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Whats the dress code at national labs?

  1. Aug 3, 2009 #1
    Kind of a stupid question but I'm very interested to know. I would think business casual but a lot of the pictures I see online of people working in labs are wearing ordinary close (jeans and such). So if you were a grad student going to visit a lab for a few days what would you wear?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2009 #2


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    I'd wear business casual. That shows respect, then let them tell you that it's ok to dress more casually.
  4. Aug 3, 2009 #3
    Today I saw the head of the physics division (say number 3 or 4 in the lab) wearing open shoes. That works especially well since he also wore socks, indicating he must be German, a total geek, and possibly both.

    I liked to dress "business casual"myself, until an engineer told me synthetic is basically fire fuel, I never realized why it is inappropriate in the experimental hall. If you are a theoretician, just don't forget to put pants on. If in addition you manage to find matching color socks, they'll probably hire you.
  5. Aug 3, 2009 #4


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    While it is very casual (I mean, I wore shorts and t-shirts to work on many days), what you wear can often be determined by what you have to do. If you have to be on the experimental floor, open-toe shoes are strictly prohibited, and so are shorts. In fact, any kind of experimental work will require proper attire as dictated by the safety guidelines.

    Other than that, if you are visiting for the first time, while you certainly don't need to dress up in suits, you shouldn't dress like a slob either (let the theorists on site monopolize that! :)).

  6. Aug 3, 2009 #5


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    Ah..he could be from Seattle!
  7. Aug 3, 2009 #6


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    I still don't get it. Don't experimentalists go down with the ship?
  8. Aug 3, 2009 #7


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    Yeah, but the engineers don't. They just send the ship down
  9. Aug 3, 2009 #8
    For one of the days we are suppose to wear pants and closed toe shoes because we are working with chemicals. Other days we can wear shorts. It was stated that sneakers were ok but didn't mention anything else. I've worked in a lot of industrial labs before and they all have different standards. Some are very casual, others require you to wear a collard shirt and nice pants. They all required that you wear pants of some kind and closed toe shoes.

    Exactly. :approve:
  10. Aug 3, 2009 #9

    Dr Transport

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    Now, now, I resemble that. When I was in grad school I was the prototypical theorist slob, shorts, tank-tops and nasty sneakers with my toes hanging out. If I could get away with that in the corporate world, I would.
  11. Aug 3, 2009 #10
    It's fine to joke about a lot of things. But it's quite inappropriate, under any circumstances, to joke around with safety in a national lab. Safety violations can easily end up killing you, or worse, killing others. Please remember that if you spend a few days there.
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