Lab fashion: when safe meets cool

Will lab fashion ever be as universally accepted as active wear?

Orange is the new blue in nitrile gloves as a new wave of safety wear enters the market. These are just like normal nitrile gloves but orange for “Higher Visibility!” and are therefore infinitely safer and I need them. Because they’re orange. And that’s just cool.

Lab wear has come a long way in a short amount of time. Back in the early lab days there were the black rimmed safety glasses, blue gloves, a baggy lab coat and a top pocket full of pens, spatulas and the ubiquitous timer.

This getup was fine to wear in the lab. Everyone looked the same and no one was in a position to judge. Crossing between labs in safety wear is also fine.

But once I wandered in a direction that was not immediately between Lab A and Lab B, forgetting about my safety wear. It was a strange feeling. The further I got from the lab, the more it became uncomfortable to wear all this safety apparel. Not to mention the strange looks I got.

There must be a mathematical equation for the maximum distance one can be from a lab when wearing lab gear and not look out of place. Like the maximum distance you can be from a beach before beach wear looks weird. Pretty sure there’s an Ig Nobel in it for whoever works that out.

Now lab wear is sleek. Tailored lab coats with designer lapels and cuffs, safety glasses with tortoise shell rims, and discreet black gloves in case you’re not feeling the orange.

It is becoming a sort of essential gear in the same way that active wear has dominated fitness. There was a time when exercise was possible in tracksuit pants and baggy t-shirts. Now any sort of activity requires the latest active wear. Will science soon become impossible without wearing new-wave lab gear?

On the bright side, we may be able to wear our safety gear further from the lab than ever before.