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Monkey See - Monkey Do

By farl in Culture
Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 03:45:46 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Five days a week I get up in the morning and get dressed for work - Shirt-n-Tie type clothing. And everyday I do this I wonder why I am wearing these clothes? Not clothes in general, but rather the "business" attire that I am required to wear to work.

"Business" clothing is a very interesting set of clothing. It is quite often restrictive, hot, non-breathing and generally uncomfortable to wear if you ever step out of air conditioning. Maybe I should point out that I live in a warm climate. I am sure that people love the long sleeves and legs in colder climates, but just not here. Typical business attire consists of pants/slacks, nice shoes, a long sleeved and collared shirt, a tie, and quite often, a jacket/coat.

Lets look at what the possible benefits are from these items of clothing:
  • Shoes: Nice shoes tend to have no traction on the bottom, allowing you to slide down stairs, slip on the floor, and generally look silly if you do not pay attention. Also, quite often these shoes are uncomfortable and lacking in any form of modern support.
  • Pants: Keep your legs warm, protect the legs for scratches/spills, and hide the lack of tan.
  • Shirt: Sleeves tend to keep your arms warm, but also accent those elbows when you tear the elbow of your shirt out on a sharp corner. Cuffs tend to be great ways to store little bits of your last meal or drink. In rare instances, they can be used to store ink just in case you lose your pen somewhere. Collars are for the obvious reason - to prop your head up while you are napping at your desk.
  • Tie: Of all the items, this is the lease comprehensible. Possible uses include strangulation, restriction of blood and airflow, a handy tie in case you need to rope a steer, and other inane uses.
  • Coat: The perfect heater. 0% circulation with 100% heat retention. Admittedly good for colder climates, but useless anywhere that is not.
So aside from this irreverent look at the possible uses of these items of clothing, it can be seriously said that each of these items has a use that is functional and oftentimes necessary in the business world. For what I do, I do not believe that wearing a Shirt-n-Tie is necessary, because I do not interact face-to-face with any of my clients. As far as I am concerned, I might as well be in pajamas for all that they know.

My boss however, needs the full suit, He travels a lot and meets our clients in person. Without the "look" of a suit, our clients (who spend LOTS of money) would not take him as seriously as they do. Suits provide a form of confidence in the person. This can often be misplaced, but it shows at least a general interest in being serious and handling a client's concerns professionally.

On the other hand, at my last job where I was the design and production manager for a large publishing company, I wore shorts, T-shirt and sandals. Quite often the T-shirt had holes and/or marks on it. I did not really care at the time, because I did not meet clients face-to-face. I had some of the largest resort and entertainment companies as my clients, and dealt with some very important people in the business world, but as far as they knew, I wore a suit every day. I did my job competently and with professionalism, and my clients were happy.

What interests me is what other people think of the Shirt-n-Tie issue. Do you think suits are necessary? What do you do and what do you wear to work? What is required versus what you actually get away with? Are we all just monkeys following the lead of the idiot in front?


Voxel dot net
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o VoxCAST Content Delivery
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What do you wear to work?
o Full Suit 2%
o Shirt-n-Tie 6%
o Jeans and T-Shirt 30%
o Shorts 1%
o Anything I Want 45%
o Uniform 1%
o Emperor's Birthday Suit 6%
o Inoshiro's Garter Belt 5%

Votes: 158
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by farl

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Monkey See - Monkey Do | 105 comments (99 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Wearing a suit is an act of submission (2.36 / 11) (#1)
by 0xdeadbeef on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 12:57:41 PM EST

If you wear a suit and tie to work, you're a chump. You may make a lot of money doing it, but you're still a chump, because you sure as hell would rather be wearing something else.

It's like those Mens' Warehouse commercials: "You're gonna look like someone's biotch, I guarantee it!"

Simple enough (4.00 / 3) (#2)
by Ceebs on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:02:06 PM EST

Just reached a compromise at work, they agreed not to talk about suits or uniforms, I've agreed not to wear holed jeans. If my new boss thinks it is a position He can change then there's always the 70's glam rock Gary Glitter suit.

[ Parent ]
rather juvenile view (3.90 / 11) (#25)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 02:27:17 PM EST

(1) Some people actually enjoy wearing suits. Perhaps this is hard to understand, but it is the truth. Some people have a hard time understanding why someone would get a tatoo or subject themselves to branding or tribal scarification. Yet people do this and like it. So too, some people like to wear suits. It is fallacious to assume that because you don't like to wear a suit that no one else likes to wear a suit.

(2) Suits can be a very strong statement. Imagine a company that is business casual. Most people wear leisure slacks and some form or polo shirt. Someone that wears a suit stands out far, far more. This is why more than a few punk rock singers wear a suit. At a punk rock show someone in a three-piece, pin-striped suit makes a far bigger statement than the typical person wearing leathers or jeans with large, gaping holes.

(3) Given someone that doesn't like to wear a suit, pure economics might provide a good reason to wear one anyway. Perhaps someone would prefer to wear jeans and a tee-shirt but this person is not all that uncomfortable in a suit and the few extra thousand per year this person makes because of the impression they give off by wearing the suit makes it worth their while. I'll grant chumpdom for this person if wearing the suit makes him or her miserable, but if the person doesn't mind all that much, it's a simple trade off like any other trade off in employment.

The only people that wear suits that I can't figure out are the people that (a) don't like wearing suits, (b) don't have to wear suits, (c) have no reason to wear a suit and (d) wear a suit anyway.

[ Parent ]

Suits are for weddings and funerals... (3.66 / 3) (#3)
by scorbett on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:12:02 PM EST

... but certainly not for working in. As a programmer, I've never been required to wear a suit and tie, though I did work for one company once that required "business casual" attire. I can see, if your job requires face to face interaction with clients, you may want to dress a little nicer than usual, but if your job consists of spending most of your time in front of a computer, with the occasional hanging-out with other co-workers, why not wear what makes you feel comfortable? If you're not comfortable, you're not productive (or at least, not as productive as you could be).

If only (4.00 / 1) (#81)
by spaceghoti on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 01:39:35 PM EST

I've heard some people confess they acted more professionally when they dressed more professionally. There are also a lot of pointy-haired axioms drilled into management-types that say if employees don't dress professionally, they don't act professionally.

Personally, I believe that it's all very subjective. People who are uncomfortable working in casual clothes should feel free to "dress up." People who feel most productive working in casual attire (within certain limits) should be allowed to "dress down." So long as you're not trying to impress clients, it shouldn't be an issue.

Of course, I'm also in favor of holding meetings by Netmeeting or the like. I'm just a progressive fool in a conservative corporate environment, I suppose. Between that and my long hair, I'm not sorry I didn't get a permanent job at IBM.

"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
Uniform Policy (4.14 / 7) (#4)
by retinaburn on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:16:52 PM EST

If your place of business has a 'dress-code' (like mine) I feel it lets people 'appear' on a level playing field. Currently this decade is 'casual'. Walking around you cannot tell who is management and who is 'worker-bee'. You do notice the suckers that are in sales and face-to-face with customers due to their stylish suits. If everyone wore suits you could distiguish management (by the sheen off their expensive suits) from the bees (can you say polyester :).

Another reason I can forsee is to let the workers feel 'in control'. Its much nicer wearing slacks and a nice shirt then getting all gussied up to come into work, it makes you feel like the company cares about you, so you feel better.

Any dress code portrays a unified front to anybody who walks by, be it customer or support staff. This is more effective if everyone is wearing blue pinstrip suits than casual, but far more effective than if it was a free for all. I think it is necessary to have some sort of pride in ones appearence at work. Wearing shorts and a ratty t-shirt will make people feel 'too' comfortable at work. There have been studies done (etc.) to show this.

