Why don’t developers dress better?

kellysutton:

“Suits shouldn’t be allowed to this type of meetup. I definitely saw at least 5 people in suits. so lame.”

That comment was left on the Hacker News comment thread about this week’s YCNYC. I went to the meetup on Monday and was one of those wearing a tie, jeans and a blazer, mistaken by many as a suit. The cliché is that many developers don’t know or care how to dress themselves. The result is ill-fitting screen-printed tees and hoodies. To some, it’s a secret handshake. It’s a “my talent supersedes my necessity to follow the guidelines of society.” But I still wonder, why aren’t developers better dressed?

I’m a developer and I’ve been attempting to dress better for the last few months. I’ve adopted a strict no T-shirt policy and I try to wear a tie a few times a week. Blogs and shows like Put This On help keep me informed.

The sentiment in the above comment is not uncommon though. For a group of people constantly trying for improving development ability, I’m surprised more aren’t trying to develop their dress. You see hints of honest self-improvement with successes like Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body. There really is hardly an excuse. Developers have money. Many developers are holding increasingly public roles. You are building the future, so dress like it. You’ve got nothing to lose, save for some “geek cred.”

Maybe it’s the New York City in me speaking, but the days of T-shirts and hoodies are over. Even Zuck has been sporting a suit more and more. He’s the last person that needs to impress someone based on how he dresses.

Challenge yourself and try dressing better, maybe even only once per week.

If you’re interested in improving your wardrobe, here are a few tips coming from a fellow developer:

  • Fit is the most important. No matter what you wear, you should always buy for fit. This rules out T-shirts for most people. Unless you’re going to the gym twice per week, you probably won’t look good in a T-shirt. Find a good tailor.
  • Set silly goals for yourself. I set the goal of trying to wear a tie three times per week. Try to only wears shorts on the weekends or at the beach. When you start, you will look like an idiot. You will inevitably get better though.
  • (For guys) Girls like guys in ties. Show me a young woman who doesn’t like a well-dress guy and I will show you a liar. This doesn’t mean putting on a suit every time you step out of your apartment, but just putting on clothes that make you look good.
  • Watch every episode of Put This On. It will get you 80% of the way there.
  • Get a decent pair of shoes. Rather than rock your favorite pair of New Balance, go for something that’s still sneaker-like but a little nicer.
The kind folks at the Kickstarter blog asked if I would take a look at some pictures they shot of some volunteers from their development staff and offer some critique. I was game for the challenge, and they just posted my thoughts up on their site. I’ve avoided makeovers for two years, but there’s a time for everything, right?

The kind folks at the Kickstarter blog asked if I would take a look at some pictures they shot of some volunteers from their development staff and offer some critique. I was game for the challenge, and they just posted my thoughts up on their site. I’ve avoided makeovers for two years, but there’s a time for everything, right?

When I’m not hosting my public radio show, The Sound of Young America, or my comedy show, Jordan, Jesse, Go!, my TV show, The Grid, or Put This On, I produce and serve as the bailiff on the Judge John Hodgman podcast. In the show, John (who you may know from the Daily Show or as the PC in the Mac/PC commercials) judges personal disputes, People’s Court-style. 

This week’s case was style related: a woman who was embarassed that her fiance went to work wearing torn jeans or cargo shorts and ratty t-shirts. His argument was that he was a programmer, and at least he wasn’t wearing a shirt with a unicorn on it. She countered that it was embarrassing to be seen with him.

You’ll have to listen to the show to find out what Judge Hodgman ruled. You can also download it for free in iTunes.