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Work Dress Code

I've worked in many environments from stuffy offices to  tractor assembly lines.  All of this was computer related work: developing, onsite testing, etc).

Some places insisted on business casual, others didn't care, and others said anything but shorts.

I now work in an place that doesn't really care what you wear, and I still choose to go business casual.

What are your thoughts on the proper dress code for your workplace?

happy to be working
Friday, January 31, 2003

If you're meeting customers, dress how you wish to be seen. Meeting some "very important people" with money to burn probably demands wearing something smart, but if we went to chat with a bunch of Microsoft technies wearing a suit & tie, we'd stand out like a sore thumb.

Otherwise, as long as is doesn't cause health & safety related issues, wear whatever you want.

Better than being unemployed...
Friday, January 31, 2003

I've worked in the nerd room of big stuff corporations, big tech corporations, a start up or two, academia, and in my bedroom. No place has ever had a dress code. Most people looked really bad, at all times. I used to dress in standard hacker slob style (jeans and a t shirt) but have since upgraded to dress shirts and dress pants, for no other reason except to not appear to be a hacker slob. This guy makes some good points:

http://www.koniaris.com/dress/dress.html

however I don't agree with some of his advice (cream colored turtlenecks and black pants?). Probably the best advice is to have someone else pick out your clothing, the only thing that looks worse than standard hacker slob gear is dressing up in ugly dress attire.

haberdasher
Friday, January 31, 2003

This company here insists on shirt and tie. What a stupid idea.

Over Christmas they said you could come in in jeans and T shirt. My productivity rocketed. Say no more.

Better than being unemployed...
Friday, January 31, 2003

Around here it is imperative that everyone is dressed...  Well, most of the time.

Brad Siemens
Friday, January 31, 2003

last summer, I worked for a shipping company in Dubai, in the middle east. The working week is from Saturday to Wednesday or from Sunday to Thursday; depending on the company you work for.

I used to get Friday & Saturday off, so Thursday, technically used to be "Friday dressing". Jeans, t-shirts, track pants, shorts! other days it was business casual, tie optional.

Obviously, when I used to go to the ships used to wear coveralls, hard-hat, safety shoes, et-al!

Prakash S
Friday, January 31, 2003

Every place has its uniform. Places that claim not to (think geek pit) usually look down on people wearing nice suits with shirt and tie (I said nice, not parody Hawaiian shirt with bow tie and shocking pink 70's disco flairs).
The worst invention in dress code is the formal shop with "casual Friday". This American farce seems to be getting a foothold in the UK as well. Thank god we continentals are still spared.
From what I hear not only do you have to spend money on formal attire, now you also have to go out and buy stuff that you would never wear at home but is just casual enough but not too boring so everybody thinks you are dull or not too slobby or not too eccentric ...

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, January 31, 2003

"have someone else dress you"

This is good advice. If you don't have a stylish girlfriend who wants to play dress up, then you can't go wrong with Brooks Brothers -- they are the one place I have found that will be straight with you about how to look professional to whatever degree you think appropriate. It just comes back to outsourcing that outside your key competencies.

"when clients come in"

Myself I dress casually except when clients come in or when interviewing or giving a presentation or off to a trade show, then I spiff it up using one of my standard costumes. I think it's a good way to do it.

X. J. Scott
Friday, January 31, 2003

Dress codes are for very, very tiny minds.  They are for people who can't think for themselves.  You can almost hear them crying out for someone or something to tell them what to wear... how to fit in... how to conform. 
This is why dress codes are so common in business environments, and not nearly as popular in techie or research land. 

Remember back in high school?  Middle managers were those losers who couldn't grasp the subtleties of Algebra I.  In college they majored in business with a 2.3 GPA and mastered the fine art of conformity at their frat houses, desperately striving for mediocrity.  Now today, fitting in has paid off in spades because they are managers!  They are now entrusted with the sacred task of enforcing the holy dress code.  They will now share with all technically skilled people, the pedestrian joy of being average.

ADHERE!  COMPLY!  CONFORM!

