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Why don't developers dress better? (kellysutton.tumblr.com)
63 points by kellysutton on Sept 28, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 170 comments

I hate ties and collared shirts in general. Any wedding or other formal event where I have to wear a suit, I'm constantly tugging at my neck and ripping off my tie within 5 seconds of getting back in my car to drive home after the event. I have no idea why Steve Jobs wore his ubiquitous turtleneck, but I'd like to think the fact that it was a lot more comfortable than a shirt and tie was one of the reasons.

Also if I'm at any sort of business or social event and someone is comes up to me and says something like: "Hey bro, I've been sitting on this great idea for a startup that I came with when I got my MBA at Oswego College, and I need a cofounder. Here, sign this NDA and I can tell you about it. Okay fine, don't sign the NDA, bro. It's called 'Fratastic.com,' it's like frat-oriented humor videos. It's gonna totally be the next youtube, it's ridiculous how much money it's gonna make, bro. I have the domain name and everything, I just need someone to actually do all the coding and I'll do the marketing, bro. How does 4% equity sound to you?"

... well, that person is almost always wearing a shirt, coat, and tie.

So why would I want to dress up beyond a t-shirt and jeans? It makes me uncomfortable, it has nothing to do with my production, technical or otherwise, and I'm less likely to be associated with the expensively educated clueless douchebag I described above.

Also, I know a lot of hackers who do go to the gym or otherwise keep active and look just fine in a t-shirt.

I think he's not necessarily arguing against t-shirt and jeans (despite his claim that the "days of t-shirt and hoodies are over" - this may be an east coast thing?), but that fit matters. Just because you're writing code doesn't mean you have to wear the ratty black t-shirt that you haven't washed in weeks and the ripped jeans that you bought in high school.

I know that, like with the "frat boy" you described, there are also stereotypes with the stereotypical programmer in the black shirt with the stupid text on it. How do those people make you feel?

Chances are if your tie/dress shirt makes you feel uncomfortable, you bought the wrong size. Comfortable dress shirts and ties do exist.

Can't you just accept that some people simply don't like the look?

I own a a single silk tie and one nice dress shirt. I never wear them unless business needs require it. I don't even have a suit that still fits. I'm normally dressed in a T-shirt/collared shirt and either jeans or slacks -- IIRC, that's what I got married in! My clothes fit properly, they're simple, (I usually only wear solid colors) clean and comfortable. As far as I'm concerned, I'm well dressed, if informal. What exactly is wrong with that?

If it fits well, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I'm just trying to get fellow developers to move beyond the T-shirt/hoodie uniform.

You managed to be pretty condescending about it:

* You used the language of "better", not "different", of "honest self-improvement" and "challenging yourself", leaving implications hanging about people who decide not to do these things

* You literally say you can't see an "excuse" for developers not to dress differently.

* "You're building the future, so dress like it" (also note that in addition to being condescending, this is also an ineffective rhetorical strategy, since it begs the answer "we are dressing like it, dude")

* You argue that most hackers can't wear their single most common article of clothing because of body type.

You reference _Put This On_ twice in your post. _Put This On_ is, not to put too fine a point on it, a hobbyist blog. These are people who spend their weekends at thrift shops hunting for specific brands of clothes. It's also a blog that routinely finds ways to write takedowns of celebs who clearly spend time and effort dressing themselves; the blog advocates a distinctive style. I read and enjoy _Put This On_ (they're great writers), but you might concern yourself with the fact that you're effectively inflicting your hobby on other people.

In a previous life, I was a consultant/contractor at a very large enterprise. Despite the whole outfit being business casual, I wore a suit every day of the long span that I worked there.

It had a dramatic effect on the people that I worked with. It changed the conversation. It was at least faintly intimidating to those I worked with. Now, times are different, and we are

So there are some occasions that I would do it again. (I mean besides my nephew's wedding.) But amongst developers, it will send the wrong message. It will make you seem like one of the Ross Perot employees where imagination was selectively bred out.

Wearing a suit in most circumstances today will suggest the opposite of technical competence.

Comfortable dress shirts and ties do exist.

I disagree, at least for off-the-rack clothes. I have a 17.5" neck, and looking at me you wouldn't think I'm a no-neck football player. When I get a fitted shirt that is correct for my neck, it means that I've got to fold in at least 4" extra fabric around my waist. It seems that all clothes here in America assumes that some people are obese, and the rest of the population is merely fat.

I think the only way to get a dress shirt that's anywhere near the right size is to have it tailor-made.

Look for slim fit shirts. I've heard good things about Brooks Brothers Extra Slim Fit shirts. H&M also makes good slim fitting shirts if you're on a budget. In American clothing lingo "extra slim fit" just means "not overweight."

Alternately, have your shirts taken in by a tailor. Most will do it for about $8-12, hardly an imposition for a developer who probably makes 2-3 times that per hour.

I've heard good things about Brooks Brothers Extra Slim Fit shirts.

Holy mackerel! They're $79.50 each!

I'm told they last. With some brands you pay for the label, but with others you're paying for quality. For example, if you buy a pair of $300 shoes from Allen Edmonds and treat them properly you can expect to get 20 years out of them. The concept of disposable clothes is fairly new, and there are still a handful of companies who want to sell you a shirt that lasts.

Honest question. Are you saying "Holy Mackerel", because it's more than you expected or less? $80 for a nice shirt is really a pretty decent price, and many brands cost a lot more.

I've also got a 16.5" and a pretty thin frame. Tailors are your friend and can make miracles.

There are plenty of companies like: http://www.indochino.com/ who will do "made to measure" for reasonable prices (these guys do sales for $50/shirt from time to time).

The equivalent price of three snarky subculture-identification T-shirts.

This is true. I got a tailored suit and shirts for my wedding. It turns out that dress clothes can be quite comfortable if they fit you. When they're uncomfortable, it's largely because off the rack clothing is designed to be as generic as possible.

Hear hear. Potential metaphors: 1) The difference between healthy tasty food and unhealthy tasty food. "Oh nothing made with <ingredient X such as broccoli> tastes good". Chances are you've just not eaten it prepared well 2) The difference between fast food and a tasty home cooked meal. It takes time and effort to make a home cooked meal which tastes good (usually). Some people would rather just eat crap....it works for them.

Yes, if there were no health implications I would absolutely eat fast food most of the time. 90% of the taste for 10% of the hassle works for me.

Compare: cost of a tailored suit, cost of a pair of jeans and T-shirt.

>Also, I know a lot of hackers who do go to the gym or otherwise keep active and look just fine in a t-shirt.

The way i understood it, that was his point as well. Unless you mean to say "...who don't go to the gym..."

"my talent supersedes my necessity to follow the guidelines of society" is a fairly mindless observation.

90% of the "guidelines of society" is cargo cult thinking. The best developers are wired to avoid this kind of thinking. With respect to clothing, they optimize for comfort and individuality rather than looks. There's no big political statement going on here (and I'd argue that dressing casually is a practical choice rather than a sign that one is misinformed, sloppy or lazy).

I'm writing code this morning in my pajamas. This evening I'll go out to a mixer and I'll throw on a nice sport coat. Clothes are tools, and you need the right tools for the job. This is why electricians and plumbers don't wear neckties.

There is a signalling mechanism involved in dressing like a slob, every bit as loud as the signal you are trying to send out by dressing well.

In some contexts, putting on "whatever" sends the signal that I'm a slob, in other contexts it sends the signal that I have better / more important things to think about. In some contexts, dressing well sends out the signal that you are conscientious and trust-worthy, in other contexts it sends the signal that you are a vapid tool.