I have noticed however that here at least (IBM) women tend to dress more formally and the guys tend to push 'casual wear' to a whole new low.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

ibm's dress code (none / 0) (#82)
by eudas on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 01:41:40 PM EST

do the women pay more attention to the men who dress nicely?

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
I don't know (none / 0) (#86)
by retinaburn on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 06:39:38 PM EST

I guess I could ask :)

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

[ Parent ]
I'm to cowardly to wear a suit (3.50 / 6) (#5)
by Per Abrahamsen on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:19:12 PM EST

I own one for "special occassions", and I like how it make me look, especially the fake broad shoulders. And I live in a cold climate, so it is even practical most of the year.

However, it would send a lot of signals I do not agree with. I want people to see me as a nerd, not as someone on the management track.

Of course, the tie just look stupid, and I hate being forced to wear a suit in the summer, especially as air-condition is almost unknown around here.

Necktie. (3.23 / 13) (#6)
by Spendocrat on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:19:56 PM EST

The usual men's business necktie has the added benefit of letting you know which way your penis is when you have to take a leak.

Re: Necktie (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by eLuddite on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 06:15:21 PM EST

Form follows function.

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Clothing functionally stupid? It's a feature! (4.70 / 17) (#8)
by DesiredUsername on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:21:37 PM EST

There is a theory that the reason peacocks have such splendid tails is BECAUSE they are useless. Only a male in a genuine good state of health can afford the time and energy to haul it around. This good health is attractive to females.

There is a similar theory about tans. Tans are indicative of the lower classes in societies where the lower classes do hard labor outside. But they are indicative of the higher classes where everyone works indoors. In both cases, the lack or presence of the tan indicates the wearer has a great deal of free-time. (Note that I'm not going to claim there is any evolutionary effect here--just a social one).

I'd be willing to bet that business clothing is the same deal. Got shoes that can't walk only anything but carpeting? That means that you are rich/important enough to walk only on carpeting. Wearing long sleeves and pants (not to mention ties) in hot climate? That means you are rich/important enough to spend all your time in AC.

It's all about status symbols.

Play 囲碁
The Theory of the Leisure Class (4.50 / 2) (#17)
by Bad Harmony on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:50:07 PM EST

Thorstein Veblen discussed some of this in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class. See Chapter 7, Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture. Even though it was written in the Victorian era, much of the book is applicable to modern society.

54º40' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

Suits (4.14 / 7) (#9)
by trhurler on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:22:34 PM EST

I myself wear them, as someone else also mentioned, to weddings and funerals. I can't imagine taking a job that required one - but that's considering what I like to do, which doesn't apply to everyone.

That said, the guy who said suits are for chumps is missing two important points. First, not everyone who wears a suit would rather be wearing something else. A great many people like their suits, for whatever reason. And second, many of them really NEED those suits to do their jobs effectively. Nobody would take a sales rep for anything even moderately expensive at all seriously unless he showed up with a suit, and for some reason, the more expensive the suit, the more respect he'd get.

Here's what it comes down to for me: if you're wearing a suit and you really don't like it, then you probably have the wrong job, or at least the wrong company to do it for.

That said, all those "businessmen" who don't actually deal with any customers or other outsiders and just sit around their offices all day wearing their suits are really silly:)

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Ties and shoes (4.68 / 16) (#10)
by jabber on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:34:01 PM EST

Ties are originally intended to hide shirt buttons. Buttons used to easily get lost, and a tie was used to make an old shirt look newer. This is why bow-ties are considered 'special occasion', they expose the buttons, and so the shirt much be in good shape for allow for a bow-tie.

Cuff buttons on jackets were originally intended to discourage Napoleon's soldiers from wiping their noses on their sleeves. Over time, they became simply ornamental, just like cuff-links on an expensive shirt.

Dress shoes are not intended to be walked in. They are meant to look ornamental as well, with nice, shinny leather. People deserving of dress shoes spend their time sitting behind a desk, from under which their subordinates can see only the fancy leather toes.

The modern dress code is a derivative of ornate clothing of distinction from the courts of Europe. It's point has changed, from that of denoting distinction and wealth to that of uniformity, best evidenced by the now outdated dress code of IBM. They were "Big Blue" because all of their people wore navy suits as a matter of policy.

As a general rule, suits are more tedious to wear than casual clothing, and are more prone to show damage and spillage. Needing a suit is a testament of the wearers refinement and gentility - only the ruling class is supposed to wear suits. Peasants wear filthy, torn sacks. That's how it used to be, and now they are simply a social convention based on antiquated norms.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Big Blue (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by finkployd on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:45:17 PM EST

IBM. They were "Big Blue" because all of their people wore navy suits as a matter of policy.

That, and their logo is big and blue :)

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
IBM Logo (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by jabber on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 05:18:34 PM EST

And it too wears pin-stripes.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

OK jabber, honey. (2.00 / 3) (#27)
by greyrat on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 02:49:40 PM EST

Explain panty hose. #%^O
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
Panty hose (3.00 / 3) (#28)
by DesiredUsername on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 02:58:04 PM EST

Panty hose make women's legs look better. It makes the color more uniform (and tan, which despite health risks is still popular) and the texture smoother.

That's what made them a big hit at first. Then it became codified: you gotta wear something on your legs. Anything else is...icky. If there was anybody who didn't already do it, there'd be a rule that men must wear socks.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
London, WW2 (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by codemonkey_uk on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 08:22:13 AM EST

Panty hose where hard to come by, and expensive. This was so important to young ladies going out that they would draw a seam on the back of their legs so that it looked like they had stockings on!

Thus the means became the ends.
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Still done (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by Pedro Picasso on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 12:51:24 PM EST

Poor theatres with good costume people still do this. They drawlines down the backs of actresses legs to fake expensive stockings. In shows with many women, some theatres can't afford to do it otherwise. It's kind of cute to see an attractive girl walking around with lines drawn down the backs of her legs. If only I had a nice pen, I'd apply for the job.
-the Pedro Picasso

Cult of the Flaky Hardware
[ (sourceCode == freeSpeech) | kakkune.com ]
[ Parent ]
To hide the hair (none / 0) (#35)
by jabber on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 03:48:21 PM EST

Just as perfume was originally meant to disguise body odor in the Frech court, where people didn't bath all that often.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

HUH? (none / 0) (#38)
by greyrat on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 03:56:43 PM EST

They only hide my hair when I'm robbing a bank -- Oh! you mean leg hair. Well, yeah, I can see that too.

A man's not a man who hasn't tried on a pair of his SOs pany hose.

~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
Oh! Oh! Oh! And You Forgot Shirt Fronts (4.00 / 2) (#30)
by greyrat on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 03:09:15 PM EST

Shirt fronts (or dickies) were also used for 'special occasion' with bow ties. A relatively inexpensive, highly starched piece of fabric with a collar to secure it around the neck and ties to secure it around the waist (trimmed out with a waistcoat). Another nice way to cover up that grubby old shirt.

Keep the pointy end forward and the dirty side down.

~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
I don't even own a suit (3.66 / 6) (#12)
by Corwin on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:36:13 PM EST

really, I don't. Never felt the inclination to buy one, or felt any reason to. Many people tell me that I should get one for job interviews, if nothing else, but I brush that aside telling them that if the employer is more hung up on codifying appearance than job skills, then I don't want to work for them.