Anon
Friday, January 31, 2003

"This is why dress codes are so common in business environments, and not nearly as popular in techie or research land.  "

Did you never notice the eerie resemblance the techies within one shop tend to have? Of course, you just happen all to like slogan print T-shirts and sneakers, that is all there is too it right? Peer pressure my friend.
Humans are social animals.
Even non-conformists tend to have uniform dress code hang-ups. Remember, dress code is not about do's, it's about don'ts.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, January 31, 2003

This thread is very appropriate!

Today my boss came and had a word. His boss had had a word with him.

We have a dress code; shirt and tie except on Friday (when you must still wear a collar!). Anyway, I don't wear ties. I'm not customer facing so who cares.

One of the anally-retentive permies (and there are a few here) complained that I was not following dress code hence the little chat.

My boss is normally a good chap but he does lack balls to stand up for his staff sometimes and this was one such occasion. Thing is he's also full of 'making sure we only do things that provide business benefit'.. Not sure how forcing me to wear a tie is going to provide any business benefit. In fact it's more likely to have a cost associated with demotivation.

When I complain that they can't get the heating below 25 degrees nothing is done. That's obviously less important than dressing right! despite the fact that my productivity definitely suffers when I start falling asleep!

Management seem to want us to respect them but then come out with such wonderful examples of how stupid they are!

I bought my boss a copy of "Peopleware" but he's trying to avoid reading it. I previously bought him a copy of "The seven habits of highly effective people" and he came to the conclusion that he's got the wrong character ethic. Since then he's been scared of reading these sort of books!

It's a crap organisation and there's no way I'd want a permie job here. I only contract here because it's just a 15 minute drive from home.

Gwyn
Friday, January 31, 2003


  Good point.  Even jeans and T-shirt is a dress code. 

Ricardo Antunes da Costa
Friday, January 31, 2003

"Dress codes are for very, very tiny minds.  They are for people who can't think for themselves.  You can almost hear them crying out for someone or something to tell them what to wear... how to fit in... how to conform. 
This is why dress codes are so common in business environments, and not nearly as popular in techie or research land."

Call me a tiny mind if you want, but I have better things to worry about with my day than whether I might be obliviously making a bad impression on a higher-up.  Dress codes free me from that problem.

I have my own preferences on what to wear on my own time, of course.  But we all know that appearances do make a difference, and while you may say the guy who cares about appearance has a tiny mind, that tiny mind may be deciding whether you get a raise.  Personally I'd rather have a dress code in place so that I'm more likely to be judged by the quality of my work than by my fashion sense or lack thereof.

Kyralessa
Friday, January 31, 2003

One idea, that I'm trying out now, is to dress one small degree better than the average for the office.

The idea being to project management's idea of being professional (note that I'm not saying that dress actually affects programming performance; it certainly doesn't). In the current employment climate conforming and even sucking up a little doesn't seem like a bad idea.

Bill Tomlinson
Friday, January 31, 2003

Just me (Sir to you) writes:

"Did you never notice the eerie resemblance the techies within one shop tend to have?"

No, I never did notice that.  I've been in many shops without dress codes, and I'm in grad school, and I can honestly say that from my sample of techies, there seems to be no one uniform of choice.  I actually wear collared shirts and dockers (albeit with running shoes) because I think this is amazingly comfortable.  There are always those who do the t-shirt and jeans thing, but just as many people come in sweats or athletic gear. 

One thing I've *never* seen is someone wearing a tie.  There is no practical reason for wearing a tie.  If you wear a tie of your own volition, you're a moron or you're trying to impress someone who's easily impressed by mundane style rather than substance.

Kyralessa writes:

"I have better things to worry about with my day than whether I might be obliviously making a bad impression on a higher-up.  Dress codes free me from that problem."

Equivalently, Kyralessa might say:

"Please, please tell me how best to fit in!  Help me not to offend the great corporate god of banality!  I promise never to think for myself - never to innovate!  Just please tell me how to be commonplace...  Let's play golf."

Bill Tomlinson writes:

"In the current employment climate conforming and even sucking up a little doesn't seem like a bad idea."