Your job is to tailor your message for the audience you are trying to reach.

Also, I noticed this:

(For guys) Girls like guys in ties. Show me a young woman who doesn’t like a well-dress guy and I will show you a liar. This doesn’t mean putting on a suit every time you step out of your apartment, but just putting on clothes that make you look good.

For long-term relationships, men are just as picky as women. Many men probably don't want to date the kind of woman who will be impressed by wearing a long string of cloth that symbolically represents the cutting off of bloodflow to the brain. Rather, men want to signal to women that they're looking for someone who will look beyond the surface appearance of fancy clothes and towards something more substantial.

Show me a young woman who finds the wearing of a tie the marginal tipping point at which she'll sleep with a guy in a tie and I'll show you a young woman who probably makes me think, "I can do better over the long term." And, even over the short term, I'm not convinced the tie is all that important.

I think you've completely missed the point.

Pick any girl you like and show her some pictures of well dressed men wearing ties and then ask her if she thought about the level of blood flowing to their brains. She might think about other things, but that won't be one of them.

Clothes, by nature, are superficial. Trying to signal the deeper aspects of your character by your clothing is like trying to signal your literary tastes by the type of car you buy. That is not how it works.

The problem is that a lot of introverted and geeky types automatically associate the word "superficial" with (and only with) negatives. nhashem's post about the "clueless douchebag" is a good example. But the Venn diagram of people who wear suits and people who are superficial douchebags does not have nearly as much overlap as a lot of technically-minded people think it does.

Clothing simply doesn't tell you a lot about a person's character. However, a well dressed man or woman does signal that they are at least (1) able to afford nice clothing, (2) aware enough of their social environment to know that wearing such clothing leaves a positive impression on most people, (3) actually care about the impression they give others (which is not vain, but practical--the extreme opposite of this, not caring at all what others think about you--is not far from hubris) and (4) capable of taking care of themselves (getting rid of neckbeards doesn't hurt either).

For better or worse, people HAVE to judge you by what they first see: the superficial. You can't signal depth of personality by wearing or choosing not to wear a tie. It's really not that difficult to dress well for special occasions or professional events.

By dressing well you de-obligate others (fellow casual-dressing geeks excepted) to not immediately judge you when they see you. That gives you the opportunity to show them your personality and character when you actually get to speak to them. Words convey thoughts better than clothes. Clothing is just a daily-revised resume: it helps you get to that point.

Girls like guys who convey high social status. Depending on the context, that may be the guy in a suit, or it may be the guy who commands enough respect to dress however he wants. Consider musicians.

It's fascinating to see musicians who can afford (socially) to dress neatly in spite of the assumption they'd dress in ripped jeans and T-shirt.

I actually enjoy fashion and try to dress well when the time is right, but coming from a farming background, you dress like a slob because you're going to come home covered in dirt, grease and who knows what else. As such, dressing up for work, even if it is in an office, seems pretty silly to me. Work is about getting stuff done, not looking pretty. Save the dress up for social occasions outside of the workplace.

Clothing is a symbol, and shortcut. A guy in a nicely tailored suit in the business meeting shows that they care about details, are successful enough already to have the suit, etc, etc.

Shortcuts are important to social interactions, and outside physical labor, much of work is social interactions. (yes, even in software).

I agree, clothing is a symbol. Make sure the symbol you want to project is the one the people you are dealing with will take away is the same. A guy is a nicely tailored suit might be assumed to be just another hustler in a long line of hustlers to some people.

My father liked to remind me that neckties, jewelery, and any sort of loose or dangling clothing are very bad ideas around rotating machinery!

Exactly. I once worded at a document imaging "VAR" (except that we added serious value) where my programming was behind half our sales and enabled another large fraction.

But I also had an informal role in sales. Our VP of sales, very much a "suit" (but by no means technically illiterate) was also our "closer", i.e. he was very good at getting sales closed, whoever was the lead salesman. Every once in a while he'd take me to a meeting at a customer's site, me wearing my normal Oxford shirt, black jeans (not ratty) and gray New Balance 90x running shoes.

And I would talk with all the people the customer brought to the meeting, suits and geeks, and convince them that, yes, we can do this. Now, I'm pretty sure what I said was the most important part of that ^_^, but we were very cognizant that by not wearing a suit or even a tie I was signaling "geek cred" or whatever you want to call it. And it worked beautifully.

(Well, being an introvert I wasn't good for anything the next day, but that's a small price to pay for a mid to high six figure sale.)

Come to think of it, I can see another non-dress signal that this sent. In talking to the customer, I would take ownership of some or all of what we were selling to them (the stuff I'd program or sometimes build (I like to build computers occasionally)) and I'll tell them who had ownership of the other stuff and implicitly that they could do it. I also signaled that I was pledging to deliver to them the whole thing, whomever did what.

This also had a good backend/after the sale function: our salesmen never sold something we "geeks" didn't think we could deliver (and we were experienced enough not to get into trouble unless some third party software we hadn't had experience with yet failed on us).

Relevant snipper from Cryptonomicon:

It is trite to observe that hackers don’t like fancy clothes. Avi has learned that good clothes can actually be comfortable—the slacks that go with a business suit, for example, are really much more comfortable than blue jeans. And he has spent enough time with hackers to obtain the insight that is it not wearing suits that they object to, so much as getting them on. Which includes not only the donning process per se but also picking them out, maintaining them, and worrying whether they are still in style—this last being especially difficult for men who wear suits once every five years.

From Tom Ford's five lessons:

> You should put on the best version of yourself when you go out in the world because that is a show of respect to the other people around you.

I try to dress well (note that there is a difference between dressing well and dressing formally) because I want to show respect to those around me. I find poorly dressed people almost as off-putting as catching a scent of someone who didn't put deodorant on seeing too much of someone who doesn't have the decency to wear a belt. Again, it's not about level of formality: someone wearing an ill-fitting suit isn't dressed as well as someone wearing properly fitting jeans and a polo.

Developers value elegant code as an indication of programming skill, so why not value elegant dress as an indication of interpersonal skills? (The answer is that a lot of developers don't value interpersonal skills at all).

"Why This Matters" from Jesse at Put This On is a good read: http://putthison.com/post/665640307/why-this-matters

I find this sentiment mildly offensive, for reasons I'm sure you can predict. I'm wearing a t-shirt covered in paint stains today and ripped up jeans, and I do not agree that I am expressing disrespect for you.

I find not agreeing with someone else's sensibilities (in fashion, in art, in cooking, in coding, or what- have- you) to be passive and innocuous.

I find "taking disrespect" from someone else's choices to be something other than those things.

(It's the sentiment I'm remarking on, not you; I do not find you to be offensive.)

You touch on this, but to be explicit we should note that between respect and disrespect there's indifference. I'm indifferent towards most people. It's when they cross into the "nuisance" range that I take offense.

Much the same way I would find it disrespectful if you were talking on your phone too loudly in close quarters or if I overheard you making a racist comment to your friend, I would take offense if you're clothes showed me too much of you or if they gave off some sort of smell. A lack of care of how one's behavior affects those around them is, by definition, disrespectful.

who doesn't have the decency to wear a belt

Are you fucking KIDDING me?

I'm sitting here wearing a polo shirt, a pretty nice pair of slacks and leather shoes. And yes, a belt. I couldn't imagine being upset because someone showed a bit of belly or lower back because they didn't have a belt on. That's just the height of ... something I can't find a word for!

I value elegant dress as an indication that someone wants to look elegant, nothing more, nothing less.

Yet another prime example of "Never assume that other people think the same way you do".