It probably helps that what I consider "casual" clothing is more on par with what the rest of the world consider to be "business casual", so I usually look rather snappy anyway. I wear the same clothing to work as I do to the mall, or to a funeral, or to a job interview. Makes for a pretty simple wardrobe, which is how I like it. No quibbling about what I should be wearing for any given ocassion and it is very comfortable to wear.

But I don't own a single 'suit'.

For the curious, in case you actually are finding comfort problems with more formal wear, I suggest pretty much anything from the Tilley product line. Up until recently, they comprised every article of clothing I owned. This has changed only since they have stopped making pants in black.

I'm in search of myself. Have you seen me anywhere?
Tilley?! Are you nuts? (none / 0) (#75)
by tzanger on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 11:19:33 AM EST

I suggest pretty much anything from the Tilley product line.

If you can afford to spend $175 for a single shirt or $185 for a pair of pants, be my guest.

Shirt link: http://www.tilley.com/shop3.asp?productno=TRE9&detail=low&path=root\Men's_Wear\Tilley_Semi-formal_Wear"
Pants link: http://www.tilley.com/shop3.asp?productno=TRE27&detail=low&path=root\Men's_Wear\Tilley_Semi-formal_Wear"

I'll do my shopping at places like Northern Elements, Sears, Winners and even ThinkGeek for the odd thing.

(Sorry for the nonclick links but K5 either won't let me have a link that long or won't let me have a link with single apostrophes in it)

Mind you my attire is almost exclusively business casual and almost exclusively from Northern Elements: golf shirts, button-up shirts, dress pants, "nice" jeans and solid-colour tees. I have a few suits for times when I need to wear one and of course have a barrage of pullovers and sweaters and heavy "grey wool" socks for my comfortable clothing.

[ Parent ]
Tilley prices (none / 0) (#80)
by Corwin on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 01:11:10 PM EST

Sure, they're expensive. But you know what? The only times I have ever had to replace any of my Tilley pants was when I grew out of them (first vertically, then horizontally :). And I have only one Tilley shirt that I have deemed unwearable due to excessive wear and tear. I think that's a pretty impressive track record given that I started wearing Tilleys about eight years ago. I don't treat my clothes especially well, either.

I'd much rather spend a lot of money once, then a little money often.

I'm in search of myself. Have you seen me anywhere?
[ Parent ]
weird. (3.50 / 2) (#14)
by darthaya on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:43:38 PM EST

Why no one complains about military personels having to wear uniforms?

Military uniforms (4.28 / 7) (#21)
by wiredog on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 02:04:20 PM EST

I was in the US Army once, so I can speak to this.

Military uniforms have several purposes, some follow:

They show rank, so that you know who to salute (if an officer) and take orders from.

Status. The dress uniform displays, in addition to rank, various ribbons for awards received. The ribbons determine status. A case in point is the blue ribbon with the five (I think) stars on it. It's the Medal of Honor. A private wearing that is saluted by Generals, rather than the other way around. Note that this is not a regulation, it's a tradition.

They build esprit de corps, with special corps ,such as Airborne, Rangers, and Special Forces, having special uniforms (berets, shoulder tabs, wearing boots with the dress uniform).

Cost. The uniforms are issued to the soldiers, and they get a clothing allowance to replace them when they wear out. If the uniforms can be purchased in bulk, the unit cost is kept down.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
[ Parent ]

One more (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by roystgnr on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 10:06:13 PM EST

My roommate is graduating from an NROTC program, which is intended to make boys into naval officer material in four years. During the last year or two of that program, there are opportunities to take positions of real authority and responsibility, but what can you do with freshmen to instill a few military values in them? Requiring them to continually maintain a uniform with creases sharp, brass shined, etc. is one of their little exercises, intended to teach them to pay attention to even tiny details.

[ Parent ]
Attention to detail (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by wiredog on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 10:21:55 PM EST

Is one of the most valuable things I learned in the Army. That, and how to get along with a boss that wasn't as smart as I was. Helluva lot more competent and experienced though.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
[ Parent ]

important purpose missed out (none / 0) (#94)
by streetlawyer on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 06:08:49 AM EST

They also provide a useful visual clue as to who you ought to be pointing the guns at :)

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Military Uniforms (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by Armaphine on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 03:23:17 PM EST

The reasons that no one bitches about military uniforms are numerous:
  1. Tradition: The military has always worn uniforms, and that fact has never changed, even from Ancient Rome to now.
  2. Image: For each branch of service <US CONTENT> there is a specific uniform, with a specific look. These uniforms are often protected by law, and cannot be worn by just anybody, therefore establishing a sense of pride in the uniform.
  3. Not that big of a deal: For most posts, the camoflague utilities (dungarees for the Navy) are the uniform of the day, and are pretty much hassle-free (relativly speaking). A quick ironing at night, a fresh coat of polish on the boots, and they're ready for use the next day.

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.
[ Parent ]

Mil. Uniforms, USN perspective (none / 0) (#102)
by locke baron on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 07:45:20 AM EST

I don't know about Army, but on most Navy bases, either the winter blues (which are actually black, but that's another rant) or summer whites are uniform of the day, and they can be a pain to maintain. Especially those damned whites. Dungarees are far more of a pain than camo utilities (BDU's, in Navy-speak) anyway, according to my Seabee and Marine acquaitances.
Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]
The need for military uniforms (none / 0) (#101)
by lavaforge on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 04:43:34 PM EST

If you aren't wearing the standard uniform you stand an extremely high risk of getting an appendage blown off.
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." -- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut
[ Parent ]
But you do f2f with your client. (4.50 / 10) (#16)
by error 404 on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:49:49 PM EST

Your boss is your client.

Except in situations where dressing down is a sign of status, sloppy clothing in a business setting is a bad idea. I'm not saying you need a suit - a suit is quite inapropriate in most tech settings. But you are, whether you realize it or not, whether your boss admits it or not, in an ongoing deal-making situation. Not all of which makes sense. You should be judged entirely on the quality of your work, but it is a very rare job where that's going to happen. The best you can really hope for is to be judged mostly on your work. To a certain extent, they have to

What you wear makes a statement. Make sure the statement is what you intend to say. And realize that (even if there is no stated dress code) that it does matter. I'm not saying "business attire". I'm saying think about the image you want to project, and dress the part, whatever that may be in your case.

And don't take it too personaly.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Distinction (none / 0) (#83)
by spaceghoti on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 03:19:45 PM EST

Okay, let's go with the boss as your client. Your boss has presumably interviewed you and the two of you have had a chance to outline what you expect from each other. After a trial period, you work out the kinks and settle into what is idealy a comfortable routine. At that point, the boss ceases to need the "spit and polish" routine necessary for first or occasional impressions, and should be more interested in results.

It's one thing if your boss is someone you see once a month, if that. Then yes, I can see the boss as client concept without a problem. But if you see and interact with your boss on a regular basis such as more than twice a week, the analogy fails. A regular business partner would be wise to focus more on product than presentation.

"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
That's the ideal (none / 0) (#85)
by error 404 on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 05:40:22 PM EST

But in my experience, even people who don't strike me as particularly shallow will take a person less seriously - even if that person has proved to have technical skills - if that person's appearance is sloppy.

It shouldn't be that way, but it very often is.

And while first impressions are important, and an occasional sloppy day doesn't matter in an established relationship, a person who has a look and maintains it will tend to be taken more seriously than someone who just throws on whatever.

And being taken seriously is important. It's the difference between "Error 404 is so organized he almost always manages to get his work done during normal business hours" and "Error 404 is a nine-to-fiver". Or between "Error 404 is a dedicated employee staying late to solve this Hard Problem(which the boss assumes is a Hard Problem because I'm struggling)" and "Error 404 is a doofus who can't even solve this Easy Problem (same problem as before, without the assumption) within normal parameters."

