How to wear a lab coat

I've banged on before about how I'm tempted by the designer-in-lab-coat look (all thanks to Vignelli and friends). But it's not just designers who wear lab coats, you know. They're a staple of any great man's wardrobe. Put one on and you're telling the world "hey, I'm smart and can be called upon to defend the Earth from atomic monsters or tend to your grazed knee … but I also succumb to occasional bouts of hubris in which I struggle to defy nature's law."

Let's have a look at a few, shall we? Yes we shall.

Staff of Darkplace Hospital – Dr Lucien Sanchez, Dr Rick Dagless MD and Dr Liz Asher (plus Thornton Reed): the collective noun is "a Marenghi of lab coats".

Staff of Darkplace Hospital – Dr Lucien Sanchez, Dr Rick Dagless MD and Dr Liz Asher (plus Thornton Reed): the collective noun is "a Marenghi of lab coats".

Dr Emmett Brown: here demonstrating that the lab coat look is at its most timeless when contrasted against an incredibly era-specific outfit. Note the possible doomsday device accessory.

Dr Emmett Brown: here demonstrating that the lab coat look is at its most timeless when contrasted against an incredibly era-specific outfit. Note the possible doomsday device accessory.

Professor Donald Kessler: note the advanced combination of jaunty pipe (only ever removed from mouth for gesticulatory purposes), Brylcreem and authoritative pointy stick.

Professor Donald Kessler: note the advanced combination of jaunty pipe (only ever removed from mouth for gesticulatory purposes), Brylcreem and authoritative pointy stick.

Professor Mathers: thick rimmed glasses are the lab coat's friend – one must learn the art of spectacle removal to emphasise the gravitas of any given situation. Sucking on the end of one of the arms should only be attempted in moments of intense ponderment.

Professor Mathers: thick rimmed glasses are the lab coat's friend – one must learn the art of spectacle removal to emphasise the gravitas of any given situation. Sucking on the end of one of the arms should only be attempted in moments of intense ponderment.

Dr John Truman Carter III: lab coat wearer of the year, 2005–2009.

Dr John Truman Carter III: lab coat wearer of the year, 2005–2009.

Dr Brackish Okun: unkempt hair is a great style for any academic pursuit, but throw it together with a fresh white lab coat and you, sir, have got yourself a look.

Dr Brackish Okun: unkempt hair is a great style for any academic pursuit, but throw it together with a fresh white lab coat and you, sir, have got yourself a look.

Professor John Nerdelbaum Frink, Jr: why wear a tie when you can wear a bow-tie?

Professor John Nerdelbaum Frink, Jr: why wear a tie when you can wear a bow-tie?

Dr John Zoidberg and Professor Hubert Farnsworth: a demonstration of the lab coat's breadth of styles and cross-species versatility.

Dr John Zoidberg and Professor Hubert Farnsworth: a demonstration of the lab coat's breadth of styles and cross-species versatility.

Professor Brody: the early stages of growing an atomic monster.

Professor Brody: the early stages of growing an atomic monster.

Dr Horrible: an advanced wearer of the lab coat, here pulling off the tricky goggles-and-gloves approach. Not for the inexperienced.

Dr Horrible: an advanced wearer of the lab coat, here pulling off the tricky goggles-and-gloves approach. Not for the inexperienced.

Ray Arnold: when all about you are losing their nerve (and accents), you're the one they're going to turn to, because you're in a lab coat and you know what to do. Or at least you look like you do.

Ray Arnold: when all about you are losing their nerve (and accents), you're the one they're going to turn to, because you're in a lab coat and you know what to do. Or at least you look like you do.

Dr Norman Osborn: dapper, security conscious, utterly insane.

Dr Norman Osborn: dapper, security conscious, utterly insane.

Dr Bunsen Honeydew: there are no words. This IS the lab coat look.

Dr Bunsen Honeydew: there are no words. This IS the lab coat look.

(Apologies for the rather man-centric nature of these case studies. Of course, the lab coat is a unisex fashion and utility item. It's just that ladies' role models in this field are … they don't have the same … just look.)