I can't argue with this because I agree whole-heartedly.  This is a very rational course of action.  If I were in a place that had a dress code, I'd play dress-up for the morons too.  My frustration comes about because somehow the in-duh-viduals in corporate middle management are always those least capable of plotting a course out of a paper bag.  One thing, though... they all know how to leverage synergy.



Anon
Friday, January 31, 2003

"Act as the world is. Do not act as you wish it was"

I agree with everything that's been said - people who think how you dress somehow impacts the code you produce are, in a word, morons.

But they are still the morons that sign your paycheck and decide who to lay off.

I've been a dockers and golf shirt guy since I left the military (13 years of uniforms will do that to you). When I interviewed for the position I just started (contracting with a gov't agency)  my job was described to me as "start off coding, then maybe pick up some responsibility as time goes on"

On a whim I decided to play this one with the "dress like you bill" mentality. So I've been in suits every day for the month I've been here. I'm now lead on three projects, own the development share portal, and I'm on the architecture group for the major development effort. Manymany people here defer to my judgement.

While I would love to think my personality and skillset are the primary reasons for this, I can't help but believe that *looking* important has been a major contributor.

Being judged by your talent works well for people who know you well enough to recognize your talent, but wearing ratty jeans and ripped t-shirts puts you in the position of having to overcome "despite his looks..." from day one.

First impressions (and continuing visual impressions) are a simple fact of human psychology. You can live recognizing this and decide you don't mind putting in the extra effort to overcome the perception your appearance creates, but you ignore that basic fact at your own professional peril.

Hate it all you want, but that's the way it is. :/

Philo

Philip Janus
Friday, January 31, 2003

I think it's always interesting to see the way people respond to the topic of dress codes.

Invariably, there is always someone who accuses those of supporting dress codes of being Nazis, sheeple, dimwitted or some such thing adjective. Today, anon provided that form of entertainment for us when he intimated that those that support dress codes have "very, very tind minds."

Does wearing a coat and tie make you a better programmer? I don't think so. Does it make you feel more professional? I don't know that it does.

I've written plenty of code wearing shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops while sipping a beer. I've also written plenty of code while wearing a $800 Italian suit.  Personally, my clothing doesn't affect my productivity.

It just really depends on the environment and what your position is.  To say that a dress code is always bad is just as empty-headed as saying that a dress code is always good.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, January 31, 2003

So the Kleanthes Koniaris page seems to be oriented towards a person why doesn't know anything about fashion and whatnot.  And that's fine, because, to a certain extent, a geek will never transcend the limits of geekdom to be taken seriously without a certain amount of dressing skills.

But there are geeks who can dress nicely but choose not to.  I make sure that my hair has been properly shampooed, my fingernails are neatly trimmed, I've showered, etc.  Yet I still prefer to wear clothes in the level below where a tie is required.  Or above that level, in the case of many traditional tuxedos.

But I do dress nicer than usual for work.

Thankfully my office is good about such things. 

w.h.
Friday, January 31, 2003

Anon wrote:

"There is no practical reason for wearing a tie.  If you wear a tie of your own volition, you're a moron or you're trying to impress someone who's easily impressed by mundane style rather than substance."

Hmm... it seems to me that calling someone a moron for wearing a tie is very similar to a dress code telling you that you can't wear khaki pants and a collared shirt with running shoes (which, do what you want, but that's plain scary).  Point being, it's personal preference.  Personally I like the feeling of a nice cotton dress shirt with a quality thread count and a tie around my neck.  I don't wear it to code simply because my dry-cleaning bill would be nightmarish.

And you may not think it's "practical" to wear a tie, but maybe some guy got a tie for father's day from his kid, or as a gift from his wife, because she thinks he looks good in it.  I'm not married, nor do I have kids, but I'd like to think I'd give people the benefit of the doubt before I called them morons for following a particular policy, even if I thought it was arbitrary.

Also:

"I promise never to think for myself - never to innovate!"

Is there some published inverted correlation between amiability towards following a corporate policy and the ability to write innovative code or think for oneself?  I must have missed it.

