back to article HP slaps dress code on R&D geeks: Bin that T-shirt, put on this tie

Troubled HP has hit upon what it thinks is a terrific idea to revive its fortunes: tell techies to leave their T-shirts and shorts at home and obey the corporate "smart casual" dress code instead. Some R&D teams within HP Enterprise Services were sent a confidential memo this week reminding them to follow the IT giant's rules …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now that will upset people

    Having spent 15 years in HP R&D even a number of the senior managers were very relaxed in their dress code - visitors (only exceptional ones) aside. What next - removal of free coffee?

    Ahh well, I moved on, but as HP is one of our customers, I guess I'll hear more about it as I have a show n tell there next week.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now that will upset people

      You will find that HP Labs in Palo Alto nothing has changed. The article specifically mentions HPES, aka the old EDS group. Two totally different approaches to the customers as well as internal teams. I work in ES, and the majority of the people dress casual, many with jeans and polo's, some wear dress pants with button up shirts.

      Just arrived back to the east coast from a week at HP Labs, and can confirm all wore jeans, t-shirts, shorts, flip-flops, etc.. Except the customer facing lab people, they wore jeans with polo or button up and some with a sport coat over top. But they tended to be Director level people.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now that will upset people

      I currently work in what will be the green rectangle half of HP. In R&D, as a software engineer. I've never seen any such memo, policy, or request. As another poster pointed out, maybe that's limited to the Enterprise Services group (former EDS). I'm not associated with that group, so I can't say if they got such a memo.

    3. Jim 59

      Re: Now that will upset people

      How dare they encrust the creativity of engineers with some petty dress code. Dress codes are for those menials who-

      ...should avoid turning up to the office in ...shorts, baseball caps ...sandals and other open shoes

      Oh, yeah on second thoughts, ban it. Ban it all. Ugh, sandals.

  2. Harry the Bastard

    impotent management always resort to dress codes, another favourite is 'tidy' desks

    it gives them a feeling of accomplishment every time they see people complying

    1. Teiwaz

      Used to be called 'clean desk'

      Place I worked, the boss tried to enforce it.

      Bit of a waste of time really, tech supports desks weren't too far away, and their desks looked like a installation artwork on bowel surgery recreated in various types of cables.

      We just ended up looking like a 'soviet grocery store' when viewed in comparison.

      1. TotoLeHeros

        Re: Used to be called 'clean desk'

        Don't lie to us. There weren't any grocery store during the soviet era.

        1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          Re: Used to be called 'clean desk'

          "Don't lie to us. There weren't any grocery store during the soviet era."

          It's not a lie. Grocery stores did exist, but they were cunningly disguised as furniture stores - having long rows of empty shelves. But they wouldn't sell them if asked. Furniture stores disguised themselves by not having any furniture on display, not even shelves.

    2. keithpeter Silver badge

      Tidy Desk

      Got told off about papers on desk at a previous employer.

      So I binned the lot, and then continued to bin any paper that landed on my desk. I pointed out that I 1) had no filing cabinet space 2) had to comply with 'tidy desk' policy 3) had seen a purchase requisition for a document feed scanner and document management software refused.

      They gave in after about a month...

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: Tidy Desk

        I actually have a lot of respect for people who can keep a tidy desk, from decades of experience, I'm not one of them. Even if I do occasionally get things in order, it's mere hours before they degenerate, despite me trying and spending real effort. I would love to come in to an empty desk some days.

        My theory is this - my Mrs won't allow things out of place at home, not a big deal, and as the definition of 'the right place' for things shifts per her whim, she handles it pretty well. My mind, especially when I'm trying to map two abstract data architectures or manage a project is set out like a big 3D worksurface with bits here and there, with temporary buffers for fleetingly important information, and a lot of redundant space in which I can coalesce things as they step up to be mapped/dealt with. My desk has to balance this abnormality.

        Force the desk to become tidy, the mind will go to shit. And if you're smart, you're paying me for my mind, not my pencil-aligning ability.

        1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          Re: Tidy Desk

          "Even if I do occasionally get things in order, it's mere hours before they degenerate, despite me trying and spending real effort."

          This stems from the second law of thermodynamics.

          Chaos in the universe is ever-increasing. By spending a good deal of effort it is possible to tidy up a very limited area for a very limited time, but this effort will invariably increase the overall entropy.

          I've decided to be responsible and gave up trying.

        2. Kubla Cant

          Re: Tidy Desk

          I believe in Contextual Indexing. I know where something is because I can remember what I last used it for.

          Maybe that should be "I would know where something is if I could remember what I last used it for".

          1. TMe

            Re: Tidy Desk

            So do I, however I always manage to put something like a paper or so on top of it so I still can't find it even if it is in front of me until I have digged through the piles of papers.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Tidy Desk

            " I know where something is because I can remember what I last used it for."

            Except that someone has decided she doesn't like it there and put it in a cupboard full of other stuff she doesn't understand.

            I've taken to the policy that if I can't find what I need when I need it, I'll buy a new one. It's less trouble than trying to find where the last one got hidden.

            1. Vic

              Re: Tidy Desk

              Except that someone has decided she doesn't like it there and put it in a cupboard full of other stuff she doesn't understand.

              Think yourself lucky. Mine puts half of it in one cupboard, ...

              I've taken to the policy that if I can't find what I need when I need it, I'll buy a new one.

              Me too. I have about 5 multimeters these days. I even know where one of them is...


        3. CanaDave

          Re: Tidy Desk

          I had a similar problem 20 years ago where prior to the tidy desk policy I was told and had it written in my assessments that I did the work of three people. When the tidy desk policy came in I ignored it and kept working the way 'I' work. After months of arguing and threats from my boss I finally gave in and did it their way. Within two months I was in his office having to answer questions about why my productivity had dropped. And the answer was and is simple. No two people process information the same. Force me or somebody else to do it another way and the talent that you hired often times disappears. We never had visitors to our little cubicles anyway so what did it really matter?

        4. Mpeler

          Re: Tidy Desk

          As the saying goes,

          Cluttered desk, cluttered mind;

          Empty desk, ............. (empty mind).

          Had a colleague once who was obsessive-compulsive (obsessive-repulsive?).

          Seems that his cell cubicle mates reversed his cube end-to-end.

          I wasn't there, but I heard it was a major incident. Have to be careful which

          uber-organized folks ye tweak.....

          (Sherlock ALWAYS knows where his pipe is - now about that tobacco.....)

      2. Captain Scarlet

        Re: Tidy Desk

        Desk tidy policy, move crap to a desk you want to steal. (Or in my case guard)

        After a month claim it as your departments.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Tidy Desk

          Tidy desks liked by people who aren't to busy.

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: Tidy Desk

            Although I have to say one way to deal with it is to finish work 15 min earlier so you can tidy up then sit around on your arse waiting for the clock to reach hometime. Never tidy your desk in your own time after work.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Tidy Desk

            No, tidy desks are liked by people who like tidy desks.

            My desk spends most of its time messy. My colleague has a desk that's (literally) clean and tidy. He's more organized than I am and more obsessive about being tidy. I could argue that I deal with creating documents where the format _really_ matters so I end up with more pieces of paper around. But that'd just be an excuse for me not being tidy, especially since I have a scanner by me on my desk. I could argue that I tend to be juggling multiple tasks, while he tends to be working on one thing. But that'd just be an excuse for me not being organized.

            Irony is that I absolutely hate printed matter. Notepads are fine for scribbling ideas, but everything else is just a copy of some information held in electronic form.

            I think first thing Monday I'm going to shred some old documents I really don't need any more and organize some piles. Then I can do some organizing of electronic documents and clear out some old stuff. Sorry, brain dump, I'll stop now.

      3. Down not across

        Re: Tidy Desk

        There are two kinds of desks. Tidy and ones where work is being done at.

        1. perlcat

          Re: Tidy Desk

          Fix your nomenclature. It isn't an 'untidy desk'; your desk is a 'Horizontal Filing System', and the issues you are dealing with are fragmentation and indexing. Just remember, some FS's are better than others at coping with it. You may or may not need a wetware update, but if retrieval is acceptable, the correct resolution to the issue is to ignore it as in all probability, you have other issues that demand more attention, which may include getting a higher score in nethack.

          This from a tech who told a manager "I'll be happy to give your issue all the attention it deserves". I hung up the phone, and we were both happy -- for different reasons, of course.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. TheOtherHobbes

            Re: Tidy Desk

            >your desk is a 'Horizontal Filing System'

            You mean "Horizontal Business Logic Synergy Incubator", surely?

      4. Fungus Bob

        Re: Tidy Desk

        If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, I'd hate to think what an empty desk is a sign of.....

        1. Efros

          Re: Tidy Desk

          An old boss of mine warned me to be very careful of people with tidy desks they were usually sociopathic.

      5. calumg

        Re: Tidy Desk

        “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

        ― Albert Einstein

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    " ... dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain struggling with ... coding"

    No. Physical comfort and a total absence of management and their drones are what are needed. Total bollocks, HP

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: JustaCLOT Re: " ... dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain....."

      ".....Physical comfort and a total absence of management and their drones are what are needed....." Wow, did you even read the article? It's talking about customer-facing staff, not everyone. Just like every other company, HP wants to project an image, and they want their desired image to be professional seeing as that is what their customers expect. When I represent a company I dress as they want dependent on the level of employee/customer I am meeting - when it is decision-makers and management I dress smartly, and when it is techies I may choose jeans and a polo-shirt. I don't wear a suit and tie when crawling through a datacenter but I sure do when I'm in the boardroom.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: JustaCLOT " ... dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain....."

        You know Matt, I think I agree with your attitude to dress code - I would never consider dressing down when meeting customers or visiting their sites.

        But I read the article and the thing I took from it was that dress rules were being applied to people doing their development jobs, not customer-facing as such. And in that situation I have no doubt, from my experience, that dress rules are just counter-productive.

        You'll have to work on your insults, though. The "KOS" part is self-depracating and I consider "CLOT" to be a step up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: JustaCLOT " ... dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain....."

          Hey Kos.. please note that the article specifically mentioned HPES, which is typically customer facing. Not the R&D teams in HP Labs. ES is the old EDS teams, where I work. The ES R&D people work on customer solutions most of the time, so it may be that is the issue. The dress code is pretty middle of the road across ES and I am sure was aimed at few groups who were starting to push the limits. As everyone mainly knows the rules, when customers are in the building or your in front of them, dress above them, never below them.

          And I just stepped off a plane from a week in Palo Alto, the true R&D labs, and saw plenty of people in jeans, t-shirts, shorts, flip-flops, etc.. So I don't think it would be addressed to that R&D team.

      2. PBNV

        Re: JustaCLOT " ... dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain....."

        " Wow, did you even read the article? It's talking about customer-facing staff, not everyone..."

