"Among the 'dos' and 'don’ts' for women: 'Make sure to touch up hair regrowth regularly if you color your hair.' Men are commanded to, 'Schedule barber appointments every four weeks to maintain your haircut shape.'
Neither sex is allowed to 'allow their underwear to appear,' wear short-sleeved shirts or, strangely, cuff links."
We all bought ridiculously-coloured suits (the bankers, being bankers, went along); the rules were pared back. Goldman Sachs has always had an antiquated dress code for people who will never come within fifty feet of a client.
When I was much younger I didn't understand the concept of people who never had to deal with clients having a dress code but now I sorta do: the company is trying to create or promote the concept that everyone in the company is a member of the same team and have more in common with each other than they do with outsiders. Whether or not this actually works I don't know, but that's the only thing that makes sense. Same reason I guess the military puts everyone in camo these days, even people well behind the front lines.
In an office setting, dress is better used as a signal than a driver. If your team isn't, over the years, picking up cues from one another then maybe there's a level of social bonding that you, as the manager, are neglecting to forment. (Or your team doesn't have to be that close to be effective.) Social psychology gives a lot away for free if you're halfway perceptive.
It would seem that as an American you refer to a white shirt - but what do you term that which I (as a Briton) would call a dress shirt? (Worn with evening, or the most formal of morning attire. That is, with your -ahem- tuxedo!)
I've been searching around (self-proclaimed) 'all American' clothing sites - it seems 'shirt' -> 'dress shirt', and 't-shirt' -> 'shirt'.
I suppose it makes sense that as a new garment starts to dominate it adopts the shorter name - I haven't really noticed it over here though, except with polo shirts, but even there I'd say the more common contraction is 'polo'.
If that's true then dressing well is pretty damn rational in general, and especially if money's on the line.
He never got OK with my habit of wearing jeans and T-shirts even as an adult because he couldn't grasp how different my experience was from his.
Also, over dressing can be as much of a problem as underdressing. If you came to a def interview at say Facebook in a suit, it could get awkward.
Black pants, white shirts. Works everywhere.
For example, people giving their talk wearing a suit at a scientific conference? Very high chance of bad science. If you do amazing research you don't need a suit to impress anyone, the ideas you present will be more than enough.
Fir myself, I don't know if I see it as that, but I certainly see it as an indicator that they might be the kind of person who judges /other people/ based on how they dress.
I don't care how you dress, but if you care how other people dress, I'm definitely judging you for that.
I work from home. I don't need effort and products to look like I just woke up.
As often as not, a well-cut sport coat and trousers play as higher status than a suit. It explicitly signals that you're dressing well by choice rather than diktat. Many semi-formal flourishes can carry this connotation - brown dress shoes, a knit tie, an oxford shirt or a flamboyant pocket square.
But the problem with a very strict dress code is that you don't feel being respected, you feel coerced.
There's some historical precedence there. Up until ~10-15 years ago the fakers and know-nothings used to always wear suits. They were the guys who pulled the purse strings, but had no clue.
Unfortunately, since then they've learnt to mimic the dress of their prey. So now instead of the "empty suit" you have an "empty hoodie".
When I was younger, I chafed. Now, I enjoy getting seated at that restaurant table before you.
It's just an observation that the more professional you look, the better you'll be treated. Yes, that's a fact. Yes, it's probably a sad commentary. And I rarely wear dress clothes - but I know when to, and I don't complain.
Anecdotally, I have worked at restaurants where we wouldn't seat people who were wearing denim, no matter how expensive it was.
In that situation, voluntarily following a dress code that you don't enjoy following is illogical. As illogical as taking a voluntary pay cut.
Too many people makes it about conformism or morality. But really it's giving too much credit to it: we are just making animal behavior very sophisticated. It's no use to blame or get angry, or it's good to just do like everyone else. Just make the best of it, it's the reality you live in. And if you want to change it, you need to see it for what it is anyway so starting by that is always a good step.
But if a company needs to use technics from the military, something is wrong. Life is not war.
Schools and sports teams also have uniforms, if that helps set your mind at ease...
Thanks for your opinion, but you are completely wrong. The military and commercial worlds have been cross-pollinating each other's organisational ideas for centuries. The fundamental problem is the same: one of coordinating large groups of people to achieve a common goal via a hierarchical structure.
