http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/10/25/otto_clothes/

I don’t disagree with this. Yes, I prefer men who are not so perfect and fancy that you don’t think you could ever mess them up. And I prefer men who don’t spend more time or money on grooming than I do. However, well-dressed men? Gimme. Guys who have bothered to find out what cuts and colours they should wear and have shoes that match? HAWT. (That said, it’s not like I’m going to do anything but drool from afar at work.)

Thing is, there really isn’t any reason geeks should be an exception anymore. The “slovenly and surly = competent and productive” angle is waning. The day of the Crotchety, Chain-Smoking, Black-Jeans-Clad Unix Sysadmin is over. IT, like everything else in the corporate environment, is about customer service. And part of customer service, in any industry, is perception and appearance. People are more open to working with people who look like them. You show up at a meeting in khakis and a shirt with buttons, and the IT guy shows up in dirty jeans and a decade-old Thinkgeek t-shirt, there’s already an Us vs. You dynamic in the room before anyone’s said anything. There is unspoken commentary about power structure and control and respect. And what’s the point?

Yes, your favourite jeans and a t-shirt are more comfy than pants with a crease and shirts with a collar. But not by THAT much. And sure, tech monkeys don’t want to be crawling around under desks and in server rooms in clothes they’re going to wreck, but how often does your average code monkey deal with hardware, anyway? It’s not necessary for Joe Tech Support to show up in a three-piece suit and wingtips every day, but there is a basic standard that is not that unreasonable an expectation. Besides, it’s not like your average geek can’t afford to dress decently.

Yes, I am hardly a fashionista, but skirts and heels and stockings do make it out of my closet and in to the office, and my ID badge lists “IT Department” on it. Plus, my team is somewhat unusual in that my ex-boss was a total metrosexual, my current boss is fond of suits, and my Work Husband recently went shopping (right after his uber-raise) and now also shows up in khakis and dress shirts, and, sometimes, a suit. That said, on casual days they’ll wear jeans like the next person, but Tuesday through Thursday? Yum. And since we all still have our jobs, I’m not getting the impression that them looking good has torpedoed our credibility or productivity at all.

1 Comment on Clothes make the geek?

  1. Um. I’m really, REALLY not ready to give up my tshirts and flip flops for skirts, stockings, and heels. And I’m definitely not ready to give up being surly. Slovenly, maybe. But not surly. 😉

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