Career / Career Progression

What’s the IT Dress Code?

by Raju Woodward
What’s the IT Dress Code? picture: A
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Published on September 19, 2014

What should I wear?

That's a commonly asked question by new employees. But often, there's no easy answer.

You don't want to come across as stiff in a suit — but as comfy as those basketball shorts are, you also don't want to come across as sloppy and unprofessional.

Some companies have clear-cut dress codes: suits, ties, closed-toe shoes, collared shirts, etc. But it's trickier if your company doesn't have a dress code, or has a very loose one, both of which are pretty standard in the IT industry.

What IT Pros Say

We asked members of the CBT Nuggets community for their thoughts — and as you may have expected, when it comes to IT, dress codes vary greatly. Here are some of the common guidelines:

  • When there's no dress code in place, casual is fine. But be smart about it. Don't be outlandish.

  • Comfort is important. Polo shirts are nice step up from t-shirts, without sacrificing comfort. The same goes with khakis in place of jeans.

  • Have a change of clothes on hand. Maybe you start out the day in a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals, but a meeting comes up that requires pants and dress shoes. Be prepared.

  • Looking professional never hurts. People take notice when you look great, and are more likely to respond favorably to you.

  • Stay away from beach wear. This one is pretty obvious. You're there to work, not party.

While the Stormtrooper suit idea that one commenter mentioned is awesome and out of this world, it might not pass the comfort test. The mankini with the company logo suggestion? That's just wrong on so many levels.

Play it Safe

Business casual always is always a smart choice, because you never know when you might get called into an important meeting or have to interact with a client.

Another good way to determine what's the right fit (pun intended) at your company is to follow the leader. Take a look at what your CEO or team lead wears, and dress accordingly. That's not to say you have to be an identical copy, but try to match the level of professionalism.

Work remotely? You aren't off the hook. Even though your head and the top of your shirt will likely be the only things visible during a video call, you don't want that "rolled out of bed" look. So shower, brush your hair, and put on an unwrinkled shirt. You might be surprised how much a "fresh look" can affect your work-from-home habits.

No matter how relaxed your company's dress code is, you should try to avoid:

  • Clothes with inflammatory graphics/text

  • Spaghetti-strap tank tops

  • Sweatpants

  • Clothing with holes

  • Going barefoot (it can be a safety hazard)

Don't underestimate the importance of wearing clean clothes. We know repeated washings can wear down fabrics, and who really likes doing laundry? But stains, wrinkles or worse, smelling bad, is not a good look on anyone. It's also a surefire way to irk your coworkers. Leave the dirty clothes in the hamper.

The Bottom Line

When in doubt about your company's dress code (or lack of one), talk to the human resources director. Or, scope out what your teammates are wearing, especially those who have been with the company longer.

Dressing professionally and sensibly can not only help you fit in with your company's culture, but play a role in your career success!


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