Tech & Work

Dress code: When is casual too casual?

Sometimes the casual clothing preference of IT pros can go too far.

A few years ago, TechRepublic blogger Justin James wrote a piece called "10 Things I Love about IT." One of the reasons, he pointed out, was that IT had a looser dress code than most other occupations. Depending, of course, on the company you work for, that's still the case.

In fact, that is an allure to many people who decide to go into IT: They can work in T-shirts and jeans. And start-ups and companies that are engineering-heavy can get even more casual it seems. A friend told me that it's not uncommon at her company to see some of the IT folks walking around in their bare feet. She said it's more prevalent with the younger workers and wondered if it's a trend that here's to stay?

A fact that raises the question: How casual is too casual? I think that if you want to move ahead in a company, you do have to look the part, or at least give the impression that, if you become a manager, you won't embarrass the CIO at a company meeting by wearing pajama pants and crocs.

But what about the coder who doesn't want to get ahead? Who is perfectly happy being comfortably ensconced in his or her cubicle wearing bunny slippers? Does this kind of casual ever cross the line into other employees' comfort zones, and, if so, does it matter?

I'd like to hear your opinions on the topic in the discussion area below.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

Editor's Picks