You may believe that dressing "poorly" implies disrespect for others, but you're in the minority. Being offended over other peoples mode of dress is pretty lame.

He might be in the minority here, but he's clearly not in the minority outside of this site. There's a reason why folks still expect certain types of dress for churches, interviews, nice restaurants, etc. When you put on a nice suit to go attend a friend's wedding, you're doing that as much as a sign of respect for him and the other guests as any other reason. The same is true, although perhaps not as dramatically, in every day life.

If I'm going out to dinner with my girlfriend, and I dress like crap, yeah, I'd argue that's frankly disrespectful to her. It sends the message that I don't care what she thinks, or I don't think it matters. I'd dress up on a first date when I hardly know her... to not do it now, years later, would send the message that I don't care as much as I did that first day.

The parent post explicitly states that he's talking about "dressing well" vs "dressing formally" (weddings, etc).

Also, he's not talking about dressing to the appropriate level to the social task at hand; he's talking about dressing to the appropriate level, but "poorly". That's a lot like a gym-goer looking down his nose at anyone whose abs aren't as ripped as his.

People as superficial as that don't even get the time of day from me, let alone respect.

He's not saying that anyone has to do what he suggests. He's suggesting that there might be benefits to folks being a little more studied about what they wear and how it fits, and listing a few pointers on how someone who is interested might go about exploring that.

He doesn't make any judgement (that I see) about people who choose to ignore his advice. (About the closest he comes is saying that "the days of t-shirts and hoodies are over.)

He's not coming to rip off your t-shirt and put a tie around your neck.

"I find poorly dressed people almost as off-putting as catching a scent of someone who didn't put deodorant on seeing too much of someone who doesn't have the decency to wear a belt."

Sounds pretty judgmental to me.

Sorry - I was talking about the OP, you were talking about that commenter.

That said, in your view is there simply no relevant standard for personal maintenance? Is everything relative? If I show up to your wedding in a t-shirt and ripped jeans, is that ok as long as I don't mean any disrespect?

The unfortunate fact is that you don't have to intend to be disrespectful in order to be disrespectful or inconsiderate. It's generally the reverse - one ends up being disrespectful, offensive or inconsiderate because they didn't adequately consider the sensitivities of other parties. It's about cultural norms.

If you're in a society where folks expect you to wear deodorant, and you don't, you're going to have to be willing to be judged for it negatively, right or wrong.

Similarly, if you dress like you don't care, don't be annoyed if some folks think you don't care. That's your right, but I'd argue it's also his right to judge you for it.

Actually, I was keeping in kind with the parent post (i.e. focusing not on the level of dress, but simply how well someone dresses within the socially appropriate level).

Some people are better dressers than others. Getting offended simply because someone's shirt "clashes" with their pants is as pathetic as ripping on someone because they can't do math in their head.

>Getting offended simply because someone's shirt "clashes" with their pants

I don't think that's what he's talking about. I think he means things like holes, rips, stains, or a complete disregard for fit. If you make developer money and you wear clothes that fit that description that's a choice you're making. If you wear a striped shirt with striped pants because you don't know how to match patterns nobody is going to judge you, because at least you're trying.

It would be pathetic to rip on someone because they can't do math in their head, but it wouldn't be pathetic to rip on someone who refuses to try because they think they're too good for math.

The ability to dress "well" isn't some kind of innate talent that can't be learned. (This is /especially/ true for guys, given how little men's fashion changes over the years compared to women's.) Pretending that it's some kind of secret power is just shirking responsibility in the same way that some people say "I'm just not good at math" and then don't bother to try learning.

We're not talking about high fashion here, we're talking about neat clothes that fit well. As far as fit, there are trained professionals who can help: tailors. Nor is it expensive if you have a little knowledge. Having a shirt fixed or pants hemmed costs about $10. A decent button down shirt from a place like Land End can cost as little as $15. Great leather shoes (that will last a decade) can be found on eBay for $100-$150.

I've known folks who were totally color blind and had not problem with dressing well - they just had a thoughtful system and wardrobe that allowed them to pick things without having to worry about the color.

This kind of basic knowledge is just like knowing the rules of the road so you're a better driver. It's not complex, it's highly useful and it's readily available. The OP was trying to provide some pointers for folks who want to learn.

If you're the only coder that doesn't where jeans and a t-shirt, you're the one lacking interpersonal skills, not the rest of us.

"someone who doesn't have the decency to wear a belt"

I see a lot of fairly well dressed farmers wearing suspenders. Must be an region thing.

You missed the first part of that phrase where I said "seeing too much of someone". If their pants can't stay up far enough to keep from seeing their ass (whether their pants are snug, or they're wearing suspenders or some other means of keeping their pants up), then by most standards it is indecent for them to not wear a belt (or tighter pants, suspenders, etc).

I once had lunch with PG after having come back from a VC meeting. I had just moved to California then and was wearing business attire. PG stopped mid-sentence to ask me if I had on french cuffs and then told me how investors like startup guys to be scrappy haha.

And from a PG essay http://www.paulgraham.com/bubble.html

"And what would be wrong would be that how one presented oneself counted more than the quality of one's ideas. That's the problem with formality. Dressing up is not so much bad in itself. The problem is the receptor it binds to: dressing up is inevitably a substitute for good ideas. It is no coincidence that technically inept business types are known as "suits."

dressing up is inevitably a substitute for good ideas

This is perhaps a little strong, but I did think about this when I read this line from the original post:

You are building the future, so dress like it.

No. Engineering is about the things, not the people. Our goal is to draw attention to the work, not the worker.

There's a reason why Steve Jobs became famous for always wearing the same, very neutral uniform on stage. He does this because it really isn't about him. It's about the product. The product is the star.

Engineers dress like stagehands because that is our aspiration. The message we're sending is: Don't watch me. Watch the product. I'm focused on the product and you should be as well.

>> It is no coincidence that technically inept business types are known as "suits."

I thought that term originated back when working people had to wear uniforms, and that it was more of a class separation thing.

It's actually a truncation of the term "empty suit." In other words: all style, no substance; all looks, no accomplishments; all money, no ideas; etc.

It really depends on who you're talking to, for the most part especially dealing with clients, you get better treatment wearing a suit.

However you dress, you should look good, if you're confident in t-shirts and khakis presenting to a room full of suits then do it, if you're more confident in a suit then wear a suit.

Ah, but what if you had great ideas and dressed well to back them up?

Answer, for most ideas relevant on HN: approximately the same thing as if you have great ideas and dress in jeans and a t-shirt.

Dressing better is not necessarily dressing up.

Dress for the situation but wear high quality clothes with the right fit. Just because its business attire doesn't mean its good clothing or that you're dressed well. Stand outside the local courthouse at lunch time and watch all the dumpy ill-fitting suits pour out and you'll see what I mean.

Fit and Quality are far more important than type of clothing.

Amen, you should dress in a way that makes you and the people you meet feel comfortable.

One of the worst fashion sins are cheap ill-fitting 99$ suits. Man...

My recommendation guys, buy some nice shoes and a coat.

Would be nice, if I knew how to tell the difference between "nice" and "ugly". It all looks the same to me.

I'm still mystified as to how people decide that one piece of clothing "goes" with another, or looks bad with such-and-such.

Correct me if I'm misinterpreting this, but it sounds like what you are saying is that you would wear better fitting / more appropriate clothes, if only you would know how to do so. This is definitely a valid point, but I think it just shows that there is room for learning!