As much as I disagreed with the post, I still about fell out of my chair when I read the part about "leveraging synergy."  Brilliant.

Dignified
Friday, January 31, 2003

Man, I've got to learn to type faster.  You guys (and gals) are all beating me to my own points!

Dignified
Friday, January 31, 2003

First rule of Poker: either you're there to cut the other fellow's heart out and eat it in front of him, or you are a sucker.


When I was young, grand-mere tried to talk my into a suit and tie.  You should dress up, don't you want to look nice for your mother, etc. etc.

After about an hour of this, grand-pere chimed in with "if anything goes wrong, it will be to your advantage that you appear older when dealing with the airline."  Oh, right.


Given that people are people, and have these silly biases built into them, are you going to use that to your advantage, or are you a sucker?  Being a sucker is a perfectly reasonable choice - a nice one, even - but you ought to make that choice consciously.

Danil
Friday, January 31, 2003

" 'Please, please tell me how best to fit in!  Help me not to offend the great corporate god of banality!  I promise never to think for myself - never to innovate!  Just please tell me how to be commonplace...  Let's play golf.' "

So, Anon, you can't innovate unless you get to wear what you want?  I'd post anonymously too if I were you; what employer will hire someone who's only productive and creative when he wears the clothes he wants?

You sound like me a few years ago, Anon.  What you'll have to learn, as I had to, is to pick your battles carefully.  If you want to make a case that the architecture to be used on a software project needs rethinking, or that your group needs different software tools, your argument just won't hold much weight if management remembers that you also argue about having to wear a tie.

You don't have to convince me, Anon; I hate ties (and fortunately at my current job I'm not required to wear one).  I'd love an ideal world where everyone could wear what they wanted and nobody would judge by appearances.  Let me know when you find it.  Till then you'll just have to decide which issues are important enough to spend energy on and which aren't.

Kyralessa
Friday, January 31, 2003

I have a simple dress code (uniform) that I wear to all places, I don't want to think about such things.

Pants: Not jeans, not suit pants, comfortable casual trousers that are at least as comfortable as jeans.

Shirt: Always a collar, never a tie, always comfortable.

Shoes: Leather, clean.

Belt and  shoes match, shirt and pants don't clash, that's all that needs to be done!

Then I forget about it.

Alberto
Friday, January 31, 2003

I live in San Francisco Bay Area and have never yet seen a company that has some "dress code". No, jeans and T-shirts are not "alternative" dress code. At my last company, people are wearing shorts, pants, or nice shirts and ties. Everything goes.

One guy was aways wearing  sport shorts and was bare-footed. It had something to do with some hidden Earth energies, you know. Typical Santa Cruz thing... if you know what I mean :)

raindog
Friday, January 31, 2003

It's also the case that things like a lax dress code and aeron chairs and similar things became too much of an icon of dotcom excesses that nobody else wants to be like that.

w.h.
Friday, January 31, 2003

Its' interesting that so many people presume management equates the wearing of suits with superior performance.

Lots of management at software companies actually thinks the other way: they know what good developers and researchers wear, and are mildly suspicious of a developer wearing a suit.

In 20 years experience in a wide range of industries, I've found that environments where developers routinely wear suits are environments that produce shoddy work.

echidna
Saturday, February 01, 2003

"What is the proper dress code for your work environment?" 

I am the newly hired java programmer of a large international consulting company.  My client computer hardware.  The dress code of the client is casual, and people routinely wear either jeans without collars or business casual.  The morale is low, and productivity seems uneven, at  best.  The dress code of my employer, the consulting company, is business casual.  I don't have a problem with my boss telling me how to dress, not when I'm in front of clients every day.  I even think this client could beefen its dress policy, in the hope that a more professional posture viz a vis dress will induce a pick up in productivity and less idle office chat.  Sometimes it gets too casual, but of course not every one wastes time.  The serious folks around me wear business casual.  I suspect they may have less fun than the casual types, but they get more done.

