How To Choose the Right Lab Coat Fit (Guide for Men & Women)

The nature of medical and other lab work makes a properly sized lab coat important for reasons beyond fashion. If an individual in these fields trips or has their mobility affected by their coat, it has real potential to do harm to either them or those around them. Broadly, three factors should be considered when determining the right fit for a coat: shoulder length, arm length and ideal coat length. 

Important Considerations When Choosing a Lab Coat

The following sizing considerations should be made when choosing a lab coat:


A lab coat’s shoulder seams need to match the entire length of a wearer’s shoulders. Because a lab coat is worn over clothes, make sure to measure this length while the intended wearer is wearing a typical outfit they might have on while wearing the coat. 

For a looser fit in the arms and shoulders, this final measurement can be increased slightly. Although it’s important that a lab coat fits well, it’s also a fairly utilitarian piece of clothing. Because of this, it’s most important that it isn’t so tight that it impedes a wearer’s workflow, but it shouldn’t be so loose that it could cause accidents or injuries.  


A relatively common issue with lab coats is a wearer needing to roll up their sleeves in a way that can be somewhat unsightly and may pose a catch risk. This is generally the result of improper arm fit. 

A coat should usually finish at or slightly before a wearer’s wrists. An intended wearer’s arm length should be measured with their arms at their side. 

Coat Length

The coat length of a lab coat can vary and it is to some degree a matter of taste. However, it’s important that a coat is long enough that any splash of fluids during lab work is likely to be caught by the coat rather than one’s pants and the coat shouldn’t be so long that it interferes with movement or presents a trip risk. Generally, individuals aim for a lab coat to be roughly mid-thigh, with the coat ending just above the knee. 

An otherwise properly sized lab coat will usually have a proper coat length simply because most coats are intended to end at about mid-thigh level when worn by an individual they’re sized for. If the rest of the coat fits well, the length will usually be appropriate.

The Value of a Back Belt

Some lab coats come equipped with a back belt, which is often adjustable. This belt can help keep a coat tighter around the waist. It has the potential to give a coat a more stylish fit and this is particularly important for people with petite figures whose coats might otherwise tend to look baggy or ill-fitting. 

These belts aren’t essential for a lab coat to look good or fit right, especially if one gets their lab coat tailored to their body. But they’re a common, easy-to-find feature that many people like in a coat.

Men’s, Women’s & Unisex Coats

There are three types of lab coat styles: men’s, women’s and unisex. This is important because the tailoring of these styles can be different, although men’s and unisex coats will generally be tailored the same or at least similarly.

Both men’s and unisex lab coats will typically be sized in accordance with suit jacket dimensions. Experts often suggest buying clothes sized in this way by determining your chest dimensions using a flexible measuring tape. A chest measuring 40 inches long means an individual will likely best fit into a size 40 lab coat. Make sure to measure under the armpits and around the shoulder blades to size the widest part of the torso.

Women’s lab coats can be more difficult to determine the proper sizing for, although dress size is often the best starting point. Many lab coat manufacturers or retailers will have charts you can reference to see which measurements are relevant and what you should check before committing to an option. You will likely at least want both your chest and hip measurements to be accounted for by a coat’s cut to get a proper fit.

It’s also worth noting that different brands will often size their coats slightly differently. The optimal sizing in one brand may be similar but will rarely be identical to that in a different brand. Make sure to read any available reviews on coat sizing to see what people are saying about how their coats fit and read any material a brand provides about their coat sizing to make sure you can get the lab coat that is the best size for you.

Rental Services With Alsco

Finding a lab coat that fits can be a somewhat complicated process, but it’s made easier with rental services. When you work with Alsco, we can help you find lab coats that fit your employees well and we’ll ensure you always have them on hand.

We handle the cleaning process, so your lab coats always look fresh and crisp. If a lab coat is torn, stained or otherwise damaged, we’ll simply take it out of the rotation and replace it with a new one.

Our workwear rental services can be an excellent way to reduce the cost of lab coat maintenance and the general hassle that purchasing lab coats and other uniforms can often bring. Contact us today to learn more about how rental services can simplify your lab coat and uniform management. 


A How-To Guide on Properly Sizing Your Lab Coat. (September 2022). 

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