        You don't happen to be a manager, do you? Because the article is not talking about customer-facing staff but quite explicitly about everyone who *might* on some occasion be visible to a visitor. So developers who are trying to think about difficult things that don't involve interacting with customers, are forced to wear clothes they don't want to, and will therefore be that little bit less able to concentrate. And we lose productivity just in case some customer might be stupid enough not know how developers tend to dress. Some of the best developers I know would quit if you tried that on them, and rightly so.

        Years ago I was invited to visit HP by the head of a department there. I was interested in possibly selling a company to them, so on the appointed day I hopped up the coast for a look. The man had forgotten, and was out of town - I was shown round by an embarrassed group of his managers, said a polite thank-you, and left.

        I had parked facing outwards, as I usually do so I can see what's there when I leave. When I got back to my car there was a little sign on the windscreen saying "At HP we park facing inwards."

        That day, I learned everything I needed to know about HP, and soon after sold my company to one of their competitors (who fell about laughing when I told them this story.) The HP department in question was in due course closed, HP itself has lurched from one managerial disaster to the next, and here's one more buffoon with an MBA, putting one more nail into the coffin.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: JustaCLOT " ... dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain....."

          all my shirts and ties are covered in toner, grease, misc "stuff" from various printers etc. Apart from the wedding suit, the wife wont let me wear that one. we do have a dress policy here (its a school) but it is a sensible one, black tshirt with logo (provided), black coat (provided) and black cargo trousers (provided). There are shorts too but only the site team wear those.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          HP Parking

          Now I would have let rip as I cannot for the life of me safely reverse OUT of a spot, reverse in yes, but out no.

          I have reversed into spots since I passed my car test.

          Last time I had to reverse out I nearly crushed a little car someone had parked behind me!

          1. Polyphonic

            Re: HP Parking

            Reverse parking into a slot is not only sensible but safer. A couple firms I know have a reverse park policy purely on safety grounds, you are more likely to reverse into someone leaving a slot than entering.

            As you say commonsense, but at one company I worked at, it might been an anagram of SDE, the manager didn't want you reversing as your exhaust might mark the building!

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: HP Parking

              Well just have to crush a few noddy cars!

            2. Dr_N

              Re: HP Parking

              Reverse parking is usually a site safety policy associated with places that use hazardous chemicals and need to be evacuated quickly. Such as chip fabs.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @PBNV ... Re: JustaCLOT " ... dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain....."

          Most of the readers aren't old enough to remember when you had to wear a suit and a tie to the office. Customer facing or not.

          Then it became casual Friday where you could wear slacks but must wear a button down shirt.

          At that time, only the guys who were masters at the art of coding could wear what they want. Of course they worked in the bowels of the company and also didn't keep regular hours. You have to be one of the boy geniuses to rate that privilege. Being able to dress down was a sign of rank. (As in consulting, its your bill rate.)

          But soon everyone started to dress down...

          Depending on where you work, you dress differently.

          You work in a corporate office in NY's Financial district, you tend to dress up.

          Somewhere in a small town in the Midwest... you tend to dress down.

          And believe it or not... its not because of the company's dress code, but for the mating rituals that occur after work... ;-)

      3. ckm5

        Re: JustaCLOT " ... dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain....."

        I'd much rather have a bunch of sloppy dressing highly creative people who are good at solving difficult problems than a bunch of uniform dressing people incapable of actually solving anything (the 'Soviet grocery store' look as someone upthread says).

        Attitudes like yours are exactly why companies like HP are falling behind in the market place - customers are smart enough to know that 'good dresser != effective' and they don't want to pay for your suit. The most creative, successful tech people never, ever conform to how society or your narrow minded-ness thinks they should behave/dress/live. Accommodating those eccentric people is a competitive edge for a lot of businesses (like banks, startups & fast growing tech companies, even the government).

        If you don't believe me, just go look up 'Head Bubba', who was the CTO of Credit Suisse for a long time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: JustaCLOT " ... dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain....."

          Way back in the day when IBM dress code (suit, white shirt, conservative tie) was the rule in IT (women's dress code? What are women?) There was a brilliant developer (at a nearby competitor) who walked around looking shabbier than the homeless outside the building. Management paid him about 10% additional on the days they wanted him to at least wear matching socks. He complied, and all was happiness.

      4. Wensleydale Cheese

        @ Matt Bryant

        "I don't wear a suit and tie when crawling through a datacenter but I sure do when I'm in the boardroom."

        You missed the point of the article entirely. It is about developers who are not in a customer facing role being asked to dress as if they were.

        If I were a visitor being shown around a company, seeing a development office full of suits would give me the impression that they are subject to a regime of office politics which will constantly interfere with their productivity.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @ Matt Bryant

          > seeing a development office full of suits

          You're exaggerating. They're not requiring suits, just a collared shirt (polo or button-up), and long pants (even jeans, so long as they're not thrashed). Basically, wanting employees to dress like adults.

          1. MacGyver

            Re: @ Matt Bryant

            I guess it's a good thing that long ago the suit was decided upon as the "adult" clothing choice and not a full body leotard. There is no reason to wear a suit, none. A lab coat, overalls, tracksuit, and any other article can serve a purpose, but a suit serves no purpose other than to let higher paid personnel out buy lower paid personnel.

            If you believe it is anything other then a man-sized peacock outfit please state your case.

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: Whineslydale Re: @ Matt Bryant

          "....You missed the point of the article entirely. It is about developers who are not in a customer facing role being asked to dress as if they were...." So you didn't read the article then. The whole point is to dress appropriately, and for customer-facing staff that means smart clothes. And it specifically mentions customer-facing staff.

          One of the greatest examples of this I can give you is how a company I was working with won a major contract from an international customer we actually thought we didn't have a chance at. Just to be clear, there was virtually nothing technically or pricing-wise between the bids, and the customer had a long history of using SUN kit. But the customer asked for a tour of the support centers from the two vendors (yes, a customer with a clue!!!) that were being proposed, hp and SUN. The customer's CIO and senior techies came back from the SUN visit muttering about "wierdos" with (I kid you not) "sci-fi contact lens and BO". After an hour talking to the (carefully screened) hp staff they said they were much happier with the idea of trusting their business to hp. Now, that's not to say the SUN engineers were any less capable than the hp ones, it's just hp were a lot smarter about how they presented themselves. SUN, for all their honesty, stuffed their partner and blew the deal by not thinking about how their staff would be perceived.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: " ... dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain struggling with ... coding"

      If you've got a massive belly with a hectare of belt over-hang, then don't wear a shirt and tie FFS. Don't wear a white shirt tucked into tightly belted dress trousers. Don't wear a buttoned up shirt collar so your flabby chin and jowls make you look as if your head is holding in a massive pressure and about to explode. You look like you are being squeezed out of a tube. Yep, you; the SAN / Storage sales people who visited last week. Join a gym, get a bike, do some swimming and stay out of Greggs, really, it will save your life.

      Seriously, the shirt and tie look really does only work for a standard sort of shape of person.

      Having said that, at the very least a gentleman should wear a tailed jacket, a top hat, white spats and carry a silver-topped cane unless you are writing code, then you may choose emo or goth.

  4. cmannett85

    I've taken to just walking around the office in bare feet recently. No ones even noticed. I'm slightly disappointed.

    1. Paul Shirley

      The only problem is if it encourages someone with smelly feet to join you. Rather than take that risk I kept a pair of slippers in the office ;)

    2. Just Enough

      A line needs to be drawn somewhere. No one wants to see/smell your feet.

      1. Putters

        Not just the smelly feet, nobody else walking barefoot wants to share your verruca.

        Maybe we can get one of those little footpools they have in swimming pools installed ?

      2. Old Tom

        Bare feet don't usually smell. At least not after the initial evaporation.

        Not good for going near the urinals though #otherblokesdrips

  5. pwillems

    Yet another HR graduate coming up with junk rules to justify his paycheck...

    When I see a coder wearing shirt and tie, all I think is that he's another modestly skilled type who couldn't cut it in the arena with the talented coders.

    1. Dominion

      The coder in the tie is probably also a graduate. Spending his 6 months wasting everyone else's time before he moves on to a pointless junior management role. Then he'll be sending out idiotic memos about dress codes...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nah, they must have just gotten their MBA

      MBA == Management Bullshit Assholes.

      disclaimer, I have an MBA (graduated in 1998) but I got fed up with the other MBA jerks who tried to re-org businesses as soon as they got it. I reverted back to a job where I have to suffer those ego-maniacs only on rare forays to Head Orifice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nah, they must have just gotten their MBA

        I always thought MBA === Master of Bugger All

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Oh look T Shirt, fleece, fleece trousers as I am a blob. Sandals and socks!

      No school uniforms on Fridays.

      Rest of week is company polo tops

      1. dogged

        Oh look, Vans, extremely shabby cargo pants and... smart shirt?

        In my defence it's because I've put in a lot of gym time recently and eaten a lot of protein so all my tshirts are now too small. New ones will happen on pay day.

        And now some simple bugger is going to tell me I should buy XXL tshirts anyway - I did. The issue is finding even bigger ones. The UK is not great for ogre-sized individuals.

      2. ukgnome

        Oh look - Spider-Man T-Shirt, cargo pants, yellow dunlop hi-tops.

        Then again it is friday, and that makes it naturally OK

      3. Peter Simpson 1

        I wear polo shirts from companies I *used* to work for. Also ones given to me by vendors and friends. Any logo's a good one, as long as it's not the company you're currently working for.

    4. Phuq Witt
      Thumb Up

      Suit'n'Tie Guy

      "...When I see a coder wearing shirt and tie, all I think is that he's another modestly skilled type who couldn't cut it in the arena with the talented coders..."

      When I have to deal with someone in a suit and tie, I find myself instinctively distrusting them on sight. I think my subconscious associates wearing a suit'n'tie with hiding your real self behind a veneer of what's accepted as being respectable –and draws the conclusion that the person is 'not what they seem'.

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: Suit'n'Tie Guy

        I see a tie, I assume 'sales rep'.

        Why on God's rich and amazing earth would wearing a noose make code more creative or programmers better able to do their jobs. Let's face it, most developers are not customer-facing for social reasons, not just aesthetic ones.

        1. Wensleydale Cheese

          Re: Suit'n'Tie Guy

          "I see a tie, I assume 'sales rep'."

          "Hello", the salesman lied.

      2. Kubla Cant

        Re: Suit'n'Tie Guy

        When I see a coder wearing shirt and tie, all I think is that he's another modestly skilled type who couldn't cut it in the arena with the talented coders.

        When I have to deal with someone in a suit and tie, I find myself instinctively distrusting them on sight.

        I see a tie, I assume 'sales rep'.

        And you're all wrong. There must be two dozen posts here that claim only casually-dressed techs are any good, you can't trust people in suits, pin-stripes are evil, and so on.