It does still remain on of the US's largest jobs programs, though I'm not sure this is the goal of the military. It does make reducing military spending rather tricky since so many livelihoods depend on it.
Honestly, one of the things I absolutely love about tech/Silicon Valley is nobody cares at all how you dress.
Although, I noticed the sale force offices unofficial uniform:
Brown shoes brown belt designer jeans and some dry-cleaned blue shirt and a blazer...
"Look at how casually uniquely I conform to the office uniform!"
Not judging, I just thought it was funny...
LOL the "hoodie code" is 10x stronger than any suit code.
If you're even the slightest bit concerned with anything anyone is wearing, then you need to focus on something else.
Tell a suit wearer that they should dress casual tomorrow and they'll say OK. Tell a geek they have to wear a suit tomorrow and they'll freak out. Now tell me who cares more about clothes?
The suit wearer also has a closet full of casual clothes
The casual wearer will not have a line of suits - thus his freak out
What is the payscale between the both vs type of work and hours?
Would be great to get a map of all this
A hoodie-wearer at FB or Apple probably out-earns the majority of suit-wearers at Goldman - it is definitely not about money, just about attitude.
Sorry but it's highly unlikely.
Almost every VP I know in NYC/LDN makes less than a fresh grad at Google in the bay area.
I think it's mostly tribal signalling, " I am not a suit" kind of thing. Although never having to deal with dry cleaning is an incentive, too.
Things aren't quite as loose as you seem to think. If you want to see where the boundaries are, start gradually dressing more and more informally, and note when you start drawing criticism from your manager and senior coworkers. I expect you'll get more attention than you want if you were to come to work shirtless, say.
A team that includes everyone else outside the company in similar cloths?
"James Bond: Red wine with fish. Well that should have told me something."
Protip for interested readers: if you must wear a suit and are on a budget or confined by a dress code, try to pick one off the rack with the best fabric you can find. Take it to a tailor, which is not that expensive. Have the jacket cut to fit, and have the buttons on the sleeves altered to have actual buttonholes. As you are able to afford it, spend the same amount of money as the total cost of the suit on shoes, 2 shirts, and 3 ties. Learn about tie stripe patterns (which often have coded military or school affiliations, a sort of secret handshake); otherwise, fine ties that work with your hair or eye color. If you're not experienced or confident in shopping for clothes, get a friend who is. Woman often understand men's clothes better than men.
I'm not into suits and ties either, but when you have to wear them you might as well take comfort in knowing that you look good instead of feeling awkward.
What's the story here? All I know about dress shoes is that they're hideously uncomfortable and generally not blue suede.
It's an old UK social class signalling thing.
Only really applies to particularly stuffy organisations these days - but the do exist in the finance/legal worlds.
Meanwhile the president/CEO guy came wandering through the production gallows with our manager speaking about how next-round VCs were going to show up tomorrow for a looksee.
I asked my manager if we should dress up for that. The CEO threw his hands out and said, "No, no, no! Wear that penguin shirt and flip flops and shit. We are a start-up."
Economist Tyler Cowen makes another good argument for formal dress: it is a vehicle for social mobility. In a society that values formal dress, you can signal your intent to move up the social hierarchy by how you dress yourself. If you want to become an elite, then dress like one and people will take you seriously. But when the elites adopt casual dress in their professional lives, what is left are much more subtle and hard-to-adopt class signifiers: manners of speaking, interests, childhood experiences, travel, etc.
Yet another problem is that dressing "smart casual" is actually more difficult and expensive than wearing a suit. A suit is a great equalizer. A $2000 suit is not all that different than a $300 suit. And you can very easily get away with having only two or three suits. But smart casual is much more difficult, subtle, and expensive to pull off.
I wonder, if appearances matter that much, would your staff believe that they can be publicly wrong, admit mistakes, or take any risks that would lead to either scenario? Would they ever ask a question, when it signals they don't already know everything? It seems like once you take on such a formal dress code persona, the ethics of "serious business" might strangle your company's long term survival odds.
> In a society that values formal dress, you can signal your intent to move up the social hierarchy by how you dress yourself. If you want to become an elite, then dress like one and people will take you seriously.
IMO, when a peer dresses formally, I trust them less. It signals an endorsement that appearances matter more than results, and that promotion up the social ladders is important enough to you that you might end up screwing me over if given the chance.
Ideally, social mobility shouldn't rely on the promoting the richest person up to managers and executives.