I don't know what you do, but a lot of active web technology has weird holes in it, where things that should be simple are hard, while most things that seem hard aren't. And my boss, who is reasonably technical in other areas, has to take my word for it. I lose respect, I'm done.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

the holy grail of business plans (2.23 / 17) (#19)
by eLuddite on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 01:57:32 PM EST

If I could sell a single to tie to every mao-pajama wearing adult male in the people's republic of china, goddamn but I'd be stinking rich.

God hates human rights.

memo to self (1.50 / 4) (#36)
by eLuddite on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 03:50:08 PM EST

Do not make historical allusions in jest of Sino-American colonial foreign policy -- inxnay on theodore roosevelt and his cadre of dollar diplomats. Tabula fucking rasa.

Revised business plan: If I could sell a cuban banana to every man, woman and child of the united states, goddamn but I'd be stinking rich.

eLuddite Clothing Exporters, LLC. Our motto: It takes a flock of sheep to clothe a herd of people.

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Racial slurs (1.20 / 5) (#39)
by farl on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 04:00:35 PM EST

Racial slurs show your true ignorance. Grow up, learn some tolerance, and understand that some things are NOT funny. They just make you look stupid.

[ Parent ]
Re: Racial slurs (2.20 / 5) (#41)
by eLuddite on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 04:06:18 PM EST

What racial slurs? Is it ok if I just slur holier-than-thou idiots who feel compelled to accuse people from out of the depths of their own ignorance?

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

How about... (1.20 / 5) (#42)
by farl on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 04:10:12 PM EST

mao-pajama wearing adult male

That's not a slur?

[ Parent ]
Is it? (3.00 / 1) (#43)
by darthaggie on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 04:34:16 PM EST

mao-pajama wearing adult male

That's not a slur?

Is it a slur? or merely a commentary upon the popularity of "mao-pajama"'s??

You're presuming facts not readily in evidence.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

mao pajamas (none / 0) (#93)
by streetlawyer on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 06:07:46 AM EST

Since Mao jackets are not pajamas, and since they are not worn in China by anyone other than the poorest manual labourers, it's an ignorant stereotype, I'm afraid.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Re: How about... (4.75 / 4) (#44)
by eLuddite on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 04:48:22 PM EST

Here are some of the things you dont know:

(1) Fashion as a force of culture here as elsewhere. China, even.

(2) The extent and historical influence of Mao's rule on every aspect of China's cultural life even as far as today. Proper Chinese Communists (as opposed to traitors) entertained a dress code that was de rigeur then and which remains part of China's dress vernacular now.

(3) The history and raison d'etre of the American Open Door Policy in China. Begin with this historical document. Its executive summary is:

A very valuable document, Commercial China in 1899, has been issued by the Bureau of Statistics of the Treasury Department at Washington, and gives in a concise and intelligible form the main facts and prospects of the situation. A wide dissemination of this pamphlet is earnestly to be desired; and every factor is to be encouraged that brings home to American manufacturers and merchants the opportunity that awaits them,--an opportunity that, by a wise foreign policy and far-sighted commercial methods, can add immensely to our trade and to our international influence.
Lots of interesting links at http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/to1914.htm.

(4) Fashion as a force of consumer manipulation.

(5) Evidently you have never seen a loop of film which pans across a crowd of Chinese peasants, that sector of Chinese society which constitutes 9 of every 10 people.

You're welcome.

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Hiding behind your ignorance (2.00 / 4) (#48)
by farl on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 05:30:52 PM EST

Every slur tends to have some basis in fact. Or to put it another way, every slur phrase comes from something that is based in fact. In the case that you gave about fashion, that is true. The slur is based on fashion.

It is still a slur however. When you take a statement and use it in different context, or as a snide comment, it is a SLUR. Trying to hide behind your education makes you look not only stupid, but the holier-than-tho and oh-my-god-look-how-clever-i-am attitude reveals your lack of maturity. Grow up. Learn tolerance. Try not to perpetuate hatred. Be a bit more aware of how your statements might be taken, especially in a written format.

[ Parent ]
Re: Hiding behind your ignorance (2.50 / 2) (#50)
by eLuddite on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 05:38:17 PM EST

Next time I need lessons on how to defend my ego by trivializing racism, I'll be sure to call on you.

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Good response there (1.00 / 3) (#51)
by farl on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 05:40:29 PM EST

Nice way to show off an educated sense of argument.

[ Parent ]
No, SFB, it's not... (2.66 / 6) (#45)
by l33th4x0r on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 04:52:22 PM EST

No, it's not. Overly-sensitive, politically-correct, tattle-tail petulant crybaby, now, THAT's a slur...

[ Parent ]
SFB? (1.20 / 5) (#49)
by farl on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 05:32:56 PM EST

what is SFB?

[ Parent ]
Shit For Brains (3.00 / 4) (#55)
by zek93 on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 06:40:52 PM EST

I won't comment on whether that applies to you.

[ Parent ]
Chinese attire... (none / 0) (#76)
by Perianwyr on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 11:24:58 AM EST

Mao pajamas are out of fashion- cheap polo shirts and slacks are the thing.

[ Parent ]
Just say no to suits (3.50 / 2) (#22)
by tnt on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 02:15:21 PM EST

I refuse to work anywhere that requires me to wear a suit. (I am a Software Engineer BTW.) Usually, I wear jeans and a t-shirt. Sometimes a sweather. I am glad that most companies (that I've been in contact with), that do software development, do not have a dress code.

I know it is not rational, but when I see someone wearing a suit, they somehow seems fake. Dressing in you normal clothes seems more honest.

     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
  Kuro5hin user #279

Need for a suit (none / 0) (#100)
by lavaforge on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 04:35:51 PM EST

Maybe the suit is needed to dehumanize workers. As much as I hate to say it, most corporations view employees as little more than extensions of themselves, as if the corporation itself has developed a sort of quasi-life. Therefore, when a customer talks to a sales rep, the corp. doesn't want the customer to remember Bill sales rep, they want the customer to remember JIMCO inc. The suit makes this easier by allowing a degree of anonymity and conformity amongst employees, almost making them interchangable.
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." -- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut
[ Parent ]
This is why I like my job (2.00 / 1) (#24)
by RangerBob on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 02:24:40 PM EST

We can pretty much wear whatever we want to here within reason. It's probably one of the few things that keeps me here (other than the fact that I have no set schedule as long as I put in 8/40). I usually come in with a tshirt, jeans, and my Reebok's :) I seriously doubt that I'd ever work for a place that requires a suit and tie. Clothing shouldn't matter, it's the person that should make the difference. But, well, I think most people are still much more impressed by the wrapping than by the package.

Casual clothing isn't so bad, some of mine is actually more comfortable than the jeans and tshirt combo. I'd come in with slacks and a sports shirt more often, but I don't have enough of them to keep from running to the cleaners all the time.

Men Vs. Women (4.00 / 4) (#26)
by reshippie on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 02:37:06 PM EST

What I've found, at least in formal business offices, is that women get more leeway than men. This is both cool and stupid, for both.

It's cool for guys, cause we don't really have to worry too much about what we wear. Mon-Thurs, shirt and tie (maybe a suit), Friday, you can dress down (usually). Though it sucks, 'cause you're very limited in your choices. Really you only choose the color of your tie/shirt/pants.

Women have more of a choice, they can wear pants, or a skirt, or different types of shirts. With all of the those choices, though, they have to figure out what they want to wear, and what would be appropriate.