        Can't you see that this is exactly the same as the mindset displayed by the HP management, the mindset that is being ridiculed here?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Suit'n'Tie Guy

          Can't you see that this is exactly the same as the mindset displayed by the HP management, the mindset that is being ridiculed here?

          Except nobody in these comments is suggesting management or sales be *forced* to dress casually, or face disciplinary action.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Suit'n'Tie Guy

            "Except nobody in these comments is suggesting management or sales be *forced* to dress casually, or face disciplinary action."

            This is the same HP which installed antistatic mats on every workstation and forced all technical employees to wear grounding straps when working - even the ones working on equipment with 10kV floating around the benchtop.

            Just because some management dweeb thinks it's a good idea that something is done, doesn't mean it IS a good idea.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Suit'n'Tie Guy

        "When I have to deal with someone in a suit and tie, I find myself instinctively distrusting them on sight."

        I work in Texas. The only people in town who wear ties regularly are politicians, lawyers, and TV journalists, none of whom are trustworthy.Oh, and salesmen [need I comment on their trustworthiness?].

        Here, ties are a health issue as they contribute to heatstroke. For my dev team, the basic rule is - shirts with a collar [automatically excluding most T-Shirts], trousers or jeans [I wouldn't wear shorts anyway, not without sunscreen, as I'm a Pasty White European], and no visible toes. If Very Self-Important People visit the office, we don't wear jeans [but we do wear trousers].

        And we have a 40% bearded rate (66% if you consider only the men).

        Bonus Question - How many people in ACs Dev Team?

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Suit'n'Tie Guy

          When I see suits I assume their job is professional suit wearer, which usually means they are trying to sell something.

        2. jason 7

          Re: Suit'n'Tie Guy

          No visible toes is a good idea.

          Men in flip-flops or sandals is just the worst. really don't have the feet for it. Just don't.


          Keep your bare feet for home and in private. No need to share your yellowy, fungus encrusted and cracked feet with the rest of the world.

        3. oolor

          Re: AC's dev team

          That depends, this is one of those bullshit interview questions with not enough information given.

          Simpleton answer: multiple of 5, 3/5ths male and you left out the 0.66666...%

          Only the numbers: 20 males, 13 female, 13.2 guys with beards, the 0.2 is your new PFY and his peach fuzz

          Complex answer: depends on how many bearded ladies you have, what the amount of facial hair necessary to constitute said beard, how many are hiding their husbands sexual preference from their fellow understanding Texans...

          Not exactly your back-of-the-envelope question, but I am glad to know you wear pants at work. However, I would be remiss to not mention the safety hazards of pants covering one's feet.

    5. Roo

      "When I see a coder wearing shirt and tie, all I think is that he's another modestly skilled type who couldn't cut it in the arena with the talented coders."

      Sorry to be boring but it is a mistake to judge by appearances. :)

      The story which always impressed me as a PFY was of Seymour Cray coding up an OS in HEX on a notepad while lying in a hospital bed. He probably wasn't wearing a tie at the time, but in all the images I can find of him (when he's not skiing) he is wearing a tie...

      I once worked with a chap dressed like a very smart new romantic pirate. This genius designed & built an entire ~4000dpi broadsheet CTP* machine from scratch by himself (welding, pneumatics, laser-optics, machining, electronics, firmware software) within a few months. He had that wonderful knack of making the right choice first time, producing elegant solutions that worked beautifully. Not only that he was a good laugh down the pub as well...

      * CTP machines are van sized laser printers that render onto large aluminium printing plates.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It depends...

      When I see a coder wearing shirt and tie, all I think is that he's another modestly skilled type who couldn't cut it in the arena with the talented coders.

      It does depend on context, though. In the office i'm usually in polo + slacks, but we have no formal code. Others are in shorts & t-shirts, some in more formal shirts.

      All the same, if I'm presenting to senior execs I will put a dress shirt on (no tie) and if visiting customers as the "expert engineer you asked for" I'l pitch my code to what they're likely to expect. US customers outside of the finance world it'll be formal shirt and smart trousers. For finance I'll add a tie, for UK customers of almost all sorts I'll get the suit out. The days we're reorganizing the lab or having a BBQ it'll be jeans and an old company t-shirt that I can trash afterwards if necessary.

      Of course, it helps that I actually like the chance to dress smartly and wear suit & tie, so I feel quite comfortable doing so. If only I could persuade my colleagues that black tie dinners can be fun :)

      1. dotdavid

        Re: It depends...

        "When I see a coder wearing shirt and tie, all I think is that he's another modestly skilled type who couldn't cut it in the arena with the talented coders."

        Which only really goes to show why these silly rules are around; other people see people wearing shirts and ties and see competent professional people; you see people pretending to be people they aren't. How you dress does have an effect on how others perceive you, although that perception will vary from person to person as you demonstrate.

        Personally I think people should wear whatever they feel is appropriate (they're skilled adults and should be trusted to decide what that means) and whatever they're most comfortable in, especially coders who have to do more hard thinking where comfort is more important than making good impressions on occasional non-techy people who may stumble by.

    7. Fintan

      so devs give out about managers enforcing dress codes and thinking makes things better, yet you also say the same thing just in favour of casual dress clothes.

      Im really interested any study that proves clothing has an effect on productivity or tallent, one way or the other.

    8. John Tserkezis

      "When I see a coder wearing shirt and tie, all I think is that he's another modestly skilled type who couldn't cut it in the arena with the talented coders."

      I can do one better. I worked at a place were one of our techos was pretty decent. He was promoted to <some position or other?>, and ended up in a suit and tie. From then, he forgot everything he learned and actively went backwards as far as his learning and knowledge goes.

      I firmly believe that a tie cuts off oxygen to the brain, turning you into a moron. Noone has been able to convince me otherwise.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Frankly, they're bloody lucky if I have trousers on.

    1. Paul Shirley

      At this time of year my colleagues are lucky we have a voice only daily Skype call... Too hot for shorts.

    2. Triggerfish

      I'm still working on turning up on time.

    3. Daniel von Asmuth


      Have kilts gone out of fashion?

  7. Khaptain Silver badge

    My brain hurts

    "Apparently dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain struggling with esoteric things like coding"

    As soon as anyone mentions the word "holistic" you know that what is about to follow is nothing more than ideological diahhorea.

    If you want people to code good, leave them alone and just let them get on with their "esotericisms"..

    These situations are usually more about the requirement to change a shitty management team than anything else.. ( Peter Principle anyone)

    1. PassiveSmoking

      Re: My brain hurts

      I'm sorry, but words like "holistic" and "proactive", aren't they words that stupid people use to try and sound smarter?

      ... I'm fired, aren't I? </simpsons>

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: My brain hurts

        Hollistics fine when its used properly, problem is its so hi jacked now that it always sounds like bullshit. Fecking hate the word proactive though.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: My brain hurts

      If you look at HP's printer drivers you can tell that their brains are struggling with them but it's not something a dress code can fix.

      1. Ticl

        Re: My brain hurts

        HP Smart Install, whoever came up with that should be strangled with his tie.

        Also this.

      2. Sureo

        Re: My brain hurts

        100,000 employees and it took them 2 years to produce a driver for my printer after Windows 7 came out. And I'm still waiting for one that works.

    3. Old Tom

      Re: My brain hurts

      That quote was clearly sarcasm from a staff member, not the HP line.

      Apart from that, I totally agree.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arnold Rimmer has just taken over as office manager.

    1. Richard Taylor 2
      Thumb Down

      David Brent....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nah, David Brent is just a well meaning incompetent fool where as Rimmer :

        "Rimmer's primary character traits include anal-retentiveness, over-adherence to protocol, cowardice, bitterness and a severely inflated ego which is likely a coping mechanism for his deep-seated sense of self-loathing, which he tries but sometimes fails to hide from others. As the highest ranking survivor aboard the ship (despite being a hologram), Rimmer often deludes himself into believing that he is in charge and that he has somehow been moulding "his" crew into an effective spacegoing unit"

        NB Shamelessly lifted from Wikipedia as I couldn't be arsed typing.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Shamelessly copied from IMDB...

          Kryten: I ask the court one key question: Would the Space Core ever have allowed this man to be in a position of authority where he might endanger the entire crew? A man so petty and small minded, he would while away his evenings sewing name labels onto his ship issue condoms. A man of such awesome stupidity...

          Rimmer: Objection.

          Justice Computer voice: Objection overruled.

          Kryten: ...a man of such awesome stupidity, he even objects to his own defence counsel. An over-zealous, trumped up little squirt...

          Rimmer: Objection.

          Justice Computer voice: Overruled.

          Kryten: incompetent vending machine repairman with a Napoleon complex, who commanded as much respect and affection from his fellow crew members as Long John Silver's parrot.

          Rimmer: OBJECTION.

          Justice Computer voice: If you object to your own counsel once more Mr. Rimmer, you will be in contempt.

          Kryten: Who would allow this man, this joke of a man, this man who could not outwit a used tea bag, to be in a position where he might endanger the entire crew? Who? Only a yoghurt. This man is not guilty of manslaughter, he is only guilty of being Arnold J. Rimmer. That is his crime; it is also his punishment. The defence rests.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

  9. Jay 2

    The dress code here (Financial type place in the City) for blokes is trousers, shirt, shoes. Some people wear suit and tie, but there's no need for that. On Friday we're allowed to wear jeans, if we give £2 to the charity of the week.

    So far so good. But after a while we started getting lots of emails from HR regarding the dress policy on Fridays outlining what is not acceptable. It would appear that what they really want is for us to still wear shirts (no polo shirts) and shoes (no trainers) and just replace the trousers with jeans. As a result a lot of people don't bother and so the take is lower. At one point it even propmted our invisible CEO who we never hear from to write an email about how we should be giving money to charity. Most of us were thinking if he was going to commit some ASCII then maybe telling us what the business was up to would have been a better topic...

    1. Semaj

      Now the whole casual Friday thing is a whole new level of BS - especially if they are tying charity to it.

      1 - Giving to charity is fine (though of course some charities are more worthy than others) so if that's a thing then do either a silly fancy dress day or just a bog standard collection. Don't try to make people pay to wear their own clothes - it's insulting.

      2 - If the dress code is there for any supposed improvement to client image or productivity then how are things different on Friday? Is no work done on Friday? Do clients never visit? It makes no sense.

      Sounds like you need to find somewhere less stupid :) Good luck.

      1. Justicesays

        > Is no work done on Friday?

        I think you got it in one!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If anyone expected me to dress down for charity, I'd go black tie. Coercion will not be tolerated. Smart (in context) might be acceptable for a front-of-house role.

    2. rh587

      I know a company which tried to dress down generally. They encouraged staff to dress comfortably, down to and including polos, etc - unless you had customers visiting, or osme public-facing duty, or a meeting with the Directors, or any one of a number of items which called for you to be suited and booted.

