Everglades fashion: clean clothes are out of style

Whether we are working in the field or in the lab, the things we have to wear to do our work make us stand out from the undergrad crowd at our universities. Below, I have listed the latest styles for Fall 2012 Everglades research:

Tannin-dyed Pants 

Above is a picture of pants that I wear in the field. These pants are naturally tie-dyed with streaks of grey and orange from various organic compounds floating around in the water. The key rule in Everglades fashion is to never wear anything nice or new, so these khaki pants that I’ve had since 9th grade are perfect for the field.
Ambiguous Event T-shirts

Again, nice new clothing is never worn in the field, so research is the perfect opportunity to get use out of bizarre free T-shirts from volunteer events and raffle gift bags. If you are caught wearing Ambiguous Event T-shirts while transitioning between the field and your home, however, you will be inevitably be questioned by people who intensely read your T-shirt. “So how was volunteering at an Art Festival in Fort Pierce 8 years ago? What is Envirothon?”

Hiking Boots

I have two pairs of hiking boots. If I have to be in an enclosed space with other people, the newer hiking boots are worn. The older hiking boots, shown above, permanently live outside of my apartment due to mysterious swamp smells and are worn only for the most mucky activities.

Field Accessories: Floppy hat, 1-inch thick layer of sunscreen
, machete

Old Oversized Stained Lab Coat 

Despite the fact that all stock images of scientists on the internet show people wearing crisp, clean lab coats, this is rarely the case. The purpose of a lab coat is to protect the rest of your body from spills and splashes of chemicals and dyes, so lab coats rarely look clean. Since labs don’t contain washing machines and no one ever takes responsibility to wash the lab coats, they are also rarely ever washed…

Closed Toed Shoes 

As a Floridian, I feel very awkward and uncomfortable wearing closed toed shoes (aka not sandals/flip flops).  Closed toed shoes, however, are usually required in labs.  Since I feel like I have giant feet when I wear regular running shoes with jeans, I invested a whole $7 in the shoes shown above, which are probably as close to sandals as possible.

Old Outdated Jeans

These ultra-low rise super flare circa 2003 jeans just won’t give out for lab work. They have micro holes either from lab chemicals or from my dog chewing on them, but until they rip in half, I will keep wearing them in lab.

The Communal Lab Jacket
All labs maintain a temperature of about 50 degrees, and all labs have a communal jacket that is shared among the employees. The person doing the most tedious task usually gets to wear the jacket (“Amber looks so cold weighing samples”). Like the lab coats, the communal jacket hasn’t been washed since 1998.

Reseachers: Are there any lab or field fashions that I missed that you would like to mention?  How do you feel while wearing your lab/field gear in public?  Do you have any lab fashion advice (quick-drying clothes, least awkward closed toed shoes, how to make the communal lab jacket smell better)?


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