Embracing new things can be intimidating and downright scary. I remember the first time I heard about the benefits of lifting weights, I was apprehensive. I thought I could just call others 'meatheads' and use my advanced degrees in computer science as a shield. But life does not work like that; we must continuously improve ourselves, in all aspects of our lives: social, personal, physical, intellectual. Learning to buy clothes and put together outfits is just another part of growing up, just like learning how to work out, or how to apply design patterns to a programming project.

On a more practical note, there are tons of resources on the Internet that can help you with figuring out what 'nice' clothes are, or how to put together outfits. Maybe start with this: http://www.kinowear.com/blog/science-of-style-introducing-th... . Or check out reddit's r/malefashionadvice guides, or maybe go on styleforum.net, or try putthison.com . Good luck!

Sorry if I'm late here.

Yes, you should wear clothes that fit. For instance, if your suit is too large, it will make you look clumsy. Rather than buy a suit for 99 bucks, I'd rather buy a good quality shirt. Invest in quality, I guess.

Secondly, I think you should wear clothes that make yourself feel comfortable not just because they fit from a physical point of view. They should be appropriate to your persona, don't wear something that you are not.

As a developer, one of the things that got me into fashion is that it's something that CAN be learned and understood. For a long time I thought it was one of those things that you're either born with or not, but it's almost like a programming language.

Also, men's fashion has deep roots in tradition and function. For example, did you know that the little holes on wingtip shoes were originally added to allow the water drain out when you were walking in the country? That history is part of the reason that wingtips are considered "less formal" than plain-toe shoes - they were meant for wearing in the country. I find that kind of thing interesting, it's not all about superficiality.

If you're really interested in learning these things you're in a golden age, there are a ton of people sharing information and ideas about men's fashion online. http://reddit.com/malefashionadvice is a good starting point.

Awesome! Thanks!

I've made countless attempts at fashion over the past 20 years, but it's always ended in failure. The fact that people say my father dresses poorly (and I can't tell why) has been incredibly discouraging.

Another poster mentioned that striped shirt with striped pants is a no-no. Why is that? Also, why are certain colors considered to "match" and others not? It seems completely arbitrary.

With patterns (stripes, plaid, checks, whatever), essentially you don't want to have more than one item with a similar-size pattern. So if you're wearing a shirt with small checks you can wear a tie with a big pattern (wide stripes, big plaid, etc.) but shouldn't wear a tie with a small pattern. Same goes for pants. The reason people advise against it is that it's visually distracting. Some people are bold and mix patterns but the safest bet is to just not wear more than one patterned item at a time.

In terms of colour matching, that's more of a personal thing. The biggest thing you need to remember is don't put a brown item next to a black item (ie brown shoes with black pants). This post on reddit covers the basics: http://www.reddit.com/r/malefashionadvice/comments/ginj6/in_...

As with all aesthetic disciplines the rules are made to be broken, but it's good to know them first.

Ugh... I'm already lost.

Ok, so he mentions "warm" and "cool" colors. Since I burn within 30 seconds of encountering the sun, I'm "cool".

Then he mentions seasonal colors, all of which he says go with "cool" complextion, which means any color goes with cool? I think I'm missing something here.

I had someone once tell me I should wear "autumn" colors, so all of my stuff is yellow, orange, and brown, but apparently that doesn't work (or at least not always... There are some browns that work and others that don't apparently).

My eyes shift between light blue, green, and grey depending on the season. So that means I should wear those colors, right? Are my eyes considered to be "contrasting" or "non-contrasting"? How do you even decide what colors are "contrasting" or not?

Some other things:

"Blue shirt + yellow tie is pretty classic, but disastrous if done wrong. A deeper,darker yellow more akin to goldenrod and a lighter blue is the ticket here." - Is there an official matrix of acceptable color combinations available somewhere?

"Anything black at all should be a rough texture." - And yet I see so many people wearing smooth textured black things. Are they just poorly dressed?

"Grey flannel trousers are the shit" - Umm... ok. Why?

"One madras element per fit." - What's a madras element? Google didn't turn up anything useful.

"Be cohesive and holistic. The whole should be better than the sum of the parts. Build an outfit, don’t just toss together flair." - Great, but HOW do you do that?

"Don’t be overly matchy. “Close enough” is more charming and better looking than fabric shade OCD." - So don't wear colors of similar shade, then?

You're overthinking it. First of all, fit is kind and much easier to understanding. Second, how often are you putting together complex colour profiles? There are a few combos that work great for pretty much anyone:

- Casual: Dark blue jeans, nearly any colour shirt, brown leather shoes - Charcoal slacks, black leather shoes, nearly any colour shirt - Khaki chinos, light blue shirt, brown shoes

>"Grey flannel trousers are the shit" - Umm... ok. Why? Because epicviking thinks so. I happen to like them too, they've got a great texture and they go with almost anything. You can wear black or brown shoes with them and any colour dress shirt pretty much.

>"One madras element per fit." - What's a madras element? Google didn't turn up anything useful. Madras is like a big plaid pattern.

>"Don’t be overly matchy. “Close enough” is more charming and better looking than fabric shade OCD." - So don't wear colors of similar shade, then? Try to avoid it yeah.

>"Blue shirt + yellow tie is pretty classic, but disastrous if done wrong. A deeper,darker yellow more akin to goldenrod and a lighter blue is the ticket here." - Is there an official matrix of acceptable color combinations available somewhere? Nope but if you're in a bind you can always google "what colour tie goes with a ____ shirt" and get some input.

If you want advice specific to yourself I'd post a picture of yourself on malefashionadvice, people there are very helpful (although you have to be okay with getting criticized, don't take it personally)

"First of all, fit is kind and much easier to understanding." - Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean by this.

"Second, how often are you putting together complex colour profiles?" - What would be considered a complex color profile? I have a closet with clothes of various colors, and I need to choose which shirt to wear with which pants/shorts/whatever. And I guess which shoes. So I know that not all reds are the same, and not all oranges are the same, and some reds go with some oranges. Problem is I don't know which is which; That's why I was asking about a color matrix.

Then there's patterns, which are even more dangerous, because it seems that most mixes of colors don't go at all with most other mixes of colors. I don't understand how people decide that certain ones "match" and others don't. If there's no color matrix to show what works and what doesn't, how can you even know?

>"First of all, fit is kind and much easier to understanding." - Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean by this.

Probably because it made no sense! What I MEANT to type was "Fit is KING and much easier to understand."

Don't worry about a colour matrix, just try to buy clothes that go with everything. Nearly everything goes with dark blue jeans. Nearly everything goes with grey flannel slacks. Most things go with khaki chinos. I wouldn't try to match patterns but there's really no need to. How often do you really need to wear more than one patterned item at a time? Or even more than one coloured item at a time (not counting neutrals that go with everything like greys, beiges, browns, and really dark blues)

However, all of that aside none of it matters if your clothes fit poorly. Most 'bad dressers' are just wearing clothes that are far too big for them.

Yeah. Right now I'm just going with jeans since everyone says they go with everything. I guess I'll throw out the colored and patterned shorts since they're more trouble than they're worth.

"Fit is KING and much easier to understand." - Ok. I've ordered a copy of "Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion". So hopefully that will explain fit.

Very cool. I'm glad that guy's rant inspired at least one person to start taking an interest in their outer self!

A lot of it is functional.

If your face is ashen gray and pale because you are a programmer who hates the sun with an icy passion, wearing a black shirt will only accentuate your paleness. If you wore a white shirt, people would notice it much less.

True, but the reality is that clothing as a technology has evolved over a long history, and some types of clothing are more likely to provide the "right fit" than others, particular for folks non-ideal body forms.