      Since it was often difficult to know if a colleague might have customers visiting and might want to call you into the conference room to answer a tricky question, everyone just carried on wearing shirt and tie.

      Either you commit to a dress code and make a statement that "this is who we are and this is how we do things", or you don't bother.

  10. Semaj

    As a software developer I would never again take a job with a dress code. I feel that it's a very good barometer of management style. Recently (past year or 2) I have told several recruiters where to shove it on that basis alone. We are a scarce resource so companies need to buck up their ideas to remain competitive if they want to attract the best people.

    The worst are those places who enforce strict dress code for some (male, non friend of the boss) employees and let the others wear whatever they want. I've worked somewhere like that previously and it's not a good environment.

    Also I would really like to meet one of these "customers" who are so terribly fragile that they'd throw a contract in the bin over employees of a prospective service provider being dressed one way or another. They would be very fun to troll but I have a feeling that they do not in fact exist.

    1. Paul Shirley

      The few times I took part in hiring interviews we tried very hard not to penalise the candidates that turned up in suits or wearing ties. But it was a clear sign they'd done no research at all about the job they were trying for.

      1. dotdavid

        It wouldn't necessarily mean a lack of research. How you dress in the office doesn't necessarily equal how you dress for an interview. If I was interviewing for a role at a place with a casual dress code, unless the interview instructions said casual wear was okay I would wear a suit.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          I regularly turn up to work in a rainbow tie dye dress, neon accessories, and a bright pink mohawk, but I'd still go to interview dressed smartly, with a bunch of piercings removed, regardless of whether it says casual is OK for interview.

          It's about focussing attention on my skills, and what I'm saying, *not* my visual presentation.

        2. Paul Shirley

          @dotdavid maybe I should have mentioned being in the game industry, If you're interviewing for a game industry tech job there's roughly zero chance you'll ever need a suit at work, or anything close to one. It's not exactly a secret.

          Luckily the few that did appear overdressed had been sent by agents that lied to them, lied to us, lied to frontline HR to get even considered. It's not an industry you want anyone walking into blind, it eats people.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's how you dress to a job interview. Anybody who doesn't dress like that to an interview should be penalised.

    2. rh587

      "Also I would really like to meet one of these "customers" who are so terribly fragile that they'd throw a contract in the bin over employees of a prospective service provider being dressed one way or another. They would be very fun to troll but I have a feeling that they do not in fact exist."

      My neighbour worked as a window cleaner for many years, and ran the company for a few years when the boss decided to semi-retire. During the handover, his boss told him to always have a shirt and tie in the car for when he was delivering invoices and dealing with customers. They might be window cleaners but they could be professional about it dammit!

      A couple of weeks later he was asked why he was wearing a shirt?

      "Um, professionalism?"

      The customer suggested that his working t-shirt and trousers were fine and he'd never understood why $boss had always gone and got a shirt out the car - he was a window cleaner and they were his working gear. Just because the customers (solicitors) were wearing suits, didn't mean he needed to put on a shirt in order to talk to them - the company's professionalism would be judged on how clean the windows were!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can I quote Richard Stallman? "HP, your argument is invalid"*

    *if he hasn't, he should

    1. dotdavid

      He only wears clothes he compiles himself.

  12. jake Silver badge

    Somewhere, Bill & Dave are spinning.

    Clothes aren't the measure of the person ... rather WHY one chooses the clothing is the measure of the person.

    And please note that I grok the difference between "comfy" and "slovenly".

    1. Warm Braw

      >Clothes aren't the measure of the person

      Mine certainly aren't any more. Time for a diet. Perhaps that will be HP's next injunction...

  13. circusmole

    When customers....

    ... visit an R&D department they WANT to see geeks!

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: When customers....

      "Re: When customers visit an R&D department they WANT to see geeks!" -- circusmole

      Labcoats! Or, if they work on HP printer drivers, Hazmat suits ...

      1. dotdavid

        Re: When customers....

        And pipes. Although looking at their printer drives I suspect there's more than tobacco in those...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When customers....

        HP were working on a new very fast inkjet printer about 10 years ago. Extremely nippy and very high quality. There was a requirement to dry the paper coming out very quickly as well. After some mechanical failures it was renamed within the R&D group as a 'FireJet'. Asbestos gloves required rather than a Hazmat suit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When customers....

          I should have mentioned that prior to a couple of incidents of this sort, it was known affectionately as SteamJet

  14. Harry the Bastard

    many many moons ago there was a visitation from one of the global overlords of our megacorp

    i was resplendent in secondhand nato overtrousers (by laurence corner of camden) and an iggy pop sweatshirt

    my manager (who was really ok) blenched as the overlord was introduced to me, probably wondering if he was in for a ticking off, but all was good and subsequently the overlord offered me a job resulting in the most fun i ever had in business

    happy times, will we ever see their like again ---reverie--- oops, must prepare for my first webex of the day, sigh

  15. Chicken Marengo

    HP moves along to the next step of its suicide march

    Me thinks they need to buy, read and digest a copy of Peopleware.


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Usual problem of drawing the line

    Unfortunately not everyone can be trusted to have some common sense when it comes to dress, so eventually someone in HR takes it upon themselves to draw a line - cue wailing from all of us who don't like being told what to do. Having seen one IT guy decide that suitable summer business attire was sandals, tight high-cut running shorts and a crumpled off-white muscle shirt proudly displaying his pipe-cleaner arms and luxuriantly sprouting dewy pit hair, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that some kind of guidelines probably are necessary.

    Not quite as bad as the mid-morning onesie-and-slippers crowd at my local Asda, though.

    1. Chicken Marengo

      Re: Usual problem of drawing the line

      That doesn't need a dress code to solve. It needs a quiet, non confrontational word from his line manager.

      I've also found that a little mocking from colleagues usually fixes such aberrant behaviour if it's a well jelled team.

      1. Frank N. Stein

        Re: Usual problem of drawing the line

        For those who care about being "mocked by colleagues". I couldn't give three damns about that, but young people are sure to care about such things.

    2. Dominion

      Re: Usual problem of drawing the line

      "Unfortunately not everyone can be trusted to have some common sense"

      There, that's fixed...

    3. Erik4872

      Re: Usual problem of drawing the line

      "Not quite as bad as the mid-morning onesie-and-slippers crowd at my local Asda, though."

      I remember seeing Asda is now a Walmart subsidiary. Perhaps they're importing the customer base as well?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have no problems with dress codes

    It's the word 'compliance' that I'm allergic to.

    Tee-shirt of choice? Guitar Wolf, ta muchly

    1. DropBear

      Re: I have no problems with dress codes

      Naaah, Three Wolf Moon shirt, clearly. But you do have to wear it ironically.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have no problems with dress codes

        How can you wear a Three Wolf Moon shirt ironically when woman are throwing themselves at you?

    2. MacGyver

      Re: I have no problems with dress codes

      I'd show up in a 3-peice polyester leisure suit everyday. I would get all the department employees to play along until the policy was changed.

      "Why does your R&D department look like they are developing fondue pots?"

  18. GlenP Silver badge

    Fortunately the current employer is reasonably relaxed, trousers (not shorts*) and polo shirts are acceptable all week.

    Worked for an American corporate where, when several members of the board were visiting from the US, we had to wear suits and ties, all desks had to be absolutely tidy, etc. Of course none of the visitors were wearing ties and I was busy so my desk wasn't completely clear, comment from the CFO, "At least someone does some work round here!"

    *I do keep threatening to wear a kilt.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Visiting a government group, I did come across a chap wearing a kilt - and shirt & tie. He mentioned that he could't get his Sgian Dubh through the metal detectors though. I suggested that it was time to up tech and get a ceramic one :-) His reply - someone might shoot him if he was seen wearing it.

    2. 404

      'I do keep threatening to wear a kilt'


      Wore one for my wedding, most comfortable item of clothing I've *ever* worn. Warm? Fluff out. Cold? Cover up. Nice hardware design right there.

  19. Synonymous Howard

    According to a recent documentary, Richard Branson cuts ties off in 'his' businesses.

    Ties are for wearing at trad funerals and weddings. They are only readily worn at 'work' by politicians, car salesmen, estate agents, bankers and other people who are untrustworthy but don't want to appear so.

    My wife never trusts anyone in a pinstripe suit .. the wider or more blatant the stripe the less trustworthy.

    1. hplasm

      Suits are for 'The Accused'

      ...or those who should probably appear in the dock at some point.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Richard Branson cuts ties off

      Makes sense. Ties have been construed as penis substitutes - he obviously wants all to know he is the only dick in the office

      1. Frederic Bloggs

        Re: Richard Branson cuts ties off

        That should be: "rich dick"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ties are an adornment. Strictly speaking most of the clothes we wear are an adornment - often indicating our status or aspirational group.

      When I retired I had 150 ties. Some were "business", others were humorous - and others just outrageous colours or patterns. A different one on any day I wore my boring suit for the office. There is nothing less aesthetic (to me) than a suit with a button up shirt and no tie to complete the set. If it was a customer meeting then I would add the cuff links too - unless I knew the customer had some aversions to that formal style.

      When the company called me in off a summer break for an emergency - they knew they were going to see me in short shorts and a T-shirt. If I worked at a weekend the office was mostly deserted - and that would be shorts/jeans and a T-shirt too.

      It was interesting that some of the youngsters thought they were daringly different - yet never wore anything other than their same jeans and T-shirt. They had apparently only that one very limited wardrobe in which they felt comfortable - which put them at a disadvantage in some situations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'humorous' ties

        You see - ties damage productivity. They should be banned.

        Imagine all that comedic hysteria in the workplace. How can anybody expect to get any work down in-between all the chortles, guffaws and other assorted expressions of hilarity?

        "Oh look' AC is wearing his Wile E Coyote tie! Oh nurse, please stitch up my sides - they have split with laughter!"

        How could you do this to your poor colleagues? For shame!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One customer remarked that one day I'd appear in a suit sharp enough to cut - and the next day I would be like a deckhand off a tramp steamer.

    The answer to the paradox is that the suit was for first visits - the informal attire was for comfort when working very long hours to solve their problems.

    One day the customer's senior manager confronted me on arrival about the poor reliability of the product I had come to fix. I agreed with him. His underlings told me that he took several days to recover from the shock of a "suit" agreeing there was a problem. Needless to say I always fixed their apparently intractable problems. If you dress like a techie - you have to deliver the goods.

  21. Tascam Holiday
    Thumb Down

    In a sysadmin role I invariably find that the odd day I need to wear a collared shirt and a decent pair of trousers is the day I end up having to crawl under the floor space following cables or heft kit in/out of the data centre. Sod that, jeans and t-shirt look much better when covered in dust than a shirt ever does.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Working into the small hours on problem solving a suit starts to feel uncomfortable - even if you aren't crawling under desks etc.