I find it funny, though, that guys will wear their suit jackets to work, and leave them on a chair all day. I don't get that. I also don't understand the policy many places have of business casual in the summer. If it's ok for the summer, why isn't it ok all year round?

Maybe it's just because I resent having to wear a tie. I don't actually see anybody, and even if I did, it would be people at other banks, so how I dress really doesn't matter.

Those who don't know me, probably shouldn't trust me. Those who do DEFINITELY shouldn't trust me. :-)

Sometimes. (4.50 / 2) (#47)
by sparkles on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 05:27:59 PM EST

I've worked at two companies that had a skirts/dresses only policy for women. No pants. Ever. In Colorado. One company gave it up very quickly following a vehement protest. The other kept the policy, through thick, through thin, and through the blizzard that resulted in several employees, in business attire, walking two miles down the middle of a highway in the driving snow.

Overall, though, the reason that women can wear traditionally male clothes (pants) and not the other way around is that society in general tends to apply negative traits to traditionally female characteristics.

That's why athletic coaches call their male charges 'ladies' and 'girls' when they want to rile them up. That's why 'pussy' and 'sissy' refer to weakness. And that's why women can wear pants but men can't wear dresses. Generally speaking, that is.

[ Parent ]

There is a theory... (4.33 / 3) (#29)
by greyrat on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 02:58:09 PM EST

...which I heard on NPR, that dress codes tighten during hard economic times and loosen during easy times.

Take for example the relaxed 20s versus the uptight 30s and 40s. Or the laid back (for some, including me) 60s and early 70s versus the much more formal (for some, including me) late 70s and 80s.

It may well be a cyclic thing. And boy does it look like we'd better stock up on suits and ties!

"Everything in life is unusual until you get accustomed to it." -- L. Frank Baum

~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

Celestica (3.00 / 1) (#31)
by k5er on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 03:15:03 PM EST

I work at Celestica and they have a "cool" policy when it comes to dressing. If you work in an area such as Public Relations where you deal with customers you have to be dressed casually (khaki pants/ shirt), if you work in the manufacturing department you can wear whatever you want. The execs always wear suits or dress casual.
Long live k5, down with CNN.
Shhhhh!!! (3.50 / 2) (#33)
by jd on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 03:28:34 PM EST

Don't let the PHB know that it's not the jacket that does the work. They might get scared, going into meetings, if they realised that they were the ones who had to think!

elencho's fashion tips (4.86 / 15) (#34)
by elenchos on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 03:39:43 PM EST

If your tie is restricting your airflow and circulation, or even is just a little bit uncomfortable, try this trick I learned: pull on the knot and slide it down further, thus enlarging the size of the loop it forms around your neck. What I'm getting at here is that the tie's tightness or looseness is almost infinitely adjustable, from zero all the way up to a loop the circumference of the tie's entire length, minus the amount taken up by the knot of course. So somewhere in that range, you can find a size that does not actually squeeze you neck. Try it! You'll be pleasantly amazed.

But wait! Still not comfortable? Let's look to the next possible culprit: the shirt collar. Many guys unbutton the top button of their shirt to give themselves some "breathing room," thus unfortunately giving themselves the "hassled look." A fashion no-no, gentlemen; better to take your tie off completely. Who wants to look like other people make you wear your clothes? The collar thing is not as easy to fix as the tie thing, because if takes planning. When you purchase your shirts, plan to wear them. This means that they should fit-- and fit in every way, not just having sleeves that go past your watch. So when you try on your shirt before you buy it (you do try them on don't you?) and find one whose collar feels the least bit tight on you, this is a sign. A sign from Above, that Little Baby Jesus put that shirt there for some other guy's neck, not yours. Keep at it until you find one that actually fits. Yes, this is the holy grail of buying clothes that will make you look sharp and feel good too. They must fit. To find clothes that fit, you must try them on.

If you do these things, never again will your brain lose oxygen because you have tied a piece of cloth around you shirt collar. You could still pass out for some other reason, but that is not a fashion issue.


An alternative tight-colar tip. (4.71 / 7) (#40)
by greyrat on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 04:05:04 PM EST

The photographer at my wedding had this suggestion: If your collar is too tight, instead putting the button through the button hole, get a tiny rubber band (like then one some people have on their braces). Use this to form a loop from collar button throught the collar button hole and back to the collar button. Now your collar is held in place, but can still expand. And your tie can be strategically tighened just enough to cover up the alteration!

Q: How many CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four. Three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.

~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
Klaustrophobia (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by Per Abrahamsen on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 05:36:40 AM EST

I suspect "breathing room" is psycological, not physical.

The collar doesn't make it hard to breath, but it give a weak klaustrophobic or "I'm about to get hanged" feeling. I admit that it look best closed, but it really is an uncomfortable feeling.

[ Parent ]
the weight of the tie (none / 0) (#92)
by streetlawyer on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 06:05:59 AM EST

is also a factor, in that a heavy tie will tend to be a discernible pressure on the Adam's apple, not actually impeding bloodflow, but giving a subtle feeling of being strangled. It can be useful -- I always wear a large knot in a heavy silk if I'm going into a meeting where I know I will be tempted to talk too much.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Here's what I learned (none / 0) (#77)
by tzanger on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 11:29:12 AM EST

But wait! Still not comfortable? Let's look to the next possible culprit: the shirt collar. Many guys unbutton the top button of their shirt to give themselves some "breathing room," thus unfortunately giving themselves the "hassled look."

From "the things you don't learn from your Mom" department: If you have to unbutton the top button to feel comfortable your shirt's necksize is too small.

I didn't know this until I went to a tailor to get measured up for a decent ($600) suit... After he measured me up he told me to put on one of the shirts he had nearby... I didn't do up the top button and he asked me why so I told him that the top button always made me feel constricted. He asked me to do it up and try it anyway. No breathing problem and no constriction. Hell even with the tie on it felt great!

I'll never know whether Mom didn't tell me that because she wanted me to get out of my good clothes right away after church or if she just didn't want to buy me more clothes... :-)

[ Parent ]
the reason for wearing suits... (3.83 / 6) (#37)
by steven on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 03:55:39 PM EST

Everyone knows the real reason for wearing suits is to make oneself more attractive to women - the 'pimpage' factor of a good suit.

As for the suit and shirt, etc, not fitting correctly - go spend a bit more and buy a tailor made suit. They look good no matter what, and with a few different shirts and ties, you can have a new look for every day of the week! :) Not to mention the envy of everyone wearing a poor fitting, off-the-hanger-onto-the-body suit.


tailored vs. off-the-hanger (none / 0) (#54)
by Mr. Excitement on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 06:27:03 PM EST

Unless, of course, one is lucky enough to have an "average" build, in which case one can look pretty decent in a generic suit...

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
[ Parent ]
Suits (none / 0) (#88)
by odaiwai on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:22:00 AM EST

Even if you are 'average' build, a tailor made suit is great. I had one made for my wedding. The colour I wanted, the material I wanted, the style I wanted (no lapels, nehru style collar) and a perfect fit. Very easy to wear and much, much more confortable than any off the shelf one.

-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]
fallacy (4.00 / 1) (#91)
by streetlawyer on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 06:03:34 AM EST

An average build will still look shit in an offthepeg suit, unless you also have arms like a weightlifter, because the armholes are cut for fat people.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
k. (none / 0) (#96)
by Mr. Excitement on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:39:03 PM EST

ok. "Average build with fat arms", then. ;)

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
[ Parent ]
Average build? (none / 0) (#99)
by lavaforge on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 04:29:52 PM EST

What is the average build?
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." -- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut
[ Parent ]
Average build (none / 0) (#103)
by Mr. Excitement on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 05:38:29 PM EST

Average build, n.