If you're in good shape, you can find t-shirts and jeans that look pretty good, but even that isn't easy. If you're out of shape, it's nearly impossible. Conversely, oxford shirts, sports jackets and trousers have about 100 years of evolution in providing a good fit for all kinds of men's body shapes, and they're also far more amenable to alteration by a tailor (does anyone actually tailor their t-shirt?)

For myself, I due to an accident I had when a tutor / counsellor (door knob caught on the neck strap with id and sent me to the floor - lots of blood), I don't like wearing things around my neck including ties. I'm ok with slacks but not in the winter here because that's jeans weather and you never know when you might need to help someone out. Polos are ok and I mostly wear them instead of t-shirts.

I also grew up in an area where wearing a suit indicated that you were probably here to take money, land, or rights away. Suits were really the first sign not to trust that person. This belief is very hard to shake (along with the thought that anyone calling a noon meeting without providing food is sending a clear insulting message).

I hated my time in places that required a suit and tie and believe that culture is corrupting ( http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3015969 ).

I think dressing up is fun. I love fashion, but I hate this sentiment:

"Unless you’re going to the gym twice per week, you probably won’t look good in a T-shirt."

Fuck that. We live in a society that is constantly telling us we look bad, unless we are skinny, unless we have "good" hair, unless we have clear, light-colored skin...

Fuck that. People are fucking beautiful. All kinds of people are fucking beautiful, even if they're wearing a t-shirt.

It's one thing to encourage people to take pride in their clothes. It's another to call them ugly, and feed into our culture's (literally) deadly skinny-worshipping obsession.

I don't think he was trying to "feed into our culture's (literally) deadly skinny-worshipping obsession." When most people buy t-shirts, they don't buy well fitted t-shirts. That goes for both fat and really skinny and tall people (i was part of the skinny and tall). I found that once I started working out a few times a week, I was actually able to fit in my clothes better. They wouldn't be so frickin' loose on me anymore. So on the contrary, I think his argument applies to both fat and skinny, and his observation has dual intent: be more healthy and fit better in your clothes.

Specifically, well fitting clothes accent your body where you want it accented. If there's no spot you want accented... well...

Different body types are flattered by different clothing styles. One of the great failures of modern fashion is the idea that the thing that Hot Celebrity wore and looked good in is going to be appropriate and good-looking on everyone else; that outfit might have made them look better but make you look worse.

Saying that isn't skinny-worshipping. In fact, it's almost the opposite of skinny-worshipping, because people that try to squeeze into Hot Celebrity's fashion are going to feel the need to skinny up in order to make it look good.

Rather, the OP's advice is to find something that fits you and is flattering to you; tight T-shirts typically don't really look good unless your chest measurement >= your waist measurement, but there are other things that will. That's a lot different than just saying "you look bad".

It's not about respect. It's about taste.

Ira Glass was once asked about how he became a great radio host [1]. His response was that he continued to work on his craft even when he knew it was terrible. Knowing your work is terrible is crucial because it means that you have taste - you know what needs to be done, and you know what would fulfill it, even if you don't have the ability to execute it.

Style is about taste. And note, style is not equivalent to 'dressing up'. Style is knowing what pieces go together to create an aesthetically pleasing form. Style is knowing your body type, your personality, and your needs and putting together outfits that compliment and combine those strengths.

When developers get made fun of for not dressing up, it's not because you're wearing a t-shirt and jeans. It's because you've put no thought into which t-shirt with what jeans. There's no thought about how the pieces fit together. There's no taste.

Taste is critical for us because it's what makes or breaks a product. What makes Apple great? Taste. What let Instagram beat out the plethora of other photo apps? Taste. What allowed Facebook to take over MySpace? Taste. Taste is what will give me confidence that when you are on my team, you will do exactly what is necessary to make us win.

Taste is imperative. Take every chance to show that you have it.

[1] http://kottke.org/11/04/your-taste-is-why-your-own-work-disa...

I know lots of people who work at Apple and I assure you their taste in clothing is not what's making the products great. When you argue that someone's taste in clothing is significant of their taste in other things, you risk being perceived as condescending.

   What makes Apple great? Taste. 
I worked at Apple for 5 years. Some of the best engineers I know would routinely show up to work in pajamas. There are just as many, if not more, "poorly-dressed" people working there as at any other tech company.

The casual clothing trend, at least in Silicon Valley, has roots in 60's-70's counterculture. The idea that you need to wear a suit in order to do your job, or to dress like an IBM drone, was explicitly rejected, along with a whole slew of other ideas which were perceived as needing reexamination. Apple was one of the companies which best represented that counterculture influence and its success in shaking up entire industries. To tie them to some notion of stylish dress equaling success is ludicrous.

You are not responding to what he wrote.

"And note, style is not equivalent to 'dressing up'."

A programmer from a very large computer company went to a software conference and then returned to report to his manager, saying: ``What sort of programmers work for other companies? They behaved badly and were unconcerned with appearances. Their hair was long and unkempt and their clothes were wrinkled and old. They crashed our hospitality suite and they made rude noises during my presentation.''

The manager said: ``I should have never sent you to the conference. Those programmers live beyond the physical world. They consider life absurd, an accidental coincidence. They come and go without knowing limitations. Without a care, they live only for their programs. Why should they bother with social conventions?

``They are alive within the Tao.''

2.3 - http://www.canonical.org/~kragen/tao-of-programming.html

article is total trollshit, but still:

"You are building the future, so dress like it."

If we're building the future, we'll build one where we can dress how we like.

"Even Zuck has been sporting a suit more and more. He’s the last person that needs to impress someone based on how he dresses."

Tell that to his shareholders.

"It’s a “my talent supersedes my necessity to follow the guidelines of society.”"

If people like you are going to speak the way you do on behalf of society, maybe this society thing isn't for me.

Developer culture is a meritocracy, and if you're putting out good code you can wear whatever the fuck you want.

My favorite part of the Zucks mythos is the flip-flops. What he wore didn't matter, because what he and Facebook were doing was so amazing.

Most people just happen to want to wear t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops.

>> Developer culture is a meritocracy, and if you're putting out good code you can wear whatever the fuck you want.

Yeah. My problem with what you're saying is that if you're putting out great code, you can probably wear whatever the f you want.

But if "good" represents average, and you tell any competent employer that you can wear whatever the f you want, you're just telling him/her that you've got an attitude problem.

Well, you're on HN. Startups aren't average - they can't afford to be. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't attempt to hire average people.

Suits and stuff are fine for everyone else, maybe even for developers at BigCo Inc. But, the OP was in the context of YCNYC...

an employee who insists that he be judged upon his technical abilities and otherwise left alone has an "attitude problem?"

i'll take someone with that attitude problem over a doormat any day.

No, I'm saying that there's a scale. If you're a rock star, more is tolerated of you.

If you're just average, you can't insist on rock star treatment.

There's nothing rockstar about wearing comfortable clothes.

Comfortable clothes and dressing up are not mutually exclusive. Just because a nerd might not know how to find comfortable dressier clothes does not make a suit uncomfortable in itself.

And what I was trying to say is that a rock star (insert profession here) is more likely to be able to get away with saying "I'm going to wear whatever the f--- I want to wear" than someone who is just good, especially in a workplace where wearing jeans and t-shirts is not an accepted norm. And that's usually the case outside of the tech startup and creative worlds.

I'm glad to see someone else musing on something that I have always wondered about.

You don't have a wear a 3-piece suit to be taken seriously. But when you wear faded/ratty jeans and a t-shirt it's hard to be taken seriously. Look at the pictures of the Great Depression: every man on the street waiting in line wore a suit. Not just business shirts, a suit. And these were guys like dock workers, laborers, &c.