Java consultant
Sunday, February 02, 2003

I tend to agree here with Alberto, thats how I dress as
well in the office,

No jeans or t-shirts, normally I dont wear suits. I have had
suits on a few occasions, I really broke the rules by having
a nice suit and no necktie once :)

My rule of thumb is "dress to the occasion". Overdressing is as common as underdressing.

Patrik
Sunday, February 02, 2003

I don't wear ties. Somehow I doubt they'd look good on me..

We sort of have a policy of "please wear clothes" here, after it was discovered that no-one could understand "smart casual" as a concept. This tends to mean trainers, jeans, shorts/t-shirts.

I, however, wear suits. And heels. On occaision I drop to "smart casual".

This is because I have a plan: I figure if I dress like I'm in charge around here, sooner or later people will just start assuming I am, and once both them and me are acting like I am, It'll get made official..

And the heels are so I'm tall enough to loom over people menacingly when they won't submit to my will.

It's also for a number of other reasons: 1. I don't think at all well in the mornings: black suit plus coloured top means less having to think.

2. I look good in suits, because it helps hide the slight tubbiness I picked up while I had a broken leg and wasn't exercising properly.

3. I get treated a hell of a lot better when I turn up at the bank at lunchtime.

4. I feel more professional and less likely to sit with my feet on the desk.

I should point out everyone else in the building (the not-IT people) are in business outfits, so it's not completely unreasonable.

4 is kind of an odd thing. I don't like wearing the same stuff to work as I wear in the evenings and the weekends. I don't feel enough of a work/life distinction.

Katie Lucas
Monday, February 03, 2003

You dress sharp, you think sharp.  You dress like a slob, you think sloppily.

I don't buy the argument that coming to work in a T-shirt and jeans is more productive than coming to work in a pair of slacks and a dress shit.  I absolutely do not.  And at the same time, I don't think that a full 3-piece suit is necessary, either.

I usually wear slacks and a dress shirt.  No jacket, no ties.  I look sharp without being overburdened.  I feel like a guy who should be thinking crisply.

Your environment (which includes your dress) holds tremendous sway over your thinking.

Norrick
Monday, February 03, 2003

>>>>>My rule of thumb is "dress to the occasion". Overdressing is as common as underdressing. <<<<<

>>>>>>>> I usually wear slacks and a dress shirt.  No jacket, no ties.  I look sharp without being overburdened.  I feel like a guy who should be thinking crisply.<<<<<<<

Both of you are falling into the same trap; you're presuming that what is purely conventional (and changes very rapidly) has some kind of objective existence. You're idea of what is the correct wear for work would have been considered total slobbishness only thirty years ago.

>>>You dress sharp, you think sharp.  You dress like a slob, you think sloppily.<<<<<

But who is to decide who is a slob and who isn't? Some of the scruffiest people I know wear a tie (it seems they feel it excuses everything else) and my best friend at college would spend more time choosing a tie-died tea-shirt and strategically holed jeans than Beau Brummel would on putting on the whole kaboodle.

You could say if you feel well dressed you feel productive but sloppy dressers often slurp in their slobbishness.

On another front isn't the tie now becoming a symbol of servility. The captains of industry all wear khakis and golfing shoes, but waiters, salesmen and other service classes seem to be obliged to wear a tie.

Stephen Jones
Monday, February 03, 2003

Norrick,

"You dress sharp, you think sharp.  You dress like a slob, you think sloppily."

This is both prejudice and plain wrong.

I know a lot of honest, brilliant people who don't care how they dress.

And unfortunatelly I had to know and work with a bigger lot of people who dress sharply but apparently just to compensate for their hypocrisy  and for the emptiness of their heads.

Regards
D

Dino
Monday, February 03, 2003

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
-- Mark Twain

tapiwa
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

I work in manufacturing where air-conditioning is unheard of, now our company is insisting we wear t-shirts not tanks and some cases ,the hotest area, long sleeves and long pants, who came up with dress codes and why don't these people try working in our shoes before they dictate what we wear,It can reach up to a hundred degrees in our building.I think in some cases they go to far.

darlene savoie
Thursday, May 20, 2004

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