  22. Craig Vaughton


    Are the people running HP ex-UK school teachers? More concerned about the right colour black trousers than actually teaching kids anything useful?

  23. A K Stiles

    HP Solution?

    Surely the solution to the HP issue is for the women to come in wearing the shorts and t-shirts and the blokes to wear the low-cleavage spagetti-strap tops and the mini skirts? May not do anything for productivity but it might highlight how stupid the manglement decisions are...

  24. Emj

    Earlier this week, I was in London, standing on the tube platform waiting for a train. On the opposite platform, were lots of people. TBH, most of the women appeared dressed more ready for the beach than work whereas the vast majority of the chaps were suited and booted. And it was hot.

    Dress codes, even when they do exist, are so unfavourable to guys than it is surely discriminatory on some level. Knee length floaty skirt or a summer dress != trousers, shirt & tie. Or even just trousers & shirt, let alone trousers, shirt, tie & jacket.

    <Going to become "gender-fluid" - apparently that is all the rage now and can therefore seemingly wear what I want>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Aye, women definitely are better off in the dress code stakes for one. A much larger repertoire allowed whereas men are stuck with their 19th century straight jackets.

      1. DropBear

        Actually, mandating crinoline-supported ball gowns for women in parallel with the suits men have to wear might make for a rather entertaining workplace... Oh well, I'm sure the novelty would wear off after a while, but still...*giggles*...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Spot On

        Could not agree more - who said that a Tie (I blame the idiot who introduced the Cravat) helps one function better ?

        You can look smart without wearing a tie and it is simply idiots/dinosaurs/clueless who associate a Tie with business etiquette in the 21st Century.

    2. peter_dtm


      I knew a bloke in Southern Africa who turned up at the HQ of a global IT company wearing shorts; open neck shirt with assorted 'bling'; and sandals.

      Promptly escorted out; with bin bag full of his personal belonings

      Then managemnet had to appologise and re-instate him; when they were shown to allow women to wear such clothing all the time and only had a dress code of blue suits (and ties of course) for the men.

      ( He actually planned this; arriving and going through security between two very 'undressed' young ladies; all caught on the security cams of course....). Visits to HQ were a lot less interesting after the dress code was tightened up to incude ALL staff; not just the males.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Company in trouble

    I could spend time Googling for a real world example of a technology company being rescued from doom by having its techies dress better.

    But somehow I doubt it is worth it.

    1. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: Company in trouble

      It's a sign of panic within a company. If they have enough business and clients to keep the gravy flowing, nobody will make up silly policies as all management are looking outwards. When things are leaner, management look inwards, and you get nonsense.

      1. Disko
        Thumb Up

        Re: Company in trouble

        This, so much, in every context. If suits talk about cutting cost, I can't help thinking same coveted suits are apparently not generating enough revenue to support the company's lifestyle, and that is definitely a competence issue.

  26. Joel 1

    Stand out from the crowd

    In an environment where everyone is wearing T-shirts and jeans, shake things up a bit and come in wearing Edwardian shirts and waistcoats. Or maybe Nehru suit - no tie required. Dressing up in a dress down environment can be more fun than the other way around. Plus, management thinking you might be going to an interview keeps them on their toes.

    1. John Hawkins

      Re: Stand out from the crowd

      Or why not as The Great Engineer himself, Isambard Brunel?

      Though the full frock coat + waistcoat might be a bit on the warm side for today's office and the ceiling is probably a bit low for the top hat.

      1. Kubla Cant

        Re: Stand out from the crowd

        Or why not as The Great Engineer himself, Isambard Brunel?

        You definitely wouldn't be allowed the cigar.

        1. DropBear

          Re: Stand out from the crowd

          "You definitely wouldn't be allowed the cigar."

          No-one says you have to light it...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stand out from the crowd

      " shake things up a bit and come in wearing Edwardian shirts and waistcoats. Or maybe Nehru suit"

      They might start wondering if you're The Doctor.

  27. Cuddles

    Smart casual

    is one of the most meaningless phrases ever uttered. Shirt and tie? Just shirt? Short sleeves OK as long as buttons are present? Anything as long as it's not jeans? Black shoes, or anything as long as it's not trainers? Suit, but only one that isn't as smart as a slightly different suit? As far as I'm concerned, it just means I check if my t-shirt has holes in it. Dress codes may be stupid, but if you insist on having one at least have the sense to say what you actually mean, rather than just some vague phrase that means something different to everyone.

    1. Boothy

      Re: Smart casual

      Casual : Jeans & T-Shirt

      Smart Casual: Jeans & ironed T-Shirt

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smart casual

        "Smart Casual: Jeans & ironed T-Shirt"

        Ah - good - I hate ironing jeans.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Smart casual

          Ah - good - I hate ironing jeans.

          I don't iron my jeans, but then, I never drove a Vauxhall Tigra either.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smart casual

      " Dress codes may be stupid, but if you insist on having one at least have the sense to say what you actually mean, rather than just some vague phrase that means something different to everyone."

      An IT company I worked for decided to get in on the dress-down-Friday trend. After few weeks they issued a proscriptive dress code that boiled down to "you don't need to wear a tie today".

  28. IanDs

    Even smarter casual

    Sometimes even customers are impressed by a bit of dress lateral thinking instead of suited convention. At a conference/exhibition in Anaheim (ugh...) a couple of years ago we were all getting a bit squirrelly after three 10-hour days of back-to-back meetings, and coming back from dinner we passed the Disney shop...

    When the first customer turned up to the meeting next morning they saw everyone sitting around the table with laptops as normal. Except for the Mickey Mouse ears (Minnie Mouse bow for the gals). And the presenter using big white Goofy hands to point at the screen (try counting to four in those). As the tech guru I was wearing a wizard's hat, with flashing lights on -- and as became obvious when I got up and walked across to drive the hardware demo, big yellow furry shoes.

    The MD of the customer insisted on having his photo taken with us as we shook hands on the deal, so it can't have made such a bad impression. Almost certainly the best $200 worth of expenses the company ever paid for :-)

  29. Bumpy Grastard

    Stupid rules made by ignorant people

    A person is not defined by how they dress, but how they do.

    After a lifetime in IT, I have discovered that the people holding the place together are the guys in the black sabbath T shirts and sandals. Suits come and go, talk the talk and are easily forgotten.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid rules made by ignorant people

      IBM was renowned for its very strict suit dress code that even prescribed the colour of your shirt.

      Apparently if you were a really important customer - with a really nasty problem in their product - then a "hippy" expert would be rolled out from some deep technical basement.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I laugh in the face of fashion. Plain black t-shirt, non-scruffy black jeans, every day for the past 6 years apart from some funerals where I went with the full suit and tie. Works for me.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      I laugh in the face of fashion. Plain black t-shirt, non-scruffy black jeans,

      Sounds like a guy I worked with until a couple of years ago. Even customers were directed to "look for the guy dressed like a roadie for Metallica".

      One of the smartest guys I knew, and no-one (customers included) cared a fig for how he dressed.

      Me? Jeans and Eddie Bauer shirts. I'm a conformist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Even customers were directed to "look for the guy dressed like a roadie for Metallica"."

        One of my very respectable colleagues had a previous existence as a roadie for some well-known rock group. He was seconded from an amplifier company to keep the equipment up to scratch.

  31. Jimboom

    I gave in years ago

    Many many moons ago I worked for a support desk that, up until they got bought up by a bigger company, had a very relaxed dress code. The clients didn't care that we dressed down and the fact we were largely phone based, and on the occasions we did have to go onsite had to often scramble under very dusty/dirty desks means we never wanted to wear any of our nice clothes.

    Along comes corporate bigboys and brought in a non IT manager to manage us. I had many many meetings with said manager telling me to comply with the dress code before I finally gave in. Even then though it was only ever black trousers and collared shirt. I think I was the last holdout in said department.

    The annoying bit for me was on the first day I gave in and wore black trousers the manager in question saw me coming in and gave me the "see, it wasn't so hard now was it" talk... which really irked me. I left shortly after.

    Since then I just find it easier to wear trousers and collared shirts (since I brought the bloody things, I'll use them) , it seems to make higher ups listen to me a little more than my less well dressed colleagues. ... though as a small act of rebellion I never iron the shirts. Even still, I occasionally get comments from them about how well I dress.

    Plus, nobody would ever guess if I went for an interview based off the way I dress. ;)

    Never a tie though! Apart from the obvious noose reference those things are dangerous don't you know. Could get caught in a printer or fan or something.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I gave in years ago

      "it seems to make higher ups listen to me a little more than my less well dressed colleagues."

      Power dressing works both ways. We were taken over by another company. I had an important request I wanted to make to their CEO at a meeting. I shocked the rest of my office by dropping the dress code suit - and turned up in my old techie style of jeans and T-shirt with a leather wrist-band.

      The CEO listened to me - and gave my request his blessing. Having done my homework I knew the CEO hated "suits" but respected techies.

      You can use the dressing style to be seen to be conformant. However - you can also appear conformant to put people off-guard when you are going to take a non-conformant position.Having to re-assess their initial assumptions about you puts them temporarily off-balance.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: I gave in years ago

      > The annoying bit for me was on the first day I gave in and wore black trousers the manager in question saw me coming in and gave me the "see, it wasn't so hard now was it" talk.

      "Sure wasn't, I've just come from a job interview, here's my notice" .... :)

      The fun part of that one is that once one person does it the rest leave shortly afterwards. Be sure you do it with an audience.

    3. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: I gave in years ago

      "never a tie, though..." consider a bow tie, or an ascot?

  32. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Where I work

    Although we are a software house, we have a dress code, which is 'shirt and tie' (except Fridays). The shirts I wear are never ironed, and the tie has holes in it. I'm smarter on a Friday in cargos and a T-shirt.

    The only dress code should be not to wear clothes that would prevent others from doing their job, for example by being so skimpy as to cause embarrassment to others. Other than that, why the hell should it matter?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bet...

    That the marketing and "creative" plumbs in their mood rooms are not asked to dress accordingly as to not stifle their "creativeness".

  34. Trollslayer

    It would be nice if these managers did something usefull

    Instead of getting the good workforce to leave.

    Makes me glad I just took early retirement.

  35. Sweeper

    Ties can stand out, at least if you are in a job where few wear them

    As an IT analyst the standard dress code is 'business casual'. That's why I always turn up wearing a tie, granted my ties tend to be somewhat distinctive rather than bland and just part of the uniform. Indeed, my ties, usually somewhat loud or sporting cartoon characters tend to give me some visibility.

    When I was doing a job that demanded a suit and tie I always felt annoyed. Now I don't have to I rather like being different simply by wearing one when I am out and about. At my home office desk it's strictly jeans and t shirt. So Tweed Jacket and tie or jeans and t-shirt. I have never gotten the hang of 'business casual.

  36. Bill M

    Dressing for lunch

    I work at home about half the time and always change out of my dressing gown into jeans and a shirt before I eat lunch.