1. Any body type that fits decently into an off-the-hanger suit without undue alteration (either to suit or body), except the arms of the suit, which are too wide. Not to be confused with average-build-and-thick-arms (q.v.)

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
[ Parent ]

What suits are for. (4.00 / 3) (#52)
by sparkles on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 05:53:31 PM EST

They're to indicate that you don't need shoes you can walk in or clothes you can wash. It's antiquated monkey language for 'I can kick your ass.'

However, I've noticed something in several of the companies I've worked at. The 'suit' marker has turned itself around, and only administrative people have to dress up for work.

Sure, upper management will throw on a suit if clients are in the office (sometimes), and sales people dress up, but for the most part, business dress indicates a lower social status in mahy companies now. Not that this is any better a situation than the original. It's just funny to see it turned around.

As far as I'm concerned, if you're a generic "businessman" as portrayed in old sitcoms, clip art, and certain inspired Kids in the Hall skits, you have to wear a suit. If, however, you have a job that requires a lot of thinking and creativity and hard work--whether it's a blue- or white-collar job--you should dress the way you're comfortable (within reason). I have a standard uniform I wear pretty much every day. My clothes are comfortable and easy to maintain, so I don't have to worry about dry cleaning or ironing or putting them together so they match. Eliminating these tasks in my daily life provides me with more time to do my job and to live my life (which is a necessary complement to 'doing my job').

Business dress doesn't make me any more a cog in the machine or a sheep than having a job in the first place does. That's not why I hate it. I hate it because it's uncomfortable and expensive, and it makes me look funny.

Casual for us, formal for everybody else = dumb (4.20 / 5) (#56)
by driptray on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 08:02:22 PM EST

For what I do, I do not believe that wearing a Shirt-n-Tie is necessary, because I do not interact face-to-face with any of my clients....My boss however, needs the full suit, He travels a lot and meets our clients in person. Without the "look" of a suit, our clients (who spend LOTS of money) would not take him as seriously as they do. Suits provide a form of confidence in the person.

The idea that "suits are needed to impress clients, but casual clothes are otherwise OK" is the norm these days, but it doesn't make sense.

It reminds me of the rationalisations white people used to make when the first black person moved into their neighbourhood - "I'm not racist, but I'm going to have to move out. Property values will go down, and I'm just being prudent in protecting my financial interests."

Property values probably did go down, but if everybody in the neighbourhood genuinely wasn't racist then they wouldn't have. In other words, everybody claimed not to be racist, but that all their neighbours were. Somebody had to be lying.

So, the employees of my company are intelligent enough to deal with people dressed in casual clothes, but our customers and clients? No way! They need to see suits! Meanwhile our customers and clients are saying exactly the same things in their own companies.

Nobody thinks they need suits to impress their own employees, just everybody else's employees. Somebody's lying.

We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
The Female Businessgirl. (5.00 / 8) (#57)
by clarioke on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 08:03:41 PM EST

I'll give it to you; guys' business suits can be pretty silly. But I'd trade you. It's been mentioned that women have more leeway with "business casual" but less of a uniform, so it is left up to us to decide. Since there is less of a uniform, it's difficult for someone who doesn't want a "power suit" style to find something remotely flattering.

And then there's the irreverent uselessness of the clothing.

  • The shoes. High heels? Please, please, let me toddle around in uncomfortable shoes. This is a good idea... why?
  • The nylons. Rip if you walk within a ten foot radius of a twig, last two wearings and cost $5.
  • The skirt. Just plain difficult to find something that isn't too long, too short, too big or too small.
  • The shirt. Same problem.
  • Hair/face. For whatever weird reason, people expect me to put my hair up when it's longer than my shoulders. At least pull it back. I don't understand. People also take note when I wear makeup. I hate makeup and don't need it, therefore I shouldn't wear it.

I'd rather be able to wear pants and a shirt that looks good. I think it's easier for a guy to find a suit that's flattering than it is for a girl to find a suit or business apparel that's flattering.

Then again, I'm just more comfortable in jeans and a tshirt and sweater, so when I'm uncomfortable in how I look, or if I find myself spending too much time worrying about how I look, that discomfort and disgust comes across to whomever I'm working with.

My solution? Wear a lot of black. Done tastefully, it can work; I'm comfortable, I'm not spending more than ten minutes getting dressed, and Outside People are happy, too.

I suppose currently working in an environment that requires simply for me to be decent works, too.


Suit-Wearing Considered Harmful (3.50 / 2) (#58)
by the Epopt on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 09:00:34 PM EST

Those of you who dislike suits so much should refuse to take jobs that require suits! Suits are the insignia of a particular type of corporate employee, and you do not want to be -- and should not be -- mistaken for members of that class.

As other comments point out, suit-wearing makes a statement. It indicates that the wearer is willing to abide by arbitrary rules and is willing to spend more money on his garb than necessary. It indicates whether or not the wearer is willing to go to the trouble to get a properly tailored suit of the proper fabric weight for the current weather, and of course the cut and material indicates financial status.

But don't underestimate the importance of that statement! The business culture depends on it to a surprising degree. Wearing a suit unnecessarily has two unintended consequences. Firstly, those who should not wear suits often don't know how to get an appropriate suit that fits, and so they are uncomfortable and look even worse than if they wore their usual, casual garb. Secondly, unnecessary suits add noise to the signal that suit-wearing sends, which is that of corporate class membership.

The suit-wearing class, of course, consists of those who have proven that they can be trusted with the responsibility and authority to make decisions. Those who object to wearing suits cannot be trusted with such autonomy and must be given assignments that exploit their highly-specialized, narrow ranges of skills. Confusing these two classes would result in embarrassment at least, financial disaster at worst.
Most people who need to be shot need to be shot soon and a lot.
Very few people need to be shot later or just a little.


Whatever. . . (3.50 / 2) (#62)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 10:51:12 PM EST

It [wearing a suit] indicates that the wearer is willing to abide by arbitrary rules and is willing to spend more money on his garb than necessary.
Dunno where you last shopped for suits, but where I buy them they cost about $5 each, same as the blue jeans. The only difference is that for some reason it is much easier for me to find a suit that fits in the thrift store than to find a pair of jeans that fits.

[ Parent ]
Uhm. (none / 0) (#64)
by antizeus on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 12:02:17 AM EST

The suit-wearing class, of course, consists of those who have proven that they can be trusted with the responsibility and authority to make decisions. Those who object to wearing suits cannot be trusted with such autonomy and must be given assignments that exploit their highly-specialized, narrow ranges of skills.
That may be true in certain areas. I've recently been placed in charge of the development of one of my company's two main software products. Guess what I wear to work? Shorts, t-shirt, tennis shoes. Of course, I work for a small company. You should probably have qualified your statement.
[ Parent ]
I've never had to wear a suit to work. (none / 0) (#59)
by hotcurry on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 09:36:35 PM EST

When you're a computer geek, you don't have to wear suits, unless you work for an investment firm. And from what I hear, those jobs are awful.
You gotta ask yourself, why would they want me to wear a suit? If you can't come up with a good reason, then it can only be for a stupid reason. And that means you're dealing with a stupid employer. And stupid bosses are no fun to work for.