I think we agree 100% on this point, no?
Actually, it makes me feel like I'm talking to a sales person. It is as if dressing up is used to conceal something about the intentions or shortcomings of the person. I probably don't explain it in the right way, but that is more or less the feeling it evokes.
There's this assumption of "universal reference" in social signals, so for me to be told that "wearing a suit puts you in a different frame of mind", as in one which makes you work/feel better about yourself is completely wrong...in the sense of what frame of mind it puts you in.
For me, a suit is the uniform of the con-man, the salesman, the fraud, the bludger, the twit. You put on a suit because you want to fool people who can't think rationally and they're incapable of making judgments except by what you look like through signals of conspicuous consumption.
Imagine being constantly told that you should dress in a uniform with such connotations to make yourself psychologically feel better/superior (especially compared to clothes that you have yourself chosen because they do make you feel better).
I've employed plenty of people, if anything those who were overly busy with how they looked tended to under-perform and used their dress as a way of compensation.
The NYT had an article on this recently: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/opinion/how-we-are-ruinin...
I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class.
Walk through, say, Boston's North End. It's like walking into Italy. There are old men sitting in front of cafés muttering in Italian about the way the young folk dress. There are fresh pizzas and sandwiches with their smells wafting through the air. The streets are narrow, mostly pedestrian, and cobbled, with few cars coming and going. And, yes, if you go into a deli in the North End, you can buy cured meats with Italian names.
This is not a wealthy neighborhood. There was a period of time in the past when Italian-Americans were the subject of quite a bit of prejudice and stereotyping. It's news to me that Italian culture is somehow "completely illegible" to the poor, and I can't help but feel that whatever point the author wanted to make is lost or perhaps flawed.
(Somebody will say that the North End is uniquely Italian. Sure, but I grew up on the West Coast and learned about Italian sandwiches from an Italian sandwich shop anyway, because Italian sandwiches are not somehow confined to a tiny corner of Boston. Again, what the utter fuck.)
The sandwich shop example is a little weak, but I agree with Brook's point. There is a cultural segmenting of American society into the top 20% and the rest, and it's a strong barrier to social mobility. At the college I attended, there was a clear social barrier between the kids from upper middle class urban families, and those from lower middle class suburbia. The differences in interests and life experiences were profound and hard to overcome. Ironically, the much derided fraternity system was one of the few effective measures for bridging that gap, by creating common experiences and a new shared identity.
_Is_ mocked mercilessly, and I don't think he's got the last of anything yet.
But my main problem with the idea in the article is:
> The problem is this: If everything is casual, what exactly do you do to show your seriousness?
> There isn’t such a simple way to visually demonstrate you are determined to join the ranks of the upwardly mobile. Looking smart on “casual Friday” may get you a better date, but the boss will not sit up and take notice.
You show this through professional accomplishments - deep and wide technical ability, doing your job well, being reliable, resolving problems others get stuck on, ending up as one of the people both coworkers and clients gravitate towards for advice/help with difficult problems and so on. This stuff gets noticed.
The author seems to hold the view that it should be possible to rise up by playing the game of workplace social dynamics and that the fact that this is difficult in our field compared to more traditional fields presents a problem. But is that really a bad thing?
He is likely not a software developer, but I've heard this "I don't know what I have to do to be taken more seriously" sentiment (only a couple of times) from people in SD. However those were people who were weaker technically but had a strong desire to get ahead, manage projects and people, etc. Their problem had nothing to do with discrimination based on social class and everything to do with discrimination of superficial and/or narrow professional knowledge. At most companies, expertise shows, and usually very quickly.
His "positive" example of China etc is:
> The young and ambitious really can set themselves apart from the slackers, even if doing so looks conformist and stifling when multiplied and observed on a larger scale. Societies of upward mobility, when based on large and growing business enterprises, look and feel somewhat oppressive. Much as many of us might not want to admit it, the casual and the egalitarian are closer to enemies than to allies.
But why would we even want the "young and ambitious" to set themselves apart through the way they dress or by conforming in other ways, and why would we want to decide who is a "slacker" based on that? People can set themselves apart by being exceptional at what they do. Nobody can claim this doesn't, overall, work very well in the software industry. The author is basically complaining about the lack of ability to advance in your career through superficial means.
If these big shady companies are immoral because of that time their operations slowed, imagine what would happen if you got your wish.
