When I was at school, we had to wear a uniform. Black trousers, white shirt, brown blazer, brown tie. Coincidentally, it was more-or-less the same uniform as the local supermarket.
On the last day of school, I ripped off my tie and vowed never to wear one again. And, aside from the occasional wedding and funeral, I've kept my promise.
Which leads me to this 100% true story.
When I just started out, a Serious Business Guy looked me up and down, saw my jeans & t-shirt, scoffed, and said "bit of friendly advice, mate. Dress for the job you want - not the job you have."
If anything, I've got scruffier just to spite him.
— Terence Eden (@edent) March 22, 2019
I work with computers. It is an in-demand profession and I'm pretty good at it. So much so that I can turn up to work in jeans and a free hackathon t-shirt, sporting ridiculous facial hair, and still get paid. I've been told - several times - "you look like a real hacker! I wouldn't be able to wear that in the office! Hahaha!"
As the old meme goes:
(Actually that's a journalist who wrote a book about not shaving.)
But, of course, not everyone can grow a beard as fabulous as mine. Some disadvantaged people can't grow any beard at all!!!
Some people dress-down and then get stopped by security when they try to enter the building. Or, worse, have authorities think they're a ne'er-do-well.
Some people in the computer industry need to dress for the job they have because, otherwise, no one takes them seriously.
As a kid, I used to argue that school uniforms were inhumane. Now I see that they do a very good job of erasing some of the sartorial choices that only the privileged have. Sure, there were rich kids and poor kids at my school. But money simply can't buy you a better class of crappy brown blazer.
Recently I argued that schools could at least do away with ties. No one wears a tie for work any more, right?! Turns out I was wrong. Lots of people have to make an effort to look smart for their job. Weird.
So what am I getting at? I'm not saying that scruffy devs should get a shave and a proper suit. Nor that there's a right or wrong way to dress for work.
You can computer in a Vera Wang dress just as well an old Nirvana t-shirt.
If you think that someone doesn't look like a real hacker because of the clothes they wear, or the colour of their hair, GTFO.