Monday, March 12, 2007

Office Dress Code

Ever since I was a little kid my parents have told me to take pride in my appearance. Now don’t get me wrong they have never said to be vain just to make sure you take care of yourself. By that I mean wearing clothing colors that match, and are clean and pressed(ironed) and so on.

I got my second job in September 98 working at the bay. This job required me to be in front of customers and dress in a business casual way. However, I quickly found that business casual is a very broad term and it is very difficult to figure out just what it means. For me it meant wearing dress pants and a collard shirt with a tie. For other people it meant grabbing whichever piece of clothing off the floor of their bedroom that smelt the least bad. We had this one manager who would come in wearing just about the ugliest sweaters I have ever seen. His shoes were disgusting also. The sweaters I could live with but since we did work in the shoe department I took it upon my self to convince him to upgrade his footwear. Eventually these abuses of the dress code lead to mandatory uniforms for all employees. When I first heard about the uniforms I was pissed. I had spent all this money on dress clothes and now they were going to be dressing us up as waiters. But I got used to it.

Not long after the uniforms were instituted I got my first real fulltime job after college. This was a very interesting case of what is or is not appropriate for work. On the one hand it was just a couple of programming guys sitting around in a room writing computer code. So it doesn’t really matter what you look like. I did live close enough to the office so that if I ever was sent out to see a client I could have gone home and changed. On the other hand this is still a place I worked and I think some minimal standards should be in place. Generally speaking, and without insulting my former co-workers I would say I was usually the best dressed person in the office.

Then I got a job working on site at Microsoft. This is a very strange case. There are tech people like myself, but there were also sales people. There was a marked difference in dress between the two. While I have no interest in being a sales person I found what they were wearing looked better and as such I dress closer to there style. Not quite on par because there is no way that I was going to wear a full suit just to sit at a desk and write code.

That brings me to now. I work out of my company’s head office in downtown Toronto. And I am still trying to figure out what is or is not appropriate. One the one hand I am still a tech guy so my interaction with the clients is slim. On the other hand the clients do come into our offices sometimes and they could see the tech people as well as the salesmen. As such I think we all should at least try to look professional. I have decided for the most part to wear cotton (khaki) pants that look like dress pants. I wear dress shirts but no tie. I also occasionally wear dressy looking sweaters. For shoes I wear dress or dress/casual shoes – NO RUNNERS. Is this correct? Hell if I know but it is what I will keep wearing until someone tells me different or I get a promotion.

That’s it…

Next Week
A very technical post about computing technologies.


--Todd said...

I am a former coworker of Duane's and let me tell you there was no insult, you were the best dressed person in the office. The casual atmosphere always made me feel a bit to relaxed and as such I felt that I didn't need to dress up. But Duane changed my opinion, I could never live up to the mark he made on dress standards but I got good pants and good shirts and a pair of good shoes (probably should get more). I think that Duane's dress code standards for himself are important. You are what you wear. Duane, I would say continue to dress your best and you will either bring everyone up to your standard or catch your managers eye as someone who cares more about their job and neither of those two things are bad.

Zoey said...

Keep up the good work.