How do you know if your lab coat fits right?

Your lab coat serves many purposes at once. It’s your protection, a form of identification, and a symbol of expertise.

Do you think these things will be fully accomplished if your lab coat doesn’t fit right?

A properly-fitted lab coat helps you look good and feel good, and if that sounds too vain (which we’ll argue it’s not), it also helps you perform better. That’s something we can all get behind. And yet, with so many purchases today happening online on sites like Amazon, lab coats’ sizing and fit are harder to discern. At the same time, it’s easier to find the fitted lab coats designed for someone like you.

Oh, the options!


If only you understood the sizing to buy the right one…

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Purchasing clothing (even lab wear) online is no walk in the park. Most websites will include measurements in the product description, but those numbers aren’t always easy to translate into something you can actually use. Take the Dr. James DR6 Unisex Lab Coat, for example. The page details spell out a 39” chest, 41” hip and a 38” back measurement. If you’re shopping Amazon lab coats and can’t physically put the lab coat on (and instead just have to go off of these numbers), you’re probably thinking to yourself, “How do I know if my lab coat fits me properly?”

Luckily, figuring out your measurements is not rocket science, and will just take a few moments. Everything you do over the course of a regular day on the job is far, far more complex.

With the following instructions, a fabric tape measure, or even any of a few common household items, you’ll never have to ask, “How do I know if my lab coat fits properly?” again.


How to take your measurements

If you have an upcoming appointment with a tailor (or a personal trainer or nutritionist), you’re in luck! A tailor will be taking measurements, and a personal trainer or a nutritionist tend to take measurements periodically—all you have to do is ask them to take the measurements you need, because they’ll have a fabric tap measure on them during your appointment.

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Otherwise, you can take your own measurements. You’ll need a fabric tape measure and snug-fitting clothes (or no clothes if you’re in the privacy of your own home). Some help from a willing friend is helpful, but not necessary.

Every measurement you take should be done by keeping the tape close to your body, tight enough so that the tape is pressed against your skin with no wiggle room but not so tight that it begins to compress your body at all.



When measuring your chest, wrap the tape around the fullest part of your pectorals or breasts. This is typically underneath the armpits and underneath your shoulder blades. For men, the tape will cross over the nipples. For women, the bust will also be taken into account, measuring around the biggest girth of the chest (this is called the apex of the bust).

After wrapping the tape around, take a deep breath and exhale comfortably before taking the actual measurement.



When measuring your hips, wrap the tape around the fullest part of your hips and backside. As with the chest, make sure you’re in a regular, comfortable position before you take the actual measurement. While our egos might try to get the smallest numbers we can, “cheating” these measurements will only result in buying lab coats and lab wear that are too tight and not ideally functional.


Back length

For your back length, the measurement should be taken from the base of your neck down to the waistband of whatever pants you’d normally wear under your white lab coat. The measurement should start at the first bony spinal protrusion you feel on the back of your neck. Make sure the measurement is taken straight down, perpendicular to the ground. This one might be easier with the help of a friend.

All of these measurements should be taken to the nearest quarter inch.


And that’s it! Figuring out your measurements is really that easy, and only takes a few minutes. That said, it’s fair to assume that not all of us have a fabric tape measure lying around. This won’t stop you from getting your perfectly-fitted lab coat.


What if I don’t have a fabric tape measure?

Of course, the best solution would be to go out and buy a fabric tape measure or to borrow one. However, if you don’t have the time or money, or don’t know anyone who already has one, there are some easy alternatives to get your measurements.


Piece of string

how do i know if my lab coat fits right use string

All the above instructions can be followed substituting the tape measure for a piece of string. Simply wrap the string around your chest, waist, or hips in exactly the same way, then cut the string where it overlaps. If you don’t have a pair of scissors handy, you can mark the overlap spot with a permanent marker, or even just try to keep the spot marked with your fingers. After marking the spot, take a ruler, a yard or meter stick, or even a ruler app on your phone, and measure out the length of your string.


I don’t even have a piece of string

If you don’t happen to have any string lying around, either, you can always use a piece of yarn, floss, or any sort of strand as long as it isn’t too elastic. Remember, you’re only cheating yourself if you cheat the measurements!

Another option is using sheets of paper or even dollar bills. Regular printer paper is 8.5 x 11 inches, and dollar bills are 6.14 inches long. Taping a few pieces together end-to-end can give you a pretty precise measurement in a real pinch.


Why measurements matter

how to look good in a lab coatMaybe taking your measurements feels a little unnecessary, but it’s truly fundamental to buying the right labwear with the right fit and function. A well-fitted lab coat is going to look and feel better, too, which comes with plenty of secondary benefits.

The technical benefits, however, are the ones that sell most science and medical professionals on this need.

Specifically, lab coat that is too large or too baggy can quickly become a health hazard. If the fabric drifts too far from your body, you lose proprioception of how far your coat reaches. A quick movement could snag on something and cause an accident in the blink of an eye.

Similarly, a lab coat that is too tight can be problematic. For one, it will likely restrict your motion. While this might not be immediately dangerous, it will impede your efficiency. If the coat is too small, you might be leaving parts of your body exposed and at a greater risk when dealing with hazardous materials.


Making sure your lab coat fits properly is not only a stylistic decision, but a safety precaution. Hopefully, with these tips, finding a lab coat that fits perfectly should never be a problem again!