Not to mention that Goldman isn't even paying top of market. So your statement about greed is completely misguided.
Sell equities, buy treasuries.
context: see other comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14777935
I don't recall New York being much more casual, but it might have.
Back then, in NY, they put a foosball table on the 26th floor (IIRC) of 85 Broad St for the quants ("Strats"), in an effort to compete as an employer with the first dot.com boom (foosball = cool, right).
Once the tech bubble burst, the foosball table was gone pretty quickly though! :)
The London head office was in a listed art deco building on Fleet Street, beautifully renovated with a great gym and waterfall, quickly dubbed the "NASDAQ 5000 memorial waterfall"... (It only hit 5000 again in 2015)
Did put on a tie when making presentations to the desk, though.
Yeah dress codes for tech folk went out some time ago. Among the coders I spent time with, jeans and metal t-shirts were de-rigeur
Under the hoodies were expensive shirts and ties.
The picture had exactly the opposite effect of what it intended- it showed how fake and false the 'culture' they were portraying was.
Tech is IB land is billions of dollars, yet, the actual end delivery, the systems, the codebases, the platforms are of a far lower quality than most outside could ever suspect.
Bonus-driven development is partially to blame there though.
I remember reading Glassdoor to see what working for the company as a dev was like and most of them complained about how low the pay was compared to tech.
Maybe they should pay more for a wider talent pool?
Ideally, anyone could wear whatever they want whenever they want. In practice, it doesn't seem to work out this way, even at the tshirts and jeans companies.
What kind of company did you work for where this happened?
Banking salaries have been static for 10+ years. Bank internship salaries are designed to allure and impress but 5+ years in and the salary does not change.
On another note there are some startups who can pay very very well in London but they do not advertise these salaries.
Are tech companies open to hiring from different industries, like the ones listed above?
A year or so ago I received an offer from a well known quant hedge fund, I spoke to a google recruiter to see if they could match, to my surprise right there on the phone he told me they never get beat out and that they would beat the offer by 50k.
The hours are much better in tech, you get treated better, and at Facebook/Google/Amazon/other big tech firm you have less variance in pay.
You should seriously question your compensation if a recruiter is willing to top you up 50k without a second thought. Chances are you are severely underpaid.
They want you for as cheap as they can get you but if someone else is willing to pay more then almost always they can afford it.
I quit last year to look after my kids and do my own thing, although the decision was driven more by boredom than any desire for more pay.
There's this one guy high up in my company who I'm almost entirely convinced got his job because he wears nice suits and has an English accent. We have junior employees who know more about his area of speciality than he does.
Do you have any links for this? it sounds pretty bad, but I guess there are certain nuances to it?
I am just now realising that this case is still ongoing. That's crazy. A DA literally made it his mission to get the verdict reinstated:
'On April 4th, 2016, almost nine months after Aleynikov was acquitted by the NY Supreme Court, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office filed an appeal seeking to reinstate the guilty verdict'
Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I would not be surprised if Goldman kept applying pressure behind the scenes to ruin him.
Donation link to help fund appeal (his website): http://www.aleynikov.org
how's this not double jeopardy?
What I find more interesting is the following on the Manhattan DA's wikipedia:
'After Vance very publicly staged an accusation and spending 5 years and reportedly $10 million on prosecuting the Abacus Federal Savings Bank for larceny, the bank and its employees were found not guilty on all 80 charges. Despite its small size, the Chinese-American family-run bank was the only New York bank so charged during the Great Recession, despite Vance admitting that Citibank, among others, had behaved badly. The story is well told in Steve James' feature-length documentary, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, September 11, 2016.'
n=2 is not much but there is at least initial indication of a pattern where this DA is very specifically seeking cases where he is in a much better position (more manpower, resources) than the prosecuted party to win. Going after the little guy. Nice.
There's never anything wrong with looking the best you can. There are far worse things to be known for.
I can't recall being in any work situation since the 80's where dressing up was even a good idea. I mean, wearing suit, tie etc would identify you as being non-technical and hence not worth listening to.
Fascinating to hear that there are still workplaces with dress rules in 2017.
The reality is that the effects of the industry's arrogance have simply shifted form over the years. You think being able to dress in shorts and thongs at work is a measure of being respected ("recognition that the quality of our work isn't measured by how we dress") but that's simply not true.
There are very few successful companies where more than a very small handful of technical people are listened to or respected.