I think it's because of a counter-cultural movement of preferring ratty, grungy, grimey-looking things. And, lets face it, people do judge you by what they see.

I don't want to look like a 20-something guy in ratty pants and a t-shirt with some obscene rockstar; I want to be taken seriously, just like I try to take others (even a weirdo in a t-shirt) seriously.

> Look at the pictures of the Great Depression: every man on the street waiting in line wore a suit.

I think in the '30s a suit was just what men owned - a durable, practical, all purpose set of clothing. They'd wear the same to the beach, because that's what they had. It probably cost them a lot of money, and owning any more clothes would cost a lot more. It didn't mean the same thing it does now.

What does "dress better" mean, anyway? Once you start unpacking that phrase, you realize it has very little to do with optimizing functionality. It's not the same as "eat better" or "sleep better".

Imagine if someone showed up for a swim race in a suit and tie!

I read your post but I still don't know why I must care about fashion? I try to develop my programming skills, I try to educate myself, I try to be a kind person, I go to gym frequently and I eat well. But the fashion sense is not something I'm interested, I just want to be comfortable. I checked Put This On and I didn't like the style.

Exactly - when I work, it's to get things done, not be part of a fashion show. You think Jobs, Zuck, or Brin care about being fashionable on the job?? I respect the OP's opinion, but it felt very high school-ish to me.

That said, I'm not against people dressing however they want. I don't roll into the office looking like a slob, but I definitely don't obsess about my outfit for the day.

I obsess more about the thought and effort put into the products I'm creating..

"You’ve got nothing to lose, save for some “geek cred.”"

Maybe you underestimate the importance of feeling like you fit in. Being ostracized from your group is painful and can even lead to being left out of new information, like the up-and-coming programming languages, etc. It can lead to people saying, "He's not a team player" and it actually affecting your job.

Another problem is that you've defined 'better' as you see it, and not as your peers see it. You think you're better than them, but you aren't really. It's all an ego trip for you.

I read _Put This On_ (not because I aspire to "dress better", whichbelievemeanyonewhoknowsme &c &c but because it's well written and enthusiastic and I'd read a blog about Hummel figurines if it was graceful and engaging) and I think "ego trip" is the wrong word here.

I think for these "dressing up when their social situation doesn't really demand it" people, dressing up is a hobby. They'd (a) like it people shared their hobby, because that's more fun, and they'd (b) like not to be judged based on that hobby, which is what happens to developers who show up in ties.

Dressing however you want is fine, until you start calling it 'dressing better' and looking down on those who don't do it with you.

I work at a startup in San Francisco and I'm "that developer who wears a tie every day".

The traditional adage is that when you dress for success, people take you more seriously. I'd like to believe that this particular industry is beyond that, which may or may not be true, but the truth is that when you dress up, you take yourself more seriously.

The benefit of having everybody at the company know who I am is pretty nice, too.

Honestly, my instinctive first impression of overdressed developers is that they're trying to suck up or cover for a lack of ability. That's not fair, and I try to compensate for it, but it's no more unfair than assuming that dressing comfortably means you're a slob who doesn't care about your work.

but the truth is that when you dress up, you take yourself more seriously

It just makes me want to get home as soon as possible.

|The traditional adage is that when you dress for success, people take you more seriously. I'd like to believe that this particular industry is beyond that, which may or may not be true, but the truth is that when you dress up, you take yourself more seriously.

Being taken more seriously is a goal of some people. I take the opposite approach -- I try to take myself as un-seriously as possible. I encourage others to do the same.

I am, however, very serious about my work.

That is such a foolish goal.

Why would I want anyone to take me "more seriously"?

Either I'm someone they'll trust, or I'm not. My clothing choices aren't going to make an ounce of difference after I open my mouth. I either know my shit, or I don't. And people will know.

If you really have to dress up to take yourself more seriously, then that's just sad. I'm sorry.

Dressing differently is not necessarily dressing worse. Personally, when I see someone that obviously spent an extra 30-60 minutes getting ready in the morning to make themselves appear to be a professional, my first impression isn't "This guy is really professional". Instead, it is "what is this guy trying to hide?", or "does this guy think appearances are more important than results?" You really shouldn't assume you're making a good first impression because you're wearing a tie. It all depends on what the atmosphere of the workplace is.

Why is the assumption that a T-shirt and a hoodie "worse dressed?" There are fricking $500 designer hoodies out there if you want one.

Anyway, the entire article is silly. Grownups know that some people will judge them based on how they dress. Sometimes we care, sometimes we don't, and so we dress accordingly. I'm not going to give a presentation to our Senior Business Team dressed in a Linux User Group t-shirt and ragged jeans, but don't expect me in a suit at any other time if I don't have to be.

Don't conflate "expensively dressed" with "well dressed." Well-dressed does not have to be expensive. And there is always lots of really bad fashion for ridiculous prices.

Dressed UP isn't always the same as dressed NICELY. Programmers like efficient, but that doesn't mean that it can't look good too.

I've recently taken an interest in upgrading my wardrobe after a very long time of not caring. Frankly, without the internet I'd be totally lost. I dislike browse-shopping, and still have limited understanding of what makes things look better than others. I've found that the worst things are generally just ill-fitting, and I can't rely on size information (as any woman would tell you). A medium tshirt from one place might fit me perfectly, and look like a giant sack from another place. Same for pants, 30x30 jeans can be loose or too tight depending on the maker, the factory, etc.. Even men's clothing is getting vanity-sized which is frustrating, and makes me want to go back to "Whatever, I'd rather be doing something important!"

Negatively judging someone for dressing poorly is as bad as judging someone for dressing well. For that reason, I can't agree completely with either side of the argument expressed in this thread.

With that said, it would be nice to wear a jacket/tie over jeans without feeling overdressed and negatively judged as a "suit" among developers. I agree with the sentiment that developers should wear whatever the fuck they want, but does that not include dressing well?

Well I was dressed well for YCNYC. But that's because I'm a girl and I enjoy dressing well. So I wore a nice dress and a short sleeved jacket.

I felt really confident about what I was wearing until someone told me I looked like I didn't belong there. Now I'm left wondering if this suit stigma applies to females.

Because a) There are usually negligible amounts of women around

b) I sweat in dress shirts which makes me less productive

c) I stay seated a lot changing posture constantly, which makes shirts look wrinkled

d) My job does not depend on how someone perceives me physically or socially so... Occam's razor.

It's not just developers, it happens with many people who work in science. I know a guy in a biology lab who only dresses in suits, and i 've heard his supervisor say that he sometimes can't give him real work to do for the fear of ruining his suit.

If you're wearing a suit at an event where everyone else is wearing t-shirts and other casual dress, then you are the one who is dressed inappropriately. You're communicating that you're either too clueless to understand that, or you that think you're somehow "above" everyone else. (Or, you're Aaron Patterson.)

It's just as disrespectful to wear a suit to, say, RailsConf, as it is to wear a t-shirt and wrecked jeans to your sibling's wedding.

Suits aren't the only way to not look like a slob. Here are a few tips on how to dress for a "corporate" job without abandoning your sub-culture: http://www.waningmoon.com/corpgoth/survival.shtml and http://steampunkworkshop.com/corporate-steampunk-fashion

The "dress for success" mentality is an anachronism, at least in North America.

Casual workdays used to be an employer granted privilege, but in this day and age, casual everyday is an entitlement in a lot of companies. The definition of "workplace casual" has become more lax in the past 20 years too.

Being middle aged myself, I'm not a fan of the shift towards casual dress every day, but times change, and that's just how it is.