    1. Spaceman Spiff

      Re: Dressing for lunch

      Sounds familiar... :-) It's 8:40am here and I am in my dressing gown - will change to real clothes around lunch time when I have to do some shopping.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dressing for lunch

      "[...] always change out of my dressing gown into jeans and a shirt before I eat lunch."

      Why bother with the dressing gown - unless your home is really cold.

      1. Bill M

        Re: Dressing for lunch

        "Why bother with the dressing gown - unless your home is really cold."

        I live on the banks of the River Thames and the towpath opposite usually has people on it out for an enjoyable walk, so I would rather not offend them or draw my curtains. Also if it is not raining I often work outside on the patio.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dressing for lunch

          "[...] so I would rather not offend them [...]"

          so I would rather not risk someone taking offence where none was intended


  37. WonkoTheSane

    Incite a rebellion

    HP's R&D folk should invest in a job lot of t-shirts with this on them:-

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Incite a rebellion

      Thanks, I've added that to my Lovecraft collection.

  38. Smilin' Stan

    Commonality of 'suits' people

    There are three professions where suits are nearly always worn: politicians, managers, and salesmen. What they all have in common is they make their living convincing you to do things that are not in your best interest (go to war, pay higher taxes, work overtime for free, buy things you don't need, etc.) in order to pad their best interest (themselves).

  39. Zog_but_not_the_first

    Dress code?

    Jewelled posing pouch and spats. Never fails.

  40. Andy 97
    Paris Hilton

    I was over in San Francisco (near the Visa office) last week.

    On Friday at a building across the road - was a fenced-off back yard-type area where employees were allowed to roam like prison inmates during exercise hour.

    It was Friday and I spotted a Casual Friday notice saying "It's all about Mexico today", some dev were standing around wearing sombreros while eating burritos. All of them looked throughly depressed.

    They looked like they'd been ordered to a relative's birthday and had been told by their Mum to wear a tie. I suspect that working there wouldn't exactly be a bundle of laughs.

    Wonder when the top tables will realise that it's better to hide the folks who don't really do 'smart' as opposed to making them conform?

    Paris because I miss her antics now that she's an international DJ.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll wear black...

    ...until they make something darker

  42. Chronos

    Priorities. They've heard of them.

    Surely these days people have more stuff to worry about than Sue coming to work in a Grateful Dead T-shirt? Fair enough if the employee is customer-facing and fronting the corporate image but R&D geeks? The whole point of employing such people is that they think differently and are about as individual as it is possible to get. Shoe-horning them into a corporate drone shell is just going to piss them off and make them leave - or rebel and, believe me, you do not want creative people to have any reason to make your life more difficult because they will, in many new, interesting, hard to detect and quite possibly brilliant ways.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unprofessional Dress Code

    Got told once that the developers would be required to adhere to a professional dress code.

    I asked if that was the professional dress code used for developers by Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Yahoo and was told "Yes". Then when I adopted that the following Monday was told "No" .

    From that day on I referred to our dress code as an "Unprofessional Dress Code"

  44. nijam Silver badge

    Fortunately for me, I'm still employed for the contents of my head, not of my wardrobe.

  45. Timbo 1

    Simple solution

    ...employees should send a purchase request to their manager for new clothes on account of not being afford them because their salary is (allegedly) so shite.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple solution

      There was a time when my company paid a "wear and tear" suit allowance if techies had to wear one for customers.

  46. kmac499

    Two thoughts...

    1) A suggested paragraph for the HR manual.

    "It is the policy of the company to hire responsible adults as employees. Under current social dress code conventions it is the opinion of the company that dresses tend to suit women more than men."

    2) After a mildly elevated discussion where a manager was telling us we ought to follow the dress code. I said I didn't think that a colourful rag tied around your neck automatically denoted professionalism. He rather exasperatedly asked what "Well what does then?" My considered one word answer "Ability".

  47. psychonaut

    lets start a new craze

    if everyone who is forced to wear a tie does the following:

    extend the thin bit of the tie with string or something similar, or just buy a very long tie.

    attach string / tie end to your penis, make it obvious that the string extends into your boxers/pants

    every 5 minutes, pull the tie, smile a bit, maybe dribble every 3rd time

    its important to note that you wouldnt actually have to attach the string to your penis. once this has enough momentum, the mere sight of the string, and eventually, the action of just pulling your tie and smiling will prevent the whole planet from wearing ties.

    just a thought.


    i realise i am being a bit sexist here, but surely noone makes chicks wear ties? maybe we could do something with a servo and a love egg. im still musing on it.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: lets start a new craze

      I went through my entire secondary education wearing the school uniform tie as a belt. They never did get round to specifying how the uniform was meant to be used ;)

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: lets start a new craze

      You swine.

      I was moderating a training webinar when I read your comment, on an open line with 40 other people. Unbidden, a paroxysm of laughter arose. The sheer effort required to suppress it means you owe me new sinuses.

      And now I can't ever wear a tie again with a straight face.

  48. Frank N. Stein

    I'm not an R&D Geek. I'm a Helpdesk Geek. The way my co-workers dress has never "sapped my motivation". I don't personally care how co-workers dress. I can however, see the point of adhering to business dress codes. The business has the option of enforcing those dress code rules. You don't like it, go work somewhere else. Adults know this, so it seems to me that young people are the likely complainers about dress codes. They need to get over it. That's how it is working a job for any Enterprise firm, particularly a large enterprise firm, like HP.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      [...] particularly a large enterprise firm, [...]

      particularly a large unenterprising firm,


  49. Stevie


    So they want you to wear long trousers like a grown-up and one of the golf shirts you collected in wardrobes full from the last Tech Expo?


  50. chairman_of_the_bored

    Lack of R&D productivity

    So nothing to do with slashing the R&D budget for years? Wow...

  51. Dr. G. Freeman

    When I worked for a Uk-broadband company (rhymes with BT)'s call centre-based helldesk was given a written warning for, in the manager's opinion, "dressing scruffily" in a t-shirt, combats and hiking boots.

    So the next shift went in wearing a tailcoat, waistcoat, suit trousers, shirt, cravat (basically what a groom wears for a wedding) and got my second written warning for "abusing the casual dress code".

    1. Spaceman Spiff
    2. Dog11

      Ah yes. When the consulting firm I worked for introduced a dress code (the owner had just taken a course at Harvard Business School, the wellspring of many terrible ideas), most of the employees just obstinately wore the same clothes they always wore (the geologists tended to jeans and flannel shirts). I think one of the secretaries wore pantyhose, and bitched about it all day. But I wore white pants, a lemon yellow tuxedo jacket (purchased at a thrift store a few years earlier for a band gig), and sunglasses. It was a big hit. Pity the boss was out of the office that day. By the next day everything was back to normal and no one ever mentioned the dress code again.

  52. Disko

    All black

    demin workgear has been my standard work attire for decades now, it doesn't show toner spillage (I'm looking at you HP) and otherwise helps with being invisible behind the scenes, which I like, or I would apply for a job dealing with suits. I wear proper gentleman's attire on occasion - I reserve the right to choose which occasion- but not the polyester abominations that dominate the corporate landscape - what is the point of dressing up if you're going to look like a failed wedding cake ornament.

    It's rather appalling to me that the HR department of a billion dollar technology corporation can not figure out that, well, there's different strokes for different folks, R&D is creating, and generally you want to give your creatives a healthy amount of freedom to come up with brilliant stuff - or they move on to pastures greener than yours.

    Coat because, well, suits.

  53. Peter Simpson 1

    When I worked at Data General (a long time ago)

    We once had a new director who informed us that we would be having "Casual Fridays". As an engineering group, we had never heard word one about dress, the implication being, that if all the naughty bits were covered and you didn't smell too bad, you were good.

    Our group arrived Friday morning dressed in our "interview suits". Nothing more was heard about the matter.

    // a photo was taken...I run across it occasionally

    1. Spaceman Spiff

      Re: When I worked at Data General (a long time ago)

      :-) How to shame management! Good work dudes (and dudettes)!

  54. Kubla Cant

    Smart casual

    Are there any two more depressing words in the language? Back in the time when everybody had to wear a suit to work, life was simple. You got up in the morning and put on a clean shirt and the suit you didn't wear yesterday. No thought or planning required. Evenings and weekends, you could wear what you damn well wanted.

    It's a fallacy to assume that the workplace was smarter as a result. When work clothing is something you only wear for work, and that under duress, you aren't going to take much care over it.

    Then some management halfwit decided to "relax the dress code", but lacked the nerve to abolish it. Your evening/weekend gear doesn't fit this description, so you have to acquire an additional wardrobe of the kind of awful clothes that golfers wear. Every morning you have to assess whether your outfit is both casual enough and smart enough.

    A company where I recently worked did dress-down Fridays - another stupid idea. But one week in three there would be an email cancelling the dress-down because "we have customers visiting".

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From a sysadmin pov, suits are for interviews, funerals and weddings. Shorts and cargos are for home/non-business wear. Smart-ish trousers or jeans, sneakers/trainers or better and T-shirt (no hoodies, sweatshirts etc.) for everyday workwear, replace the T-shirt with a shirt when customers are in.

    If you're a sysadmin (and I mean practical, hands dirty sysadmin, not a management middle-man) and you're wearing a tie, then one day you're going to choke yourself when it gets caught while you're crawling/hauling/fixing something. Even if you have people who are supposed to do all that, we all know that sometimes if you want something done right, you've just got to do it yourself.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work in a Samsung R&D facility. Here's our summer dress code:

    The hot summer months are upon us, so it is a good idea to give some general guidelines for summer dress code wear.

    "What is inappropriate in the office?" Well, I am so glad you asked! We often have HQ executive visitors, and our dress code is relaxed so please keep these things in mind for our casual office environment.

    Men, long shorts (non-cut off) and sleeved tee shirts are fine. You can wear short sleeved polo shirts or short sleeved button down shirts.

    Women should avoid short shorts, low-cut blouse but capris are okay. A rule of thumb, keep your the length of shorts and skirts long enough that there isn't any danger of inappropriate dress. When in doubt, ask.

    Men can wear sandals and flip flops. When in doubt, it's generally better to dress up rather than down.

  57. Sam Adams the Dog

    It would be really terrible if...

    ... you were a new employee and had just laid in a fresh supply of torn shorts and tee-shirts.

  58. Spaceman Spiff

    Once upon a time, HP was a tech geeks fantasy employer. Now? Not so much. So, if HP is going down the tubes, understand that if you are a tech company, you need to coddle/support your geeks! FWIW, when I start a new contract position, I wear "business casual" the first day, observe what others wear, and then match that so they aren't uncomfortable working with me. Usually that involves funny t-shirts, jeans, sandals, etc.

