats were listed for ‘doctors’ and women’s lab coats were listed for ‘nurses’ or ‘lab technicians’, I found a website where the women’s lab coats were happily sat along side the maids outfits. No, there were no male equivalent uniforms next to the doctor’s lab coats on the same site. Its possible that a sense of grim determination overtook me at this point and I continued my search.
I wish I hadn’t! On the next site, I found a passable women’s lab coat, curiously called a ‘Princess’ style coat. Bad news folks, you try really hard to blow through the stereotypes, get through to being a doctor or a scientist and you still have to deal with the princess BS. It’s OK though because the buttons are on the other side, just in case we get confused after helping our male lords and masters button up their coats, we won’t have to deal with buttons on the wrong side [seriously, Google ‘women’s buttons’ for the back story on why women’s shirts have the buttons on different sides – there are lots of theories but historically helping the men folk to get their kit on is one of them].
I gave up at just about the point where I’d decided that the term ‘unisex’ was used to denote lab coats made in a wider range of sizes, rather than anything specific about the cut or style. Its not like I want a girly lab coat, quite the opposite: I’d like a lab coat that looks professional and looking like a rectangular polycotton yeti is not really working for me. Reasonably flame resistant, dark colour (to hide the indescribable muck that your lab coat picks up), reasonably well shaped…dream on!