I'm glad there are other developers out there who have decided that they want to look smart. My usual work attire is: shirt, jumper, smart trousers, and smart shoes while the rest of the team tend to turn up in t-shirts, jeans and trainers.

I was asked recently why I always choose to come to work dressed smartly and my answer? "Look smart, think smart"

This reeks of a heavy east coast banker/lawyer mindset. That somehow you have to fit in and play by the rules in order to be a good employee. That if you aren't dressed above business casual you aren't capable or worthwhile enough to be considered. I can't tell you how happy I am to be out of that world.

Now, that being said, if you expect to go into a business meeting with a government or enterprise client you had better not roll into the meeting in flip flops and a t-shirt if you expect to win their business. But that is a far cry from having to dress up to some old fashioned standard every day.

Basically, there are two worlds when it comes to business. There's the old, entrenched, formalized business world and the new, scrappy, meritocratic startup world and you need to know how to float between them as necessary to be successful.

Style is a celebration of the self. It's another language to learn and master.

Dismissing it as nonfunctional or damaging to your well being is the same as ignoring the utility of a new programming language because your old ones get the job done or because using traditional languages is "hardcore."

Heh, I think the objection to suits and ties is that they are often no better looking that shorts/t-shirt.

I had no style for the first 20 years of my life, regarding it as simply vanity and not worthwhile.

Turns out it can be fun to develop your own style. It is a lot more than 'wearing a tie three times a week'. It means moving beyond Dr. Who tees and thinking about colors and lines; and looking in a mirror once in a while.

It doesn't take too much time or money, and is great when you get complements from strangers.

It is correct that fit is important. I would say the most important. Get rid of the too-large t-shirts and too-short pants.

And never ever buy an uncomfortable dress shirt.

I can't speak for other people, but I'm a developer and I put very little effort into my wardrobe. This doesn't derive from a conscious decision as much as it is that I simply hate the concept of "dressing up". There is no relationship between how good someone is at technical tasks and their affinity for fine clothing. In actuality, I've only ever observed the opposite.

Ultimately, I'm not a peacock, so I have little interest in human plumage.

"I’m a developer and I’ve been attempting to dress better for the last few months."

I´m a developer and I´ve been atempting to code better for the last few decades. ( Never got me unemployed/bad employed, by the way )

"For a group of people constantly trying for improving development ability, I’m surprised more aren’t trying to develop their dress."

Maybe they´re to busy with the kernel to mind the shell. I´m glad inteligence gave some people power to chalenge traditions, prejudices, judgments...

"You are building the future, so dress like it." Suits are the future ? Silly me, I always thought they´ve been around for a loooong time. Maybe the future will be more about substance than appearance. Maybe the future will be about respect for diversity. Maybe some people are just afraid of change. Maybe having to really conect with somebody else for what he/she IS and not the uniform he/she wears is too frightening.

I´m not religious but I think Christ said something about the big bosses of the time looking like tombs: very fancy on the outside, rotten on the inside. It´s somewhere in the bible.

Ah, last but not least, being comfortable makes my mind really free to go. Probably releases some neurons to more pleasant/significant/important tasks.

Most days, I wear a t-shirt, basketball shorts, and Rainbow sandals to work. I'm a strong believer in wearing what's appropriate for the job. If I'm sitting in the office all day just coding, I don't need to be dressed nicely would rather be in something comfortable. If I'm meeting a client or going to an important business meeting, I damn well better be dressed well.

It's ENGINEERING people: Wear what you want, be comfortable, but be sure to do REALLY good engineering.

Different jobs have different norms. Wear a suit to your job as a software engineer at Apple or Microsoft or Google and I guarantee you'll get lots of attention... the WRONG KIND of attention. People will think you're demented. But even then, if your engineering is good, they'll simply think your a good engineer with an odd style of dress.

I can't emphasize enough that it's about the ENGINEERING. Working as a dev isn't making an impression at fashion week. You sit in your office all day long, and some days you might not even TALK to another person except to say "excuse me" when you push you way to the coffee pot to refuel.

If your engineering is on point, nobody is going to give a flying fuck how you dress.

"Girls like guys in ties" Absofuckinglutely. Attracts goldiggers like flies flocking to a pile of shit.

I usually wear button-up shirts (and sometimes a sport coat) when going out or meeting with clients, but I am a firm believer that neckties cut off blood flow to the brain.

Also, slacks are just not comfortable. I much prefer a nice pair of dark, well-fitting, ironed jeans.

Find better slacks.

I don't often wear dress slacks, but when I do they feel more comfortable than my usual khakis or nice jeans. Hm...maybe I should wear those dress slacks more often.

Oh yeah, dry clean only.

Seriously. Good pairs of slacks are about as comfortable as you can get in any situation. Part of the genius is the variety in materials that go in. You have everything from lightweight, super breathable pants perfect for the summer (when jeans and even khakis become miserable in any humidity) to thicker wool trousers that will feel comfortable even in the middle of a blizzard.

That said, the peak of summer comfort is seersucker, but I won't even don that often because it does make you look like an anachronistic dandy.

Maybe it’s the New York City in me speaking

Got it in one.

hmmm, spend 500$ on the elegant jacket, or buy this new gadgets that just came out. I cant decide.

Kidding aside (or maybe not, its a dilemma sometimes, first world problems).

As a sysadmin by trade, that actually attends not a small number of social events, I often dress in a suit. I feel great wearing them and get complimented often. But i cant imagine myself sitting in my office, in front of my screens wearing the latest fashion, it just doesn't work, I will feel overdressed and uncomfortable.

Oh and i love my t-shirts, I go to some lengths to find cool ones, silly and geeky. I know.

"Maybe it’s the New York City in me speaking, but the days of T-shirts and hoodies are over." The days of t-shirts are over? Are the days of pants over? Were t-shirts in and of themselves ever "in"? I wear unscreened/printed colored t-shirts every day. I take care of my body and choose t-shirts and pants that fit well. I have as little respect for a coworker or potential client that judges my ambition or skill set as inferior because I don't dress myself off a rack or blog as they do for me.

How often are developers put 'out there' in any sort of public role to need to dress up in the first place?

I think programmers in general find clothing to be arbitrary and stupid, it's simply not important compared to code or what we're doing.

I'm a lady software dev and pretty much just wear jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. Some of the developers at my company wear slacks and a button-up shirt, some don't. It's personal preference over any sort of nonexistant obligation to do so.

this post is just as short sighted as the quote it's arguing with. strange to see banter about what people are wearing in a place like this. wear whatever you want.

I see on your site that you say, "recently, I also got rid of all of my possessions through a project called Cult of Less."

That must not have included all of your nice clothes.

Sometimes I use shirt and tie to go to work for fun. In a building full of t-shirt and jeans guys, it's easy to stand out like that. And sometimes I want to (or need to) stand out. And doesn't matter what I wear, I'm still doing my job (making stuff). I think looks really don't matter, but it goes both ways.

I imagine the answer to your question probably has something to do with the fact that most developers are staring at a screen for the majority of their waking hours. If you want to dress up in your 3 piece Armarni to impress your 27" LED then good luck to you...

Maybe I'm just not used to it, but I honestly find it harder to write code when I'm well dressed. I really don't know why this is the case. Perhaps my subconscious thinks I'm performing physical labor when I code, and thus being well dressed causes discomfort.

I'm not sure citing Tim Ferriss' work while advocating for developers to change their habits, helps with the credibility of your argument.

His body of work is infamous for being poorly researched, counter to a quality that technical people, like software engineers, value.