School uniforms in public schools (3.50 / 2) (#63)
by mami on Tue Mar 13, 2001 at 11:38:34 PM EST

Considering that some kids almost kill each other for some designer clothes or wear specific ones to show gang affiliation, I am not that upset about the request for dress codes or school uniforms. Italy has uniforms for their kids in their public schools. Nevertheless the Italians are the best fashion designers and love to wear beautiful and comfortable clothes all the time.

I sometimes wished they had uniforms for U.S. public schools. Kids had less incentives to shop lift clothes, parents less expenses. It also would have a nice side effect. After the kids are thoroughly fed up wearing a uniform at school, they really enjoy and appreciate their freedom to "to wear what they want" much more, when they are out of school and in their leasure time.

But the Americans have sometimes awful strict standards for women at work. Including rules for hair and makeup, they often even tell you to SMILE. :-) For some strange reasons they always remind you of that, when you are in an elevator with your boss, so it's darn difficult to ignore it.

I think, in the unlikely event I would ever have a saying in setting up dress codes for a company, I would definitely include the rule for men not to demand from women to smile. It's just too dangerous.

I used to share some of your opinions (4.72 / 11) (#65)
by ghjm on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 01:13:15 AM EST

I used to think of a suit and tie in much the same terms as the bullet list in this article: restrictive, uncomfortable, impractical and unnecessary.

Then I visited Hong Kong on business and, while there, stopped in at a custom tailor. I didn't exactly intend to spend money, I was just there for the tourist value. Well, all I can say is don't walk into a shop in Hong Kong expecting to walk out without buying anything. You aren't good enough to get away with it. They took more measurements and money from me than I was previously aware of posessing, and promised to ship me some suits and shirts. I spent the flight home alternating between berating myself over my stupidity and frantically trying to invent increasingly complex and unlikely schemes by which I could hide the credit card expense from my wife.

A couple weeks later, the suits show up, so I figure what the hell - I might as well wear one to work. I work at a "dot com" startup so there's a wild mix of clothing; on any given day, some people are meeting with customers, and other people aren't. So wearing a suit isn't a "sore thumb" sort of thing - people will just assume you have a bit meeting or whatever.

I'm not sure which was the more startling revelation, #1 - that a well-tailored suit is *incredibly* comfortable, or #2 - the reaction you get from other people. I guess I'll take them in order.

First, the comfort factor. All those problems with the sleeves riding up and the elbows feeling wierd and the tie cutting off your circulation etc etc etc - they aren't problems with suits, they're problems with BAD suits. Conversely, putting on a GOOD suit is a sensual experience not to be missed. I get up and walk around just for the pure feel of it. Don't get me wrong - I'm 100% geek, not some kind of bizarre clothing fetishist - but DAMN. All I can say is, you have to try it.

Which brings us to the second point - all those "people skills" problems, like political opposition to my projects, lack of a fair hearing for what I want to say, etc, etc--in other words, all the things we geeks complain about but the slick sales-drone types just walk right past--well, they all just sort of evaporated. When you're wearing a really nice suit, people stop what they're doing and LISTEN. It's truly amazing. It doesn't work with everyone (though I'm running about 85%), and I don't think it's intentional - it just seems to be an ingrained social reflex of our culture.

So, in conclusion - before you condemn the instution of "the suit" you really need to try wearing a GOOD suit. It's unbelievable.

GOOD suit? (none / 0) (#98)
by lavaforge on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 04:18:43 PM EST

If I have the choice between a $900 suit and an outfit consisting of sandals, cured leather pants and a leather tunic, I'll take the second any day. Not only is it more comfortable, but it smells better and in the left-field line of work that I'm in, peope expect things like that.
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." -- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut
[ Parent ]
Promises (3.50 / 2) (#66)
by inpHilltr8r on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 03:24:13 AM EST

I made myself a couple of promises before I entered the world of work. One was never to have to wear a suit to work. The other was never to have to learn COBOL.

I only broke the suit promise once, but I had been out of work for a while, and it only took a couple of months of not ironing my shirt before my boss relented.

These days, if I showed up at work in a suit, everyone would think I was some sort of gimp...;)

So far I've kept the COBOL promise.

Casual Fridays (4.00 / 3) (#68)
by jesterzog on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 05:49:35 AM EST

This story is quite ironic for me, because last Friday I was having a discussion with my boss about casual Fridays. I'm lucky enough to work at a small company where we're all very casual. Even the accountants dress down, and actively make a big thing of how silly dressing up is, too.

When I see casual Fridays, when people are allowed to dress down for one day a week, I can't help but think of it as letting the rats out of the cage for a day to run around the house.

I don't mean to say that employees are rats, but to me when I see casual Fridays in a company, it makes me think that that's how they're seeing their employees.

So I guess that companies should either be making employees dress up all the time, or letting them wear whatever they want to all the time (even if within certain boundaries, such as making sure you're reasonably tidy.)

Having one day of the week as a reward when people don't have to dress up, strikes me as pretty stupid. It's negative reinforcement (is that the term?) because it's implying that suits etc aren't really needed. The followup to this is that it's like continually whipping people and stopping whipping them momentarily as a reward.

I honestly can't think of any reason to work for someone who would treat me in that way - especially when I'm an asset to them.

For the record, I probably wouldn't work for somewhere that would force me to wear a suit all the time, either.. but it's not for entirely the same reason. I'm glad this story came up, because I think now I'll put it down on my list of interesting things to ask about the next time I go for a job interview. (Hopefully no time soon.)

jesterzog Fight the light

But casual dress is a PRIVILEGE <G>. (4.00 / 3) (#70)
by randomname on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 08:43:45 AM EST

I remember reading an article a year or so back about things management could do to retain technical staff without doing silly things like paying competitive wages. One "popular" idea was to give employees an exemption to the dress code--it costs nothing, and IT-types supposedly place high value on the sense of freedom that it provides. That latter part is true, but if managers really perceive their workers that way, then there is a problem. As a tech, I have to get on the floor to work on computers, haul systmes around, and occasionally chase cabling through a vent or two. If management can't see the practical, job-related reasons for the dress code, then they're failing in their jobs.

Another thing that I can't stand are the companies who demand a mode of dress that employees can't afford on the salary they're getting. The $20K/year Cobol programmers that one company had wearing suits every day kept disappearing after a month. Wonder why? Even worse was this one company that allowed employees to purchase the "right" to wear casual clothes during the annual charity drive. Ugh.

I used to think that dressing professionally was just, well, the professional thing to do. Since then, though, I've come to the opinion that it's an unfounded "I had to do it, so now you have to" mentality at work. Janitors don't have to wear suits, and I spend nearly as much time cleaning up after users as they do. That's not how I see myself, but if others do, then no clothing upgrade is going to change that.

the clothes don't make the employee. (none / 0) (#71)
by chopper on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 09:56:05 AM EST

we used to have a dress code. it wasn't much, decent pants and a button down shirt for guys (no tie required) and i don't know what for women.

we also used to have "casual friday" but then they switched over to an all-casual-every-day dress code. and our quality of work has not changed a bit. everbody's happpier.

basically, now i can dress however i want. jeans, t-shirt (if its a nice tshirt, i.e. that MDC shirt aint gonna cut it)

of course, i'm left behind because i have to wear long sleeves to cover up the tattoos. snuh.

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish

Suits are good, and the origin of the tie... (4.00 / 2) (#72)
by Paradocis on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 10:07:45 AM EST

As another has already commented, while (off the rack) suits may be uncomfortable, they do have the effect of making people take you seriously. Whether this is simply something from tradition or something a little more archetypal, we may never know, but my theory is this: Suits, ties, nice shoes, etc. cost money. To get money, you (supposedly) must be competent and successful at whatever it is you do. Therefore something said by someone in a suit is regarded as coming from a competent\expert source. If you look at the psychological principles of persuasion (the big three: percieved expertise, attractiveness, and trustworthiness), a suit starts to make alot more sense. Now on to part two:

Tie: Of all the items, this is the lease comprehensible. Possible uses include strangulation, restriction of blood and airflow, a handy tie in case you need to rope a steer, and other inane uses.