    1. Stevie


      If your "geeks" can't figure out proper attire for the office, perhaps you don't need them as badly as you think. Such behavior indicates a lack of engagement with the workforce which can (and does in my experience) translate before long into interminable personnel issues and complaints.

      Businesses don't need to coddle. Geeks are two-a-penny, there's always a fresh batch cooking in the halls of "learning" and I've yet to see any business collapse when their coddled geek du jour decided he was better than them and packed his bags for pastures new.

      In the words of Sherman Potter to Charles Winchester: *No-one* is that good.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        Look around.

        A lot of businesses have collapsed when their core expert(s) left.

        Most medium-sized and small business units have many employees who are extremely difficult to replace, and a few groups who simply cannot be replaced quickly enough to save their projects.

        If those projects are a significant proportion of revenue, the business often fails.

        While no one person should be irreplaceable, groups often are.

        Changes to company policy - esp. dress code - are often the most effective way of alienating a group. Especially when the group is close-knit and highly effective.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    they do casual friday here, they then tried to tie it to a charity donation during the 6 nations.

    So I paid my 2 quid and rocked up in rugby shirt, kilt and Cat boots (Yes I'm a Scotsman, in Scotland!)

    They then panicked on the morning as they discovered the CEO was paying a surprise visit as he happened to be in the area. they tried sending folk home to get changed (on their own time) people obviously refused point blank.

    CEO turns up, and loved it! said it was the most relaxed and happy atmosphere he'd seen in any of our office sites, and despite management concerns, productivity and service levels were every bit as good as usual.

    1. Stevie

      rugby shirt, kilt and Cat boots

      I, an Englishman from Coventry, once shared a cube with an Irish-Irish American from Montgomery NJ by way spiritually of Kilarney, an Indian from Bangalore and a Chinese American chap from Queens.

      I was browsing the interwebs in search of work stuff like CDs and interesting work-related cat videos and came across the then-new Utilikilt. I was dead excited by this provocative fashion statement and mooted the idea of Kilt Friday once a month.

      The one guy who refused point-blank to have anything to do with it? The Irish-Irish American.

      *Irish-Irish American: One who celebrated his heritage to the point of teaching Irish Step Dancing to co-workers in his lunchbreak desite their protests and who visited The Auld Country once every year even though he hated the cuisine and plumbing. Positively reeked of Guinness and hurley.

  60. Chris King

    It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me...

    ...and that's why I'm sat in a disciplinary hearing dressed as Batman.

    (Hey, it's better than the usual "Dress for the job you WANT, not the one you HAVE" line)

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HP should bring in a Lycra-only policy for the entire workforce. That'd be cool.

    And after that they should try making stuff people wanted.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I consider myself Manager 2.0 (soon to be 2.1), so when I'm hiring, I don't bother with a job spec: I just specify the number of people I want but in abstract terms: "I have as many vacancies as there are petals upon the wind", or, "a vacancy is but a gap in the breeze of life, filled with the essence of longing."

    The job "interview" consists of a single utterance from me: "hey?", but I don't need to listen to the replies, judging people purely on what they're wearing, how loud they speak and how many long words they use. The better the label, the louder the voice, the longer the words, the better the candidate.

    I then hire a random amount of the group, so avoiding the unlucky ones, and then delegate the onboarding and other trivialities to my subordinates. I leave my Hire Space at around 1.30pm, and 'think outside box-wise' in a bar for the rest of the day.

    That's how I'm going to transform HP.

    1. cagedconch

      Do you have an assistant called มาลัย ("Garland of Flowers" in Thai)?

  63. Erik4872

    This can go both ways

    In my opinion, a place with an overly strict dress code is covering up for bigger management problems. I work in a US office (engineering division) of a European company. The dress code is "officially" business casual, and pretty easy to live with compared to some places. It's pretty much enforced only when the higher ups are here to inspect their minions. Everyone wears pretty much the same uniform (collared shirt, pants of some sort, non-sneakers) but no one has ever come down on anyone for wearing jeans or whatever. When we go to the European locations of said company, business casual is different -- it's usually a jacket with no tie for the men and more formal attire for women.

    The company also has a lot of outsourcing customers, so of course they have a fancy impressive "command center" type setup far away from us engineering minions. There, the staff actually have uniforms (stop laughing, not Star Trek uniforms...just enforced dress code with company shirts, etc.) This is the only time I can see a dress code being mandatory -- frequent customer visits, low-level staff who are mostly new grads and might not know how to dress yet, etc. Unfortunately the customers are always right in this case, and most of them are reassured by clothing for some reason.

    I think it's silly to enforce a dress code in locations where the customers never see your employees, but it keeps HR people employed and makes the VPs happy, so it's not going away any time soon. The fact that this is HP, however, leads me to believe there's bigger problems lurking under the surface. When you have to resort to enforcing dress codes, work hours, etc. it's a sign of poor management. As far as what image you project, it could go either way. Some people equate sloppy T-shirt and ripped shorts with creativity, and some people equate a suit and tie with a no-nonsense attitude. Within reason, people should dress the way they feel comfortable. I've pretty much always done collared shirt and pants regardless of dress code -- I'm just not someone who looks good in sloppy clothes IMO.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If you aren't dressed like the models...

    "If you aren't dressed like the models in the posters that HP displays around its locations, then your appearance is sapping the productivity of the workers around you,"

    If you come out with bullshit like this you are going to sap the will to live of everybody around you. Next they will get you dressed up as Oompa Loompa or Minions. If you are not a 'front desk' person then as long as you are not indecent they should leave you alone,

    Most tech people I know have no dress sense; an old friend commented that I was the worst dressed sentient being in the known universe - not Zaphod.

  65. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Very blinkered attitudes here

    What's very evident here is that are some very blinkered attitudes here in these comments and while that's not be unexpected given the techie readership, it is a little disappointing when smart people don't understand the value of appearance.

    Firstly, everything we wear is effectively a uniform - it doesn't matter if it's a suit, grey hooded tracks and a flourescent yellow fly attractor, jeans and t-shirt, summer dress, cocktail dress or skirt and blouse. It's all a uniform of sorts and the clue is in the word "uniform", as in a common appearance - to whatever paramaters you assign "common".

    First impressions do matter and we are perceived by what we wear and our appearance. If you dress like a builder then you'll be treated like one because that's what you look like and you'll find it easier to relate to other builders as a result; we only have limited time in our lives and that doesn't allow for asking every person we see that's dressed as a builder whether or not they are a builder or are in fact a security guard. And so on... security guards dress in a distinct manner so they can be recognised as such and of course this is used in reverse where sometimes they pointedly don't dress as one so they aren't recognised.

    So rather than hissing and spitting about how bad it is that some companies have dress codes (aka uniforms), start with the understanding that how you dress really does affect how others see you. This is still the case even if you claim not to care how anybody else dresses, although if in your next statement you claim that "everybody in a suit is evil" you evidently have a false = true problem. How we dress is a tool we can use and it's one I learnt that lesson a long time ago and even directly experimented with it at trade shows where my business partner and I took it in turns to wear a suit or more casual clothes and the change in how we were treated even while standing next to each other was dramatic.

    Not that HP's sudden insistence on a stronger dress code will make a lot of positve difference to such a large and laughably inefficient company...

    1. small and stupid

      Re: Very blinkered attitudes here

      Agreed. And if you dress in a smart suit, you wont be treated as an IT expert, because *everyone knows* that geeks dont wear suits.

      A clever IT company would sent techies home for dressing too smart, visible overdressing would worry customers.

  66. War President

    Nothing helps me wrap my head around decade old uncommented code running a poorly documented process better than a proper starched button down shirt and a tie depriving my brain of oxygen.

  67. cortland

    A tech once had to wear a tie...

    Some 30+ years ago, a manager at [redacted] told a tech to stop showing up in torn blue-jeans and ratty T-shirts. He was told, in fact to wear clean, pressed slacks, and a good shirt and tie . He seems to have acceded, showing up the next day wearing clean pressed jeans and a clean T-shirt -- with a tie silk-screened on it.

    I seem to recall a later incident, this involving an instrumented briefcase. Guess which tech got to make things work? Dowels blocking in a clockwork accelerometer were later said to have been painted red, stenciled DYNAMITE, and wrapped in wire. In those days, flying West to Asia, the briefcase would not have been X-rayed until just before boarding in San Francisco.

    It might not have helped that the person carrying it had a Russian accent.

  68. FluffyERug

    I code some much better wearing a tie said no dev one ever......

  69. sisk

    Personally I've dressed 'business casual' for work for over a decade now. It's just expected where I work and proved to be the key to getting me away from the first line tech support position I started in. I showed up for the transfer interview in my best button down shirt and slacks, which wasn't all that different from what I wore on a day to day basis. I was later told that was the tie breaker between me and an equally competent tech who'd shown up in a ratty old Metallica shirt and torn up jeans. Which is basically the kind of clothes he continues to wear on a day to day basis now.

    But that said suddenly changing the dress code on people is bad juju. Some of them will probably have to go out and invest in a new wardrobe to meet the new code and doubtless it will lead to ill will.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Changing the dress code on people is bad juju."

      Once you start dictating a uniform, you should start paying for it too.

  70. Spiny_Norman

    Interesting range of views here. I'm a manager and a techie & work in a fairly large office with a mix of fairly senior middle managers, hard core techies and project/delivery manager types. Nobody gives a shit how anybody dresses, but nobody wears a tie. I'm in short sleeved shirt plus cargos or similar - shirt rather than tshirt? smartphone in shirt pocket. Productivity is pretty good.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      "shirt rather than tshirt? smartphone in shirt pocket. "

      I've always preferred a shirt to a T-shirt for exactly that reason, the pocket.

      Pen, phone and some paper to scribble on. Also handy for business cards (yours or those of others).

  71. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    What are customers doing wandering around R&D? Somebody fire that security guard!

    1. Small Furry Animal

      Nah! Fire the directors; they're the ones who brought them there.

      Incidentally, beer ... well it is Friday.

    2. cortland


      If you get spies wandering around R&D, outbid their sponsors and hire 'em. If they're savvy enough to glean your secrets from just wandering through, they're probably smarter than managers who wander through counting ties and coats.

  72. Captain DaFt

    Dyslexic management problem?

    They obviously think they work for GQ instead of HP.

  73. Daedalus

    Scooby Doo, where are you?

    it has become ridiculous in some quarters. I had an interview with a gang of guys in various stages of dishevelment. I looked around the table and picked out Shaggy and a few Velmas. Only the dog and the Mystery Machine were missing.

    1. Vic

      Re: Scooby Doo, where are you?

      I had an interview with a gang of guys in various stages of dishevelment

      I used to conduct interviews with 3 or 4 days of growth on my chin, and a "Freak Brothers" T-shirt on.

      It was deliberate - I wanted to see how candidates would cope with the unexpected. Those that spent the interview looking down their noses at me didn't get the job...


