JWG (jwg) wrote,

Dress Codes at work

Several days ago machupicchu reported that there was an "Appearance Standard" at his place of work that says that shorts or skirts cannot end more than 3 inches about the knee. Of course this brings up the point of where is the knee? The top of the knee - wherever that is - or how about the pivot point of the joint? I like the idea of the enforcers carrying around a portable X-ray machine to check lengths.

But anyway this reminded me of some of my past encounters with dress codes at work.

At Honeywell ~1964 where I was a software project leader they had a rule that if you went into the computer room you were supposed to wear a jacket and tie. (In those days you often had to go to the computer room to deliver your deck of cards or pickup the box of paper printouts. The justification was that customers might be there and think of how awful it would be if they saw sloppily dressed programmers. I kept a jacket in the office to wear when I went in the computer room - and didn't bother with a tie. I was never stopped. One of my programmers had to go into the machine room several times a day and he never wore a jacket. I'd get a call from the chief operator almost every time complaining. I'd say I speak to him which of course I didn't do since it would have been fruitless.

In 1967, when I first joined the Multics project working for GE (a joint project with GE, MIT, and Bell Labs), our lab director said he wanted us to look professional so we should wear jackets and ties. Several of us ignored it and then one day he came into work with unmatching plaid pants, plaid tie, and plaid jacket. We decided t-shirts and jeans were much more professional than what he was wearing and that was that - I essentially never wore a tie and jacket after that. That director left soon after.

Later when I was a manager and generally wore t-shirts and jeans or shorts and had very long hair I had a few amusing experiences. One person came in for an interview dressed in suit and tie with short hair. When he encountered me he said he had just gotten a haircut and a new suit for the interview and noted it really wasn't necessary. I hired him.

Another person who came in for an interview with suit and tie said something like "I hope wearing a suit and tie won't count against me when you make a hiring decision". I hired him.

Once in preparing for a formal project review the Program Manager was concerned that I wouldn't dress properly. Her fear got magnified when I said I would wear a turkish robe and turban (left over from a halloween party). I actually wore a suit and tie and just about no-one in the office had ever seen me is such garb. Too bad I still didn't have my ROTC uniform as in this icon.

Once we had a customer visit and we decided we'd dress in jackets and ties. The 3 people from the customer knew that we were informal so they wore casual clothes. everyone was amused.
Tags: career, nostalgia, personal

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