Dressing for work, an interview, an internship, a networking event, etc. is a source of anxiety for everyone at some point in their career.
Each company and event is different, so it can be nerve-racking not knowing what the proper dress code is, what you can and can’t wear, etc. You want to make the best impression and your clothes say a lot about you and who you are!
“Therefore, develop a standard of excellence; without distinction there is extinction.”
There’s also the question of what season it is, what city you’re working in, what the culture is, whether you walk to work or not, and whether you’ll be sitting or standing most of the time, among other concerns. That’s a lot to think about, so it’s no wonder so many people feel frustrated with this kind of thing.
The way you dress can play a big role in your professional career. Part of the culture of a company is the dress code of its employees. Some companies prefer a business casual approach, while other companies require a business professional dress code. But does this also affect those of you working in IT or even start-ups?
Historically, many of our friends in IT have managed to climb the ranks with a simple wardrobe of jeans and promotional t-shirts. Those with larger disposable incomes even have the luxury of stretching to polo shirts or chambray shirts, remember them. That’s because IT generally has a looser dress code than most other occupations—depending, of course, on the company you work for. These trends originated in California in the mid eighties and had a knock on effect on other industries, creating overly casual working environments that became a HR nightmare because there were numerous unwritten rules that confuse employees about what is and what is not appropriate.
As this casual approach extended to clothing and it may even be the reason many people go into IT, subconsciously at least! Heck, it’s not uncommon to see some younger IT workers walking around in their bare feet in the summer.
Those who went to business school probably had tips on this every other day. But for the rest of them, how casual is too casual? If we want to move ahead in an organisation, do we have to look the part? If you turned up at a lawyer’s office or a surgeon’s consultation you would expect them to look professional. Is it the same with IT staff in server rooms? My experience illustrates that for many IT guys, dressing up “smart” for work takes them well out of their comfort zone—and most would prefer jeans and a t-shirt.
However, if you are planning to get a leadership position, doing a major pitch or intend to attract investors (especially for the price you want), sprucing up may be the way to go if you are serious to maximise your overall value.
Tuck that shirt in and stand up straight! Should scruffy IT staff that deal with clients be coached to smarten up in the office? I’d like to hear your opinions on the topic!