If I'm not mistaken, the necktie originated in the renaissance from european merchants travelling across the middle east to get spices. It was originally used to wipe away sweat. Sort of like a wearable hand-kerchief. Of course, I could be wrong, but that's what I remember from a high school history class many years ago.

"Being well adapted to a sick society is no sign of health" - Krishnamurti

"El sueño de la razon produce monstruos." -Goya

Another story on the origins of the tie. (none / 0) (#87)
by steven on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:00:14 AM EST

According to a male fashion magazine i bought the other day, ties originated in the 1600's. Some Croats killed a bunch of Turks, and (We're not told why) went to King Louis XIV for their winner's payment.

For some reason, they wore their silk handkerchiefs around their neck. Louis was impressed, and made the tie a symbol of royalty. I'm not sure how true this is, but It sounds good. :)


[ Parent ]

the actual reason for the tie (none / 0) (#90)
by streetlawyer on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 05:58:55 AM EST

This has very little to do with its historical development, but the purpose of the tie is to conceal a row of buttons.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
You more or less remember correctly (none / 0) (#95)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 09:35:12 AM EST

The only significant error is that the tie was originally an item of military apparel, not of merchants. I found a good web page, DID YOU KNOW CROATS INVENTED NECK TIES ?, that goes into a good bit of detail.

[ Parent ]
Why do we have ties? (none / 0) (#97)
by lavaforge on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 04:04:36 PM EST

It was stated that: If I'm not mistaken, the necktie originated in the renaissance from european merchants travelling across the middle east to get spices. It was originally used to wipe away sweat. I was taught that the tie was derived from the French cravate, which was used as a tourniquet during battle. I, however, could be the one that is mistaken. Oh well, a little creative fashion and a Nehru collar will keep you from ever having to wear one.
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." -- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut
[ Parent ]
Pockets! (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by Paul Johnson on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 10:34:39 AM EST

I can sympathise with the author's dislike of a jacket (aka "coat") in a warm climate, but suits evolved in cooler climes.

The real advantage of the jacket is the pockets. Two outside for keys, ID badges and other junk you need to keep handy. One outside breast for cellphone or pager, two inside breast for wallet and PDA. It also makes you look less like a refugee from the FBI when you wear your Eholster.

(And yes, I do wear one under my jacket if I need to travel by public transport)

You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

I feel your pain... (none / 0) (#74)
by MachineSquad on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 11:05:55 AM EST

I may not live in a "warmer" climate (I live in Ontario) but I too dislike the need for business attire if I will never meet clients.

I wear shorts all year round (yes even in the winter), and I think my productivity would shoot the roof if I didn't have to wear these damn pants.

As for pockets? Wear cargo shorts. I love having like 6 pockets, right there, easy access.
Seriously though, we're gonna need some liquor.
quite fortunate... (none / 0) (#78)
by Mr Tom on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 12:43:57 PM EST

I'm quite lucky here. When in the office, casual is the way. Usually this means combats and a long-sleeved T-shirt. Although if I'm on a client site (yes, I am a telecom consultant. kill me now) then it's a suit. Which is a good thing, IMHO.

Mainly because suits are a great equaliser - everyone looks the same! (Well, give or take) That and it puts one in the right frame of mind for the job - since 90% of client-side work is gloss. ;-)

Although the one thing I really hated was dress-down Fridays, on-site. Where "business casual" was the rule. Fuck that - what's the point of having a dress code that is essentially "scruffy, yet still a hassle"?

Of course, give it a couple more decades, when those with the real money will be the jeans'n'tshirt wearers of today, and, ummm, nothing will have changed! ;-)

-- Mr_Tom<at>gmx.co.uk

I am a consultant. My job is to make your job redundant.

The dreaded business casual (none / 0) (#104)
by Marquis on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 08:49:39 PM EST

I have to aggree with your succinct dismissal of business casual. Business casual defeats the point of having a dress code at work at all. Although in all fairness, my objection is not to business casual itself, but to most people's interpretation of business casual, which seems to be "slacks and a polo shirt". No one looks good dressed like that. When was the last time you told someone, "Hey, that polo shirt looks really good on you"? At any rate, I think that business casual should be utterly abolished. Businesses should either allow casual dress, or use business dress all the time, rather than some misbegotten hybrid of the two.
Sin is what is disliked by those who control education. -Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Realizing how lucky I am... (none / 0) (#84)
by hadashi on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 04:35:32 PM EST

I'm a consultant, and my day job is sendmail/mail system consulting; I also freelance computer security consulting on the side (provided it doesn't conflict with the day job).

When I'm at a client site I wear whatever they wear. Suit, casual, clown suit - hey, they pay the bills.

However, a lot of my engagements are remote; I log into their system without travelling to the site. The flexibility this provides is wonderful.

When I do go into the office (for my day job) I generally don't even bother with shoes; they don't care, and I don't like them.

I've had jobs in the past that required the 9-5, dress up mentality. Reading this has made me remember how lucky I am to be in my current situation.

-- If the .sig fits...

Thank god for small companies (none / 0) (#89)
by krissyboy on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 05:55:22 AM EST

I work in a small belgian company and never have to meet any of our clients. I go to work any way I want. I can put on think geek T-shirts, T-shirts from punk bands, baggy shorts, I write on my shoes nobody cares. Damn, I even die my hair - orange is the current color... Yet when I talk management takes me seriously, cause they know I'm good at what I do and that I can be trusted. They do not ask my advice in business or other management matters, and I cannot give that to them. I have only expertise in techy stuff but they listen and they take it... So I am one lucky kid. I know and I also know that I could not work any other way, it would make me too uneasy, unhappy and would devaluate my worth to the company. I'm not saying this to have my moment of glory, like: hey I did not sell out or anything. No it's rather sad that I can only function to the best of my abbilities under this conditions. That I will not make as much money this way as I could by becoming a hot shot consultant for a major company... I do not care. My happiness is worth more to me than money! Yet there is a nice anecdote. Our small company is a daughter of a large one with 2000 employees. Now during last summer our offices were in the head office... One day I came to work in my flashy orange bermuda and colorful t-shirt. Later that day my direct boss got a phone call from the CEO of the company with the question "Can you ask that one guy not to dress so colorful in the future?". My boss laughed at it, but later that day he came to me and asked me to keep it quiet for a while, as long as we were sharing a building. Now, although they do not care, they care about what other people think... so it's a bit of a dual thing I guess... I became one of those people in the building everybody knows, girls laughed at the story "he looked like he was walking on the beach". Funny thing, those jokes came from girls with like 10 earrings, go figure... - insert some smart and witty here

Just business (none / 0) (#105)
by Frigido on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 10:08:33 AM EST

The suit things is just business. In this day and age, people will trust what you look like over what you say (example: Gore keeps changing appearence to improve poll results).

Personally, I like wearing a nice suit. I like to look good. While I am a geek, I do love to look nice (most of the time). I would like to have the flexability to wear business casual or a suit everyday. The dress would depend on the duties for that day. (i.e.-suit for meetings with collegues/clients...business casual when just working).

oh-well, i guess life isn't too bad when all i worry about is what to wear to work.

"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence."
-Albert Einstein

Monkey See - Monkey Do | 105 comments (99 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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