      1. Daedalus

        Re: Scooby Doo, where are you?

        Smartly dressed people can write lousy code, but when somebody has that Who Cares look, I know they will write whatever they want and to heck with compatibility, integration, or standards.

        1. Vic

          Re: Scooby Doo, where are you?

          when somebody has that Who Cares look, I know they will write whatever they want and to heck with compatibility, integration, or standards.

          That's a prejudicial attitude - you are assuming something about someone without evidence to support your view. That's exactly what I was trying to root out - I wanted people to write code to the problem thaty was there, not the one they assumed would be.

          Coders whos dress as they wish express individuality. Sometimes, that means they're the one person who can truly diagnose the situation correctly. Sometimes, it means they're total arseholes. Working out which end of that spectrum someone was on was a different part of the interview; my dress code was merely to see whether they would analyse the situation objectively, or succumb to prejudice.


  74. Maynard G. Krebs

    been there done that

    Worked as network admin for an accounting firm here in SE Alaska about 10 years ago. They were not happy about the jeans and polo shirt. When one of the partners confronted me about my dress and said I should look more professional like the rest of the staff, I asked him how much of the day they (as in the rest of the staff) spent crawling under co-workers desks and tearing down printers and such. (Not to mention the fact that one of the more ignorant partners thought the IT staff was part of janitorial and kept assigning jobs like please go clean out all the 7 year old paper records out at the storage facility.) I then asked if the firm was willing to pay for wear and tear on non-suitable cloths for the jobs assigned along with laundering and replacement when necessary. To his credit, being the exceptional accountant he was, he said "Good question and I get it, carry on." Nothing else was ever said. Now that I freelance I wear what I want. Almost all my clients come word of mouth. I have heard more than one of them tell someone while recomending me "He may show up looking like a construction worker but he will get you fixed." Guess it helps that here in Alaska I deal with alot of construction and building companies now.......

  75. JustNiz

    Sorry but I just don't trust people or companies that think you're only as good as the clothes you wear. I'd certainly never work at one. I especially don't trust people that choose to wear ties or suits when they don't have to. I've always thought those types do that because they actually have nothing to offer and are just hiding behind a fake and very shallow image, and its surprising how often it turns out that I was right.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If you need to advise people how to dress appropriately for work, maybe they should be in the unemployment line?

  77. Domino

    Fancy Dress

    Always remember the announcement for one of the Red Nose Days where everyone had to wear fancy dress or get "fined" a donation. I went in dressed in the normal dress code of suit & tie. When confronted I pulled a whip out of my desk drawer and said I gone as a manager. The look on my actual managers face was priceless :)

  78. Richard 126

    Only dress code here is nothing loose that could easily get caught in machinery and kill you.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      The way to deal with managers who insist on ties

      Is to feed the end of their tie into a printer

  79. Howard Hanek

    Human Resources

    We ALL know farmers LOVE the dirt they work on all day long. Oh wait?

    THATs why Human Resources treat people like dirt.....! Or something....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Human Resources

      "We ALL know farmers LOVE the dirt they work on all day long. Oh wait?"

      I work part time on a farm and with the correct clothing and tools you don't actually get dirty yourself.

  80. mbrown78701

    Customer don't really care how you dress

    I work for HP Cloud unit and I have had my share of having to work with legacy ES...

    several months back i recall a joint ES & Cloud F2F meeting with a fortune 50 client, Cloud guys were wearing faded jeans and T-shirts and ES guys were all in suites. The clients executive team go so tired of ES trying force feed them crappy software and services, they kicked ES team out and only wanted to talk to us.

    Customers value our ability to solve hard problems and provide great service...nothing else matter

  81. Mark Tarrabain

    This has all the earmarks of a calculated plan on HP's part to get some number people to voluntarily quit without having to deal with layoffs or severance pay, and thereby reduce the amount of money they have to spend each month on employee's salaries, and accomplish it in a way that's not likely to leave them open to any constructive dismissal suit that they would have to pay out on. If too many people quit, well they can just hire more later... but they'll still be saving money because they'll have fewer salaries to pay out.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "This has all the earmarks of a calculated plan on HP's part "

      HP's usual way of avoiding redundancies is to fire people without warning.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The HP I remember..

    ...from my uni days was a company making top notch instrumentation products, how are the mighty fallen. The image of the engineers working for them, as portrayed in the tech bulletins, was of smart short sleeved shirt, tie and pressed trousers. I often wondered if this was just for the camera, but the products in the 70's didn't have the software input they have these days, and things were more pure electronics then. Even now a HP 'scope is a very nice bit of kit although both my current scopes are old analogue Tektronix. I have a friends HP laptop dv6 which is endlessly re-booting, seems to be the graphics ic needs reflowing - a common problem due to overheating, though he doesn't use it much. An indication of where hp are, currently? I suppose the British equivalent would be Marconi who made a similar disastrous change in company direction.

  83. Florida1920

    This would have inhibited my early career

    As a tech writer starting out in the 1970s, I always knew which s/w engineers to ask for help: The scruffiest-dressed ones with the most-unkempt hair. I knew they were good if they could get away with appearing like that, as it was clearly deliberate. Homeless people would have given them money.

    HP should just keep snobbish customers away from those parts of the offices.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To summarise...

    All the comments can be roughly divided into the following schools of thought:

    - if you take care of your appearance (which seems to imply a suit and tie, but really, why should it?), then you'll take care in other areas of your life: hopefully your job is one of them.

    - if you don't care about how you look, that's because all your passion is used in other areas, hopefully including whatever your job is.

    - if you take care of your appearance, the you're an empty talentless preening dandy. Middle management beckons.

    - if you don't care about how you look, then you're lazy in everything. You'll be crap at what you do because you're a lazy slob.

    Generally I think all of the above is true, but for different people. The biggest skill in interviewing is working out what (if anything) drives someone and hiring accordingly.

  85. Mr Dogshit

    Boo hoo!

    The man won't let me wear my T-shirt! It's not fair! I won that at a Star Trek convention! And I washed it two weeks ago.

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In all honesty I haven't worn a shirt (let alone a tie) since the day I left school (and I'm currently a couple of months away from 40).

    With my current job I am the only one to have outlasted 3 teams of management (or should that be 2 teams of mismanagement and a third that actually has a clue).

    My usual clothes for working are jeans and a rugby shirt or dark t-shirt

  87. raving angry loony

    Incompetent management always wins

    Last time this was tried I started submitting expenses for dry-cleaning the uniform they insisted I wear. Because as a tech, I often needed to crawl around not-so-clean areas as part of my job. They refused to pay. I refused to comply with their dress code. I worked there for several more years before finally leaving over some other petty bullshit by incompetent managers, having learned that the more incompetent they are, the more spineless they are when dealing with the kind of people who actually got jobs done. I'm guessing they're still congratulating themselves on finally getting rid of that pain-in-the-arse tech who refused to obey idiotic orders. Well, those that managed to find jobs again when the company went bankrupt about a couple of years after I left (no, I had absolutely nothing to do with that, but I wasn't surprised).

    Haven't won all my battles. Hell, I've probably lost more than I've won overall. But I very much enjoyed winning that one.

  88. ben_myers

    Why look like a complete slob?

    Although some will pillory dress codes for engineering grunts, there are some limits as to what is or is not acceptable dress. Dirty clothes? NO! Torn clothes? Nyet? Not even cutoff shorts. T-shirts? Not really a good idea. Shorts? OK in warm weather, else forget about them. Jeans? No problem.

    An engineering grunt making a presentation to some corporate suits? Well, where I once worked in marketing, I had my several power suits and Italian dress shoes that made me look like one of them. You want instant respect from the suits? Dress like one of them. Ties that reveal your quirky personality or peccadillos are optional. Never ever had a problem dealing with corporate execs or military brass when dressed well.

    But some engineers are slow learners when it comes to dress and other social graces. And these guys make enough money that they can afford to spend a few pence on clothing.

  89. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I only had one HR policy when I went freelance

    No ties.

    That was 10 years ago

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would recommend a Sir Patrick Moore suit and tie:

    I would actually like to dress like that.

  91. Jez Lawrence

    Fucking bollocks

    That is all.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does management

    ...really need to tell a geek to dress appropriately? If so then it's time to hire new geeks.

  93. This post has been deleted by its author

  94. kmac499

    A Good use of Ties

    I've reached the age where family funerals are coming around a litle too regularly, so I have created a new tradition. At the place of internment/cremation gentleman mourners wear conventional black ties. When we retreat to the pub\function room whatever, I offer a change of dress from my small selection of bad taste comic character based ties. (Wallis & Gromit, Wiley Coyote, DIlbert etc.) All extremeley tatty and coffee stained of course.

    I can usually hear the deceased chuckling..

  95. Big Wiggle

    People didn't bitch this much when Megatron started killing off telecommuting. How about all the layoffs? There are teams in HPES that are well beyond 100% billable and Meg keeps cutting. She bitches and bitches about expenses but she saddles the company with the increase OpEx of giving everyone a cubicle, monitors, docking stations, etc. She says it is to improve "collaboration" and to have an all hands on deck mentality. But after seeing the HPE real estate plan, everyone knows she is just trying to force people to quit so HPE doesn't have to pay any severance.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Bill Wiggle

      "....Megatron...." Still giggle every time I hear that! Mind you, I'm on the outside so it's probably a funnier perspective.

      "....the HPE real estate plan....." Hmmmm, I heard a story that hp was cash-rich in the tail-end of the last century so went on a spending spree to avoid being bought. One of the assets they bought was a lot of real estate, so much they became one of the biggest real estate holders in certain parts of California and other parts of the World, and then they added to that by buying Compaq and gaiing a lot of Compaq real estate. Not sure of the veracity of the story or if hp has held on to all that real estate, but if you have offices sitting empty you'd probably want to shuffle some figures from one budget column to another and tell staff to use them.

      1. Mpeler

        Re: Bill Wiggle

        HP and Flagellant (and their sad descendants) have been dumping real estate like mad, and renting it back at (often) inflated prices. As long as Bill and Dave were around they didn't toss money just to toss it.

        Any victim of the fourth quarter freezes will testify to that.

        If anything, Carly and "the Hurd" dumped everything in sight, including most of the labs. Don't need Cupertino at all, do we, and Steve wants a doughnut. When all you sell is white boxes anymore (Hewlett-Packaging), you don't need R&D at all.

  96. scorched_cpu

    Internal Video

    The new head of HPE released a funny internal video countering all the rumors of a dress code. HPE does not have an official policy, and he goes on to say we are all adults and to dress appropriately.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Internal Video

      I expect the informants already routed that video to El Reg... it seems to me there is a Vulture in a high position within HP feeding with inside information the mouth that bites the hand that feeds IT...

      Anon because.

  97. kristenreyes

    Dress code? What dress code? Let's set the record straight.

  98. diego

    That's fake news:

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