Wearing a suit when you're not a VP is deemed a sign of "poor culture fit" most places around here (wearing them to interviews can even be a bad thing). --ErikDeBill
(Semi-)Formal wear is very functional being descendants of armour (as in Knights in Shining). Suits are more comfortable to wear than almost any form of clothing. You can definitely get suits meant for summer wear as well, so that really isn't an issue (unless you're not rich). A long time ago, I saw an interview with the editor of Shift magazine in Toronto. A twenty-something, he always wore suits despite the ultra-trendy style of his office and colleagues. I thought that was awesome. And you know what? I still want a job where I have to (or at least could) wear suits every day. I get a lot more respect and can get a lot more (professional) work done in a shirt and tie than anything from Gap, I can tell you that. -- SunirShah
I went to an interview in a two piece suit in October. My interviewer showed up in ripped jeans and a stained sweatshirt. That was rather inappropriate. I expect the same respect for me as I give to you. Also, it's the company's first impression on me, a prospective employee. Do they give this kind of disdain to clients as well? What does that show about their business acumen. Granted engineers aren't marketing, but a good programmer is expected to have at least some business awareness, especially enough to dress respectably.
At another interview I had a long time ago, the person was visibly distracted and his pager went off which he then went and answered. Then he interviewed me again recently, was much better dressed and more focused. Of course, his job had changed in a year.
Anderson Consulting still requires shirts and ties for good reason. At ObjectTechnologyInternational, they still have this impression that they are rebelling against IBM's shirt and tie culture, despite the fact it's long dead. And OTI is pretty starched shirt as well. (You want to sell me cookies? What?!) I think my stay at OTI taught me more management AntiPattern""s than any other experience in my life, which I dutifully avoid applying here. -- SunirShah
In a previous life, I interned with an environmental group in Washington DC. My standard dress was a sport coat, button-up shirt, tie, black jeans, and semi-nice shoes. I was regularly surprised about how I was treated by the general public as compared to the way I normally dressed (and dress): T-shirt, denim overshirt, jeans and Chucks. So, I know that, to some extent, clothes make the man (FormOverContent), to the extent that the BBC requires suits for radio announcers. Of course, that's a different culture, both in terms of the American/British split and the obvious difference between computing and old-school radio.
Where I worked at school, I was t-shirt and jeans, and the people I worked with ranged between t-shirt and jeans (students, lower-end sysadmins) to polo or button-up and jeans (upper-end sysadmins). At my current workplace, which is a medical clinic, I wear polos and dress shirts with khakis, wearing the suit for vendor presentations or if you are management (This is the IS part. The dress code for the evening machine room people is closer to polo and jeans). At the university, and at some places I've heard of, the clothes to wear at a vendor presentation are t-shirts from competing vendors.
My personal preference is what was presented as the one for my last web job. "Yes. You must dress." I currently don't want to wear the clothes I have to wear, but I don't have the job I want, either. I'd rather not have the interaction with the public that leads the need for the improved dress code. I would value that over a raise of less than significant levels. -- DaveJacoby
No amount of enforced formality in my clothing will make me respect a job or the people I work with more. I show respect for my coworkers by dressing and behaving in a manner which does not offend them or make them feel uncomfortable. I do not wear my "Top Ten Reasons Why Beer is Better Than Jesus" tshirt to work. I keep my audience in mind when I speak - some speech patterns are acceptable around certain individuals, some aren't. I would much prefer it if my employer respects me enough to let me dress comfortably.
It's the story of the Hungarian astronomer from Wiki:TheLittlePrince all over again. You have to ask yourself: if you get more respect wearing a suit, are they respecting your intelligence & your talent, or just a well-cut piece of cloth? I shocked my school orchestra by showing up in jeans to play in a concert -- but had the audience come to hear me play or watch me play? If an irrelevancy like my clothing prevented them from listening to me, then they needed their perceptions changing. -- UseMod:Tarquin
Are you sure that those are the same situations? On one hand, you are treated differently in daily life because you dress differently. On the other, you are in an formal situation where you are expected to dress well. Dressing well for a performance is part of the show. People like to see nice things. Plus, it shows that you had enough respect for the event to dress up, which indicates the audience should put enough respect into listening. Finally, as a social situation, dressing well has other purposes. Clothes are a CommunicationChannel after all.
If we're still talking about a concert performance, repect for the event is spending months of practice, preceded by years of learning the instrument. To say that more respect is required by sticking on a black suit and a dickie bow is insulting the performer and belittling the art.
Can anything be done to rewrite this page as document mode? We have two fairly opposed points of view: some (eg Sunir) find a dress code empowers him; others consider it a SillyRule? and a case of FormOverContent.
The possibly biological irrationality of certain codes aside (wearing a suit in Florida in Summer), dress codes seem to work "fine" as long as everybody follows them. When everyone wears a suit, nobody notices it; when everybody wears jeans, nobody notices it. The "ideal" solution would be for the entire world to decide on a set of "work clothes" and then there would be no question of people trying to get a leg-up by dressing up. If everything is in the same form, there is no FormOverContent problem; it's "normalized" out. But that's not going to happen. In the meantime, the best solution seems to be to adopt the dress of the community you are a participant in, and to try as much as possible to avoid using clothes to communicate opinions or facts. It's kind of hard to NameTheProblem? or whatever when it is in sartorial form.
In a situation where you have to change clothes depending on task, things get even more irrational, but it's important to ignore it in the same way one ignores, e.g., irrationalities in English syntax. Be a rebel on your own time (or join a "rebel" community with unusual dress codes.)
The DressCode problem seems far more solvable than something like the similar "tool" equivalent: what to do when everyone around you is using a particular tool that is clearly suboptimal?