While I don't buy into Tim Ferriss whole hog, the effect he's had is undeniable. I've seen friends get interested in their health and be much better for it, partially thanks to his book.

Because nice clothes are the epitome of form over function: they aren't comfortable to wear (loose fit == airflow), they're more expensive than is reasonable, and "good taste" in dress is mostly arbitrary.

T-shirts and jeans are comfortable, versatile, and inexpensive.

You think they're cost effective and comfortable, you haven't lived until you've coded in just a big 'ol burlap sack.

This article can only be beaten in its ridiculousness by the corporate ritual called casual Fridays.

I thank the lord I am no longer employed in a place that feels it's doing its employees a favor by instituting such policy.

Totally agree.

What shoes have you found to work? I'm usually in nice jeans and a button-down shirt (no tie or blazer, most of the time), but haven't found shoes I really like. Thoughts?

I like boat shoes and desert boots personally. Both are extremely versatile and go as well with jeans as they go with khakis or slacks. As an added bonus, they mostly come in browns, which provides additional discouragement to wear the developer black t-shirt.

Take a look at the Red Wing 101 [1], a.k.a. "the Postman". Designed in the 1950s for people who had to walk a lot while wearing a uniform - I actually first spotted them on the feet of policemen in New York -, they combine comfort with a simple-but-neat look which provides a nice contrast if worn with straight cuffed selvedge jeans.

[1] http://www.redwingheritage.com/boots#&f=&m=/detail/1...

Edit - better link: http://www.b-74.de/out/pictures/1/red_wing_101_postman_oxfor...

I try hard not to buy clothes made from animal products. Any suggestions? I have some saucony vegan shoes but they fell apart pretty quickly and aren't very classy.

I have a pair of Novacas shoes that are pretty dressy. I haven't worn them heavily, so I don't know how well they will hold up over the long run, but they're comfortable. All their stuff is vegan.


I have personally found eccos (http://www.eccousa.com/) to be incredibly comfortable with lots of looks to choose from. In terms of geek cred, I buy one expensive but incredibly comfortable pair once every couple years and wear them out completely.

Since I've started using a standing desk really comfortable shoes like eccos are a must.

Another vote for eccos here.

Super comfortable (almost as comfy as sneakers to me) and reasonably dressy. Not a true "dress shoe", but I've taken to wearing them nearly every day.

They're a great way to class up your typical "jeans + x" wardrobe.

I have a pair of Streetcars Milan (http://www.kohls.com/kohlsStore/mens_shoes/casual/laceup/PRD...) that I quite like -- they're comfortable, they look good, and just roomy enough that I can put my Superfeet insoles in them without cutting off circulation to my feet. The only complaint I have about them is that the tread on them is wearing down a little faster than I would've expected.

I had a pair of HS Trask Trophy Oxfords that were my favorite pair of shoes, both for style and comfort, however they proved a failure in the longevity department - they wore out after a year, and by that time, HS Trask had discontinued that model, and I wasn't impressed with the replacement. I would have happily bought a new pair a year.

I eventually replaced them with Doc Marten Javan Kurts, which are larger, about as comfortable, and hopefully a bit more durable.

I just got these (http://www.dsw.com/shoe/sandro+moscoloni+pierce+oxford?prodI...) and will happily sing praise to their comfort. Previously I've done Clark's and Rockport and they simply don't compare.

I happen to like what I find at the Clark's outlet. The one I go to holds a yearly sale where you can get shoes from $20-$40 (at up to a 70% discount). So I got some pretty awesome leather dress shoes for $20. And the sneakers that I bought last year look like they'll last another several years.

Even at retail / discounted retail they're a good price for the quality.

Depending on your budget, Allen Edmonds.

You can sometimes get lucky and pick up a nice pair for cheap at Nordstrom Rack.

Kind of depends. For sneakers, I usually look first at Diesel or Fred Perry. Chucks aren't too bad either.

For dressier shoes, I think everyone has their own preference.

What shoes could one wear with shorts? I ask because I live in Arizona, where shorts are appropriate about 11 months of the year.

Boat shoes, loafers, driving mocs, Chuck Taylors.

No shoes, no shirt. Just shorts. I put on a shirt and flip-flops when I go out.

In the words of Barney Stinson:

"To score a ten would be just fine, but I’d rather be dressed to the nines. It’s a truth you can’t refute, nothing suits me like a suit."

Suit up, Men!

Because of the following reason:


I think this is what happens when nerdness/geekiness goes mainstream.

Seriously just be yourself - what else is there really...

We dress great. We just have different std of "better".

This post is completely ridiculous.

Kelly, I hope you read this.

There is, historically, a significant divide between hackers and suits. A classic example is the Jargon File's entry on "suit": http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/S/suit.html . Whether or not you subscribe to the hacker philosophy, it would be good to understand that many of the people odious to hackers, such as marketroids and PHBs, wear suits regularly, and hacker dislike of their clothing is ingrained.

"You’ve got nothing to lose, save for some 'geek cred.'" For some of us, this amounts to a betrayal of culture. It's not about looking nice -- I own a tuxedo and wear it when appropriate (opera, weddings, etc.) but I would not wear a suit to work. I am not a suit. I'm a hacker. I write code. I eat crappy pseudo-Chinese with all the spice, get 44Oz drinks at the Circle K because they run out of 64Oz cups, grok more programming languages than spoken languages, and I am not a suit.

I'm not offended, but I just want to impress on you that this idea is far older than either of us and, as such, deserves at least some recognition on par with the idea that hackers should dress in more professional or formal clothing on a regular basis.

It is probably not a good idea to eat lots of crappy pseudo-Chinese and drink 44oz Circle K drinks just to signal your nerdiness. T-shirts and ripped jeans aren't slowly killing you.

I like jeans and t-shirts are pretty cool (although I like button-downs sans tie better), but I also run 3+ miles daily, eat a lot of salads, and drink tap water and milk almost exclusively. I'm not sure why being unhealthy is an appealing part of "hacker culture".

I was going with things which are a part of my life. I don't eat these things because hackers eat these things, I eat these things because I like them. Incidentally, lots of hackers eat these things too. :3

I could have mentioned things like my beard, glasses, and hair longer than any female coworker, but I felt that that might be antagonistic or countering the point I was trying to make about fashion.

Incidentally, I hate jeans. I wear lots of cargo pants and keep them carefully patched up, mostly because my mom's a seamstress and I get obsessive-compulsive about things.

Please stop drinking 44oz sodas from Circle K. They're harming you.

It's Gatorade these days; I've been cutting back on my caffeine steadily for the past few years. I can't quite make the switch to tea like my coworkers. I don't like tea. :c

Gatorade is just as bad. This is going to come off as judgemental but I'm saying it out of concern: if you can grok a lot of programming languages you can DEFINITELY grok nutrition.

Must be my age talking, but if someone is paying me to work, I dress up.

My policy is to dress at the same level of my clients, but I never dress below a dress shirt and dress pants.

If you have two people in front of you with equally good talent and good attitude, but with one dressed down and the other dressed up, who are you going to give your money to?

Personally, I'm going to hire the guy who took the extra effort to dress up.

Personally, I'm going to hire the guy who took the extra effort to dress up.

And as I said above, my instinct would be to hire the guy who doesn't look like he's overcompensating. But I recognize that such a superficial judgment either way is a foolish bias.

Dressing up is overcompensating? Wow.

I don't consider it superficial. Someone who takes the effort to spend a few extra minutes iron an outfit and make himself (or herself) look a little more professional might actually be the type to do the same with his/her work output too.

If you have two people in front of you with equally good talent and good attitude ...

Outside of people that are equally mediocre, this literally never happens.

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